Nine in ten marketers now use a variety of content marketing materials to generate demand for buyers in both B2B and B2C settings during the different stages of the sales funnel, according to new research released by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) late last week.
CMI’s report, Using Content Marketing to Generate Demand, Create New Audiences, shines a light on the wide-ranging usage of articles, blogs, videos and infographics and how brands are deploying them to engage buyers in unique and different ways. The primary takeaway is that content works, wherever you intend to use it.
About 87% of marketers are now leveraging content to drive leads and unearth new potential customers, but perhaps more interesting is that just over half believe maximum value is derived at the very top of the funnel. This “awareness” stage is so important, as brands are now focused on generating interest in products and services in increasingly competitive sectors and markets. Content delivers the goods here and then some.
With 2019 now on the horizon, 47% said almost half of their content output will be centred around early-stage activities. It appears that hooking potential customers in at the start of the journey makes it easier to serve up personalised content that can strengthen their purchase intent.
However, the other stages are not being neglected, as 29% will double down on content for the middle stage of a buyer’s journey in 2019, while 21% will focus on the late stage. As the top of the funnel is king for most marketers, it is no surprise that website traffic is the best metric for determining success for 67% of respondents.
While there is always room for improvement in content marketing campaigns and strategies, 58% said they believe their current approach to generating demand is delivering adequate returns or is moderately successful. One in five also believes they are either very successful or extremely successful. Overall, marketers are getting better at deploying content in the right place at the right time.
CMI also offers a few pointers for brands looking to maximise their demand generation efforts. First, it says a broad focus for content is best. That means every stage should be catered for to a certain extent, as CMI Strategy Advisor, Robert Rose revealed in a statement.
“To paraphrase the great comedian Jerry Seinfeld – it’s not enough to gather the attention of a new prospect. You have to hold it as well,” Rose says. “These results suggest successful demand generation is not possible by simply creating content for the top of the funnel. Success is derived by connecting content-driven experiences deeper in the funnel – the interest and education of the new prospect are held throughout the journey.”
CMI also urges brands to experiment to see what works best from them during the different stages of a journey. For example, editorial articles and blog posts are usually best for creating awareness and interest, while case studies are useful during the consideration phase or middle stage.