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Why Content Marketers Should Step Back From Creation and Focus On Strategy

Nathan Safran
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Given the digital marketing industry's focus on content marketing, it seems like a good time to check in and see what marketers are looking to achieve with content, the chief obstacles standing in their way, and how successful they feel they are.

Demand Metric recently published their content marketing benchmark survey, in which they asked 521 marketers about their content marketing efforts. They segmented the results by enterprise vs. small and medium-sized business (SMB), making comparisons between how marketers in the enterprise think about content vs. how small business owners do. In reviewing the study, several insights stand out.

Only 13% Believe Their Content Strategy is 'Very Successful'

Before we dive into what content marketers are looking to achieve with content and the obstacles preventing them from doing so, let's first look at success overall.

The report indicates that only 13 percent of content marketers would describe themselves as being 'very successful' at achieving important objectives. Clearly everything is not well when it comes to content in the organization.

Content Marketers May Have Tunnel Vision

At first look at the data, we see that marketers' primary goal with content is to increase the number of leads generated and to increase brand/product awareness.

It makes sense that marketers' primary focus for content marketing would be on outcomes they believe would impact the bottom line: increasing leads and brand awareness. But in looking more closely at the data, one can't help but think that the results as they are represented are misleading in terms of where marketers need to spend their time and resources in order to attain their goals.

Improving organic search rankings is ranked as far less important as a content marketing objective, and increasing social media engagement is dead last. But, it is these activities that precede increasing leads and brand or product awareness in the lead conversion funnel.

Increasing visibility in the search listings drives more traffic, which creates more leads, and also leads to more brand awareness. Likewise, increasing social media engagement does the same.

The data suggests that marketers may have tunnel vision on an outcome (more leads) to the detriment of the activities that could get them there. We're not suggesting marketers be more tactical, but there may be an issue with a disproportionate focus on an outcome that results in insufficient focus on the process that helps them achieve their goals.

Most Important Content Marketing Objectives

Obstacles Differ for Enterprise vs. SMB

When we look at the obstacles to digital marketing success, what stands out is that the chief problems differ for enterprises vs. SMBs. Given the typically enormous range of customers and/or products, enterprise marketers have difficulty figuring out what and to whom to write. SMBs are often clearer about their topics and audience but have a more difficult time actually executing on content creation.

Obstacles to Content Marketing Success

Step Back from Tactics to Focus on Strategy

In the last 12 months of the renewed industry focus on content marketing, the data suggests enterprise marketers have engaged in a 'content frenzy'; writing volumes of content while struggling to develop a cohesive strategy.

The mere 13 percent of marketers who believe their content strategy is successful at achieving their objectives suggests something must change. Now, marketers must take a step back from the tactics of content marketing to refine their strategy.

This means asking and answering questions like:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What are their challenges/desires?
  • What content types most appeal to them?

Taking a step back from the day to day of content marketing to develop an effective content marketing strategy will help marketers to better 'aim the content' arrow which ultimately will help them better achieve their goals.

For SMB marketers, resource challenges in creating content are not likely to go away anytime soon, but they would be best served by developing a single piece of content that can be leveraged in multiple formats and mediums to ensure maximum ROI.


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