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

14/Apr/2020
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Consumers are spending more time on connected devices during the coronavirus lockdown and are eager for a mix of content and ads that touch on the pandemic and also depict continuity and positivity, a new study by Unruly has found.

The various phases of lockdown being implemented across Europe and North America has forced consumers to take solace in their smartphones with 50% of the 2,638 respondents to a survey saying they are using iPhones and Android devices “a lot more than before”.

Other devices show a similar spike in usage with connected TVs (42%), laptops (35%), games consoles (29%), tablets (27%) and desktop PCs (28%) all acting as prime hub for extended online time for the general public.

The study found that the new normal, for now at least, will provide content marketers and advertisers with the ability to put forth engaging and informative experiences to a “literally captive audience”.

Insight vice president, Terence Scroope, believes audiences are now at “one of the most” engaged points in “our lifetime” as so many people are at home and crave distractions to get through the lockdown.

Scroope also believes brands need to address “the elephant in the room” by showcasing thought leadership on Covid-19 related issues and by outlining what they are doing with their business during the tough period.

22% of respondents said they want content conveying how brands are helping staff and customers in different ways and a similar number are on the lookout for ads that offer useful information about the coronavirus.

On the flip side of the coin, consumers also want distractions and normalcy. 17% of respondents said they crave content that depicts continuity, the same number who said they would like to see more humour and positivity in ads and content.

“The vast majority of consumers still want to see ads,” Scroope revealed in a statement. “But the key to success is in the content and the way a message is conveyed.”

In terms of ad delivery methods, four in ten young adults aged between 18 to 24 prefer to hear from the brands they follow via online video on social platforms, while the older customers want brand comms via TV ads and other traditional formats.

The pandemic has changed consumer behaviour significantly as only 10% say their daily lives are continuing as normal with the majority now social distancing to ease the strain on health services and reduce the chances of contracting the virus.

The time spent indoors has resulted in a spike in mobile usage with 81% of Millennials now logging onto social media more than they were before. Around half of all respondents are also indulging in more home entertainment.

There are other offline hobbies that consumers are enjoying though. Two-thirds say they have spent more time following recipes, cooking meals and baking goods during the last month, while 43% have devoted more hours to reading books.

All of these changes offer brands the chance to tweak campaigns to deliver the content that consumers need during this difficult time.


31/Mar/2020
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Almost half of marketers believe their content marketing output is “hit or miss” and many are still struggling to determine whether it is truly impactful or relevant for customers and clients according to a new study released last week by the CMO Council.

CMO found that excellent content can really make a difference when it “hits the market” with positive benefits including driving the sales cycle forward at a faster rate and influencing how products and services are sold and delivered.

However, the problem comes when content fails to live up to the standards expected as it can waste money and undermine marketing efforts as a whole and make it more difficult to attract and retain the attention of customers.

195 marketing leaders from some of the world’s most recognisable brands including ABC, IBM and Guinness World Records took part in the latest study titled ‘Turning a Creative Eye on Content ROI’.

The key decision makers were unanimous in their praise of content marketing and how it can effectively communicate what a brand represents and why customers should buy into it and make it a part of their lives.

Robert Schefferine, ABC Entertainment Marketing Studios vp of production, went further by stating that a company’s “most important” asset is now content.

While content is king for big corps, 43% rate their output as patchy at best and many believe they lack any real consistency. Less than a third believe their content is “exceptional” or very good.

CMO Council noted that demands and expectations from prospects, partners and customers have increased as they now expect “contextually relevant” content served across the right channels at just the right time.

Following through on this customer-led objective is proving to be challenging though and a lack of resources is only exacerbating the issue.

When asked about the factors that direct and shape content strategy and campaigns, 49% of respondents said budget, 44% said time and 32% said executive request.

Rock Content CEO believes these factors can make it difficult to understand the intent of buyers, which is a crucial foundation for producing compelling and targeting content. A failure to do this compromises even the best marketing and demand gen efforts.

He added: “Today, there is an array of content types, such as user-generated content, video and podcasts and distribution channels available to marketers that can lead them astray.

“The challenge is keeping up with content marketing’s rapid evolution, while never losing focus on content’s impact on its audience.”

Guinness World Record exec, Samantha Fay revealed that its content strategy had evolved significantly compared to a decade ago when merely telling stories when a book came out was enough.

She added that the 24/7 era of rolling news means records need to be reported on via articles, blogs and social media posts as and when they happen, which puts more pressure on content teams to get it right on a daily basis.

Finally, at the top of wish lists for the year ahead is better data analytics and metric tracking as marketers attempt to determine whether content actually engages audiences.


23/Mar/2020
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The outbreak of the coronavirus will force the majority of companies to push the pause button on product or service launches during the next two months according to a new research by Marketing Week and Econsultancy.

Out of the 887 professionals surveyed, 55% said they have already paused upcoming launches and many are expecting to see buyer behaviours and habits change significantly.

The Covid-10 global pandemic poses a host of new challenges to marketers and companies who may need to pivot to new strategies and solutions to support core operations during the next few weeks.

Separate research by searchenginejournal found SEO metrics have also been particularly volatile since European countries and US states started rolling out increasingly draconian measures to control the movement of the general public.

During the last ten days, ecommerce sites and those posting wellness and wellness content have seen a marked increase in impressions and traffic.

Recipe websites are also more popular, presumably because people are not eating out as much and are turning to home cooking to fill the void.

For brands in the food industry or who specialise in food-based content, creating articles and blogs with quick guides and recipes with fewer ingredients could be the best course of action right now.

Despite the outbreak, brands will remain committed to content and general marketing campaigns as six in ten are delaying the review of budget commitments for the time being.

More than a third have noted a dip in demand for products and services during the last week and 61% expect that trend to persist during the coming quarter.

Content marketing and organic SEO could be crucial during this period as marketing initiatives such as events and roundtables that are usually central to lead generation will be delayed or cancelled entirely.

There is also an opportunity to engage more consumers across digital platforms as 88% expect the use of online services to soar. A similar number also expect social media activity to increase during the next month.

The switch to digital platforms is also being felt in the workplace where many companies are now embracing remote working to enable employees to continue their roles amid the outbreak of the virus.

More than a third of UK marketers say working from home had been a “somewhat rare” or “rare” occurrence for them until the last few weeks but eight in ten now expect it to be “somewhat” or “very common” during the spring and summer.

In terms of productivity, the move to remote working could be beneficial for companies as two-thirds say they expect to work more hours when they are at home due to the lack of a daily commute and the ease of access to work-related devices.

Three-quarters also expect to be more efficient in their work activities, though a small portion (23%) are concerned that it could eventually intrude into their personal lives.

When the outbreak subsides, 54% of respondents believe working practices to go back to normal by and large, with only 6% forecasting “significant” changes in the long term.


16/Mar/2020
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Top performing tech marketers are better at using content marketing to nurture subscribers and build loyalty with existing customers than less successful counterparts according to a new study published last week by the Content Marketing Institute.

CMI’s latest annual Benchmark, Budgets and Trends study for the tech industry found 76% of all organisations are enjoying more success than they were at the point of last year’s research in early 2019.

However, certain enterprises are still going and above and beyond expectations, either by having a documented strategy in place or using content across the marketing funnel instead of just focusing on the awareness phase.

Marketers are achieving a wide range of goals with content marketing materials as many look at taking advantage of opportunities further along the sales cycle.

In addition to educating audiences, an objective 80% of marketers have achieved during the last twelve months, 73% have also built credibility and trust and 72% have nurtured a base of loyal and attentive audiences.

CMI said the most successful marketers are investing in customer loyalty. While lead generation and unearthing new clients is obviously important, strengthening ties with existing customers is fundamental to being a “top performer”.

CMI vp of editorial, Kim Moutsos says marketers and agencies working for tech companies are now able to deploy content effectively wherever they choose.

She noted: “When we look at what makes the top performers successful, we see they treat content marketing as a strategic business function, craft content thoughtfully, experiment with distribution, and measure their results.”

Tech content marketers also like to deploy a plethora of content formats to support their aims with social media content and written pieces leading the way.

Social media posts, tweets and stories were used by 96% of marketers during the last twelve months, putting them just ahead of blog posts and short articles (93%).

Case studies are also a go-to format, presumably because it allows brands to educate and inform B2B buyers who need reassurance and advice before making a purchase.

A few other favoured formats include email newsletters (82%), in-person events (83%), webinars (74%) and ebooks and guides (61%).

Demonstrating return on investment (ROI) remains a challenge for tech marketers but perhaps not surprisingly, the most successful are able to use key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure content initiatives and determine ROI, and more likely to rate their ability to do so as either “very good” or “excellent”.

The good news is that 83% of all respondents are now using metrics to measure the performance of content marketing activities, an encouraging sign in today’s data driven environment.

2020 is now well underway and there are a few things that marketers want to master before the year is out.

More than half (54%) have their sights set on improving the quality and conversion of audiences while 47% want to improve how they measure content marketing campaigns.

A similar number want to focus on the quality and quantity of their content output. More than a third (38%) also are also eager to optimise social media management and other forms of content distribution.


09/Mar/2020
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Fake reviews and misleading content continue to frustrate retail customers who believe brands in the sector need to outline new standards to combat the problem.

A new study by Bazaarvoice Inc has found that compelling, informative content is a big win for brands in retail but that the opposite can turn off customers entirely as the demand for up to date, relevant and trustworthy information trumps all else in the buyer’s journey.

10,000 consumers in several countries including the US and UK were polled for their opinions on the reviews and other forms of content that often feature on product pages.

Authenticity is very important at this point as customers look to consume content at this stage to inform their decision making. The right content helps to build trust but fake reviews can lead to negative experiences and a lingering sense of disappointment.

The problem with fake reviews has escalated to a point where 72% of respondents want new standards to improve the situation.

Of the measures that could help, 43% want only customers that have made a verified purchase being able to submit a review. A third of those quizzed also said every product should be tried and tested by customers before they go on sale.

A further 34% believe the onus is on the brand to run the rule over customer content each day to ensure it meets the highest standards and to weed out reviews that are fake.

The consequences for brands that do not uphold high standards can be dire as 43% would lose all trust and 78% of these consumers said they would not even consider purchasing a product or service from the brand again.

Bazaarvoice chief revenue officer, Joe Rohrlich said customers are often suspicious when there are a number of the same reviews with similar wording and a very high percentage of extremely positive reviews.

He added: “It is paramount that brands are reviewing customer content through technology-based and human moderation to account for the subtleties in one of the most challenging aspects of ecommerce.”

Customers prefer to see a mix of positive and negative reviews. More than two-thirds said less flattering takes on products are as important as those that gush about features as weighing the pros against the cons helps to improve decisions.

Highlighting negative reviews also means consumers are less likely to believe the content is fake or fraudulent.

The quality of content elsewhere on web pages is also important for customers. More than half said they don’t like to see dishonest brand or product info, which again highlights the need for relevant and trustworthy web copy.

Other turn offs for customers include lacklustre quality products (61%) and customer service issues (49%). All of these can break trust and make it difficult to regain it so brands should be proactive and vigilant when creating and supporting customer experiences.

Rohrlich concludes: “Alongside the right tools and expertise, brands should pursue new insights from customer content that can help enhance product design and production quality.”


01/Mar/2020
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Marketers want greater access to “customer attention” metrics as they believe more in depth data about content consumption and viewability would drive better performance from campaigns and strategies.

A new study published by Forrester Consulting, titled ‘Attention 2.0: Enhancing Ad Measurement Beyond Clicks & Viewability’, attempts to determine whether customer attention metrics can support more favourable outcomes across the marketing and advertising pipeline.

The conclusion is unanimous. Out of the 164 brand marketers in a range of industries including automotive and retail, 98% said deeper attention metrics would drive greater value for their respective companies and improve returns and ROI over an extended period.

Making sense of data is big business for modern brands but a sizable 84% of marketers said they are not able to keep a track of customer attention when consuming content, especially during mobile ads.

It is no surprise then that four in five marketers said they are eager for more access to pools of customer attention data that can really make a difference to the quality of decision making and to support other positive outcomes.

If they had better access, two-thirds of respondents said they would attempt to improve the process of retargeting and get a better handle on the frequency of ads they need to publish, as well as enhance click-through rates.

With data taking on great import across the business, 63% of respondents said their organisations are planning to spend more on customer attention metrics in 2020, making it a core focus for marketing in general.

Moving back to the use cases for customer attention data, a majority of marketers also want to hone in on metrics to see what can help to “drive brand lift”.

A further 58% also want to be able to test creative to see what formats and mediums would be the best for generating the most attention.

Meanwhile, at a recent CMO Summit, experts have been speaking about the “attention economy” and how to put forward big brand stories to attract and engage customers on a regular basis.

Pocket Aces co-founder, Aditi Shrivastava believes audiences “no longer want to see ads” and instead, crave authentic content with strategic brand placements.

She adds: “We’ve done a lot of consumer studies directly with consumers ranging from age 15 to 35. Digital also helps you to understand their sentiment about their likes and dislikes, so you not only know if they’ve seen your brand but whether they have received the message or not.”

Shrivastava also outlined a few different methods for tracking ROI effectively. For brands with an online presence and a mobile app, measuring downloads is the path with the least resistance to better metrics. For offline brands, marketers should conduct brand studies and look to create a regular content schedule.

She says content should not be viewed as a “one-time activity” and needs to be optimised depending on a company’s needs, goals, and wider targets. It also needs to have a ROI driven mindset behind it to ensure returns are viable from the get-go.


20/Feb/2020
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Enterprise marketers need to use content during every phase in which a customer interacts with their company as it is essential for delivering ‘great’ experiences, a new study by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) has found.

Enterprise marketing is naturally grander in scale and scope than traditional marketing as it combines different departments and activities across an organisation to drive sales and attract and retain large audiences.

The latest report by CMI, titled ‘Enterprise Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America’ has uncovered a direct link between the deployment of content during each stage of the cycle, which generally starts with ‘awareness’ and concludes with ‘action’, and the quality of experiences.

More than half of enterprise marketers working for a brand delivering ‘optimal’ customer experiences say that their content marketing strategies and campaigns are either ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ successful.

Those using content every time a customer interacts with their company are enjoying greater success.

Just 29% of all respondents are managing high-quality content marketing activities and those who do not are struggling to deliver the experiences that their customers demand.

CMI general manager Stephanie Stahl said that the report shows that brands deploying content regularly are not only providing great experiences but are also truly focused on the needs of their audience.

This can pay off in a number of ways at the point of sale and further down the line as brand retention and loyalty comes into play.

Speaking about successful enterprise marketers, she added: “They give their audience what they want and need, when and where they need it.

“They create content based on specific points/stages of the buyer journey.

“Their content creates credibility and trust. On top of that, they view their role as directly connected to sales.”

Stahl also believes that content ties everything together and is able to unite disparate moving parts to ensure that customer experiences are seamless from the first interaction to the last.

In large-scale enterprise marketing, this is very important.

Enterprise marketers are also becoming more strategic as 46% now have some sort of documented strategy for content marketing in place.

There have been notable strides in this area as only 36% said the same 12 months ago.

While content is a unifying influence, the actual act of coordinating content creation and distribution is still proving to be a challenge as 62% say that this is their top issue for the year ahead.

Back in 2019, the same challenge came out on top.

There is also room for improvement in terms of deploying content after every touch point as just 44% said that they agree that their organisation can deliver seamless, optimal experiences during the entire sales and engagement cycle.

The 10th annual study shows that for brands naturally eager for customers to return and buy products and services a number of times, content can play a major role in strengthening ties, trust and loyalty.

Nine in 10 providing optimal experiences value the creativity and craft that’s central to content creation and a similar number strongly believe that relevant content needs to be distributed at points when individual customers can see it most.


14/Feb/2020
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Marketing professionals are going all in on content marketing in 2020, according to new research by the World Media Group, which found that 80% of brands expect campaigns led by editorial content, videos and other mediums to grow during the next two years.

The ‘Understanding the Future for Content-Led Marketing Around the World’ study shines a light on how content is being deployed by big brands and its evolution from primarily being a lead generation tool to a wide-reaching, multi-faceted activity.

By the end of 2021, a staggering 98% of marketers expect content-driven campaigns to either stabilise or grow, with just 2% expecting a drop-off during the period.

As content strategies mature, brands are becoming more bold and experimental in their campaigns as they look to drive action across the marketing funnel.

Nine in 10 respondents said that they will add audio and podcasts to their publication slate in 2020 and a similar number are expecting to leverage cutting-edge tech such as augmented reality and virtual reality to deliver more engaging experiences.

While written, editorial-style content and posts on social media remain a cornerstone of content marketing strategies, there is a willingness to diversify and embrace new mediums to cater to the more nuanced role that content marketing plays across the business.

Content creation is the activity that makes everything tick, but to create holistic strategies, brands are also focusing on how output is distributed as putting content front and centre at various stages of a customer’s journey is becoming more important.

The concept of added value is also strengthening as companies are attempting to showcase their expertise and address customers’ needs to ensure that they return to a website at a later date, which drives conversion in the long term.

“Content, when produced strategically and with regularity, can be the backbone of a marketing and advertising plan,” eMarketer principal analyst Jillian Ryan said in a statement.

She added: “It should be created for a specific audience and shared in the most relevant channel to reach the intended audience.

“Brands are starting to realize that content-led strategies can inform and provide fuel for most of their other marketing and advertising initiatives.”

The popularity of content marketing has been espoused in other recent studies such as the CMO Club’s report on the “real drivers of brand growth” in marketing, which found that 86% of key decision-makers in the US believe that the practice is the single most important area for investment.

Organic content marketing topped the charts as the best digital media channel ahead of digital display ads (64%), general search engine optimisation (59%) and paid search (59%) 

A separate study by Borrell Associates also found that content marketing is now regularly being deployed alongside paid ads to increase its reach and power.

More than two-thirds plan to spend more on digital video ads in the coming months, while a similar number expect to see an uptick in investment in digital audio ads and social media advertising.

In contrast, traditional mediums such as newspaper, magazine and radio are falling by the wayside.


27/Jan/2020
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UK companies are heading into 2020 with renewed optimism and plans for greater marketing spend as uncertainty surrounding Brexit subsides and the political environment becomes more stable, the latest quarterly IPA Bellwether Report has found.

During the final three months of 2019, a net balance of +4% of enterprises increased the scope of their marketing budgets, a marked uptick on the -0.5% figure recorded during the previous quarter.

The rate of expansion in Q4 is the strongest for almost two years and suggests that companies are now ready to invest heavily in content, advertising and other marketing endeavours as the new year gets underway.

The report expects the feel-good factor to prevail for some time as its preliminary outlook for the 2020/21 period shows a net balance of +15.7% for companies expecting budgets to grow during the next 12 months or so.

Brexit has cast a shadow over marketing planning since 2016, but that gloom now appears to be lifting as a more resolute outcome approaches with the UK expected to formally leave the EU on 31st January.

A number of the surveyed companies said that they have been motivated to spend more on marketing since the result of the General Election, which saw the Conservatives deliver a landslide victory and a large majority.

IPA director general Paul Bainsfair believes that it will not be “plain sailing” just yet as Brexit has been such an arduous process that marketing leaders and decision-makers are still tentative about future planning.

However, the signs are pointing to greater investment in content marketing and other activities such as PR, sales promotions and events among UK companies this year.

IHS Markit economist Joe Hayes added: “It appears that firms are looking to release the pent-up investment which has been put on hold amid the high degree of political and economic uncertainty which has plagued the UK business climate for well over 12 months now.”

Since the release of the report last week, various leading figures in the marketing industry have reacted to the news of rising budgets for the year ahead.

Future Publishing CRO UK Zack Sullivan believes that the latest report shows there is a “new wave of confidence” and that digital content and marketing is particularly lucrative at the moment.

He also urged brands to be brand safe, transparent and relevant to succeed in 2020.

Peer39 managing director Andrew Morsy says that many companies in the UK used a difficult 2019 to reassess their strategies and are now attempting to drive new business leads and foster brand awareness, which are the main reasons behind the rise in investment.

Meanwhile, M&C Saatchi Performance managing director Libby Robinson recommends a focus on return on investment and performance during the first year of the new decade as this will minimise inefficiencies and support better campaigns across the entire funnel.

The report found that around a quarter of companies observed a growth in budgets in Q4, while 58% saw spending allocation remain unchanged.


13/Jan/2020
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Social media management will be high on the list of priorities for SMEs and large companies in 2020 as 75% are expecting to increase investments in marketing across social platforms during the next 12 months, according to a new report from Slickdeals.

The ‘Embracing Social Commerce: Strategies, Successes, and Future Investments among Retailers’ study found that social media is now a prime battleground for engaging with customers and driving sales.

The rise of social and its collective billion-strong audience has also turned online shopping on its head, creating a new dynamic where many brands can drive as much commerce on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms as standard e-commerce websites.

Social commerce was just a fledgling concept five years ago, but it has since evolved into a vast and varied network, allowing brands to publish content and deliver experiences that support the online selling of products and services.

The use of social networks to push e-commerce transactions has become so important that three quarters of brands will be looking to spend more on social media marketing during the first year of the new decade.

Social commerce is widely practiced, with 89% of respondents in the survey saying that they are already utilising it or are expecting to do so within the next two years.

High-quality content should be at the core of customer engagement, but actually getting a meaningful strategy together remains a challenge for companies.

More than four in 10 said that their biggest struggle is developing and enacting a social strategy.

Meanwhile, 38% want to build a reputation centred around trust and loyalty to attract and retain the interest of consumers, which often involves using content to build on emotional bonds established during previous interactions and transactions.

Companies often use the metric ‘attribution’ to measure the value of engagement on social media as this allows them to see who has signed up for a newsletter or made a purchase.

First-click attribution gives full credit to the very first interaction regardless of the journey afterwards, while the inverse is true for last-click attribution.

The study found that 33% of respondents assign to the first click and 34% to the last-click.

Slickdeals’ senior VP Tom Straszewski says: “We see that those who invest more heavily in social commerce tend to look more at first click versus last click attribution, given that a consumer’s first click represents the beginning of their overall engagement with a brand and, thereby, the most meaningful step in the customer journey.”

As the new year begins, Forbes believes that social media has shortened attention spans and expects “snippety visuals” to be among the best forms of content for communication during the coming months.

Social will be an excellent outlet for these shorter, bite-sized forms of content, which can complement longer, editorial blogs and articles on corporate websites.

Forbes says that hitting the “sweet spot” in terms of audience attention will be crucial in 2020 as dynamic customers find new ways to consume content and interact with their favourite brands.