Content marketing is one of the newest and fastest facets of professional advertising for modern businesses. It encapsulates the entirety of online and offline marketing, from your direct mailing down to the flavor text on your homepage.
We could discuss the arbitrary benefits of content marketing all day: how content marketing can reach your customers personally, how evergreen content and SEO strategies build more loyal business with less overall volume, and how the value of long-term content marketing strategies grows exponentially over time. If you want real proof that content marketing is effective, however, just look at the numbers.
Current Trends Drive This Year’s Successes
According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2012 B2B Content Marketing study, 9 out of 10 organizations employ some kind of custom content marketing. The average B2B marketer is generating content for up to eight different strategies to meet their goals. To fuel these diverse new approaches, marketers are spending upwards of a full quarter of their entire marketing budget solely on producing and distributing content.
This comprehensive survey measured different tactics used, and article posting is one of the most popular sources of lead generation for B2B marketers. 79% of all participants use articles for their promotional content, followed by social media (74%) and blogging (65%). Blogging has increased 27% in usage over the course of this past year, and will likely continue to be adopted thanks to the growing importance of having a reputable name behind your content in search engines. As the importance of a blogger’s reputation becomes more significant in search rankings, long-term individualized blogging will become part of many SEO professionals’ toolkits.
As marketers become more familiar with these tools, their effectiveness will improve greatly. The aforementioned CMI study reports that as of 2011, 50% of surveyed marketers now believe their social media content marketing efforts are effective tools. This is a major increase from a May 2010 Rochester Institute of Technology study where marketers reported their social media efforts were only 25% effective at large companies and 31% effective overall.
The Social Factor
Thanks to growing successes with social media efforts, adoption of social media services for marketing purposes has risen sharply. YouTube has seen a 47% increase in adoption for content marketing purposes, and compared to the previous year, marketers are 36% more confident that their video content is an effective tool. LinkedIn adoption has also risen 39%, followed by Twitter (35%) and Facebook (30%).
More intriguing still is the role of advanced technology and content marketing effectiveness. A recent report from ScanLife found that in Q1 2012 alone, there were 5 million unique QR code users—a 200% increase from last year, and a million more than Q4 2011. The sharp rise in QR code acceptance in the market can be credited to the proliferation of smartphones and digital devices capable of scanning these barcodes and delivering rich web content directly to customers in seconds. These trends show that content marketing can take your message directly to your customers in new, engaging ways. Thanks to the widespread use of popular social outlets, and the convenience of mobile devices and versatile uses for QR codes, marketers can embed their messages in entertainment that actually attracts new customers instead of turning them away.
The Future Of Content Marketing: More Budget, More Diverse Content
The steady rise for new, engaging content has resulted in bigger budgets for more diverse content. Only 3% of all businesses surveyed are scaling back their content generation budget. 28% plan on maintaining the previous year’s budget, and a staggering 60% of companies that participated in this CMI survey plan on increasing their content marketing budget in 2012, with 11% planning a significant increase. Increased budgets mean the golden standard for content that drives results will rise to new heights, and the content marketing industry will grow and evolve with the increase in demand. This demand has already fueled content outsourcing to surprising amounts: 62% of B2B marketers outsource their content, up from 55% in 2010-2011.
These numbers all tell the same story: content marketing is trusted by corporations of all sizes as an effective marketing strategy that produces results. Beyond the numbers lies the human element: content marketing works because it is personal, approachable, and inviting when done right. Consumers can rarely stomach the classic hard sell that was once common practice in marketing. Technology and consumer tastes have created the need for content marketing that delivers a desired message with a subtle, multifaceted approach, and as they become increasingly receptive to these strategies, the demand for quality content can only go up from here.