As a digital marketing analyst at Altimeter, I've been following the ever-changing world of content marketing since 2013, but this is the first year the changes have been truly dramatic.
When I filled out the survey for my latest research report “2018 State of Digital Content,” I expected to find small technological advancements in the way we create, deliver, and measure content marketing , but not much else. Instead, I noticed a fundamental change in content marketing as a whole.
Companies are now using content to do more than create awareness or brand health. They're using it to directly drive revenue, save money, and personalize the customer experience . Meaning, they are using content marketing to do more than rather than marketing.
Here are five key findings from the survey highlight this change. We launched the survey in August 2018, with 400 respondents across North America, Europe (France, UK and Germany) and China, from companies with at least 1000 employees.
Content Trend #1: Most companies can demonstrate the business impact of content
Despite the popularity of content marketing as a practice, companies have traditionally struggled to demonstrate their positive financial impact, relying instead on softer metrics like brand awareness and brand health. However, in our survey, 81% of companies agree or partially agree that they can directly tie the revenue generated to the content.
Furthermore, when we asked companies about their top challenges, only 9% said they had trouble demonstrating the impact of their content.
These findings raise the bar for all content marketing teams, because they currently have to demonstrate a clear impact on revenue and cannot afford to continue focusing on brand awareness and power. strong. The good news is that we're finding better ways to measure the impact of our content and better tools to do so.
Content Trend #2: Engagement is a better performance metric than reach
When we first conducted the survey in 2016, with up (37%) and engagement (36%) being the most popular ways to measure content performance. In 2018, while engagement (defined as clicks, comments, or shares) was still preferred as the top metric (30%), up to (12%) was much less common. Instead, companies are using more financially focused metrics like effectiveness (23%) and conversions (23%) to measure the success of their content strategies.
This is another sign of content's higher expectations and how companies are implementing it to save money, generate leads, or drive people closer to a purchase, rather than just use it as a way to distribute brand messages at scale.
Content Trend #3: Product Focused Content Works Better Than Thought Leadership
In news that will baffle many marketing and communications professionals, our survey found that product-focused content (29%) outperformed all other types of content, including thought leadership or subject matter expertise (25%), brand-focused content (18%), or company-focused content (17%) designed to promote transparency and loyalty Fort.
This is notable because it will indicate that a customer who prefers a type of content is less likely to be produced by a content marketing or PR team. However, results varied when we split the findings by industry. Thought leadership works better for service industries like healthcare, finance, and technology, while retailers and manufacturers find product-focused content best . This implies that companies with physical goods should prioritize content about their products, while companies that sell services can win out by providing helpful content that makes them a base. authority in the industry.
These results will force every content marketing team to evaluate its strategy and ask itself whether it is really serving the needs of its customers with content, or whether it serves the need/or bias of a single department or not.
Content Trend #4: Short-form video is the best performing content format
It's no surprise that video is a very compelling content format, but our reports show that it's the best performing (in terms of engagement) across every industry and every geography. In particular, short-form video, under two minutes, is the highest-performing video, followed by still images. It underscores the view that investing in images is a solid bet for content in 2019, given its popularity across social media channels and mobile devices.
Content Trend #5: Technical and data expertise takes precedence over creative skills
While video and image engagement scored well, we were surprised to find that creative skills, such as video editing (16%) and graphic design (22%), were at bot tom's list of desired talents. Instead, data analytics (41%), project management (39%) and marketing automation expertise (37%) are the most sought-after skills for those looking for a job. Newly hired in 2019. Could this signal a wholesale replacement of Mad Men with “Math Men”?
Part of the explanation could be due to too much creativity, involving specialized roles of data analyst and software operator marketing, which is driving demand for the latter. Additionally, large companies are more likely to have agency partners so they can outsource creative work while focusing on internal engineering processes. Despite that, it shows the shift of content marketing from an activity similar to advertising and PR (highly creative, no direct revenue allocation) to one that focuses on commerce. commercial and increasingly complex with the use of data for personalization.
Want to discover content trends for 2020?
Check out our latest post, 8 Content Trends for 2020 .