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Nine in 10 US companies now leverage digital content marketing to engage audiences, while the majority of brands will use blog content as the primary inbound marketing activity in 2020, according to two separate reports released by eMarketer and HubSpot.

The mantra ‘content is king’ will continue to ring true this year as more companies awaken to the power of blogs, news and articles and the value that excellent storytelling and consistent content creation can bring to a business.

The report by eMarketer found that enterprises both large and small will implement content strategies to one-up their peers and reach wider audiences, with editorial blogs and other forms of written content being a major focus when attempting to attract qualified prospects and then convert them into meaningful leads.

In order to stay ahead of the pack in 2020, Forbes has also recommended using “authentic content” to foster a sense of community and to stay consistently on brand over an extended period of time.

To do this, marketers must first avoid a hard sell and then outline how a particular product or service can have a positive impact on the reader or viewer.

This must be demonstrated via relatable examples that will prompt audiences to engage and then, after a pleasing experience, become a brand advocate by sharing that content.

Storytelling will be a top trend in 2020 as it will allow marketers to deliver relevant messages in an entertaining way.

While written content is crucial, marketers should also use visual content, including videos and infographics, to get their points across and to deliver a more varied and rewarding experience for the consumer.

“Along with the great story-based content – whatever that may be – we will occasionally introduce ways to directly encourage action, with clear trial or purchase mechanics,” Britvic’s head of brand PR Davnet Doran says.

“Evidence of this working, and greater rigour around the results more broadly, will unlock significantly increased budgets over the next five years.”

Content distribution will also be important this year as social media management comes to the fore as a core marketing practice.

Outsourcing to third-party agencies can give brands the edge here as they will have the experience and knowledge required to put content in the right places.

High-quality, thoughtful content will still struggle to move the needle if no-one reads it or engages with it in any way.

Distributing content that involves a robust and regular posting schedule across a variety of platforms could unlock greater success for marketers in 2020.

Forbes does sound a note of caution about using the ever-growing number of platforms to reach customers though as it believes that some may not be the “best fit” and that it is important to “choose wisely”.

This year, brands should look at a platform and ask themselves whether it will work for them, whether it is capable of putting them in touch with target audiences, and whether it represents the brand in the right way – for example, the impersonal Snapchat may not be the best outlet for a health-related company.


The liberal use of marketing buzzwords is causing confusion for IT professionals and making it more difficult for both departments to communicate, collaborate and align objectives according to a new report released last week by CMS provider Magnolia.

The report, Straight Talking Content Management, incorporated a survey that polled 400 professionals evenly split between IT and marketing about the digital experience (DX), which is defined as the interactions between consumers and organisations facilitated by digital tech and the attitudes of the key players involved.

Buzzwords, such as SEO, micro-moments and algorithms, are now commonly used in marketing, but IT teams are struggling to keep up.

More than three-quarters say that they don’t understand the range of buzzwords marketers use, which leads to growing tensions between the two groups.

About 29% of the IT professionals surveyed believe that there are too many buzzwords being used, especially in relation to digital marketing and experiences.

Among the phrases that are causing problems include omnichannel, which 21% admit to not knowing, and call to action, a term that continues to stump 24% of respondents.

The disconnect may not appear to be a major problem in isolation, but the study found that 80% of marketers are collaborating with IT every week, while almost half are doing so every day.

With confusion often reigning in important interactions, both teams are finding it more challenging than necessary to achieve goals and objectives.

Magnolia CMO, Rasmus Skjoldan, said: “In order for brands to create great content, both IT teams and marketers must work together to understand each other’s unique pressures and objectives.

“Talking in technical jargon and marketing buzzwords isn’t helping, if anything it’s just causing more frustration for both groups.

“Too many CMS brands add to this problem, expanding rather than bridging the divide.

“As an industry we need to focus on developing straight-talking solutions that work for everyone across the business – from marketers, to developers, to customers and IT teams.”

However, the frustration is not just a one-way street, as the study, which was completed in June, also found that 84% of marketers do not fully grasp the complexities of IT and the work undertaken.

Meanwhile, 70% of IT professionals believe that they “should own the digital experience”, which suggests they do not look favourably on the interference of other departments.

A separate study released this week by Yext and Forbes found that brands are missing out on an opportunity to ‘differentiate themselves’ by providing verifiable and relevant information about products and services both on their websites and across the web, after a study that found consumers often find inaccurate information in searches.

More than half said that they prefer to navigate directly to a brand’s website rather than rely on a blurb in Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo, as they believe that they will get a better chance of finding complete and accurate information.

Yext CEO, Marc Ferrentino, added: “Our research shows that regardless of where they search for information, people expect the answers they find to be consistent and accurate – and they hold brands responsible to ensure this is the case.”


Keeping track of data has been cited as a common challenge for marketers in 2019, and a new study by Blis has revealed a new area of this vast undertaking that is causing problems – location tracking.

A quarter said that they are unable to make use of location-based data to inform content campaigns and other activities.

Titled Real-world intelligence: Mapping human behaviour to effective mobile marketing, the whitepaper canvassed the opinions of C-suite executives to find out whether cutting-edge tech and a growing mass of big data is being deployed effectively, primarily in advertising but also across general marketing.

Participating in the study were 150 chief marketing officers and agency directors in the Asia-Pacific area, and the findings suggest that location-tracking and data is a major pain point for digital brands.

Many admit to not having full knowledge of its capabilities, and 25% said that they could not apply it effectively to their brand.

Blis managing director, Nick Ballard, said that this issue needs to be addressed urgently, as a growing knowledge gap could be disastrous for enterprises during the next decade when location tracking takes on a more central role in determining the return on investment and supporting the creation of targeted personas in content marketing.

He added: “Despite location data technology advancing in leaps and bounds over the last few years, what is alarming is the significant knowledge gaps that remain within the industry, particularly when it comes to measuring location data, which, if not addressed, will start having a major toll on digital marketing revenues moving forward.”

Ballard believes that marketing leaders basically need to go back and learn the basics, which would involve establishing key metrics linked to location-based marketing.

Brands also need to take location into account when setting new KPIs and use the right tools to quantify the return on investment.

Being able to do this regularly could transform the effectiveness of campaigns and enable companies to deliver a step-change in the quality of their advertising and marketing methods.

The study also uncovered a few specific problem areas and constraints to better outcomes.

Almost half said that there is a lack of transparency in regards to finding the right data sources and methodologies, while 45% said that a dearth of established standards, metrics and guidelines is holding them back.

Confusion around GDPR also still reigns, which suggests that marketers have yet to take heed of consumers’ concerns about security and data privacy.

A third of respondents also said they are concerned about the quality of data.

Blis concluded by covering the ways real-world location data can improve various marketing strategies.

Tracking the return on spending for advertising is one of the basic uses, but it can also be used to influence shoppers directly via geofencing and to chart links between traffic and sales.

“Location-based data is the missing part of the puzzle for many marketers who want to focus on successfully understanding their consumers’ real-word habits,” Blis Asia Pacific head of marketing, Premanjali Gupta, concluded.


Bringing marketing functions in-house usually leads to disappointment for corporations of all sizes, according to a new study by DMA and Mailjet that found creativity and productivity can crater without the expert guidance of agencies and other third parties.

Understanding In-Housing: Bringing Marketing Functions Home serves as a warning to brands that do not have the infrastructure, tools or personnel to support marketing internally. While B2C and B2B brands can struggle to manage tasks in-house, they also miss out on the added value derived from relationships when outsourcing.

For those trying to implement strategies in-house, four in ten respondents said they have run into trouble due to a limited budget, while more than a third are struggling to install and adapt to new technology. A lack of collaboration and communication is another bone of contention for marketers.

However, there is no widespread desire to go it alone fully, as nine in ten say they are committed to maintaining or increasing their current levels of investment in agencies. Content marketing agencies are well-placed to benefit from the need for outside assistance, as 39% said that “content and copywriting” works best when handled by a partner, while 46% said the same for “creative and design.”

However, certain functions do lend themselves more readily to internal management. Email marketing is the most popular in-house function, and the report noted that it is possible to get things up and running with relative ease but that many are still seeking guidance for outside training and monitoring for their programs.

“Looking at some of the biggest challenges companies face, it’s notable how many of these could be resolved by improved communication and collaboration internally and with external partners,” Mailjet Chief Customer and Marketing Officer, Judy Boniface-Chang, said in a statement.

She added: “To address this, companies should focus on choosing tools that enable them to effectively collaborate in the creation and execution of their campaigns, reducing the number of iterations and maintaining a high level of control over their brand.”

DMA Head of Insight, Tim Bond, believes brands do not have to make a binary choice when deciding whether to manage functions internally and externally and that a mixture of the two can work well. Therefore, the onus is on enterprises to identify their own strengths and weaknesses so that they can create the best in-house and outsourcing strategy.

He added: “It’s not either/or. Our research shows one in 12 organisations are using what we have called a ‘blended’ strategy – combining the two.”

Bond also says enterprises should invest in skills, talent and technology so they can increase the capabilities of their marketing and support agencies and partners in their efforts more effectively.

The report found that brands also look to agencies to provide a new perspective on topics and subjects, as 37% of respondents said they fear to create an “echo-chamber” by working alone. A similar number are also concerned about a lack of agency expertise in certain technical areas, such as search engine optimisation.


The fear of exhausting a consumer base haunts most of today’s competitive businesses, something that not only does happen but often takes place earlier than anyone expected. In the online world, modern businesses can attempt to keep existing customers by offering them loyalty schemes, discounts or special offers. Your own business can also innovate by using content marketing if you have noticed that purchases are often made by the same customers in the same neighbourhood over and over again and you can foresee a stagnation of your own consumer base.

According to a recent study, 69% of marketers in the Middle East believe content marketing is crucial for their businesses, with 31% of those respondents claiming to give more than 50% of their marketing budget to the endeavour. Content marketing, which is intended to appeal to customers, may, therefore, be the next step your organisation must take. There are several ways you can make efficient use of content marketing to improve your customer outreach and, ultimately, your company’s overall sales and profits.

Your business probably already uses the tactics of praising your own product while trying to persuade your customers to make use of them via customer benefits because you know that other brands are delivering much the same product. This is often viewed by those customers not so much as subtle persuasion but as a form of bribery. In content marketing, you can focus on the common problems that potential customers may face because they do not have your product or if they have a version of it from another company that is not as up-to-date as your own. Whether you decide to make your content in the form of promotional videos, blog posts, podcasts or case studies, you should always remember that the average consumer must be able to relate to it. Regularly updating your marketing media will also make followers more likely to trust your company and product and could even cause beneficial word-of-mouth marketing.

It is also a good idea to make a generous investment in the creation of interactive content for potential consumers, depending on your target audience. In content marketing, it is less important to give general descriptions of the product you are selling and more important to provide practical reasons why consumers should keep up with your business and products. Those reasons may seem rather limited to you, but if you engage the services of a content marketing team, you are likely to be surprised at the number of dimensions they will find for you to explore.

A content marketing team may suggest that you partner with a complementary local business to gain a wider audience or to determine particular markets that likely can afford your offered services. A content marketing team can consist of outsourced institutes, filmmakers and writers that may already work in your business, full-time design employees or freelancers. Content marketing is overall a great way to solve the problem of tired marketing strategies while making full use of the online community’s potential.


Paid search and digital advertising continue to be hit or miss for brands targeting growth and increased brand awareness due to an inability to fully leverage audience data and meet volume targets, a new study by Marin Software has found.

The State of Digital Advertising 2019 is an all-encompassing study of how B2B and B2C marketers are dealing with their quests to address challenges and take advantage of new opportunities now that six months of the year are over. The study canvassed 450 marketers in the US and the UK for their views on a variety of topics.

Paid methods are often used to complement organic content marketing to amplify reach and engagement, but the study found that brands face “constant challenges” due to the growing threat of data privacy and the need to use analytics effectively to target the right consumers at the right time.

Paid search remains the most popular digital ad channel, as it commands more than a third of total budgets on average. However, paid advertising in social media is on the rise, and activities on Instagram, Facebook and other platforms now make up 18% of budgets, putting it in second place overall, just ahead of display ads (16%).

It is perhaps no surprise to see brands increasing their ad spends on Instagram due to the photo and video-sharing service’s growing popularity, especially with younger generations, but the study found that Facebook is not losing ground. More than two-thirds said that their advertising spends on Instagram will come via incremental budgeting as opposed to pivoting away from Facebook entirely.

Amazon is also making waves in the ad industry, and 60% of respondents said they plan to increase their investment in the e-commerce platform during the next 12 months. More than half view Amazon as a primary growth opportunity, and around 25% want to use it to drive more purchases at the bottom of the sales funnel.

However, it’s not all good news for Amazon, as 23% believe its reporting tools are not as sophisticated as those on Google and Facebook, which is a problem in today’s world of tracking metrics to determine ROI. Three in ten also say they have not yet got to grips with the ad environment on Amazon.

Google remains the most trusted published overall with an impressive score of 4.5 out of 5 on the trust index, and all but 2% of respondents rated the search giant as either 4 or 5. Many are also looking forward to using Google’s updated Search Ads format to improve their paid search campaigns.

“This year’s report shows a shift in advertising spend as marketers explore alternative channels and emerging ad formats,” Marin Software’s SVP of Marketing, Wes MacLaggan, said in a statement.

He added: “The digital advertising landscape continues to evolve, with advertisers struggling to close the skills gap as publishers innovate. At Marin, we’re seeing a greater emphasis on video and new ad formats like Responsive Search Ads and Shoppable Images to gain mindshare and drive growth. The eCommerce landscape is a hotbed of innovation, presenting retail brands with many opportunities and some challenges to navigate.”


An insights-driven approach to marketing can transform the quality of campaigns. However, the majority are still struggling to overcome several problems, including data silos and inflexible budgets, to implement analytics successfully, according to a new report released by 4C and Forrester Consulting.

The Mature Your Video Marketing to Drive Business Value study addresses the growing importance of video as it becomes a primary tool for engaging with specific subsets of audiences across a plethora of connected platforms. More than 500 marketing decision-makers in the US and the UK took part in the study earlier this year.

It found that 75% of the respondents believe that video has evolved from a medium designed mainly to reach people en masse to one that can meet customer demands for personalisation and hyper-targeting. More than three-quarters said that content is a cornerstone of their content targeting efforts, while 70% believe it can drive better performance when used effectively.

The business case for video usage is strong, but marketers are finding it difficult to fulfil the potential the medium offers due to a variety of challenges. Six in ten say they struggle to leverage data due to it being stuck in outdated silos, and two-thirds believe they are unable to scale their creative efforts or budgets to optimise campaigns based on the insights they uncover.

The absence of a documented strategy from the top down is also a problem, as 65% admit to not having access to centralised technology that would enable them to deploy and manage campaigns across several different channels. Therefore, it is no surprise that the majority say better cross-channel attribution and better self-service technology should be the focus for investment this year.

Those that can achieve these objectives are enjoying better performance and ROI, as the study noted that “mature” video marketers see higher conversion rates and brand advocacy compared to less-sophisticated counterparts.

4C believes marketers need to evolve and overhaul their approaches to marketing by taking a step back and analysing their current state before setting out a clear plan based on how their target audiences consume content. 4C also recommended that marketers should benchmark their budgets.

“Success for brands is dependent on the ability to understand customers across every touchpoint and immediately activate insights through holistic marketing and targeted media,” 4C Chief Marketing Officer, Aaron Goldman said in a press release for the study.

He added: “We think this research shows that there are challenges that need to be addressed for marketers to be more insights driven, which can be alleviated through deeper investments in self-service, cross-channel video advertising platforms.”

The annual Salary Guide released by Hays last week also highlights the importance of data and measurements. It revealed that the most sought-after employees are now content specialists and digital marketing managers who can use data and present evidence to support decision making across the business. Nine in ten employers said that they expect to pay marketing staff more in 2019 and 2020 due to their importance.


Content marketing, SEO and paid search need to work in unison to be effective, according to Saf Chowdhury and Mez Homayunfard from Online Marketing Gurus (OMG). The duo spoke about the ever-growing importance of web copy, articles and videos at the recent Mumbrella360 event.

Homayunfard, who is OMG’s co-founder, believes that organic content now takes on a greater role in the general marketing mix as the costs of paid media have skyrocketed during the last five years. He said that content is the best means for generating organic traffic and that, when supplemented by SEO, it is a hugely powerful tool for brands to leverage.

Speaking at the event on 30 June, Homayunfard used a case study involving a popular fashion retailer to highlight how search performance can collapse entirely during web migrations and without a carefully managed strategy. The drop-off forced the company to turn to OMG to rebuild its online presence.

Homayunfard noted: “This client had seen a very sharp drop in rankings – the business lost 86% of its visibility. Fashion is also a fragmented and splintered space and we were competing against a lot of pure-play online retailers. It was not a fun place to start a project.”

Content marketing was one of three activities, along with SEO and PPC, that enabled the company to recover lost ground, and it did so within just a few months. In the medium term, it drove $2m in incremental growth and campaigns centred on content to give it a platform to thrive in the long term without worries about a repeat performance slump.

A combination of content marketing and SEO are now preferable for Homayunfard and Chowdhury due to the rising costs of paid media, which make it difficult to sustain and use consistently as part of marketing and advertising strategies. The pair revealed that paid media now requires 35% more investment compared to three years ago.

As content marketing has matured, brands have turned to the practice to support cost-effective, agile and scalable campaigns. Homayunfard adds: “When we started the business six or seven years ago there was a heavy focus on paid search because SEO was a bit of a sort of Pandora’s Box. There wasn’t much transparency.”

Chowdhury believes content is now “super important” and advised businesses to double down on shorter, sharper and snappier forms of content rather than overlong pieces, though he admitted there is still a wide range of views in the industry about what is the right length of content for each situation.

“No one really wants to be shopping for dresses and then read an essay on the same page,” he said. “You need to look at content differently. You should think of reviews, and frequently asked questions.”

The two gurus finished their speech by saying that their client has been able to rank at the top of SERPS and enjoy significant revenue growth on a monthly basis and with the knowledge that it is a “repeatable process” that will continue to pay dividends.


A new report published by the Local Search Association (LSA) and SOCi is one of two released last week highlighting the urgent need for brands to publish localised content on social media and across other digital platforms to drive engagement with audiences in regional markets and support franchise brand growth.

The Localized Social Media Marketing Benchmark Report provides compelling evidence that localised social marketing is delivering tangible returns for brands of all sizes. It found that the top ten performers are realising growth at a 300% faster rate than category peers over a five-year period.

“Localized Social Marketing is the key for multi-location businesses to compete and win in a world dominated by e-commerce and Amazon,” said Greg Sterling, LSA’s VP of Strategy and Insights.

He added: “When done effectively, it can propel brands to the top of organic search results, build and maintain a highly engaged base of loyal customers and drive increased traffic and, ultimately, sales to local businesses.”

Social media is now a key battleground for brands, as it has evolved into a primary driver of consumer behaviour. Platforms that were once mainly hubs for customer relations and keeping in touch with customers are now vital outlets for content marketing and other digital experiences.

Recent research by Social Media Today showed that more than three-quarters of purchases decisions are directly influenced content posted on social sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, while 75% of engagement comes via brands’ local pages.

LSA said that the latest findings make it clear that a localised strategy on social media is no longer a luxury but a necessity for brands and should form part of their wider marketing strategy. LSA noted that this change has occurred during the last decade and resulted from customers demanding more personalised and local level experiences.

SOCi’s Chief Marketing Officer, Monica Ho, added: “This vehicle provides brands the opportunity to personally engage with each and every consumer and create true brand advocates. To keep pace with this trend, social media platforms are providing a growing list of features and functionalities, such as reviews, social conversations, and local Business Pages that now enable what we have come to call Localized Social Marketing.”

The joint study also found that seven in ten consumers are now reading content, including reviews, before making a purchase and that this figure increases to eight in ten for younger people aged 18 to 35.

A report released by the CMO Council last week also put forward the idea that local content and experiences based on language and culture can give brands a competitive edge, although 73% of marketers believe they are not ready to meet the needs of modern, digitally savvy consumers.

The CEO of Worldwide Partners said that enterprises need to do more solve the “localisation gap” and called on them to overhaul their strategies to help them to provide “personalised, contextualised and culturally relevant experiences.” Brands that also make use of translation and transcreation services will also give themselves a better chance of achieving new customer-centric goals.


Almost a third of content marketing agencies now have vast experience in the industry and have spent ten or more years offering services to clients, a new study by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) has found.

While brands are now waking up to the true power of content, many agencies have been deploying their craft effectively for more than a decade and covering a “full scope” of services during that time. Meanwhile, just 4% of agencies have started offering content services for the first time during the last year.

A separate report released by We Are Social Media (WeRSM) and Planable last week showed agency teams are considerably better than their in-house counterparts at creating and distributing five pieces of content or more every week. The CMI study suggests the maturity and experience of agencies may be one of the differentiating factors.

Agencies are also widely embracing content, as most respondents said that content-related services now account for at least 50% of their total business. This is due, in part, to the growing demand for high-quality, engaging articles, videos, blogs, infographics and other formats.

Almost two-thirds of agencies with “full scope” content offerings are now serving more clients compared to the same time last year, while an additional 36% have been able to maintain a stable client base during the period. In contrast, just 2% say that they have recorded a decrease in clients.

CMI said that there is now an opportunity for agencies to expand their services even further to incorporate more cutting-edge mediums, such as live experiences and webinars. They also pointed to the fact that 69% of B2C marketers and a similar number of B2B marketers expect to leverage more visual content this year.

“This is the first study CMI has undertaken to learn specifically about the content marketing services agencies offer,” CMI’s Vice President of Marketing, Cathy McPhillips, said in a statement last Thursday.

She added: “The agency landscape is complex, but it’s encouraging to see so many agencies buying into content marketing and the importance of meeting their client’s content needs. However, they do face many challenges, like buy-in, lack of strategy, budget constraints, and ROI concerns when working with clients, proving there is a need for educating clients on the value of content marketing.”

The top-of-the-funnel is still the ballpark for most of the content produced by agencies, with middle-of-the-funnel close behind. However, less than two-thirds are focusing on the loyalty phase, which may be an area where both agencies and clients can work together to set themselves apart from competitors and drive positive actions.

For agencies offering full scope services, “word-of-mouth referrals” are responsible for 72% of new business, making it the most popular non-paid generation source. Agencies that regularly publish a blog or maintain a corporate website also benefit, as this leads to 55% of new business. A few other useful sources include thought leadership (31%), organic search (29%) and LinkedIn (21%).