Are marketers becoming less effective at content?

UK content marketers believe they have become less effective at their jobs over the last year, according to new research by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) released this week.

The report shows a  decline in the confidence of content marketing practitioners, with only 42 per cent of marketers questioned saying they are effective or very effective at content marketing, down from 48 per cent a year ago.


Content marketing strategy

One of the biggest surprises in the report is that many marketers are still not working to a documented strategy. Just 36 per cent of marketers have a strategy written down, compared to 42 per cent last year, and one in ten don’t have any form of strategy at all.

However, the importance of strategy cannot be overlooked as the research found those with a documented strategy are 36 per cent more effective in all areas of content marketing. Seven in ten marketers with a written-down strategy said they were effective at content marketing.

Content distribution

The report also found UK marketers target on average four different audiences – with one in ten targeting seven or more – and use an average of eight different tactics to reach these audiences. The most popular online tactics to use are:

  • Social media channels (89 per cent)
  • eNewsletters (88 per cent)
  • Blogs (85 per cent)
  • Website articles (82 per cent)

But not all online channels proved so popular. Only 41 per cent of marketers use webinars to target audiences, 33 per cent use digital magazines, 32 per cent use mobile apps, 23 per cent use virtual conferences and 22 per cent use podcasts.

Shifting focus of content marketing

This year’s results show a shift in focus in content marketing, with an emphasis on the goals of sales, lead generation, lead nurturing and engagement.

Lead nurturing, in particular, was cited by only 30 per cent of marketers as a key goal in 2014, but in 2015 it will be a focus for 85 per cent of those surveyed.

Businesses are less interested in brand awareness and customer loyalty in 2015, and aiming to use content marketing more for ROI and sales.

Measuring results

In terms of measuring results, a worrying one in ten marketers don’t track ROI in any way and only seven per cent think their methods of measurement are very successful.

The most popular metrics for measuring content marketing success are:

  • Website traffic (used by 61 per cent of marketers)
  • Higher conversion rates (47 per cent)
  • Sales (44 per cent)
  • Sales lead quality (41 per cent)
  • SEO ranking (40 per cent)

My thoughts

As the idea of content marketing filters down beyond agencies and large businesses, we will continue to see a more ad-hoc approach from small businesses that don’t have the time, money or knowledge to take a strategic approach to content marketing.

It is also no surprise that the more resource heavy forms of content marketing (webinars etc.) are used the least, nor that fewer businesses are using a formal plan.

Rather than marketers becoming becoming less effective, I would argue that the increased use of content marketing amongst businesses that traditionally didn’t get involved is affecting these results.

I am sure that if we could plot the same line for more established forms of digital marketing (SEO, PPC, Email etc.) we would see the same trend.


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