In last month’s newsletter I featured an interview with my friend and Internet marketing expert Jeff Powell, Vice President/CFO of Prosperous Internet Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency in Pensacola, Fla. Click here to read the article if you missed it.
He stressed that content marketing is an integral part of any Internet marketing program today. “Publishing quality content is vital to ranking high in Google and the other search engines,” he said, adding that creating consistent, fresh and relevant content is one of the most important things they do for their clients.
Digging Deeper into Content Marketing
Jeff’s comment prompted me to dig a little deeper to find out more about what what’s going on right now in the world of content marketing.
For starters, how many organizations today are using content marketing? The answer: Almost all of them. According to B2B Content Marketing: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends, 91% of B2B organizations use content marketing. Among the 9% that don’t, more than half said they plan to launch a content marketing initiative in the next year.
But how effective is content marketing? Pretty effective, it turns out: About six out of 10 content marketers said that their content market programs are more successful this year than last year. Even more encouraging, about a quarter of the respondents said the overall impact of their content marketing programs was either “very” or “extremely” successful.
So what technology tools are organizations using to manage their content marketing programs? According to the B2B Content Marketing report, the top 5 content marketing tech tools and the percentage of organizations using them are:
- Analytics tools (87%)
- Email marketing technology (70%)
- Content management systems (63%)
- Marketing automation software (55%)
- Webinars and online presentation platforms (43%)
Meanwhile, the most common distribution methods for content are email (cited by 93% of respondents), social media (92%) and blogs (79%). And the most effective types of content used by B2B content marketers are e-books/whitepapers (50%), case studies (47%) and social media posts (41%).
As a freelance writer (i.e., content producer), I found it interesting (and encouraging!) that nearly half of content marketers are outsourcing their content creation. Higher quality and more efficient content creation was cited as the number one reason for greater content marketing success.
You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!
I hope I didn’t lose you with all these statistics and data, but I wanted to demonstrate just how far content marketing has come in just the past decade.
So what does all of this mean? What are some big-picture trends when it comes to content marketing? Here are a few that I discovered while doing some research:
1. Question optimization is replacing keyword optimization. The evolution of Google’s algorithm is making optimization of keyword strings less effective than it used to be. Google can now evaluate the context and intent of Internet searches without analyzing matching keyword strings.
Question optimization is building content that answers niche questions. For one thing, questions are more similar to natural spoken language, which optimizes content for voice searches. And Google now features questions with its “People Also Ask” feature that lists web pages that best answer search queries.
2. Dynamic personalization has become more common. This isn’t customer segmentation, but rather content personalization that customizes the online experience for each individual. A good example is the personalized, artificial intelligence-generated content suggestions made by Amazon and Netflix.
Most organizations don’t have an Amazon-sized budget for this level of AI sophistication, but you can still accomplish dynamic personalization by personalizing calls-to-action with the contact’s first name or making personalized product recommendations. Personalized CTAs can increase on-page interactions by more than 200 percent, research shows.
3. Measuring return on investment is becoming essential. It appears that the days of just throwing content out there and hoping this leads to increased sales are coming to an end. According to the B2B Content Marketing report, more than half of the most successful B2B content marketers now measure the ROI of their content marketing initiatives.
For example, most of them say that they can demonstrate how content marketing has increased audience engagement (77%), the number of leads (72%) and overall sales (51%).
Benchmarks for Measuring Your Efforts
I’ll conclude with some more data from the B2B Content Marketing report to drive home what the most successful content marketers are doing right. Nearly all of them are highly committed to content marketing and focused on building audiences for their content.
They also allow time for content marketing to produce results and are realistic about what content marketing can achieve.
These are good benchmarks against which you can measure your organization’s content marketing initiatives.