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Survey Finds Improving Optimism in Content Marketing

State of Content Marketing effectiveness improving

Marketers are reporting better results stemming from content marketing.  That’s according to a recent survey published by Ascend2 titled 2016 State of Content Marketing Survey Summary Report. The study found the vast majority of the 219 respondents to the June 2016 survey were fairly upbeat on content marketing effectiveness.

While content marketing “is a time-consuming tactic that requires a commitment” a majority (66%) “consider their content marketing successful” when compared with the competition. More importantly, not only are businesses saying content marketing is effective, but that effectiveness is also improving:

“A noteworthy share of companies (89%) say the effectiveness of their content marketing program is increasing, with more than one-third (35%) describing it as ‘increasing significantly.’”

The survey demographics suggest the respondents were fairly senior with 57% holding director titles or above.  In addition, responses were heavily weighted in the B2B segment with 69% of survey takers identifying as business-to-business.

Ascend2 makes a range of studies from conversion rate optimization to marketing automation trends freely available in an online research library with registration.

While this content marketing survey appears to be more of a flash or pulse survey, rather than a comprehensive investigation into the state of content marketing, it does identify an important shift in optimism.

For example, at the tail end of 2015, the detailed B2B Content Marketing 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends found just 30% of respondents classify their content marketing efforts as effective or very effective.  Since that figure was down eight percent from the previous year, the content marketing effectiveness found by the Ascend2 survey is noteworthy.

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What’s Working in Content Marketing

State of Content Marketing identifies the most important goals in content marketing

It’s important to understand what marketing departments are trying to achieve with content marketing – to grasp why they think it’s effective. Marketing allegedly having success with lead generation (58%), customer engagement (55%) and brand awareness (46%) – the top three goals for content marketing in the Ascend2 study.

When asked what is working in content marketing, respondents pointed to research reports (46%), blog posts (45%), and videos/podcasts (40%).  I suspect we’d see slightly different results if survey broke out videos and podcast as separate answers.

This is because mobile users will substitute short video over text on smaller screens while podcasting is filing “new found time” such as workouts, commutes and even routine chores.

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Trends in Content Marketing Outsourcing

State of Content Marketing what components do businesses outsource

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of businesses outsource some component of content marketing.  The Ascend2 study points to the harder or more difficult content to create. The survey calls out the following as the top three: video/podcasts (64%), research reports (62%), and webinars (45%).

What precisely constitutes more difficult will by the talent and skillsets and organization already employs in-house.   One of my observations stemming from three different positions in-house is the decision to outsource isn’t just drive by the type of content or volume, but also corporate context.

Corporate marketers and communicators are barraged with extraneous tasks and are often hard pressed for time to simply think.  The best agencies to which to outsource content marketing not only alleviate the workload, but continuously tie those efforts back to the strategy while continuously bring new ideas to the table.

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Research and graphic credit: Ascend2, 2016 State of Content Marketing (CC BY-NC 3.0 US)

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