Where Companies Are Stuck With Their Content Marketing

Aberdeen recently conducted a study to identify content marketing sticking points and opportunities for content marketers to raise their game. It yielded some interesting findings.

Where Companies Are Stuck With Their Content Marketing

With 95% of companies currently or planning to invest in content marketing, the content game is getting more crowded by the minute.

Intuitively, this means that it’s not enough to just create content anymore. However, the unfortunate truth is that companies often squander resources by creating large volumes of content with little to no visibility into the results. Buyers, overwhelmed by the volume of stuff available to them, have become very picky about what they will actually respond to.

At Aberdeen, we find this dynamic interesting and recently conducted a study to identify content marketing sticking points and opportunities for content marketers to raise their game. It yielded some interesting findings.

The Content Marketing Continuum

In October 2015, Aberdeen Group conducted content marketing research with 277 companies to ascertain the state of content marketing today. Key data findings from the resulting report, “The Future of Content Marketing: The Age of Content Science,” showed that companies are at different stages with the maturity of their content marketing capabilities. We found two clear sticking points where companies seem to stall in their evolution.

The below illustration shows the stages of content marketing in which our respondents demonstrated actions and behaviors. It is not meant to be a recommendation, but rather a snapshot of the current state as portrayed by the respondents to the survey.

Note a fairly large distinction between the placement of top (Best-in-Class) marketers and All Others. Results indicated that All Others are trapped in a never-ending loop of creating and pushing out content. Their pain points and focus revolve around the ability to create enough content. Best-in-Class, on the other hand, are further up the continuum, where they are not focused on creating volume of content, but rather are spending their cycles on meeting the changing expectations of their buyers. This work is paying off as they are getting considerably better results from their content marketing efforts.

Breaking The Logjam And Making The Move

Success leaves clues. Companies looking for better results need to break out of their content marketing logjam and move across the continuum to surpass their Best-in-Class peers. To do this, they should:

• Focus on community to encourage audience advocacy: The Best-in-Class aspire to become more of a publisher than content creator. They are focused on building communities of loyal followers and, ultimately, brand advocacy. Remember those never-ending field registration forms that needed to be completed before a content download? Consider them long gone. The Best-in-Class are capitalizing on their marketing technology stacks and leveraging progressive profiling to build profiles over time. They’re encouraging the sharing of content and tracking who reads and shares what. They’re being patient with building a relationship with the reader over time.

• Become more scientific about serving up your content: The Best-in-Class is very focused on delivering personalized experiences to their readers. Believe it or not, only 6% of All Other companies currently implement a personalization experience across all channels. If you consider the experience visitors to a website gets when they are served content that is fit to their situation–what they’ve read before, their persona, their technology environment, stage in the buyers’ journey, etc., versus a one-size-fits-all content serving approach, it is a no-brainer. The age of content science has risen! This is the kind of differentiation that will continue to set the winning content marketers apart from All Others.

• Leverage data to drive results: Content marketing has evolved from an art to a science, and the research supports that. Best-in-Class marketers are forcing themselves to become better at not only collecting the right data but to actually use their data as connecting points between, contact, content, and channel to inform their content marketing decisions. They have repeatable reporting that shows them what pieces of content are working and with whom. They are building rich customer profiles, augmented with third-party data, that tell them as much as possible about the customer so they can better target and segment. And they are getting predictive and precise about buying triggers, so they know when a lead is a lead.

Why Marketers Should Care

The results from our report show that those who develop and execute against a data-centric content marketing strategy enjoy nearly five times more marketing-attributed revenue than those who do not. That means those marketers who are stuck in Stages 1-3 are leaving a lot of money on the table and likely losing the race with competitors who have figured it out. Winning marketers are leveraging data to move from just a content machine to a publishing property, where they’re building community and advocacy for their brands at the same time as developing demand. In order for All Others to keep pace with the Best-in-Class, they need to design a strategy that leverages data to improve their content marketing efforts.

Where do you think you stand on the Content Marketing Continuum? Read the full report here.