Saturday, December 10, 2011

Content Investments Effective When Aligned to Facilitate Buyer’s Journey

Marketers continue to invest a substantial portion of their marketing budget on content, with new research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs indicating that content currently consumes 26% of marketing budgets on average. According to the study of over 1,000 marketers, this spending is not only significant, but expected to increase for 60% of the respondents over the next year.

The large and growing investments highlight the important role content continues to play in the marketing mix, being used by most to fuel purchase decision making.

However, marketers do indicate that even with substantial and increased budgets in 2012 to support content development and distribution, their number one challenge remains producing the right type of content that effectively engages prospects and customers (41%).

And the challenges don’t end there. Results indicate a continued and decided crisis in confidence with content marketing, with close to half of marketers indicating that some of the most popular tactics are perceived as less effective or ineffective, including social media (50%), articles (49%), microsites (44%), and blogs(42%).  The good news is that some tactics are perceived worthy, including tactics that involve direct interaction with buyers such as in-person events (78% effective) and webinars / webcasts (70%). More personalized and relevant content also ranked as more effective, including the use of case studies (70%) and videos (61%).

Is the lack of effectiveness due to the newness of content marketing compared to more traditional ways to connect / engage buyers, the challenges of producing enough relevant and compelling content, a lack of measurement and proof-points that the content is being used by prospects and customers and having an impact on purchase decisions, and / or a change in the target audience, with today’s buyer, being more empowered, skeptical and frugal than ever before?  The research did not probe the answer to this important question, but did highlight the characteristics of best practice performers.

So what were the differences between average/ low performers and best in class? the results indicate that best-in-class marketers invest more of their budgets on content marketing (31% vs. 26% on average), and secure executive commitment and buy-in to support their efforts. Of greatest importance, the most successful marketers develop and segment their content based on the buying cycle (45%) to help facilitate decision makers along each step in the process. In this case, the content is designed to answer three key successive questions: Why change? Why now? Why the proposed solution?

Sources: 2012 B2B Content Marketing Benchmark, Budget and Trends Report – Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs

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