Content may be the driver for marketing efforts, but the type of content created makes all the difference.
Content marketers surveyed by Clutch, a ratings and reviews platform for business services, say research and original data (18%), infographics (17%), and product reviews (16%) are more likely to help them achieve their goals than blog posts, videos, or white papers.
Once content is developed, how it's promoted and distributed can make or break its impact. The majority of content marketers surveyed (85%) say paid content distribution tactics, including social media, pay-per-click (PPC), and native ads, are more effective than organic efforts.
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action," noted Robert Rose, chief strategy officer at the Content Marketing Institute. "This means that content marketing aims to develop a relationship with your audience, using content as a point of entry."
As social networks follow Facebook's example and begin to decrease organic visibility for brands, investing in content distribution is more important than ever, say industry experts.
"In order to get eyeballs on content for the foreseeable future, businesses will have to pay for it," said Chad Pollitt, vice president of audience at Relevance, a content marketing agency.
It looks like content marketers are already heeding this prediction: 71% of those surveyed say they use paid distribution tactics most frequently.
Clutch's survey also reveals how content marketers create, publish, and track their company's content throughout the year. Content marketers identified the most important components for documenting their content strategy: brand story, a mission statement that outlines their goals, and the types of content they plan to create.
Identifying audience personas, however, was less of a priority. While understanding your audience may be challenging, it is a necessary and crucial component of content marketing, according to Jeffrey Vocell, principal product marketing manager at HubSpot.
"The foundation for any strategy is knowing who is being targeted. After this, many other things fall into place, such as content format and the types of content being created," Vocell said.
The strategic nature of content marketing makes understanding audience personas and identifying goals and objectives important. Nearly half (49%) of content marketers surveyed said brand awareness is their main goal, followed by higher visibility in search engines (30%) and lead generation (21%).
Having a clear goal for each piece of content makes it easier to determine return on investment (ROI), according to Quinn Whissen, marketing director at Vertical Measures, a content marketing agency.
"Every piece of content will have a different goal, and people sometimes get confused. For example, creating a post for social engagement but really optimizing it for organic search," Whissen said.
The survey offers three core recommendations for content marketing, which is to tailor content to specific audiences, create content to support business goals and enhance content distribution efforts.
The survey also suggest that if marketers do not have a budget for paid advertising, focus on earned media, such as pitching journalists and influencers.
The survey included 300 expert and advanced content marketers from enterprises (100+ employees) in the United States. 72% represent companies with more than 500 employees, with 34% working for B2Bs and 66% for B2Cs.