Content marketing has become an integral part of any marketing strategy. It’s no longer an option, but rather one of many tools marketers need to use to make the most out of their strategies. It makes sense: There are over three billion people with internet access, and about a third have at least one social media account. The possibilities are endless. And yet, content marketing is still a relatively new field. Luckily, with everyone focusing on its development, trends and patterns are starting to emerge.
1. Bandwidth and Time Are the Two Major Obstacles
There are many different things that have to come together for a content marketing strategy to work. As anyone who’s ever come into contact with content marketing knows, implementing a successful strategy is rarely as easy as it looks on paper. By far the greatest obstacles are bandwidth and time allocation.
In this Slideshare report, over 50 percent of companies interviewed cited bandwidth and time as their primary issues. The second greatest obstacle, producing enough content variety and volume, is likely linked to the first. Creating engaging content came in only after that.
It seems odd that, given how popular this strategy is, something as basic as bandwidth or time would be a major obstacle. It’s very easy to fix. Most internet providers have different offers to suit a business’ needs. Take for instance Brighthouse internet plans, which offer three tiers, each suited for a different type of business. It’s likely that companies don’t consider these aspects precisely because they seem so trivial at first.
2. Content Marketing Matters
In spite of its popularity, many companies are still somewhat skeptical if content marketing is really worth it. And in a way, it does make sense: The effects of content marketing are difficult to measure, and if it does benefit a company, it usually does so in an indirect way.
But stats show that online content does matter for consumers—quite a lot, actually. Over 60 percent of the consumers polled in this questionnaire claimed they would be influenced by a positive online review of a business. It seems consumers tend to trust Instagram more than any other social media platform, likely due to its focus on images, rather than text.
Pictures tend to feel more trustworthy than text, as well. This is supported by the fact that Snapchat users are the most likely to be influenced by positive reviews.
Furthermore, when it comes to B2B marketing, 95 percent of buyers believe vendor-related content can be trusted, which definitely shows we are finally getting used to content.
3. Everyone Loves It, but Few Know What to Do with It
About 70 percent of businesses are currently using some form of content marketing. Writing and blogging are generally the preferred mediums. Almost every company has learned that there’s value in content marketing and has set aside their skepticism.
However, many still don’t know how to use this tool precisely. What it all boils down to is metrics—specifically, a lack thereof. Among the top challenges faced by businesses when it comes to this field, measuring ROI tends to come up among the top concerns.
Business bloggers claim that their top priorities are creating a strategy, immediately followed by finding the means to measure the impact of their work efficiently. Both issues could be resolved with some clear metrics in place, but there’s a lot of disagreement when it comes to the actual figures that prove a content marketing strategy is successful. Marketing does not translate immediately into sales.
4. Social Media Is Not Just for Millennials
You can’t really talk about social media nowadays without instantly thinking “young people.” Millennials seem to dominate the internet, and as such, online marketing campaigns seem to favor this audience above all.
But it seems this trend is born more out of habit, rather than stats. During the past decade, the number of adults using social media has increased tenfold. Now, 65 percent of adults have at least one social media account. The number of seniors using social networks has increased dramatically, as well: Nearly 35 percent of adults over the age of 65 have a social media account.
However, adults still tend to favor email and traditional marketing strategies over social media or other content sharing platforms. But this can also be an effect of the fact that marketers still tend to favor young people when it comes to online content marketing campaigns. Older adults may very well be an untapped audience.
5. Segmentation Is Key
With so many people to reach out to and so many different types of customers to engage, many companies have come to the conclusion that the only way to construct an efficient marketing campaign is to divide and conquer.
There are many different ways to segment audiences. Age, as mentioned above, is definitely one of them. Of the businesses surveyed, 63 percent tailored their content to fit the buyer’s personality. Other businesses factored in geography and niche, as well.
Many companies also segment the buying process itself and create content for each stage of the customer journey, as well as each role the buyer fulfills. The most important factor in content segmentation is still determined by the product or service in question.
6. It’s Not About Selling Your Products Anymore
It seems businesses using content marketing are starting to shift focus and adjust their expectations. Companies are now aware of the value of increasing brand awareness and lead generation, and they understand the strategic role content marketing has in these areas. Both B2C and B2B marketers cite lead generation as their top goal for their content marketing campaigns.
B2B marketers still focus a lot on sales as well, placing this immediately behind lead generations when it comes to their priorities. But marketing remains increasingly customer-oriented. Meaning, it’s less about making a product sound great, and more about addressing customers’ needs—which is immensely rewarding for everyone overall.
7. Interactive Content Is the Next Big Thing
In recent years, videos and infographics have become increasingly popular. It seems they are much more effective than writing at driving customer engagement. They are also much more shareable and entertaining. Writing still tends to be everyone’s favorite medium, however.
Having varied and engaging content can be a struggle, as we’ve seen, and it seems the answer is interactive content and gamification. Currently, 53 percent of businesses have used some form of interactive content, and 45 percent claim it can be highly effective. As it is still an untapped niche, it’s very likely we aren’t even close to seeing its full potential. Because it is still a relatively new medium, there’s a lot of room for creating novel and engaging content that’s sure to attract customers, even if it’s just out of sheer curiosity.
8. It Helps to Have a Plan, but Few Businesses Do
It’s plain to see why having a clear strategy in place would be beneficial. A solid strategy allows you to allocate resources, measure effectiveness, and develop marketing tactics further. Figures support the need for a plan. For companies with documented content marketing strategies, 36 percent declared their strategies were “very effective” and even “extremely effective,” while 49 percent deemed them “moderately effective.”
Yet, in spite of this, 70 percent of companies still lack an integrated content marketing strategy. (highlight to tweet) This might boil down to, again, dismissing an integral part of the operation simply because it seems too trivial. Whatever their reasoning, many companies are charging blindly ahead.
9. Talent Is Increasingly Difficult to Find
The major downside to content marketing’s sudden surge in popularity is that talent is becoming harder and harder to find. The top skills many companies complain their teams lack are content creation and content marketing leadership—the skills that form the cornerstone of content marketing.
Difficult doesn’t mean impossible, but if you want to create a solid content marketing team and prepare for the future, you’d better start soon. Proper training and workshops can also help you develop the team you already have. Further down the line, it may become increasingly difficult to find talented marketers with enough time to work on your campaigns.
10. There Is Still Plenty of Room to Experiment
The leading trend we can spot from all these stats and patterns is that there is still a lot of room to experiment with content marketing. Soon, blogging and infographics will become part of the “traditional” marketing tools, and marketers will be pressed to find new and innovative solutions to driving customer engagement and lead generation.
New media are popping up or fading away nearly every year, so be prepared to seize these new opportunities as they arise. In a dynamic field such as this, you can’t afford to stick to the tried and tested. It can get stale very fast and lose its appeal.