Content marketing is a term that we hear so often and for many is both the present and future of marketing. With many organisations now leaving behind traditional methods of marketing, we believe content marketing has become a significant subject of study. As demonstrated in the infographic below from Hyperfine Media, content marketing increased in the UK last year and since this, the average budget costs on these methods have risen by 3%.
The information in the infographic is derived from a content marketing survey that represents the findings of 133 recipients. The survey was distributed across a range of industries in the UK, possessing various company sizes and areas. A breakdown of these results follow, where references to the infographic will be made in an investigation to gain a deeper understanding of content marketing, what it is and the effects it has on business firms in the UK.
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that enables businesses to create and deliver content that is only valuable, relevant and consistent. In doing so, they are able to retain a clearly defined audience that will render more profitable customer actions. Content marketing is merely a non-interruption form of marketing and is the art in which a business is able to communicate with its customers and prospects. Indeed, the introduction of content marketing has enabled business firms to not only reach out to wider audiences, but for those who do adopt such methods can be sure to improve their online presence and place themselves in the eye of their potential consumers.
The Rise of Content Marketing
In a technological world, it’s inevitable that our current systems will evolve. Content marketing has indeed seen a stark rise over recent years and its offering of different metrics has enabled many businesses to build up a strong online presence. Content marketing is a practical, effective and useful marketing strategy and for those who adopt such methods in today’s digital landscape, it offers them the ability to ensure consistent engagement with their audiences and as a result, encourage the drive in consumer behaviour.
Today in 2016, a whopping 89% of UK business firms have implemented methods of content marketing into their business strategy. The business sector that indulged in these tactics the most was the advertising and communications sector who made up 33% of UK firms. In descending order, this was followed by consultancy, technology, publishing and media, manufacturing, educational and 25% of all ‘other’ sectors. With only a miniscule 11% of UK firms that have not adopted methods of content marketing into their approach, it is important to recognise that whilst content marketing is extremely beneficial, a small minority of business firms will benefit in taking a more ‘back to basics’ approach.
The Use of Social Media in a Content Marketing Approach
In today’s society, social media has somewhat become a part of life. So much so that these platforms have even been integrated into many business firms and their approach to audiences. According to the infographic, UK marketers use an average of 12 content marketing tactics, one of which is social media. Its offering of various platforms enable business firms to reach out to a wider audience in various different ways. In fact, the infographic offers valid evidence that social media is actually the most popular tactic within content marketing, with 94% of businesses using it in their marketing strategy.
Since last year, we have seen a significant rise in the use of social media, where 93% of businesses took to LinkedIn as an efficient method in retaining their audiences. Other popular social media platforms were Twitter, which was used by 92% of UK firms, YouTube by 81%, Facebook by 78% and Google + by 74%. A further 69% of UK firms claimed that Twitter had a significantly positive effect on their business and with YouTube seeing a 13% rise since 2015 it is fair to say that content marketing has been beneficial to current businesses. We can predict that content marketing will be adopted by many firms in the UK and that the use of these platforms will only continue to rise in the future.
Other Content Marketing Tactics
Aside from social media, there are many content marketing tactics that business firms use in their marketing strategy. Content marketing offers up a range of different sources across different media platforms, including e-newsletters, blogs, videos, case studies and many more. The infographic demonstrates how the use of visual marketing tactics have become more popular over last year, with a significant rise in the use of illustrations and photos, videos and infographics.
Out of the respondents, 34% of firms expressed how their business had seen a positive effect since taking on a content marketing approach and a further 88% of firms estimate that in 2016 they will create far more content than what they had in 2015. Through creating engaging content, businesses are able to place only relevant and consistent information in the eye of their consumers as a means of retaining a loyal and active audience. An online presence is key in today’s society and content marketing helps in building this and enhancing the behaviour of consumers.
How to Assess Content Marketing
The success of content marketing is measured on different levels. These levels are sophisticated, mature, adolescent, young and the first steps. The sophisticated level renders a great deal of understanding around content marketing and the effects these methods have, and the first steps reflect a business only possessing a small amount of knowledge, in which they seek to learn more around this concept. For businesses in the UK who have adopted methods of content marketing, much success has been achieved. In fact, respondents who claimed that their content marketing approach had been effective, 78% said they were in the sophisticated or mature level. This was followed by 22% who felt they were at the adolescent stage and 0% were in the first steps. Hereby, we can see that content marketing has been highly successful for business firms in the UK and that content marketing has helped in accomplishing a business’s overall objectives.
Content Marketing Strategy
When asked ‘does your organisation have a content marketing strategy?’, 37% of respondents said ‘yes’. Whilst this may only be a 1% rise since 2015, it is evident that the use of content marketing has risen and that such methods are having a positive effect on business firms. When these firms were asked to rate the effectiveness of their content marketing using a 5 point scale, where 5 = very important and 1 = not at all important, results showed that 3% of businesses found their content marketing strategy to be ‘very effective’, 3% found it to be ‘not effective at all’ and the remaining responses for 4, 3 and 2 were 31%, 39%, and 19%.
In order to create a strong and effective marketing strategy, it is important for firms to meet in order to discuss their content marketing program. From the respondents, we discovered that only 7% of UK firms met daily. Other answers included meeting weekly, which made up 34% of the responses, 19% meeting monthly, 7% meeting quarterly and 16% meeting only when ‘necessary’. An internal meeting about marketing not only sets a clear direction, but encourages positive outcomes and enhances the ways in which a business firm tackles their objectives. When asked how effective team meetings are in helping a business firm to be more effective in their content marketing approach, 59% answered that they were valuable. Thus, it is important to consider that a clear direction with a content marketing approach can and will most likely be extremely beneficial to business firms and the results they see.
Content Marketing Goals and Outcomes
To further the investigation around content marketing and the effects it has on a business’s growth and direction, respondents were asked what their most important goals are following a content marketing approach. It was soon apparent that whilst ‘engagement’ was most popular last year, this had been outplaced by ‘sales’ which is now the highest demanded goal with 83% of responses. In descending order, this was followed by ‘engagement’ with 83%, ‘lead generation’ with 81%, ‘brand awareness’ with 78%, ‘customer retention’ with 75%, ‘lead nurturing’ with 75%, ‘customer evangelism’ with 66% and ‘up-selling’ with 58%.
Challenges vs. Priorities in Content Marketing
Indeed, any plan faces trials and tribulations whether they be personal or professional matters and keeping an audience at arm’s reach is a tough challenge for even the best of us. Asking participants what they found most challenging in their content marketing approach unveiled the various factors that some businesses face in retaining their consumers. 61% of respondents said they would struggle in creating engaging content, 58% felt they would struggle measuring how effective their content is, 58% said they would struggle creating content consistently, 49% would struggle measuring the return on investment of their content marketing program and finally 40% said they would struggle producing a variety of content.
Additionally, respondents were asked what their priorities were in their content marketing approach. 70% felt that creating engaging content was the most important factor, despite it being one of their biggest challenges. A lesser 67% said understanding content better is a key priority, 58% said creating visual content, 53% said finding more or better ways to repurpose content and 46% said a priority is to understand their audience better.
In today’s society, the means of content marketing can take a business a very long way. The cyber world renders more significance each and every day and so building up an online presence is key. The most recent measure of UK firms average spend on content marketing makes up 29% of their total budget. This is a significant percentage designated directly to content marketing costs, where there are both paid and unpaid opportunities for firms to indulge in. Content marketing is something that businesses should seek to invest in, having some kind of relevance to a high majority of UK firms. 66% of firms have even stated that their spends on content marketing are estimated to increase significantly over the following year as they have seen positive effects. Above all, it is important to move forward with society and the way in which it develops. Content marketing brings together old methods of marketing and intertwines them with new approaches in order to a produce a respectable and admirable outcome for anybody who adopts these ways.
By Kat Kynes; Content Marketing Advice for 2016 Infographic.