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What Marketing Executives Say About Content Targeting

Nathan Safran
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Content is a central part of the digital strategy for brands across the globe spanning verticals, company sizes, and business. Brands know they now have a content imperative, but what’s less clear is the types of content and the velocity with which they should be releasing it.

At Conductor (I am Conductor’s director of research), we are in the final stages of a research study that takes a broad look at how the changes in digital — consumers’ ability to interact with brands on their own terms, brands’ content imperative, etc. — are impacting the modern marketing organization, including what marketers need to know to adapt.

Amongst other questions, we asked 187 marketing executives from a cross-section of B2B, B2C, and agency companies how their content team approaches content.

Do they subscribe to the "quantity’ approach and produce a large volume of little to no researched content (researched in the sense of understanding audience pain points before creating content) or do they subscribe to the "quality" approach and create smaller amounts of more deeply researched content?

(Before you read ahead, close your eyes for a moment and consider what you would predict in terms of findings; most companies producing larger quantities of less researched content or most producing smaller quantities of more researched content? More on that in a bit).

The findings showed that 71 percent report their organizations produce smaller amounts of more researched content as opposed to larger amounts of less researched. This means that more than seven out of 10 marketers say they are more focused on producing more well-researched content (as opposed to just more volume overall).

sew-targeting-1

When we put these findings alongside marketers’ response regarding the approach they think they should be taking with their content, we see that even greater a percentage believe in the superior value of smaller amounts of more researched content. The vast majority, 82 percent, say that should be their approach.

sew-targeting-2

These findings were somewhat surprising to us. Although marketers continue to make enormous strides in becoming more sophisticated and targeted in their content strategies, the numbers still seem high.

According to the data, a whopping 71 percent say they are already focused on well-researched content. Anecdotally, it has been our observation that although many organizations have made enormous strides in content sophistication many organizations still have some major evolving to do to escape a "content frenzy" — a state of furiously creating content without proper market research and understanding of persona pain points behind it.

Our hypothesis going into the research would have put the results closer to this:

safran-chart

This paradigm has marketers knowing they ought to be creating better researched content to align with persona pain points, but also acknowledging that they are, for the most part not quite there yet.

Why the Discrepancy?

I think the discrepancy between what marketers report and what may actually be happening when it comes to content research is a bit of cognitive dissonance. That is, when faced with a question asking if they create content with limited or large amounts of research into customer’s pain points, the answer will inevitably be "large amounts." (This may be a good learning for future follow-up questions.)

Whether or not marketers are in fact creating content with significant market research behind it, a clear takeaway from this is that they certainly think they should be. This is instructive for us, as marketers as it tells us our colleagues agree that deeper research of our customers’ pain points, desires, and motivations will positively impact our content, and ultimately, our revenue.


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