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Content Marketing Study: A verbal strategy is not enough

Recently, the renowned Content Marketing Institute (CMI) published the study “B2B Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.” The study focused on these questions: What goals are businesses pursuing regarding content marketing? What are the greatest challenges involved? And asked, what recommendations stem from that knowledge?

Recently, the renowned Content Marketing Institute (CMI) published the study “B2B Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.” The study focused on these questions: What goals are businesses pursuing regarding content marketing? What are the greatest challenges involved? And asked, what recommendations stem from that knowledge?

In terms of content, the greatest current challenges for B2B companies are creating relevant content, continually producing content and measuring the effectiveness of said content.

On average, B2B companies in North America invest 28 percent of their marketing budget in content marketing, 70 percent produce more content than they did a year ago, and of these companies, 42 percent published content daily or several times a week.

In general, companies used 13 different types of content: Social media content was the most used, followed by newsletters and website articles, and infographics showed the strongest growth.

According to the study, the main objective companies sought to achieve with content marketing was brand awareness – closely followed by lead generation and user engagement.

But how can companies achieve these content goals? The study suggests that to continuously produce engaging content and to measure the success of content initiatives, it is important to develop a documented content strategy.

The following tips may be helpful.

1. Develop a content strategy and set it down in writing

A content strategy involves critically planning, creating and distributing content. The aim is to increase the efficiency of the company’s content marketing.

Those companies adopting a written strategy have proven to be the most successful: Content marketing efforts were found to be effective in 60 percent of companies with a documented strategy – but in only 32 percent of companies operating a verbal content marketing strategy.

But how does one set up a content strategy?

The first step in developing a content strategy is to define concrete objectives the content must achieve. Does the company, for example, wish to increase its visibility or generate leads? Is the intention to increase user engagement by more social signals? These objectives must then be prioritized.

The next step is to plan how the defined goals can be achieved. The content planning should determine what content the target group requires, how frequently it’s required, which types of content are most suitable and what the best channels are for reaching the target audience. In addition, who produces what content and how much time it takes to create should also be determined. An editorial calendar will help to organize the arrangement long term.

It is important to periodically check that the content created actually contributes to the achievement of objectives. If content activity is systematically monitored, content planning can be continuously adapted, and – subject to the specified objectives – this data might include the number of new visitors, new leads generated or the rankings for specific search terms.

The CMI study demonstrates that a verbal content strategy is good – but not good enough. Those wishing to deploy content marketing effectively should set up a strategy document. This should identify the content targets – content types, publication frequency, channels, effective dates and persons responsible – and also the methods used to check whether the objectives have been achieved.

2. Regularly produce relevant content

How does one regularly find good content ideas to inspire the target audience?

There are various ways.

First, survey the current situation: What content has worked best in the past? Also pay attention to social media interactions: What content has received the most comments and scored the most likes and shares?

An analysis of key industry media is also useful. What topics are covered by online and offline magazines for the target audience? This information will help to determine priorities and discover new thematic ideas. It’s also worth taking a sideways glance at your main competitors. What kind of content do they offer the target audience? Although this content should never be copied, it is a means of gaining inspiration to develop ideas for new themes or types of content.

A keyword analysis of the company’s offers and common topic areas can generate further content ideas. Google’s Keyword Planner shows key subject-related search terms and also reports the search frequency of each as “average searches per month.” An analysis of search queries in Google Trends is another way to discover keywords relevant to a theme.

Once the themes have been established, then it becomes easier to determine the content type. The primary question is this: Which media will best convey your content message? Is it a journal article, an e-book, a video or a picture? Will you, for example, have to present comprehensive study results to the audience to achieve your content objectives?

When creating content, the criteria for good web texts must be observed. Primarily, a text must be targeted at specific groups, and it should be unique, entertaining and informative. In addition, the text should be well-structured with correct grammar and spelling. If the text is written to a reader-friendly standard and optimized for search engines, it’s likely to persuade the target audience.


3. Work on the monitoring of Content Marketing

Many companies still face challenges monitoring content marketing activities. The CMI study found just 21 percent of companies managed this well. But how can you tell if a content marketing campaign has been successful?

For this purpose, content activities must be translated into numbers. The key performance indicator (KPI) will depend  upon the objectives and type of content used for each marketing tool. For example, the number of downloads and shares will be measured for an e-book while in other content projects, the assessment criteria could be an improvement in brand traffic or rankings.

Many KPIs, such as new site visitors or conversions, can be measured via Google Analytics, and it makes sense to use custom variables to check which channels generate the most traffic or the most conversions. Using this tool, custom campaign variables can be created for each channel (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.) and assigned content objects attached.

According to the study, 63 percent of companies choose website traffic as their preferred performance measure, followed by quality of leads quality (49 percent) and higher conversion rates (48 percent).


The study reveals that 55 percent of companies plan to increase their spending on content marketing in the next 12 months. Though content marketing is a central theme for companies, there are still a number of challenges to be faced.

In addition to the regular creation of relevant content, one of the main tasks for content managers in the future will be to better demonstrate the effectiveness of their content.

Here too, a written strategy is helpful. According to the study, companies who closely follow their documented content strategy are not only effective in implementing their content marketing but also more successful in measuring outcomes.

However, no perfect content strategy exists. Each company must develop its own processes and review and refine them on a regular basis.

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