Does content marketing really work? Which tactics make it more successful? Is paid content promotion worth it?

To find the answers to these content marketing questions and more, we took a look at two content marketing studies from this year – Zazzle’s State of Content Marketing 2017 study and a collaborative study from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs: B2B Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends — North America. Based on responses from thousands of marketers, these studies show what’s working and what’s not when it comes to content marketing.

If you’re a marketer or business leader looking for insight why you should consider hiring a content marketing agency, read on.

Insight 1: Content Marketing Works

Content marketing has earned its place at the marketing table. According to Zazzle, nearly 80% of marketers say content marketing is effective. The study from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs shows the same result, with 75% of respondents saying content marketing increases audience engagement, 72% saying it increases leads, and 57% saying it increases sales.

This is great news on a few fronts. Marketers understand the value of content marketing, and they see its value beyond merely increasing web traffic. According to Zazzle, marketers are measuring the success of content marketing in terms of brand awareness (85%), engagement (83%), improved search engine visibility (71%), lead generation (70%) and more.  

Insight 2: Content Marketing Is Getting a Bigger Piece of the Pie

Now that content marketing is at the table, it’s taking a bigger piece of the marketing pie.

On average, Zazzle survey respondents spent 23% of their marketing budgets on content marketing. Not one respondent expected to invest less in content marketing in the upcoming year—in fact, 70% expected to invest more in content marketing in 2017.

Similarly, the CMI study found respondents spent an average of 29% of their marketing budgets on content marketing. A more modest 39% expected their investment in content marketing to rise in the next 12 months, while 45% thought it would remain the same.

It’s hard to explain the large discrepancy in how many respondents said their content marketing budget would increase. It may have to do with geographic location—Zazzle’s survey was conducted in the UK, while the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs surveyed North America.    

Insight 3: Many Brands Face Content Creation Challenges

Even understanding the importance of content marketing, and investing significantly in it, many brands find it a challenge to produce content. Of Zazzle respondents, 65% said they find it a challenge to produce engaging content, and 60% say they can’t produce content consistently. Similarly, almost 50% of respondents to the CMI and MarketingProfs survey said they had challenges creating content.

This is a bit of a puzzle: if brands recognize the importance and effectiveness of content marketing, why are they struggling to produce it?

Well, more than half of the respondents to the Content Marketing Institute worked on a small or one-person marketing team which served the entire organization. It’s no surprise a one-person shop would struggle to keep up with content creation. Sure enough, of those brands whose content marketing success had stagnated from the previous year, more than half (52%) said that they didn’t have enough time for content marketing.

On the other hand, 53% of those whose content marketing was more successful than the previous year said that spending more time on it was a factor in making it more successful.

Even for a one-person shop, it doesn’t have to be this way. Small marketing departments should consider asking for outside help if they’re struggling to create content. It doesn’t have to blow the budget, either — something as small as four standout whitepapers can make a huge impact.  

Insight 4: Too Few Content Marketers Know Best Practices

Only 6% of marketers are clear on best content marketing practices, according to Zazzle. Yikes! This shows a huge knowledge gap to overcome. There are tons of free resources out there for your team to brush up on everything content marketing-related, and conferences and webinars provide learning opportunities too.

If you’re among the 94% who doesn’t feel confident about content marketing best practices, take action to change that now. Given the importance of content marketing in increasing leads and sales, your business could depend on it.

Looking for more on content marketing? Read our summary of Cision’s State of the Media report to learn how content marketers can build relationships with journalists.


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