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Chief marketing officers (CMOs) are sticking with what they know best and are reluctant to adopt entirely new strategies as they look to manage expectations and keep content campaigns on track amid challenges caused by the global pandemic.

Dentsu’s annual report of marketing has a different focus this year, with many of the questions and insights centred on what actions brands are taking to maintain continuity while attempting to keep pace with new tech and trends.

1,350 CMOs in 12 countries were polled for their responses between May and June this year, and a common through line emerged. Key decision-makers are relying on tried-and-trusted methods to get the job done.

90% of those surveyed said that they have fallen back to strategies that have worked in the past, rather than attempting to forge a new path amid uncertainty about budgets and the changing needs and demands of consumers.

However, the vast majority say that they have done this to “see the company through”, rather than there being any real prospect of the business going under or marketing being scaled back completely.

On the latter point, investment in marketing and content remains strong and will continue to be so. More than half of large companies, with in excess of 1,000 employees, said that they are planning to spend more on marketing during the next 12 months.

Smaller enterprises are more conservative, but there is a real desire among all companies, from micro to large corporations, to focus on marketing to drive sales and other important objectives during what is expected to be a difficult period.

The impact of COVID-19 has already been keenly felt though. Six in 10 CMOs admit that they have been “significantly affected” by the tumultuous real-world events during the last six to eight months.

It’s not all bad news as around a quarter of marketing chiefs claim that their business has only seen minimal disruption from the pandemic, while 10% of respondents believe that it has actually been beneficial overall.

For those who are targeting a period of recovery in the coming months, the 2008 financial crisis is acting as a reference point for strategies, though the report noted that “traditional” plans may not be best suited to a pandemic.

Around half of CMOs (49%) expect to look at the lessons learnt from previous recessions and the actions taken to inform their strategies moving forward. Meanwhile, a small subset (10%) are looking to implement entirely new strategies – a bold move that could eventually pay off, according to Dentsu.

The report found that CMOs at larger companies are generally better equipped to deal with the crisis and are already at a more advanced point in the recovery phase compared to SMEs that may struggle with the disruption. Smaller companies that are more heavily impacted will also find it more challenging to deal with revenue reductions.

Despite the concerns, there is a general feeling of optimism as CMOs look to use the pandemic as a catalyst for further digital transformation to support new ways of working, selling goods and engaging with audiences.


Matcha released its first annual Content Marketing Benchmark Report last week with the aim of helping smaller enterprises navigate the complexities of creating and publishing content. The report analysed data from hundreds of SMEs and the plethora of articles and ads they posted in 2018.

Several recent studies have espoused the benefits of using long-form content as a central pillar in marketing campaigns, and Matcha’s research found they were again among the most effective for driving positive actions. Editorial output, which is typically longer than 750 words, helped to deliver the best reader engagement, with an average of more than four subheadings and almost six images for consumers.

The use of visual aids and subheadlines to break up large blocks of text is believed to be crucial in guiding the reader’s eye and keeping them interested as they scroll down the page. Mixing high-quality prose and fact-based written content with high-resolution images, infographics and catchy headlines is recommended for small businesses aiming to optimise their marking materials this year.

The study also found that “listicles” are particularly effective at keeping reader’ engaged while ensuring output is efficient and meets the needs of users. In-depth analysis of content presented wholly or partly as a list resulted in an uptick in several key metrics, including scroll depth, rates of engagement, click-through rate (CTR) and cost-per-click (CPC). They also perform extremely well on social platforms.

While Facebook has endured a difficult 12 months due to fake news and data privacy scandals, it still leads the way content promotion. The study showed when content is placed alongside ads on the platform, CPC plummets to just $0.19. In contrast, when ads are used on their own, CPC rises to $1.72. Click-through-rates on content ads also see similar remarkable rises.

Matcha also found that licensed content has now caught up with original content in terms of engagement. Licensed content is defined as materials from third parties that brands syndicate from publishers to release across their own channels. It can be distributed by social, email or elsewhere. The study noted that this process is perfect for SMEs, as it enables smaller teams to publish articles with consistent, high quality in a more cost-effective way while taking less time and resources to support.

“This report is invaluable for small businesses, particularly in e-commerce. For the first time, they have a research-backed roadmap to grow their businesses using content marketing,” Matcha CEO, Fynn Glover said. “Great content is a critical ingredient for acquiring and keeping customers. Now, SMBs know exactly what to expect in terms of performance.” Matcha’s full report promises to help small businesses to avoid making the “wrong turns and wasting times” while urging them to use the insights to come with a documented strategy on a robust roadmap for their content marketing efforts. It also outlines why SMEs and e-commerce shops need to embrace content marketing and defines what separates good content from great content.


Most tech marketers are using content to strengthen ties and build loyalty with existing clients and customers, but their general efforts are being hamstrung by the industry’s more complex audience journey that usually involves more channels and people.

Those are two of the takeaways from Content Marketing Institute’s new report, titled Technology Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends. The study shows that content now plays a pivotal role in informing consumers and driving sales but that the process continues to be incredibly challenging due to a range of factors.

The primary concern is creating content that appeals to multiple roles, as tech brands say there are several people across the business who have a direct influence on a purchase. It is perhaps no surprise that “top performers” are doing better in this area and are usually more committed and have a “mature” or “sophisticated” approach to content marketing.

Content can be used to support a myriad of goals and objectives, but creating white papers, articles, videos and blogs for existing customers appears to be a near-universal aim, as 82% of those surveyed agree that their enterprise focuses on the use of creative content to build loyalty with current customers rather than targeting new ones.

However, most marketers are successful at achieving goals, as 84% said they had managed to “create brand awareness” during the last 12 months, while 80% have been able to generate demand and leads during the same period. More than two-thirds also have educated audiences (74%), built credibility and trust (69%) and nurtured existing subscribers or leads (66%).

Moving back to “top performers”, this select group of high achievers are way ahead of the rest and serve as inspiration for laggards who are struggling to make the most of their content efforts. For example, 58% of top performers are extremely committed to content marketing but this figure slumps to just 28% of all respondents. The takeaway here is that is best to go all in on content to achieve a better return on investment and results.

“Tech content marketers definitely feel the challenge of the complex decision-making process they face with clients,” Content Marketing Institute VP of Editorial, Kim Moutsos said. “We found this among content marketers who consider themselves very/extremely successful as well as the group as a whole. Despite this, a full 75% say their organization’s content marketing is more successful compared with one year ago, which is exciting to see.”

The study also found that the ever-changing SEO landscape is causing headaches for tech marketers, as 62% are concerned about the state of flux in search algorithms, making it the top-reported concern ahead of content being a steady revenue centre (48%). However, many appear to have got to grips with audience research, as more than two-thirds are using keyword analysis, website analytics and sales team feedback to support their creative efforts and make better decisions.


The versatility of content marketing was highlighted again this week after Spanish banking group Santander revealed how it has been using an educational content hub to reach new audiences, and a current survey found that private equity firms are leveraging engaging news and articles to build their brands.

Digital content marketing has been around for a decade now, but large organisations are still discovering how beneficial a targeted and relevant marketing campaign can be for driving positive business goals and objectives. Santander said it recently turned to content marketing after struggling to acquire customers due to a focus on product promotions.

Santander realised that its previous strategy was failing to meet the needs of its current customers and decided to create a “Prosper and Thrive” content hub to address the problem. It says high-quality content has been a core component of its strategy as informative articles have driven social engagements, website visits and email signups.

Santander has used content to demystify finances for millennials, a group of young people it claims has often “shied away” from the industry. The latest targeted campaigns have not only been practical and entertaining but have added value by improving the financial wellbeing of millennials.

“Millennial expectations have dramatically shifted. They want and expect more from their everyday experiences, which includes how they bank, who they trust and how they consume information,” Arnold Worldwide VP and Director of Engagement Planning Jessica Newton said.

She added: “Content allows us to build and nurture relationships with millennials without talking about products and services, on their time and in environments most relevant to them. Through this approach we’re able to make them more aware of who we are as a bank and shift their perception of us as a bank.”

The program launched less than a year ago, but it has already been a huge success, having driven more than a million site visits and 200,000 engagements on social platforms. The 125 published articles have also led to thousands of people opening new accounts and opting into the bank’s email initiative.

A new report from Pitchbook and BackBay Communications has also revealed how private equity firms have embraced content marketing campaigns en masse during the last two years to build their brands. Content is now seen as an asset in an increasingly competitive market where deals and funding are more difficult to secure.

Creative videos and articles are now used by almost half of the enterprises surveyed to demonstrate their expertise within the industry and company culture. Demand for excellent copy is also set to soar during the next 12 months, as 58% said they are increasing budgets to improve their visibility and reach to give themselves the best chance of succeeding.

BackBay Communications President & CEO Bill Haynes concluded: “It is essential for private equity firms today to have a professional approach to media relations — whether residing in-house or outsourced to an agency — to manage and protect their reputations and that of their portfolio companies, as well as to capitalize on positive news and demonstrate their expertise.”


Tech marketers are using content marketing more than ever before and are planning to invest significant amounts of money into the practice during the next 12-months, according to a new study published by Dimensional Research and 10Fold Communications earlier this week.

“Content is king” is a well-worn mantra in today’s marketing landscape but is no less relevant as brands continue to pivot towards high-quality articles, news and videos en masse to reach and engage with target audiences, increase awareness, build trust and drive conversions. The extent to which marketers are embracing content is highlighted in the new study, as 75% of respondents said the amount of content they generate would soar by 300% during 2017.

Content is now a core component of the marketing mix for most marketers, so it is no surprise to see that four in ten will spend $250,000 (£188,000) or more on creative and content campaigns over the next year. This investment is partly being driven by demand from consumers for storytelling through digital video, which requires higher quality creative processes to meet growing expectations.

Another key trend highlighted in the report is outsourcing. Many enterprises now call upon the services of digital agencies to deliver the best content campaigns possible. A staggering 99% of tech marketers said they use third parties for a quarter of their output, and 83% are happy with the quality they are getting from the third parties.

However, several challenges are preventing brands from reaching their potential as 44% claimed a lack of expertise on some subject matters is making it difficult to create excellent content, though this is another area where a digital agency could be of great assistance. Awareness of analytics is also growing, as 80% use basic tools, such as Google Analytics, to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns.

“The marketplace is constantly changing, making 10Fold research survey on content, timely and insightful. The findings should help tech marketing VPs and CMOs that are barraged with conflicting priorities build out their marketing strategies based on facts,” Dimensional Research principal, David Gehringer, said. “Based on the results of our research for 10Fold, there is no doubt that there is an insatiable demand among technology companies for content that has technical relevancy and that is delivered in a form, such as video and blogs, that is appealing to their buyers.”

Video, social media and webinars were named as the best content formats by the tech marketers surveyed, though there was more of a focus on video for top executives, which is likely to be linked with the growing investment in storytelling. Meanwhile, content calendars are now a popular resource for tracking schedules. 10Fold CEO and founder, Susan Thomas added: “Our primary goal with this research was to capture deeper analytics about content plans and budgets to help our customers and the tech community develop stronger content strategies.”



 The Millennials have become a major audience for businesses over the past few years. In the United States alone, this group of people born between 1982 and 2004 now have over $600bn in buying power. As a result, they’re a lucrative group of potential customers for those that can reach them; however, reaching Millennials isn’t easy. For content marketing strategists, there are four important steps to consider.

  1. Focus on audience segments

When targeting Millennials, it’s more important than ever for marketers to focus on specific audiences. This is because this generation interacts online more than ever before, and that means there’s a vast array of eyes and ears available to digest content. However, if firms scale too wide, they may miss lucrative opportunities. Therefore, it’s better to target a smaller, niche segment for greater effect.

Segmenting audiences goes beyond simply narrowing them by their birth year. Instead, agencies need to develop multiple personas that are differentiated by education, socio-economic background, hobbies and online activities. Targeting should only be limited by time and budget rather than audience categories themselves.

  1. Value and transparency must be offered 

Another important consideration is that brands must ensure they offer value and transparency when targeting Millennials. This is because this group of people is often wary of traditional marketing methods, and overwhelmingly describe advertising as ‘fake’.

The key to working with Millennials is offering transparency and authenticity. Brands need to come across as human and need to centre on an identity that offers value by information, entertainment or both. It’s important to recognise that neither of these content types have much money attached to them. That’s because Millennials are not as attached to budgets like previous generations. Instead, brand loyalty is formed based on how they perceive a business.

  1. Understanding the ‘WIIFM’ attitude is crucial

Millennials often ask themselves one question: ‘What’s in it for me?’ (WIIFM). As a result, content marketing strategists also need to keep this at the forefront of their minds when developing new content, regardless of the platform it’s to be shared on. As a first step, marketers should identify the core value each piece of content provides. Then, it is vital to ensure this value is taken a step further to provide something.

  1. Harness the power of social amplification

Finally, it’s wise for marketers to make use of social amplification. Millennials have become the most social generation ever, with a strong sense for seeking out news and staying informed. Content strategists can boost the success of their campaigns by driving content towards Millennials because this generation is twice as likely to share content than any other age group. One tip is to consider how people might feel being associated with a piece of content. Will they feel they’ve helped influence people? Would it engage and entertain their friends? By asking such questions, the right content can be curated.

Millennials are a very important target market that firms should be seeking out. And, by honing their content strategy carefully, they can appeal to this generation and find more success than ever.


Effective content marketing is increasingly being regarded as vital, with many brands seeing it as a crucial way to help develop presence and increase success. Done right, a campaign not only generates revenue and growth but can boost brand awareness. However, there are ways in which content marketing should not be approached, so it’s wise to consider all the facts before launching a new campaign.

Firstly, content marketing is not the easy and cheap solution that many believe it to be. For companies believing that to be the case, attempts to start campaigns can be fraught with difficulties and, in some cases, might even damage a brand’s reputation. Therefore, it’s important to think about why undertaking such a challenge might not be such a good move. Those without the proper in-house skills might be wise to outsource the work if it is to stand any chance of success. Alternatively, other forms of advertising can be used.

One mistake that brands make is starting a content marketing plan as a way to stay ‘on-trend’. Unfortunately, if content doesn’t actually offer a target audience any value, it’s unlikely to succeed. Before beginning any content strategy, consider whether the resulting advertising is likely to find appeal. It also shouldn’t be thought of as a quick fix because it can take months, even years, to carefully construct a strategy that will work. Most things take time to evolve before they give anything in return and the content marketing niche is no exception. For example, many blogs are quickly abandoned; however, when blogs are maintained in the long-term, and generate around 15 blog posts each month, around 1,200 new leads can be generated.

Another misconception is that content marketing will instantly improve search rankings. Though it may well help in the long run, it certainly will not yield overnight results. One expert in the content niche, Ian Lurie, says: “Content isn’t ‘stuff we write to rank higher’ or ‘infographics’ or ‘long-form articles.’ Content is anything that communicates a message to the audience. Anything.”

Finally, it’s important to recognise that content marketing strategies are neither a cheap form of advertising, nor a way to gain direct sales. With regard to the former, there are many reports showing massive return on investment. In fact, three times as many leads can be generated as traditional advertising, with a 62 per cent markdown in cost. However, investment is required. Meanwhile, not every piece of content will generate direct sales and, in fact, many pieces shouldn’t be aimed at doing so. Some will build brand awareness, while others will lead customers into the mouth of the sales funnel. In fact, almost half of B2B marketers agree that between three and five buying stages are required to make a sale.

Content marketing can be hugely successful when it’s done correctly, pushing companies to the next level and spreading positive brand awareness. It is not cheap and it is not quick to yield results, however, those going into it with their eyes open could reap huge benefits over the medium to long term.


There’s a big question heard in the industry a lot – can content marketing really work for small businesses? Whilst content strategies are proven to have worked for firms like IBM and American Express, these global firms have huge amounts of capital and resources to throw at advertising. In comparison, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are often working with extremely tight, or even non-existent budgets. This shouldn’t put executives off because content marketing for SMEs can sometimes help level the playing field between them and their larger competitors.

For content marketing strategies to work, smaller firms must commit wholeheartedly to the concept of content advertising. In a North American study, it was found that only 21 per cent of content marketers actually classed themselves as “extremely” committed. In addition, it’s important to recognise that more time will be needed to promote content than to create it in the first place. The myth that great content will simply attract huge attention on its own is false. Regardless of content quality, if no promotion takes place, no one will see or share it – and there will definitely be no business conversions.

When it’s done correctly, content marketing can be of great benefit to SMEs. It can help them find more fans, followers and, eventually, customers. Also, there’s a host of ways this can be achieved. For instance, a survey by Neil Patel discovered that leading content strategies could get an average of 7.8 times more views than non-leaders; that’s an increase of 800 per cent. In addition, quality content, good promotion and increased views can all lead to higher rankings amongst search engines. Without content, it will be extremely difficult to find a spot on Bing or Google. Through content marketing, a stream of new, high quality material can help boost overall visibility.

There are other advantages too. For example, becoming a content leader (regardless of a firm’s size) can help establish authority in a specific niche. This means that SMEs can experience not only increased visibility from fans, but also increase notoriety with competitors. All of this can lead to more leads and sales as a result. For example, findings from HubSpot found that companies with a blog feature on their website, on average, generate 126 per cent more leads. Finally, the Content Marketing Institute discovered that “while content marketing costs 62 per cent less than outbound marketing, it generates more than three times as many leads.” This goes to show that even small budgets can be used to conduct content marketing and then reap the rewards.

Content marketing is not a quick, get-rich-fast strategy. It needs ample time and resources to develop the right branding, voice and momentum. For smaller firms, it will take careful consideration to ensure that campaigns are started with the best chance of success to avoid eating into what little capital may be available, however, even the smallest of firms can undertake this type of marketing and enjoy the huge advantages it brings.


Those wanting to boost their content marketing strategies to the next level should ensure they’re using magnetic advertising techniques to gain more leads. This is one of the most important aspects of marketing for those wanting to see online success. Why? Because it attracts readers and feeds them into a firm’s sales funnel.

The quality of content can make or break a business’ marketing success. If material is poor and doesn’t answer an audience’s question, people will click away quickly. On the other hand, if the content focuses on their exact needs, they’re not only likely to stay around, but they may also share the content with friends and acquaintances too.

Magnetic marketing utilises high-quality content

 When developing magnetic marketing campaigns, it is essential to use only the best quality content. In many cases, people write content simply as a means of boosting their publishing schedule. This means it’s not necessarily high quality and is, therefore, unlikely to attract readers time and time again.

Angie Schottmuller, an expert in growth marketing, suggests that to make an audience take notice, the ‘Triangle of Relevance’ needs to be used. At each point of this triangle is a key element that needs to be included within content. These include business interest, user interest and time significance. User interest, for example, needs to cater to an audience’s likes and interests. Business interest has to include points on brand message for base products and services, whilst time significance takes into account community-relevant topics such as special events, holidays or the latest trends.

Create magnetic content with three steps 

There are three key steps to developing content that might prove magnetic to a target audience and boost a campaign’s success, along with creating many new leads. The first is to research the appropriate topics. To do this, strategists should look up leading influences and experts within their niche and identify the topics of conversation being discussed. In particular, questions that are regularly asked could make ideal content topics, with brands being able to add their own personal experience and spin.

The second point is to establish just how to answer these questions. Of course, one simple way is to look online. However, by using this information, companies do little than regurgitate the same material. Instead, it’s worthwhile to take a personal stance on a topic and try to tell a story of how an employee or entire firm overcome a problem. This makes content more relatable and can build trust with readers.

Finally, the third point relates to how questions are answered. It is easiest to do this simply and systematically to avoid information dumps, disjointed tips and random information. Staying on-point and answering in a step-by-step format works wonders.

Creating magnetic content isn’t hard if the correct research is done and the Triangle of Relevance is utilised. And, by both attracting and then gripping audiences, brands are more likely to gain leads and see their content shared organically for increased reach.


Content marketing strategies can be complicated at the best of times. There are multiple considerations when it comes to the actual content and the various places it can be shared. Another point that marketers must think about is gaining consumer trust. Without it, engagement is likely to be reduced and strategies, therefore, will be doomed to fail.

For anyone who has ever had to sit down and write a university thesis or college paper, a critical element is citing sources. These validate any data used and, as a result, gain the trust of readers. When it comes to the Internet, gaining people’s trust is even more important as there are countless exaggerations and lies that can be passed off as fact. Becoming a trusted and respected influencer should be the goal of businesses, especially those wanting to be successful with content marketing campaigns.

There are a variety of ways for brands to increase their reliability and trustworthiness in the eyes of the consumer. While there are many things that will always be out of a strategist’s control, plenty of tactics remain.

Create a schedule

One of the most important things for content marketing is consistency. Therefore, it is extremely important to develop a posting schedule, curate content well in advance, and then stick to the plan. By doing this, current readers and potential fans can enjoy a steady stream of posts that not only provide information, but project a firm’s branding. And, every time a schedule is adhered to, consumer expectations are met and a company’s reputation enjoys a little boost.

Utilise sources for data

As mentioned, it is very important to ensure that your information, especially statistics, is correct. The world, especially in the modern era, demands proof – so brands need to back up any figures with links to statistics. This helps to create a good culture of only utilising credible sources. And, if data has come from an ambiguous place, it’s best to try and find a trustworthy site to cross check.

High-quality content is key

There used to be a time when quantity over quality worked, but not anymore. Brands must be sure they’re crafting high-quality material that has no grammatical or spelling errors. In addition, readers must be able to gain something from content, whether it’s an answer to their problem or valuable information that enriches their lives. If content doesn’t make the grade or has the potential to damage a firm’s reputation, never publish it.

Branding voice remains important

Finally, it is extremely important for brands to develop a voice and then stick to it. Of course, over time a company’s voice is likely to evolve and change as they become more aligned and comfortable with the content they’re offering. However, having a guideline for content is important, both in the language that’s used and the actual structure of content itself.

Gaining someone’s trust can be an extremely powerful asset when it comes to business. It not only builds a relationship with a consumer, but it may also make them more likely to share positive word-of-mouth feedback about a brand too. It is, therefore, a crucial element that must not be missed.