Whenever we speak to companies looking to integrate content marketing strategies into their business’ digital marketing, one of the main concerns they have is: how effective is it going to be?
And when it comes to modern digital marketing, being able to clearly see the results of any marketing activity is an absolute necessity – and that includes content marketing.
So, if the above question is currently on your mind, this blog is for you.
HubSpot recently posted this blog and infographic with Zazzle, which looks at the state of Content Marketing in 2017 within the UK. The infographic looks at the pain points of today’s content marketer; and to help you to understand how effective content marketing is, how businesses are measuring their success and what their challenges are – we’ve summed up some of the content marketing stats you need to consider.
How effective is content marketing?
Content marketing is often the most prominent element of any modern digital marketing strategy. It provides businesses with a cost-effective way to generate leads by distributing quality material online and linking it back to their website. But just how effective is it?
According to the infographic, 79% of respondents said that the use of content marketing in their business’ digital marketing strategy was either very, or quite effective. This is great news – and as it should be, but what does effective mean?
The aims, objectives and goals between businesses vary – what one business considers to be a key focus might not be for another, and measuring success is likely to be reliant on several factors.
For example, 85% of respondents identified brand awareness as their key focus, whilst 83% identified engagement as their key driver. On the other hand, 70% of respondents highlighted lead generation and improving search engine visibility as their key concerns.
Clearly, content marketing is being used for much more than just lead generation, and what constitutes ‘effective’ differs across many businesses, but how are businesses actually measuring the success of their content marketing efforts?
How are businesses measuring content marketing success?
With all the pressure to show return on investment (ROI), it comes as a surprise that 85% of those surveyed said that an increase in traffic was how they defined marketing success; bringing up the question of quality over quantity and meaningful metrics. An increase in traffic to the website, whilst beneficial, doesn’t necessarily equate to revenue generated at the bottom of the sales funnel.
Think about it. Driving 5,000 people to your website who bounce is much less valuable than generating five, high-quality leads.
Of course, more inbound website traffic also means more opportunities to generate leads.
However, instead of using a top-of-the-funnel metric such as ‘website traffic’ to measure the success of content marketing, businesses should look at how many leads their content marketing activity has generated – and how many of those leads have become customers.
With the right analytics tools in place, measuring the customer journey from the top of the funnel (the website) through to the bottom (becoming a customer) – is entirely possible. Modern marketing automation and analytics enable marketers to clearly see and measure how their content is performing, including: how many leads its generated, how many of those leads have become contacts and which of those contacts have become paying customers.
But I digress.
Everyone’s goal, according to the survey, is to increase traffic to the website through content. But the question is however, how long does it take to produce content in-house and how much does it cost to outsource content creation? Of the companies interviewed, 23% stated their marketing budget is currently spent on content marketing (up from somewhere between 10-20% in 2015). In addition, not a single company surveyed said that they expect their investment in content marketing to decrease in 2017. Not one person!
From the above content marketing stats, we can deduce two things:
First, we can see that the budget being pumped into content marketing is on the rise as people are looking to drive more people to their websites using a content marketing approach.
Second, content marketing is still a truly effective way to improve engagement, visibility, brand awareness and lead generation.
But what about how that content is being promoted?
How are businesses promoting their content?
In today’s world, one of the main distribution channels for a company’s content is social media – and if your business doesn’t have a social media strategy, it needs one.
We’ve written a few blogs recently about social media channels, as well as the social media channels your business should be focusing on. Twitter (91%) is still the leading channel for content distribution, followed by Facebook (83%) and YouTube (70%). This shows that many companies are still using the largest social accounts to promote their content. Hit the biggest audience, see the biggest returns, no?
However, you may also want to think outside the box. LinkedIn and Instagram for example, present a good opportunity for businesses to distribute their content. Over two thirds (68%) of the respondents surveyed distribute their content on LinkedIn, while 43% distribute their content on Instagram. And, while these two channels are not the biggest, one is extremely targeted (LinkedIn) and the other is one of the fastest growing social media networks on the planet. It’s important to appreciate that the size of a social media network is no guarantee of leads generated. If you want to reach your target audience, you need to assess the social media channels available to you and monitor how your ideal customers engage with them.
Of course, numerous social media channels mean that being able to analyse the results and performance of content distributed across social media is one of the challenges many of our clients often face. Content might be shared on third party websites and users might post direct links to the article making measurement particularly difficult.
In addition, when asked what their other biggest content marketing challenges were, the top two answers were: too few staff (61%) and a lack of budget (51%). Clearly businesses are not only struggling to manage the content creation in-house due to a lack of resource, but also, have too limited a budget to outsource it!
Is there a middle ground?
At The B2B Marketing Lab, we work with a variety of clients where we provide bespoke content marketing support. Whether they need weekly blogging or a single blog a month, we deliver the solution our clients need.
This does however, lead on to the next stat, with 24% of companies stating that the reason they don’t invest more into content marketing is a resource shortage, and 22% stating that it’s hard to prove its effectiveness.
What does all this mean?
Well, that comes down to what tools you’re using. We’re HubSpot partners, so we’re going to shout about it a little. With HubSpot’s content management system and social media tools, you have the ability to access contact records (i.e. the people who have engaged with your website), enabling you to see every webpage, blog, eBook and whitepaper of yours that your contacts have interacted with. Not only does this put you in a great position but it also shows you what is and isn’t working, allowing you to focus on what does.
If you’re a HubSpot user looking to increase your content creation (after all, 60% of people say they can’t produce content consistently), or maybe looking at HubSpot as a content marketing tool, you can download our free "How to" guide to creating better content in B2B Markets now by clicking the button below.