BLOG

EditorialPR Musings
Content Marketing Blog

Keep up to date with the latest content marketing tips and news.

12/Nov/2018
EPR-121118.jpg

Engineering companies should create a diverse mix of content formats and improve their websites to capture new leads and sales in 2019, according to a new report released last week by IEEE GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing.

The 2019 Smart Marketing for Engineers Research Report highlights the growing importance of managing a successful content marketing campaign and outlines a few key findings and trends to help brands influence buying decisions in several sectors, including manufacturing, automotive and aerospace.

Hundreds of tech pros and engineers were polled for the report, and the vast majority said that the written word in the form of case studies and datasheets is now the most valuable creative outlet. This is because buyers want in-depth and relevant content that can solve problems and influence decisions, while brands benefit from enhanced credibility.

Rewriting web pages and overhauling UI and UX will be another crucial strategy for engineering enterprises next year, as potential clients often make snap judgements on a website’s appearance and how easy it is to navigate. Those that fail to optimise in this area can lose sales immediately, as buyers abandon a page and go elsewhere.

The central role of content marketing and web pages also feeds into a need to overhaul SEO. Search engines act as the foundation for traffic and new leads, so engineering companies should invest in a wide range of content resources, including regular blogs, and optimise everything for Google.

Meanwhile, Content Marketing Institute (CMI) released the latest part of its Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report for manufacturing sector last week. More than half of marketers in this industry say they have pivoted away from sales and promotional messages and are now prioritising the informational needs of audiences instead.

Serving up added value content has emerged as a major trend during the last 12 months, but manufacturing marketers are still behind B2B content marketers. Around four in five marketers in the manufacturing sector also admit to not having a documented strategy, which suggests their approach to content is yet to mature.

“There’s a clear way for manufacturing marketers to turn around their perspective,” CMI’s research director, Lisa Murton Beets, said. “They need to stop creating content without taking the time to first understand and prioritize the audience’s informational needs. This goes back to the importance of having a documented content marketing strategy.”

While manufacturers are playing catch up, many do recognise the importance of content, as 56% of those that have increased investment during the last 12 months have spent more on the creative process. Four in five are now also using new technology relating to data and analytics to better manage their efforts.

Looking ahead, more than a quarter are planning to use “personas” during content marketing campaigns in the coming months, which will take adoption rates for this technique to 66% by early 2019. Finally, the notoriously long sales cycle in manufacturing prompted 68% to cite serving up content for multi-level roles as the most pressing challenge for the year ahead.


05/Nov/2018
EPR-51118.jpg

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.


29/Oct/2018
EPR-291018.jpg

Big brands are failing to maximise digital engagement and need to do more to optimise content and search to deliver the experiences that customers need. That is the primary takeaway from the inaugural Global Marketing Engagement Index launched this week by global communications agency LEWIS.

The index analyses the marketing campaigns of 300 of the world’s largest public enterprises to determine how well they are using digital engagement and the variety of tools at their disposal to engage with end users. The findings suggest there is still a notable engagement gap and that brands need to use more cutting-edge technology to address their shortcomings.

The main issue stems for marketers still operating in a silo rather than looking to connect the dots and seamlessly deliver engagement across a variety of channels. This practice can lead to a disjointed customer experience. The report notes that personalisation and other “simple mechanisms,” such as tag management, are the best quick fixes for those looking to improve their efforts and drive better results immediately.

Social media is another area where brands are struggling. This is because many brands still opt for a “megaphone” style of content delivery rather than looking at how to use unique channels on Facebook, Instagram and other such sites to support personal interactions and engagements with customers.

“Winning the engagement battle is the new frontier for marketers, and measuring it is more critical than ever,” LEWIS executive Giles Peddy said. “We believe that companies must accelerate their integration of the marketing ecosystem and begin measuring it as a collective, not as a series of islands. This is why we believe we are on the cusp of a new era in marketing called Quantified Engagement.”

He added: “The LEWIS MET provides marketers with the ability to look across the entire marketing engagement spectrum and drill down at specific marketing touchpoints. We want this to help and empower businesses to make their brands standout, reach customers at every point of interaction and become the global leaders of tomorrow.”

Tech giant Microsoft tops the first index by scoring two points higher than Bank of America, while five out of the top ten firms are financial services corporations. However, the clear majority of brands are still not doing everything they can to maximise the searchability of their content, even though 93% of online activities begin with a consumer entering a query into Google or other search engines.

Jim Macnamara, a Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics (LSE), urged brands to go deeper into analytics and move on from “simple, single metrics” to a get a better understanding of how an audience responds to content and what it wants from engagement. He noted that this was more important than ever before due to today’s “hyper-connected” digital world that spans a multitude of platforms and mediums.

Macnamara concluded: “Organizations need to look at multiple factors that collectively provide deep insights into the journey of customers and other stakeholders. Engagement is more than likes and click-throughs.”


15/Oct/2018
Depositphotos_51127979_xl-2015.jpg

The importance of putting an audience’s needs before promotional messages appears to be getting through to marketers, as 90% of B2B top performers now focus on tailoring and personalising videos, articles and blogs for end users rather than how these resources can push sales.

That’s just one of the major takeaways from the Content Marketing Institute’s report titled B2B Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America. While the best marketers are thinking carefully about customers, more than half of all respondents admit to not having any direct conversations with them when conducting research. This disconnect can make it difficult to deliver the added-value materials that audiences want and need.

In terms of getting to know audiences better, brands are using a variety of activities, with sales team feedback topping the list. Meanwhile, almost three-quarters are now using website analytics to glean insights, while two-thirds are using keyword research. Looking ahead, 73% expect to use personas to support content marketing by the end of the year.

Serving up educational content appears to be the way forward for B2B marketers, as a sizeable 96% of top performers say their audiences consider them to be an authoritative voice in the industry and a credible and trusted resource. However, marketers are not doing too badly overall, as two-thirds say they now can use content to enhance their credibility.

Spending on content creation has soared during the last 12 months, as 56% have increased investment in this area as they look to third-party agencies and in-house talent to come up with high-quality, engaging resources.

Content format habits have also changed slightly during the last year. Audio and visual content has seen the biggest increase in usage, but the power of the written word is still critical for B2B marketers, as 61% are using more articles, blogs and eBooks. As always, marketers should use the format that is best suited to business global strategies and objectives as well as audience demographics and preferences.

“It’s terrific to see how many content marketers are putting the audience first,” CMI research director, Lisa Murton Beets, said. “This was a novel concept to many traditional marketers 10 years ago when CMI Founder Joe Pulizzi co-wrote the book, Get Content Get Customers. Now that it’s a common practice among the most successful content marketers surveyed, we see how much marketers have adjusted their thinking.”

“Nurturing an audience requires us to dig deep to understand who they really are – to be truly curious about them,” MarketingProfs CCO, Ann Handley, added: “When we speak with our customers with empathy, as their peers, we develop camaraderie – they are no longer just ‘target markets,’ ‘personas,’ or ‘segments.’”

Finally, the report also touched on some of the primary concerns and challenges for B2B marketers. Six in ten said changes to SEO and search algorithms was the most important, while 45% said the same for changes to social media algorithms. Data privacy has been a high-profile subject this year, but only 34% said this was an issue.


08/Oct/2018
EPR_08.jpg

Half of US-based marketers are using contextual targeting to reach and engage with audiences more effectively, according to a new study published by The Drum and GumGum.

Behavioural targeting has traditionally been the go-to method for advertisers, as it allows them to tailor content to people they believe will be receptive to it depending on demographic factors, such as age and sex, and psychographic factors based around values, attitudes and opinions. The study suggests this is now changing.

Just 25% of marketers said they now use behavioural targeting compared with the 49% that favour contextual targeting. The latter method sees brands target people based specifically on the context of a specific website and what an end user is looking at. This is appealing to brands in a climate of fake news, safety scandals and the recent arrival of GDPR regulations.

GDPR has overhauled personal data collection and limited a company’s ability to store and analyse data from consumers that underscores traditional behavioural targeting. Contextual advertising empowers brands to serve up engaging, personalised and relevant content to audiences without having to glean insights from big data. It is better suited to the real-time nature of digital content consumption.

The latest report, titled Contextual Advertising: The New Frontier, highlights the comeback of contextual methods in modern marketing campaigns. It is by no means a new targeting activity, but it has become much more complex and useful in recent years. Back in the early days of digital advertising and SEO, brands would often rely on a single keyword. This is no longer the case, as AI and other cutting-edge technology allow publishers to decipher the visual content of a specific page.

Advertisers are eager to capture and retain the interest of a consumer in today’s saturated content landscape. It has never been more important to deliver the right piece of content to the right person at the right time. Semantics analysis and computer vision are now supporting a step change in the efficiency of contextual targeting. These methods offer brands a realistic solution at a time when data collection and processing is a pressing issue for the general public.

The authors of the study polled 116 senior executives in the US and the UK for their opinions on digital marketing, and the main takeaway is that contextual advertising may soon become the de facto method for targeting, as new technology allows the contextualisation of text and images to inform content decision-making.

The report also found that 31% of brands are planning to increase investment in contextual advertising next year. That uptick is being driven by data showing it delivers better returns and results – performance increased by 73% on average when compared to behavioural targeting.

The study does stress that contextual advertising should not be used in isolation and should be supported by a balanced mix of marketing and advertising techniques and methods. However, it is perhaps the best method for delivering strong results at a time when global regulations for data are inconsistent and brand safety concerns grow.

 


01/Oct/2018
EPR-01102018.jpg

Financial services enterprises are pivoting away from traditional media channels and doubling down on cost-effective content marketing to reach wider audiences, according to a new study by Yell.

The financial services specialist survey polled the opinions of 250 senior marketers in the industry and revealed key trends and interesting insights its latest annual State of Financial Marketing report. The main takeaway is that marketers are looking to make budgets go further, as the majority are not planning to increase spending on the activity during the next 12 months.

While budgetary thresholds are mostly standing still, the same is not true for content marketing investment. This appears to be a primary focus for those in financial services, as a sizeable 77% said they will spend more engaging articles, blogs, videos and infographics in the coming months, while 62% will divert more funds into improving and maintaining corporate websites.

Social media is another important outlet, as 54% of marketers are planning to increase paid social media spending, while a similar number will do the same for email marketing. These forms of digital marketing are becoming more popular in contrast to more traditional channels, such as print, radio and TV, where investment is dropping off.

There will be a net reduction in spending on ads on “passive” traditional channels during the next year. Print advertising will see the biggest decline, as 23% of marketers said they would spend less in this area. One in ten also said TV advertising budgets will fall. This indicates more “active” channels, such as content and social media, are now the go-to options for marketers.

As the switch to digital continues, marketers still have several pressing concerns and challenges that are preventing them from getting the most from their endeavours. Just under half said a lack of time and resources is making it hard to achieve their objectives. This is a problem they plan to address by working with an expert third party, such as a content agency.

Only one in five said time and resource constraints were a “significant” issue two years ago, so this is an alarming rise in a comparatively short period. Marketers are also struggling to get to grips with the latest wave of cutting-edge technology, as 80% said inefficient platforms are hindering their efforts to achieve targets and goals.

“The pressure being placed on financial services marketers to do more with the same, or even fewer resources, is once again the top of the charts when it comes to marketers’ concerns,” Yell founder partner, Nigel Roberts, noted. “Last year it was our contention that this was due to a massive increase in channels that marketers are being asked to service, without necessarily being given more budget or people to assist them.”

He added: “This year it feels like much of the same, but there is a sense that the focus is moving away from traditional channels, with content delivery being regarded as having greater importance within financial service institutions.”


24/Sep/2018
epr.jpg

According to a new study published by B2B research enterprise Clutch, brands that produce business content with added value will benefit from a snowball effect of enhanced awareness, engagement and retention. The study also outlines a range of interesting trends and information for marketers.

The good news is that content marketing appears to be working as intended. Almost nine in ten of those surveyed said they had completed the purchase of a brand’s product or service after consuming content online, while more two-thirds believe the articles, blogs, videos and infographics they consume are either useful and valuable in some way.

Content marketing can trigger positive actions from consumers in a variety of ways. For example, more than half said they would take the time to research what a brand offers if they deem a piece of content to be engaging and offering added value. The report notes that giving “value first” is a preferable strategy, as it will feed into awareness, search intent and sales further down the line.

While 33% said that the content they consume is often “biased and unreliable,” these materials would not put them off from purchasing a product entirely. On the contrary, almost three-quarters of people said they had bought goods or services from a brand despite their concerns about the quality of content marketing.

Content that is transparent and unique will drive engagement and sales in the best way for brands, but the results suggest less reliable promotional resources may also have a place in the marketing mix. However, marketers need to approach with caution, as it is difficult to get right.

“I think audiences can find content marketing biased and unreliable if the content is, in fact, biased and unreliable; audiences aren’t stupid,” said Arron Richmond, a content manager for High Speed Training. “This is a gigantic missed opportunity because the one thing content marketing should aim to achieve, above all else, is increasing a customer’s confidence to buy from you.”

Targeting value is still the best method for serving up content that audiences want to engage with, and Clutch believes there are three primary factors involved. The first is to produce content tailored to the specific preferences and issues of an audience, using keyword research and customer outreach to underscore topics that will resonate.

Brands should also showcase their expertise by doubling down on a “core question.” This practice allows writers to answer with authority while hitting the bullet points that audiences want from content. Finally, brands should optimise for SEO, as 87% said they use Google and other search engines to find business content.

The study also unearthed a few surprising takeaways about content and what each generation prefers. Millennials are often criticised for their short attention spans and love of simple videos, but blogs and articles were the most popular with young adults and Generation X. Baby boomers also enjoy articles but prefer to read reviews and product descriptions. In contrast, just 16% of Millennials said they prefer these descriptions.


17/Sep/2018
EPR-17092018.jpg

According to a new study published by Dun & Bradstreet, the vast majority of B2B marketers believe data and analytics play a major role in personalising content and driving sales, but around half are still not confident about the quality of data they have at their disposal.

The annual B2B Marketing Data Report shows a growing recognition that data underpins marketing strategies and campaigns, with 89% believing that data quality is a key driver for content marketing and sales. This is a 15% increase from the previous study, and that figure has steadily tracked upward for several years.

Data is now a crucial business asset for several reasons, according to B2B marketers. The top activities that data underscores are campaign execution and personalised content. In a world where brands are serving up more materials across social media and corporate websites, data is now viewed as a tool to help them cut through the noise and connect with target audiences effectively.

In addition to optimising content campaigns, data is also being used to generate customer insights via analytics. This also feeds into content strategies and improves decision making throughout the marketing pipeline. Other top activities centred around data include sales prospecting, sales closing, and lead qualification and scoring. Basically, data is now an essential part of marketing, from the first stage to the last.

While data has become more important during the last 12 months, B2B enterprises are more hesitant about the quality of data they have. This lack of confidence is making it more difficult to manage content marketing initiatives at a time when these efforts have never been so crucial to driving awareness, engagement and sales.

“B2B companies are currently at a crossroads,” Dun & Bradstreet Global Head of Marketing, Josh Mueller, noted. “They overwhelmingly understand the value of data to their organizations, but have not yet figured out how to collect, integrate and apply that data in insightful ways to help make business decisions. Organizations that have established a solid data foundation as core to their sales and marketing programs can improve performance over their counterparts that don’t have that data foundation.”

One other issue that is holding B2B marketers back is a lack of data integration with the wider business. A sizeable 90% of the 250 marketers surveyed said they find it challenging to line up marketing data with sales and other activities when attempting to execute campaigns across a plethora of channels. Just a third said they can make sense of a buyer’s journey. These blind spots subsequently make it more difficult to serve up the right content at the right time. Integrating data with CRM is another common problem.

“By using data to connect sales and marketing activities, businesses can better identify new opportunities, focus on the right audience with the right message, arm sellers with the right intelligence, and provide learnings that enable them to continually improve their strategy,” Mueller added. “When done right, this is the winning formula for more personalized, efficient, and impactful marketing at scale.”


10/Sep/2018
Depositphotos_43402089_m-2015.jpg

Podcasts have traditionally been consumed by men, but a new study released by Westwood One last week found that brands are tapping into the world of creative sound to engage with more women who are eager to listen on smart speakers and other connected devices.

Podcasts are still unlikely to be the cornerstone of content marketing campaigns, as the new study noted that “very little research” has been conducted about ads within these soundscapes. However, more than two-thirds of key decision makers have broached the subject of marketing in podcasts with fellow employees.

That is not a surprise, considering that podcast ad revenue in the US soared to $314m (£243) last year, an 86% uptick compared to the previous year. According to data from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the rate of growth is set to quicken and will surpass $650m (£503) by the end of the decade. Digital ad revenue within digital audio now accounts for more than $1.6bn (£1.2).

Westwood One polled 600 people who regularly listen to podcasts to uncover key trends and interesting insights. Most podcast listeners are still male, but women are catching up, as they consume 5.5 hours of this medium every week, a 20% increase year-on-year.

“The 2018 year will be remembered as podcasting’s year of the women,” Cumulus Media executive and Westwood One president, Suzanne Grimes, said. “There’s an encouraging trend of compelling and diverse new content for women. While male audiences stabilize, the growth rate of the female podcast audience is soaring.”

For brands eager to tap into the wants and needs of a female audience, podcasts may offer a viable outlet and can complement more traditional content marketing campaigns centred around blogs, articles, infographics and video. One reason why podcasts are becoming more popular is the proliferation of connected devices in the home. More than a quarter are tuning in using connected entertainment systems in cars, while a similar number are using smart speakers.

Young people consume the most podcasts, as 64% of Millennials said they were “heavy listeners.” However, it is not just a medium for 18- to 34-year olds, as 15% of the Baby Boomer generation said they now listen to podcasts via a smart speaker. Also, 20% of women are consuming content in this way, an increase over the 12% that said so last year.

Heavy listeners are defined as those that consume more than six hours of podcasts every week, and this group represents 43% of the 600 people surveyed. Heavy listeners are increasing, but people who listen to three to five hours and less than three hours saw a slight decrease in the latest study.

Podcast audiences are changing, and marketers should use the new trends and insights to optimise strategies and campaigns and potentially diversify their efforts to tap into audiences that want more sound-related content each week. The study found that the use of promotional codes in podcasts is particularly effective at driving engagement.


03/Sep/2018
EPR-03092018.jpg

According to the latest biannual CMO Survey, Marketing spending on social media has hit record levels during the last year even though many brands are still unable to determine their return on investment and prove its real impact.

Marketers now invest 13.8% of their total budgets on social media, which is a 4% increase from the figure reported 12 months ago. It also represents the fastest rate of growth and suggests that while Facebook has recently tweaked algorithms to reduce the visibility of brand content in news feeds, other platforms, such as Instagram and Snapchat, may be picking up the slack.

While spending has increased, just a quarter of respondents said they can quantitatively prove the impact of its social marketing campaigns. More worryingly, 39.3% said they had no idea about its impact at all. Therefore. knowledge gaps still exist, but the situation is improving. Last year, 45% could not determine the impact of their social marketing, while only 16.3% could.

Rising social spending agrees with the findings from a separate study released by BuzzSumo and Buffer last week. It found that there were 8.1 million pieces of content posted on Facebook during the second quarter of 2018, which is an increase of 1.1 million pieces over the figure from the first quarter. On average, brands are now creating 90,000 posts every day.

While quantity is soaring, brands are seeing a slowdown in organic engagement, either due to the emergence of other social platforms or of the algorithm change noted earlier. There were more than 29 million interactions on Facebook in Q1 2017, but this number has decreased sharply and stood at just 12.8 million for the latest quarter.

Engagement is a challenge for brands, but the CMO Survey found that marketers are still committed to increasing social media spending. They expect to allocate 16.3% of their budgets to the practice during the next year, and this amount will increase to 22.9% by 2023.

Third-party agencies are also playing a more pivotal role in the social marketing mix, as 21.7% of a brand’s activity on these networks are now handled by agencies, a marked increase over the 18.7% figure from last year. These agencies are usually adept at managing a range of content output, from editorial articles and blogs to engaging infographics and video.

Finally, the CMO Survey also shined a light on the changing role of marketing and how it has broadened over the last five years. The clear majority of marketers now lead their company’s brand activity, social media presence and PR. However, there has been a slight decrease in marketers taking the reins for ad campaigns and promotions.

Political issues are a difficult subject for brands to parse, as 67.8% believe having a say on public affairs can limit their ability to interact and engage with a wide audience and retain current customers. Six in ten also believe that incorporating politics into content and messages could make them stand out in the wrong way.