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

22/Apr/2020
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Customers are more likely to purchase a product when a brand is able to make them feel “comfortable”, “healthy” and “relaxed” according to new research published by Engine Group US.

With many audiences attempting to adapt to a “new normal” amid lockdown measures and new ways of working and home-based professional and personal lives, a few companies have been running surveys and reports to find out how this has affected habits and behaviours.

Engine Group US found that many people are missing their old lives despite doing their best to adhere to stringent measures and guidelines as attempts to tackle the outbreak continue in Europe and the US.

Remote working is now commonplace but 52% admit that they miss their daily commuting habits and a similar number say the same for “physically going to work” and attending live events in their spare time.

With the recent disruption and upheaval, the general public craves content and digital experiences that help them to relax.

Two-thirds said feeling comfortable is a prerequisite for completing a purchase of a product or service and large numbers of respondents also want to feel safe and secure, and relaxed.

Audiences are also steadfast in their belief that marketing and advertising should continue pretty much as normal.

Just 13% said they “strongly disagree” that brands should advertise during the coronavirus outbreak, while 73% are either ambivalent or agree that ads should still be published. 

Ads are still a key revenue driver as 54% said they had made a purchase after clicking on a digital ad, while 79% had taken some sort of action after viewing one and 49% are “motivated” by the experience.

While brands will look to optimise ad spend in the coming weeks to keep within budgets, many are looking to content marketing to fill the void.

In a separate study by Sirkin, 72% said they expect to see a “substantial increase” in the deployment of web content to meet the needs of customers, who are consuming more digital content during the lockdown.

A similar number will also use more virtual events to get messages across and showcase products, while 67% expect a notable rise in webinars.

The most popular formats during the remainder of the year will be blogs (57%), video production (50%) and social media (66%) as companies turn to cost-effective, organic methods to keep the ball rolling.

Investments in editorials and other forms of premium content are also tipped to spike by market leaders as companies look to inform customers about Covid-19 and maintain a brand presence during a difficult period.

There is a captive audience out there ready and willing to engage with content as research by Scorpion found that social media usage has soared by 33.8% during the last month with younger adults being a key driver.

Stream service usage is also up 42% and there has been a 30.7% rise in online shopping as 25-34-year old homeowners look for new gadgets, furniture and clothing to keep them occupied.


06/Dec/2019
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Two-thirds of marketers believe that their organisations do not have enough content to support demand-generation activities, while around half rate their overall output as either “fair” or “poor”, a new study by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) has found.

Demand generation is defined as the marketing programs deployed by brands to drive awareness and interest in a suite of products or services, and it is a common tactic in B2B and longer B2C sales cycles.

The broader takeaway from the latest CMI report is that while brands are setting out to be a leader in their respective markets, they often struggle to put themselves ahead of the competition due to a failure to “go beyond good” and strive for great demand-generation output.

Currently, a large portion of demand-generation content creation is focused on the early stage of the buyer’s journey when generation awareness and interest is the primary goal.

Respondents said that 52% of all content was devoted to early-stage activities in 2019, a 5% rise from 2018, and almost double that earmarked for the middle stage of consideration and intent (27%) and the late stage of evaluation and purchase (17%).

The good news is that 77% believe that content is either “extremely” or “very important” to their ongoing demand-generation drive and that the majority say that content marketing is “moderately successful”, though there is obviously room for improvement.

One area where companies could look to refine their approaches to demand generation is by creating greater quantities of content to really move the needle.

A sizeable 63% of respondents said that there is not enough in the pipeline to meet current goals linked to demand generation.

Looking ahead to 2020, 30% of marketers said that a major challenge will be having enough money, time and team members to conduct demand-generation activities effectively, which is a case for outsourcing and agencies.

A few other issues and factors that will be present in marketers’ thinking next year include the need to generate “large quantities of content”, support higher rates of publication and distribution, and having the resources to create high-quality content consistently.

CMI also spoke about the pressures of short-termism at the end of the report – another factor that is holding companies back.

In a previous report, just 6% of respondents said that they are delivering monthly campaigns compared to the 41% who do so on a weekly basis.

The focus on the near term can be damaging as it prevents enterprises from looking to the long term and the need to develop and overhaul infrastructure and scale efforts to deliver the excellent campaigns needed to achieve success.

CMI noted: “Most demand-generation strategies are simply demand-identification programs. Marketing teams exert tremendous effort to optimize content experiences for search terms and questions, and to be ever more different, persuasive, and faster for anyone who has raised their hand to say, ‘I’m interested.’”

CMI concluded by urging marketers to pivot from “good” to “great” and from short-termism to long-term strategy with a particular focus on the skills and infrastructure needed to support content marketing.


03/Dec/2018
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With a new decade just a little over 12 months away, Australian marketers are becoming more concerned that they do not have the digital skills required to succeed and that there may soon be a shortage of talented professionals in the industry.

A new report, titled 20/20 Vision: A Marketing Leader’s View of Digital’s Future, published by the Digital Marketing Institute, highlights a growing anxiety among marketers about their ability to manage content campaigns effectively in the future. However, the majority are expected to spend considerably more in this area in 2020 and beyond.

Of the 200 executives and senior marketing professionals surveyed, 47% said they have already seen a “significant” uptick in digital marketing spending during the last two years, and 73% plan to increase investment further by the start of the new decade. Digital marketing now accounts for 55% of marketing budgets on average.

Brands now have a variety of channels and tools available to them, so it’s no surprise that many are focusing on different marketing disciplines to get ahead. Organic social media is currently the second most popular digital channel, with 71% stating that it is “highly effective,” while SEO (69%) also ranks in the top five.

The diversity of digital marketing is demonstrated by marketers running high-quality content marketing campaigns alongside voucher systems, apps and display advertising to maximise reach and engagement. However, the growing number of channels means a greater mix of digital expertise is required to get the very best out of them.

Tech changes are also on the horizon, as respondents said artificial intelligence and automation will be among the most important advances. Just under half said they are finding it difficult to keep pace with the ever-evolving digital landscape, and many are worried that their competitors are a step ahead in this regard.

Organisations that are falling behind fear losing market share and revenue to digitally transformed competitors, as the latter usually can deliver better content experiences and diverse customer journeys by using new tech. The skills gap is felt here again, as respondents said SEO and organic social media were areas where there is the greatest chasm in skills.

Brands are addressing the issue by partnering with specialist agencies, and work with these third parties will continue to be a focus for those looking to ease the transition to full digital services by 2020. Marketers are also hopeful of more in-house training, upskilling and reskilling.

“As digital technologies rapidly transform business, marketers are recognising the need to invest more resources in training and closing skills gaps,” Digital Marketing Institute CEO, Ken Fitzpatrick, said. “There is an urgency to cultivate a talent pool that possesses the skills necessary to help their organisations remain competitive and relevant in the digital economy.”

He added: “To be successful in 2020 and beyond, a culture that promotes professional development, upskilling, and reskilling is going to be just as important in digitisation as emerging technologies, effective strategies and increased budgets.”


19/Nov/2018
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The healthcare industry can improve people’s lives and give them the motivation to make positive changes to diet and other aspects of wellbeing by publishing informative, thoughtful and engaging content, a new report has found.

The 2018 Wunderman Health Inertia Study suggests traditional healthcare ads are not doing enough to serve the wants and needs of the general public. While many ads can educate, content often falls short in motivating people to consider their life choices and make changes that will improve their long-term health.

Wunderman used the failure of traditional anti-smoking campaigns to enact change as a case study for “health inertia,” a behaviour pattern that sees people continue with poor health habits despite there being a wealth of information showing the benefits of good health and the steps to achieve it.

Healthcare brands and organisations can address this problem by using content marketing to tap into a person’s hopes and fears. Engaging articles, blogs, videos and infographics can trigger these important emotions, which then prompts the person targeted to become more thoughtful before taking some sort of action.

“People act on motivation, not information, and on content that stirs both negative and positive emotions over a period of time,” Becky Chidester, Wunderman Health’s CEO, said. “The healthcare industry has done a great job educating people about medical conditions and treatments, but it has missed the mark in creating content that truly stimulates action.”

Wunderman found brands can use different content mediums and emotional triggers during a campaign to create a powerful body of work that will push people into making life changes. For example, there was a 239% increase in surprise among smokers when they were exposed to content that showed how their habits are preventing them from leading a healthy life. This then turned to shock and a motivation to quit smoking entirely.

“Marketers have an unprecedented opportunity to break the cycle of health inertia by using new technologies and data to understand more dimensions of their audiences,” Yannis Kotziagkiaouridis, Wunderman Global Chief Analytics Officer said. “By drilling down into why people make the choices they do, and by crafting marketing content that speaks to their hearts as well as their minds, we now have the ability to spur both small and very large groups of people to action.”

Meanwhile, a separate report released by Influencer Intelligence this week found that most young people express a strong preference for authentic and engaging content. The new generation of “digital natives” expect influencers to play a major role in the marketing mix, but many have become disillusioned with how it has been conducted during the last 12 months.

Millennials now expect influencers to display higher levels of authenticity while being more relevant. A staggering 100% of the 1,173 marketers surveyed said “relevance” was the primary attribute for influencers, while 61% of the 500 consumers polled said high quality, authentic content is crucial if it is to have any sway on their buying decisions.


08/Oct/2018
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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
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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.”


10/Sep/2018
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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
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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.


24/Aug/2018
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According to a new annual report published by Clutch, four out of five consumers have purchased a product after reading a high-quality piece of content marketing from a brand online.

Content has long been a key driver for awareness, sales and revenue, but it is particularly impactful during the search stage when pushing potential customers along the sales cycle is so important. Serving up engaging content at the right time can make it much easier to convert interested buyers into paying consumers.

Editorial articles, blogs, videos and infographics can do this in several ways according to the study. Half of the respondents said they would be more likely to conduct research about a company and take a closer look at their line of services and products after consuming content, while 53% said it would drive them to return to a brand’s corporate website.

The big takeaway for brands is that content makes consumers more motivated to engage with them. Just over two-thirds said content marketing campaigns add value and are useful, while the majority prefer editorial and high-quality content in the form of articles and videos capable of addressing their own wants, needs and concerns.

“Readers are aware that [online business content] is created for marketing purposes, but appreciate brands that provide honest, reliable, high-quality content,” Rebrandy executive Louisa McGrath said in the report. “This builds trust and awareness for a brand, which is invaluable and of growing importance.”

Clutch noted that consumers now expect certain hallmarks in content to deem it to be high quality. These include “originality,” in the sense of providing a new slant on an already established topic with deeper analysis, new information or unique points, and a “narrative”. People are now eager for storylines, themes and case studies to be included.

Brands should also look to discuss issues that may be relevant to their audience and customers, provide actionable tips to help them and built trust, and back up what they are saying with authoritative, trustworthy sources.

Consumers are now also more aware of the content marketing campaigns deployed by brands, but this is not seen as a negative development, as audiences want to read and view messages that are relevant and valuable in a convenient manner. In fact, more people want content to be served up across a variety of platforms to meet their consumption demands.

“Current technology allows people to consume content in all hours of the day across different devices,” Lead to Conversion executive Andrew Travers said. “Providing content in multiple formats allows marketers to put their message in front of target audiences in a way that’s most convenient for them.”

For those interested in steering away from some of the tell-tale signs that a piece is content marketing, 27% of respondents said that being published on the company’s website is the primary giveaway. This was followed by having links to the company’s website, an author biography linked to the company and a discussion of products and services that the company provides.