Nearly 38% of companies do not feel they have an effective content marketing strategy and only 13% feel their content marketing is “very successful.” Clearly there are many challenges businesses need to overcome to improve their effectiveness in this area.
I recently reviewed a Content Marketing report from Ascend2 Research, which conducts research for marketing solution providers, on how online marketers utilize different methods to reach customers. They looked at why companies use content marketing.
- More than half (54%) set lead generation as the main objective of their marketing strategy.
- They also use content to increase the awareness of their product or brand (41%).
- Search engine optimization (SEO) ranked at 30%, in terms of why marketers use content.
Acknowledging that content marketing can help your business is important, but one of the biggest challenges facing companies is the actual creation of it. Good content, the kind that will increase your leads and sales, is resource intensive to create. According to the study only about 52% have in-house resources to create all of their content.
Smaller companies may find content creation more difficult and expensive: They often have to outsource all or most of their jobs. Outsourcing can offer its own challenges in that not all content writers are created equal, and frequently the better ones cost more. Either way, it takes time, money, or a combination of the two to develop the kind of content that increases your bottom line.
The good thing for businesses is that there are many marketing software solutions available that help manage content marketing and automate some of the process, but 40% of businesses don’t use such platforms and 41% only use them in a limited way.
Software can streamline content marketing and make it easier and quicker to do a quality job in-house. In the end, businesses need to look toward harnessing all the tools available to them and using them to their fullest potential.
Since the main focus is to create leads from content, most companies require users to register before they can access it.
For the most part, companies offer premium content via:
- eNewsletters (55%)
- White papers (53%)
- Videos (53%)
- Case studies (47%)
Webinars still rank at 39% as a premium content form and research reports came in at 36 percent. Infographics (31%), product demos (27%), interactive apps (10%), are frequently mentioned, too. Infographics are one of the hotter trends in content marketing with companies of all sizes trying to make their ideas more visual.
Creating videos that are high quality is difficult even for larger companies, but small businesses have a choice of hiring a pro or doing it themselves. At Small Business Trends, I compiled a list of 30+ Ways To Use YouTube Effectively – a list of tips and resources to help you sort out how to create videos for your business.
When looking at the most effective channel for reaching customers, surprisingly, blogs ranked a low fourth for effectiveness at 26% as compared email at 61%, then websites, then social media. You can download a free copy of the report from Ascend2 Research here.
Although blogs are generally considered a great way to market your business online, it may be time to re-evaluate them or how you approach them. I’m a fan of blogs overall, but particularly in combination with email marketing or video, if you cross-pollinate between them.
Since 38% of companies do not feel they have an effective content marketing strategy, it seems like the time is right to do a bit more study on the topic for small and medium sized businesses.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.