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

22/Nov/2019
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Personalisation and bespoke digital experiences will be a major trend in 2020, but a new study by Oracle and Forrester Consulting has found that just one in 10 brands are effectively leveraging a “wide variety” of data assets to deliver the content that customers want across channels.

The ‘Getting Customer Data Management Right’ study, which is based on the opinions and insights of more than 300 marketing and ad pros based in Europe and North America, is the latest research this year to find that data is still posing a number of challenges for modern companies.

Brands recognise that centralising customer data so that it can be used to support marketing is now a critical activity and no longer just a nice-to-have, primarily due to shifting consumer expectations and the need to cut through the noise to reach and engage on a regular basis.

Three quarters of professionals said that improving the experience for customers is a crucial goal for them when attempting to make use of data, and more than two-thirds want to create unified profiles that enable simple targeting across a variety of devices and channels.

There are huge rewards for brands capable of doing this successfully as those adopting a customer data platform (CDP) generally see a 250% spike in the lifetime value of a customer while also driving revenue growth and higher profit margins.

Brands are making progress: 64% said that they have embraced CDPs during the last 12 months in order to eliminate data silos and bring assets together to create a “single source of truth”, which is crucial for better understanding the desires, needs and wants of customers.

CDPs can improve the efficiency of content marketing as they allow data to be deployed easily for a specific function and increase the effectiveness of campaigns run on channels such as blog pages, websites, social media and mobile.

All the benefits of data centralisation appear to be widely known then, but actually being able to achieve this objective is proving to be much more challenging.

Only 11% of brands are currently using the wide range of data types available to deliver consistent, personalised experiences that lead to a spike in customer lifetime value, despite 71% admitting that unified customer profiles are intrinsically linked to effective personalisation.

Issues remain, but brands are eager to improve as 69% of respondents said that spend on CDP initiatives will increase during the next two years. 

“A solid data foundation is the most fundamental ingredient to success in today’s Experience Economy, where consumers expect relevant, timely and consistent experiences,” Oracle CX executive Rob Tarkoff said.

The new report also found that established enterprises are 3.3 times more likely to invest more in martech in 2020 compared to start-ups and emerging companies.

Oracle concluded by urging marketers to work closely with business tech employees as a more mature data and analytics approach can pay dividends in the form of richer consumer insights and higher-quality and integrated data processes, both of which will help marketing and other departments and divisions.


18/Nov/2019
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Excellent content can not only drive awareness, reach and sales but can also create environments where consumers are more open and receptive to advertising, a new study by Integral Ad Science has found.

The latest research dispels the myth that ads are inherently annoying and linked to poor digital experiences.

On the contrary, 91% of the UK consumers surveyed said that ads placed next to high-quality content are actually important to them and are fundamental to pleasurable browsing online.

The good news for brands is that the right ads served up next to engaging content leads to 65% of consumers interacting with these ads in a meaningful way, which can have a hugely positive impact on traffic and ROI.

Premium-quality ad placements are not just a preference for UK consumers either, as 90% of people in France said that they want to see ads next to content, while 83% in the US and 82% in Japan said the same.

However, an important aspect of this premium experience appears to personalisation and tailoring.

87% of UK consumers believe that bespoke ad usage is crucial, and this figure leapt to 93% for those in France.

It was not quite as important for US consumers (80%).

The findings suggest that the rise of ad blockers stemmed from consumers’ frustration at ads not being targeted to them specifically rather than being a blight on the internet experience.

While premium content and ad environments raise the bar and encourage consumers to interact and engage, the opposite occurs when consumers are faced with ads and experiences that do not live up to their high expectations. 

Almost an identical number (88%) of UK respondents said that ads featured in close proximity to low-quality content trigger a feeling of annoyance, which then leads to a huge drop off in engagement.

Just 22% said that they would engage with an ad in these circumstances.

Low-quality online environments also irritated consumers in other countries, especially in France (92%) and Indonesia (90%).

There are even more downsides, as 55% of UK consumers said that they would view a brand less favourably if it was seen in a sub-par setting, while seven in 10 would boycott a brand entirely.

Consumers also put the blame for lacklustre placements squarely at the feet of brands, as 68% in the UK said that companies are accountable for actions, a figure that went even higher again in France (72%) and Indonesia (86%).

Integral Ad Science’s EME MD Nick Morley said that the latest ‘Ripple Effect’ study had highlighted a “clear link” between how ad quality is perceived and the subsequent response by consumers.

He noted: “As a positive takeaway, there is an opportunity for brands to harness the dual power of tailored ads and high-quality placement to drive greater audience engagement.”

Morley also warned that the “counterpoint” of ads served next to low-quality content can have disastrous consequences for a company as it often results in damage to brand reputations and a potential decline in revenue.

He concluded: “To ensure online ads drive the right reaction, brand suitability must be a top ad placement priority.”


11/Nov/2019
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Twice as many manufacturing marketers now have a documented content strategy in place compared to a year ago, but two-thirds believe that their overall efforts are only “moderately successful”, according to a new study released by Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

The ‘Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends’ report found that manufacturers have taken on content wholesale during the last 12 months with a huge increase in adoption rates and attempts to overhaul strategies to improve returns.

The enthusiasm for content marketing is also translating into better campaigns as 65% of respondents said that they would rate their organisation’s efforts as either “somewhat more” or “much more” successful compared to 12 months ago.

In contrast, just 3% said that they had achieved less success.

“With regard to content marketing, manufacturers have arrived,” CMI’s research director Lisa Murton Beets said in a statement. “No longer do we view them as late adopters.”

Overall, manufacturing marketers believe that their content marketing is “moderately successful”, which is a sign that there is still room for improvement across the board.

Currently, only 1% believe that their efforts are “extremely successful”.

However, the use of documented strategies is laying the groundwork for better outcomes, and there has been a notable improvement in this area year-over-year.

In 2018, 21% said that they had a strategy written down, but this jumped to 41% in the latest study, which shows that there is now a greater onus placed on strategic thinking.

Murton Beets added: “We saw a big increase this year in those who are approaching content marketing strategically. In addition, they’re having an easier time accessing subject matter experts and communicating complex content. Overall, manufacturers are reporting healthy levels of content marketing success, which is exciting to see.”

Manufacturing marketers face a range of challenges in 2020, but the most cited unique issue for them at the moment is “overcoming traditional marketing and sales mindset”.

Attempts to blur the lines between these two groups is a challenge for 55% of respondents.

The need to deliver content that can engage audiences across the sales pipeline (53%) and attempts to differentiate products and services from the competition (48%) are also hot topics in the industry.

A previous study by CMI found that outsourcing now plays a major role in content marketing for B2B companies, and the same is true for manufacturers where the expertise of agencies has gone some way to helping them deliver more engaging and higher-quality materials.

Two-thirds of manufacturing marketers are now outsourcing one or more of their activities to third parties, but it is content creation that leads the way by some distance.

87% of respondents said that creation is now outsourced, and the study noted that this may be the reason why manufacturers have been able to communicate more complex topics in 2019.

Perhaps most importantly, improvements in content marketing have helped manufacturers to position themselves as a “credible and trusted resource” for audiences, to value the craft and creativity central to content creation and production, and to serve the needs of customers in a timely manner.


04/Nov/2019
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Influencers can amplify the power of content marketing campaigns and 84% of brands are now running at least one campaign involving endorsements from celebrities, experts and other high-profile people on social media, according to a new report published by AspireIQ.

The study, titled ‘The State of Influencer Marketing 2019: An Analysis of the Social Media Ecosystem’ brings to light the pervasive use of influencers and their evolution from being a nice-to-have to an essential part of campaigns throughout the year.

More than three quarters are now planning to or are already managing ‘always-on’ influencer campaigns due to the wide-ranging benefits, which include increased awareness, reach, impressions and engagement.

Almost nine in 10 are running multiple campaigns a year, and over 50% say that they manage five or more.

The non-negotiable tactic has been driven in part by the sheer scale of audiences that influencers can tap into, which now numbers more than two billion across social media platforms.

Complementing high-quality content marketing with influencer-generated content (IGC) on social via emails and ads has also become a popular practice, as the latter gives influencers the freedom to use their unique voices to create more authentic content, which can engage with an already established audience.

Two-thirds of brands are now using IGC in some form and 21% have set their sights on leveraging it during the next 12 months.

A wide range of content is being produced, and output has evolved from the static images and photos that were once the staple for influencers.

Eight in 10 expect to invest in video content in late 2019 and into 2020, while 55% will tap into the current trend of storytelling to move and engage audiences.

Written content is also hugely popular, with 42% planning to focus their spending in this area.

The types of influencers that brands are looking to work with is also changing as the move away from high-profile celebrities to micro-influencers with smaller followings continues.

Research shows that smaller channels and influencers have 42% higher engagement rates than their larger, macro-based counterparts.

AspireIQ’s founder and president Anand Kishore said in a statement that we are now in an era when influencer marketing is about more than just promoting a brand on social – influencers now power content engines to assist brands with telling a consistent story on all of the channels in which their users are active.

Kishore added that brands and influencers are going to work even closer in the future to build communities that have a shared passion for what the brands make.

The age of influencers is also trending lower due to the rise of TikTok, with data showing that 70% on the platform are now teenagers between 14 and 19.

Meanwhile, brands are spending $10k on average on campaigns on TikTok.

Influencer costs are rising though and the average price now stands at $0.26 per post, while cost per engagement has also risen sharply since last year and is expected to increase further next year.

Fortunately, return on investment (ROI) is high at 423% from the $6,249.91 per campaign budget.


28/Oct/2019
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B2B marketers are getting better at serving customers at the top of the funnel by creating brand awareness and educating audiences but are still missing out on deepening relationships further along the cycle, according to a new study released by Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

The ‘B2B Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America’ study found that brands are going from strength to strength in their ability to nurture new leads and reach wider audiences.

More than two-thirds said that they had success in this area compared with the 58% who said so a year ago.

In contrast, just 45% of B2B marketers surveyed said that they have been able to use content marketing to build a subscribed audience, while strengthening loyalty and generating revenue have also been more of a struggle compared to the three most cited goals: brand awareness, education audiences, and building trust.

“Getting attention is great, but marketers must keep that attention. Kudos to those who are creating lasting impressions and super fans,” CMI’s general manager Stephanie Stahl said.

She noted that brands should look at competitors that are “doing it right” and take inspiration from successful strategies and campaigns to nurture long-term relationships as consumers are now “all too ready to swipe left”.

One way that companies can improve their efforts is by outsourcing larger projects to agencies and other third parties as smaller internal teams are now the norm.

The study found that 50% are now outsourcing one content marketing activity or more, and ‘creation’ is the most popular activity, with 84% doing so.

The need for outside assistance is also highlighted by the fact that 32% of B2B marketers say that there isn’t a single full-time person assigned to their content marketing efforts.

Perhaps more interesting is that the top performers rely even less on internal personnel as only 13% have a full-time employee, while companies generally rely on a mixture of team structures to get the job done.

Moving on to data and analytics, 80% of respondents are now using metrics to keep tabs on the performance of the content they publish, and this is a good habit to get into as 95% of ‘top performers’ are evaluating data on a regular basis.

While tracking metrics is commonplace, only 43% of B2B marketers are measuring the return on investment from content marketing campaigns, and many are not establishing key performance indicators (KPI) to link data with marketing objectives and wider business goals.

Top performers are again at the vanguard, with 67% evaluating ROI and 83% monitoring KPIs regularly.

Only 14% of all respondents said that their ability to demonstrate AI is “excellent” and more than a third admitted that they are average or poor in this area.

CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose urged B2B marketers to stop thinking of content marketing as only a means of creating leads or an opportunity and instead aim to “AMAZE” audiences to really reap the benefits.

He concluded: “Treat your audiences as customers because that is the way you can lean into data acquisition and personalize your experiences.”


21/Oct/2019
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UK consumers are currently “hungry” for information on Brexit, and brands and publishers can boost traffic and other metrics by using the right keywords to rank higher in Google, according to a new report released on Monday by analytics company Searchmetrics.

With the UK still set to leave the EU on 31st October pending developments in parliament this week, Searchmetrics looked at the types of queries and questions that the general populace are inputting into Google to keep up with breaking Brexit stories.

In a statement accompanying the release of the study, Searchmetrics’ senior content marketing manager Stephen Bench-Capon said that there is currently a “huge opportunity” for news websites to take advantage of the demand for a 24/7 cycle of content related to Brexit.

More specifically, people are looking for answers to questions about the differing stances on Brexit, most notably remain or leave, and what the deal and no-deal options actually involve.

Bench-Capon revealed that “expertise, authority and trust” are the primary signals for ranking on the first page of Google SERPs and that the BBC is considered the “number one” destination for relevant info pertaining to the UK’s upcoming exit from the continental bloc.

The BBC has a 30% share of all the content featured on the first page of search results when ‘Brexit’ is inputted, which puts it way ahead of other major publishers such as the Guardian (12%) and the Independent (9%); Wikipedia and the Telegraph both have a 4% share.

However, when looking only at broader Brexit-related keywords, the Guardian reigns supreme ahead of the Independent, the Express and the Telegraph.

While the Guardian is more focused on publishing content related to the remain side of the Brexit equation, the Sun website is the most cited hub for keywords related to ‘no deal Brexit’.

The Guardian also has the drop on other news sites for Google News boxes, which require more extensive optimisation – it appears in 20% of news boxes related to Brexit, putting it well ahead of the Independent and the BBC, which both have around a 9% share in this area.

Searchmetrics also found that major political parties are also using SEO to get their messages across to voters by winning ‘share of voice’ in search results.

Bench-Capon said: “A political party’s aims on Google are different from those of a news publisher. By appearing in the search results for certain keywords they can make it clear to voters that their party should be associated with this kind of policy. The Liberal Democrats ranking for ‘Stop Brexit campaign’ is a good example of this phenomenon.”

The study found that the conservatives.com website’s current top-ranking Brexit related words are ‘brexit policies’, ‘brexit 12 point plan’ and ‘reasons why brexit is good’.

Meanwhile, labour.org.uk leads with ‘why is the brexit deal no good’, ‘theresa may brexit deal’ and ‘negotiation brexit’.

Bench-Capon said that parties can perform better in Google by providing “high-quality Brexit-related content’ capable of informing and education readers and optimising content for SEO so that it ranks higher in SERPs.


14/Oct/2019
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Small enterprises can go toe-to-toe with the largest corporations by publishing content and managing excellent marketing campaigns, but many still fail to invest enough money into the practice to reap the benefits, according to a new study by software company Intuit.

Digital marketing is proving to be a double-edged sword for SMEs as they can transform their business and drive greater sales by implementing it effectively, but they can also be weighed down by the time and resources needed to follow documented plans and align it with broader business objectives.

The latest study by Intuit analysed smaller businesses in Australia and found that just 34% are putting aside funds as a priority for content and other marketing endeavours, which means that two-thirds are missing out on a myriad of benefits and potentially falling behind more accomplished peers.

A sizeable 46% of respondents said that they constantly face constraints on their budgets, which forces them to focus on other areas of business – though ironically, these processes could also get a boost from marketing, SEO and advertising.

Intuit says that many enterprises fall into the “trap” of prioritising spend for other business activities as marketing can often help immediately by buffering cash reserves during the formative years of trading.

“It’s concerning that so many small business owners in Australia are sacrificing opportunities to grow their business profile as a consequence of having to spend on other priorities,” Intuit’s Australia Country Manager Natira Drayton said in a statement.

She added: “This is a classic trap for small businesses.”

Day-to-day operational demands can make finding the money and time to invest in marketing hard, and it is difficult to keep cash flow healthy and achieve potential without it, according to Drayton.

While marketing is being pushed to the sidelines by businesses eager to double down on what they perceive to be more important processes, 80% of the 500 owners of small businesses surveyed said that they believe that marketing offers great value and is a useful tool.

In terms of marketing channels, 47% say that websites are the most valuable overall as these hubs enable them to publish content and bring consumers in to view their products and services with the aim of completing sales digitally.

The next popular channel is social media, with 42% eager to leverage Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and similar platforms to reach and engage with potentially millions of users around the world.

Email marketing and digital marketing are also viewed as essential channels, but again, a lack of funds and desire to optimise budgets are preventing many from pursuing these options at times when they could transform the success of a business.

Perhaps the reason why marketing is not viewed as critical is that SMEs are not aligning it with other areas of the business and are instead content with using it as a tool for reaching more customers.

Intuit found that 39% believe that the value of marketing is tied to its ability to grow a customer base, while 42% say that it mostly brings in new business leads – a similar number also claim that it helps them achieve direct sales.


03/Oct/2019
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Editorial content can play a key role in inspiring luxury shoppers and guiding their purchase decisions, according to a new independent study by Attraqt that suggests that brands in fashion and retail are not doing enough to influence customers at various stages of the purchasing cycle.

The study of 3,000 shoppers in the UK, the UAE and France aimed to highlight behaviour expectations and frustrations and the factors that lead to a purchase being made.

It also looks at the rising number of digital channels and how they can be used to support a consumer’s buying journey.

Physical stores were the traditional starting point for retail shoppers, and while 40% say that they still visit stores to peruse new products, the same number are now using smartphones, retailer websites and brand apps to discover new trends and offers and make purchases.

Attraqt’s director of customer experience Jon Stephens says that the journey for luxury shoppers is currently evolving rapidly and change is being driven by younger consumers.

The report predicts that Millennials and Gen Z will account for half of the luxury goods sector by the middle of the next decade.

In order to keep up with the evolution, the report suggests that brands need to look beyond digital channels merely being a source of inspiration and use them instead to deliver “more immersive, personal and frictionless” experiences.

Luxury shoppers regard finding new products with ease as the single most important factor in their shopping experience, while discovering new trends, personalised recommendations and advice from stylists were also ranked highly.

Every one of these ‘essentials’ can be demonstrated via high-quality content marketing campaigns, either through interactive ‘shoppable’ videos, which allow viewers to click on items of clothing to discover more information, or blogs highlighting new trends.

One in 10 say that bloggers are their single biggest ‘influencer’, while 26% say that a brand’s online content is very influential in the decisions they make about luxury purchases.

More specifically, when shoppers don’t know what to buy, 34% say that product recommendations can push them in the right direction and 26% say that editorial and featured stories can be helpful.

Social media site Instagram is also a notable influence on purchases.

“The importance of orchestrating a luxury shopping journey fit for the digital era – connecting the customer with relevant products and creating a series of ‘wow’ experiences to nurture a customer to a sale – has never been more important,” adds Stephens, who says that a failure to serve needs in micro-moments can lead to lost sales.

“In the luxury market this means removing the data silos in their organisation to ensure they influence every touchpoint – from the curated editorial content to the search and navigation process right through to the packaging of the delivery and re-engagement.”

The need to optimise digital platforms and channels is brought into sharp focus by the fact that 65% of Gen Z and Millennials now start their respective journeys online, and this age group will be responsible for the lion’s share of purchases by 2025.


18/Mar/2019
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Matcha released its first annual Content Marketing Benchmark Report last week with the aim of helping smaller enterprises navigate the complexities of creating and publishing content. The report analysed data from hundreds of SMEs and the plethora of articles and ads they posted in 2018.

Several recent studies have espoused the benefits of using long-form content as a central pillar in marketing campaigns, and Matcha’s research found they were again among the most effective for driving positive actions. Editorial output, which is typically longer than 750 words, helped to deliver the best reader engagement, with an average of more than four subheadings and almost six images for consumers.

The use of visual aids and subheadlines to break up large blocks of text is believed to be crucial in guiding the reader’s eye and keeping them interested as they scroll down the page. Mixing high-quality prose and fact-based written content with high-resolution images, infographics and catchy headlines is recommended for small businesses aiming to optimise their marking materials this year.

The study also found that “listicles” are particularly effective at keeping reader’ engaged while ensuring output is efficient and meets the needs of users. In-depth analysis of content presented wholly or partly as a list resulted in an uptick in several key metrics, including scroll depth, rates of engagement, click-through rate (CTR) and cost-per-click (CPC). They also perform extremely well on social platforms.

While Facebook has endured a difficult 12 months due to fake news and data privacy scandals, it still leads the way content promotion. The study showed when content is placed alongside ads on the platform, CPC plummets to just $0.19. In contrast, when ads are used on their own, CPC rises to $1.72. Click-through-rates on content ads also see similar remarkable rises.

Matcha also found that licensed content has now caught up with original content in terms of engagement. Licensed content is defined as materials from third parties that brands syndicate from publishers to release across their own channels. It can be distributed by social, email or elsewhere. The study noted that this process is perfect for SMEs, as it enables smaller teams to publish articles with consistent, high quality in a more cost-effective way while taking less time and resources to support.

“This report is invaluable for small businesses, particularly in e-commerce. For the first time, they have a research-backed roadmap to grow their businesses using content marketing,” Matcha CEO, Fynn Glover said. “Great content is a critical ingredient for acquiring and keeping customers. Now, SMBs know exactly what to expect in terms of performance.” Matcha’s full report promises to help small businesses to avoid making the “wrong turns and wasting times” while urging them to use the insights to come with a documented strategy on a robust roadmap for their content marketing efforts. It also outlines why SMEs and e-commerce shops need to embrace content marketing and defines what separates good content from great content.


11/Feb/2019
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The complex and sprawling nature of departments in large enterprises makes it more difficult to create and distribute content marketing materials and measure the success of campaigns, a new study published by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) has found.

The Enterprise Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report for North America posits that implementing strategies and managing campaigns is more challenging for large corporations compared to small and medium enterprises due to the complexity of core operations.

These larger enterprises usually have several office locations, product and service lines and multiple functional silos. The study found that the sheer scale of these companies makes it especially challenging for each department and team to know what content is being created, the audiences that are being targeted and the metrics that should be tracked to determine success or failure.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents said coordinating content marketing efforts across several brands and departments are a major challenge. Marketers in large corporations are also struggling with working with too many departmental silos (60%), implementing new tech for use across the enterprise (50%) and having the flexibility and agility to make changes on the fly when required (49%).

CMI found that even small communication breakdowns can lead to problems that can torpedo even the best campaigns, as conflicted messaging and ineffective budgeting hinders the potential for positive returns and success. However, CMI says restructuring operations can transform content efforts.

Rather than attempting to link departments and align processes, large enterprises should instead attempt to create a single, centralised group that can work with a plethora of products, brands and departments. This dedicated team can define a strategy, create and distribute content, and be proactive rather than reactive when changes are needed.

The study also found a mismatch between content marketing teams and sales as they are often managed as separate units, which impairs their ability to share insights, collaborate and work towards important content goals, such as driving conversions and leads. Just one in five respondents said these teams were either “extremely” or “very” aligned.

“The unique nature of a large organization makes content marketing especially challenging,” explains Lisa Murton Beets, CMI’s research director. “New this year, we asked enterprise marketers about their use of account-based management (ABM) and the alignment between their content marketing and sales teams.”

She added: “Only 19% of enterprise respondents report that their content marketing and sales teams are extremely or very aligned, while 28% say there is little or no alignment between these two functions. However, around half of respondents may have ushered in 2019 with account-based management (ABM) in place. The collaborative nature of ABM may help alleviate the sales and marketing alignment gap.”

Finally, tech is set to play a bigger role in content marketing in 2019, and 71% said the top benefit of cutting-edge advances was gaining better insights into the performance of content. Meanwhile, 50% said it would support better insights into audience preferences.