Research Highlights Value of Content Marketing & Keys to Success

By Bob West

Content marketing is not a concept that is going away. The philosophy was originally adopted by large-scale, progressive-thinking consumer marketers and then became popular with enterprise marketers in the business-to-business realm. The question for agricultural marketers is whether or not they’re willing to re-think their traditional marketing tactics in favor of this new approach that emphasizes creating long-term engagement through educational information rather than the traditional product-focused communications.

More evidence supporting the adoption and value of content marketing can be found in the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) new study, B2B Content Marketing 2018: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America. The full report can be viewed here, and it’s worth checking out, although this year’s report (it’s the eighth year that CMI has published it) focuses more heavily on the survey results from the respondents that identified themselves as “successful content marketers.” That results in a focus on larger companies dedicating more financial and human resources to content marketing than the typical agricultural or horticultural marketer.

Here are some of my key observations from the research for our clients:

  • Having a plan helps. Slightly more than one-third of the overall respondents report they have a documented content marketing strategy, but that number jumps to 62% for respondents that consider themselves successful content marketers. So, nascent content marketers should invest time clearly outlining what goals they hope to accomplish via content and how content will help them do it.
  • You don’t have to do it alone. More than half of all survey respondents said they outsource at least one content marketing activity. The most commonly outsourced work is content creation (outsourced by 47% of all respondents), which could mean hiring freelance writers, contracting with video production firms, or hiring specialized graphic design talent.
  • It’s increasingly about audience development. Many companies relate content marketing with lead generation, and that can certainly be one goal of this approach. However, experienced content marketers’ goals seem to be shifting or evolving to emphasize audience development much more. In fact, 80% of the respondents report that their “organization is focused on building audiences” in the form of their own subscriber database(s). The importance of audience development continues climbing as marketers become committed to increased email / enewsletter marketing (employed by 93% of these survey respondents).

Again, I recommend marketers check out the CMI summary of the research as well as the full slide deck of data. At the very least, the information will serve as good food for thought as you evaluate your own marketing plans for 2018 and where content marketing fits in.

Bob West is Meister Media’s Commercial Digital Director. He can be reached at 440-602-9129 or bwest@meistermedia.com.

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