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

17/Dec/2018
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Content Marketing Institute has released the latest part of its Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report for B2C marketers in 2019, and the main takeaway is that brands with a strong commitment to creating content are usually more successful at building loyalty with consumers and achieving other important goals.

Content will be high on the agenda for B2C marketers next year, as 57% expect to see an uptick in their budgets for this discipline next year. Substantial investment is also in the cards for almost a third of marketers, who say that their budgets for content spending will increase by 9% or more in 2019.

Content creation will be the single biggest focus for marketers during the next 12 months, as 56% plan invest more in engaging articles, blogs and infographics. Whether working in-house or with a skilled agency, the study suggests that high output will be central to strategies in all sectors and industries.

This is supported by the fact that 23% of B2C marketers want to spend more on “content marketing outsourcing” next year. Other areas of proposed investment include “paid content distribution” (37%), “content marketing staff” (34%) and “content marketing technology” (34%).

In terms of objectives and goals for content, building loyalty and pushing brand authority lead the way. About 81% say they want content creation to drive loyalty and retention, and the same number say the process is rooted in a desire to make their organisation a “credible and trusted” resource.

“B2C marketers have for many years reported that brand awareness is a top goal for content marketing,” Content Marketing Institute research director, Lisa Murton Beets, says. “It’s still an important goal, but now we also see a strong concern for using content to build loyalty. B2C marketers realize that while it is important to drive people to their content, it’s just as important to keep them coming back for more.”

MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer, Ann Handley, added: “There are many types of content that B2C marketers can apply their creativity toward to nurture relationships. Consider the power of videos that tell stories, in-person events that build a sense of community, newsletters that inform, podcasts that inspire – the possibilities are endless.”

Making a strong commitment to content marketing appears to give brands a better chance of achieving success, as the “most committed” marketers deliver better results across the board. These marketers have documented strategies, effective measurements of ROI and an understanding of metrics, all of which help them to adopt a more mature approach to content. In contrast, the least committed fall behind in key areas.

As noted in various studies in recent weeks, educating consumers and providing added value will be an excellent strategy to pursue in 2019, as successful B2C marketers are regularly providing audiences with targeted resources that improve their wellbeing in some way. Getting more comfortable with the metrics that measure its effectiveness and tie content into the goals of the wider business is also recommended.


10/Dec/2018
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Brands are forgetting the basics of content marketing in the rush to use more visual mediums and push messages, according to a panel of industry experts hosted by digital news website The Drum.

Alpha Grid managing director Roslyn Shaw believes that consumers can be turned off by certain campaigns even before they have begun in earnest because they are centred around advertising. She believes that the length of video content has been a question that draws too much attention across the industry and that brands should instead focus on delivering added value “regardless of its length.”

Shaw added: “When users say they hate video advertising, they’re really saying they hate a video that’s dressed up like advertising. They’re so used to that, they’ve learnt to switch off. Consumers don’t mind brands, but they do mind you following that formula of advertising where you’re just preaching. The campaign has to look and feel like an actual piece of video content that people would want to watch.”

Making content that consumers want to engage with has been a major trend in 2018 and will continue to be so next year as brands shift from hard sells to personalised messages. Mediacom executive Nick Palmer also believes that the industry still hasn’t got its head around this shift in power and often fails to understand how video ads should work.

He said: “The language used around video advertising needs to get more advanced. Customers have never massively enjoyed advertising but they’ve always understood that there’s a value exchange somewhere along the line.”

YouTube is the biggest social video platform in the world. However, Palmer says subscription rates on it are still low, which suggests that consumers don’t mind ads if they effectively establish a value exchange. Also, they often view them as a means of payment. He added: “The dynamic is changing around the amount of content you get versus the amount of advertising you receive, which is where we need to find a balancing act.”

Amobee CCO Ryan Jamboretz pointed to the success of “advanced brands” as evidence that this balancing act can be attained quickly, and he expects both companies and consumers to figure it out during the next 12 months. Meanwhile, Unlimited Group CMO Sarah Shilling says that ad tolerance will rise if consumers get insights, value and relevance from them.

Data insights are another important trend for 2019, and Shilling says that brands that are effective at leveraging these insights are more likely to cut through the noise and gain traction. She said that these insights also provide a platform for a brand to deliver a message, gain trust and push the brand to a place where it wants to be.

Meanwhile, Palmer said that marketers have become “lazy” about brand building and that engagement and brand building can work in tandem to benefit everyone rather than being mutually exclusive benefits. Jamboretz concluded that getting back to basics and using “simple media planning techniques” can enable brands to deliver high-quality, powerful and consistent messages year over year.


26/Nov/2018
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Personalised marketing has been a major trend during 2018, but Indian marketers are struggling to leverage data and meet their customer’s needs, according to a new study released by Epsilon last week.

The report, titled Marketing in India is Personal, Not Just Business, was prepared for Epsilon by Forrester Consulting and highlights a chasm between what brands believe are the right strategies and methods to reach and engage with consumers and what the latter actually wants from marketing materials and communication channels.

Personalisation has arguably become the most important buzzword this year, with several reports stating that content that is geared towards the end user and with the aim of providing value is a preferable strategy to pushing brand messages and sales in isolation. However, Indian marketers are finding it difficult to deliver on this front.

Almost two-thirds of Indian consumers said they prefer personalised content and that a brand’s success in achieving this aim will increase their intent to purchase. However, 74% of marketers said they still rely on SMS messages to interact with consumers when just 2% believe this channel is best.

In addition to personalisation, Indian consumers also value their data privacy very highly. About 63% said they do not want to share any sensitive information with enterprises, even if doing so would ensure they get more relevant content. Despite the concerns over data, just 15% of marketers said GDPR will be a top priority during the next 12 months.

These two takeaways suggest there is a disconnect between brands and consumers and that Indian marketers need to do more to serve up high-quality and engaging experiences to drive value from their strategies and campaigns. This might be one of the reasons why 60% of marketers want to invest more in technology next year to optimise and overhaul their efforts.

“We need to help marketers understand what they are misreading when it comes to customer engagement,” Epsilon’s Country Head, Ashish Sinha, said: “The study helps understand consumers and their predilections to help marketers evolve. For instance, the study found, although about 92% of marketers in India consider improving their ability to personalize capabilities as priority in marketing, the Indian market is unfledged in terms of data and technology readiness, cross-channel expertise, and in bridging organizational silos.”

These challenges will also make it difficult to determine the return on investment from content marketing campaigns, but 71% said they will spend more in this area to improve their performance measurement solutions. Meanwhile, 68% of consumers said a lack of mobile-readiness for web pages is another frustration, and three quarters expect brands to have a full-featured mobile app.

Sinha concluded: “Matters like privacy are sensitive areas for Indians and hence, marketers need to sustain a balance between personalization and privacy. Indian marketers need to find good partners with proven expertise for strategic guidance around collecting, cleansing and integrating consumer data and break down the internal data layers to improve their ROMI.”


12/Nov/2018
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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
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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
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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
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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.


01/Oct/2018
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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.”


17/Sep/2018
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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.”


03/Sep/2018
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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.