This headline gave me pause as I was catching up on my reading!
Econsultancy, the London-based community of digital marketing and ecommerce professionals, recently produced their first ever Content Marketing Report. The report is based on a survey of more than 1,300 digital marketing professionals. The upside to this survey is that 90% of those surveyed believe content marketing will become more important over the next twelve months.
What caught my attention though is this – just 38% currently have a defined strategy in place.
I found the 38% to be surprising and agree with this quote from the survey: I find it quite surprising that the vast majority of respondents use content marketing and see it as becoming more important in the next 12 months but only a minority already have a strategy in place for this area. Maybe that is a sign that the majority of users are simply ‘playing’ in this space or testing the waters. – Thomas Messett, Global Editor in Chief, Social Media at Nokia
Are you part of the 62%?
If you are part of the 62%, it may be time to start putting in place a defined content marketing strategy. Why? Recent studies show buyers are spending an increasing percentage of their time researching and analyzing information prior to sales intervention.
You know this already. I do not want to bore you with this being the 1,001th article making this point. Evidence of this shift abounds everywhere. What we need to focus on is another insight that came out of this survey.
“64% of in-house marketers agree that content marketing is becoming its own discipline”. In addition, the survey found that 55% of the respondents are working on a content marketing strategy. A decision point for CMO’s is choosing to become part of the 55% working on a content marketing strategy. For the very reason their competitors may be doing so already.
Building an Internal Content Marketing Discipline
An emerging correlation is happening in the world of content marketing now. To develop an effective content marketing strategy, a discipline of expertise is arising as a significant need. I believe an expert discipline and strategy go hand in hand. This is new for Chief Marketing Officers today. It creates new questions:
- What structure should be in place?
- What new expertise should we acquire?
- What are best practices?
- What are new roles to put in place?
You see where this is going. It is one thing to have a strategy. Expertise and a discipline make strategy executable. Conversely, expertise and a discipline help to create the best content marketing strategy.
Five Building Blocks
To establish content marketing as a discipline and an in-house competency, what elements should you consider? Let us look at five main building blocks:
- Buyer Insight: A clear understanding of buyer goals, buyer personas, buying processes, buying preferences, perceptions, and potential is essential.
- Publishers: publishing is an art and science to provide informing and commercial insights. Joe Pulitzer of CMI and others recommend the role of a Chief Content Officer who acts as the corporate publisher.
- Editorial Teams: you will require an editorial plan and schedule. Getting the right content to the right buyer at the right time is must-have level of expertise.
- Writers: journalistic skills to write compelling content is essential. Sounds easy, takes good writing skills to do.
- Inbound Marketing Specialists: specialty in campaigns and conversions keeps you informed on how well content marketing strategies are working.
Obviously, this is not your father’s marketing department. The marketing capabilities of the future are on their way to reinvented structures. Performing in ways, we could not have predicted just a few short years ago. If you are thinking the five elements, I mentioned above, sounds like a news or publishing agency – you are right. For most CMO’s, there is probably nothing in their job descriptions calling for the build out of an internal content marketing agency. Yet, to be successful with a content marketing strategy, this is the future imperative.
In my previous article, I reviewed how content marketing was stuck at 36%. The number represents how many companies believed their content marketing was effective from a survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute. These two survey perspectives do beg this question:
Is it true that of the 38% who currently have a content marketing strategy, only 36% of those who do, believes their content marketing strategies are effective?
This is a hypothesis of course and one I would like to explore. This is where we can look at the future together. I invite you to take a brief survey on content marketing’s future. Here is what I will commit to you if you do so. I will publish the results in a future article and offer insights. My hunch is, in a few weeks, we both will learn a few things.
Please go to this site to take the survey: The Future of Content Marketing Survey
As we begin to look ahead, it is not too early to consider how to make content marketing an integral core capability. What stands before us is a crossroads. Do we believe that effective content marketing strategies require an expert discipline? Alternatively, is it not necessary to put in the five main building blocks referenced above?
I invite you to examine this together with me and take the survey. The survey will remain open for 2-4 weeks. Please do pass it along to your peers and help me crowd-source insights on this topic. I really do want to know what you think!