Study: Content Marketing Gaining Prominence, But Weak Points Linger

A new report from Heinz Marketing and PAN Communications notes that even as content marketing programs mature, many organizations find issues like ROI and strategic integration hard to solidify.

Content marketing is an increasingly important tool for many associations, but it’s easy to get caught up in the motions without actually hitting your true goals for all that effort.

That’s a point that the 2019 Content Fitness Report [registration], from Heinz Marketing and PAN Communications, hits on. The annual report, which tries to get a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses in content marketing departments, finds plenty of positives for marketers (including better cross-departmental integration of content marketing efforts), but there’s evidence that things may not be fully connecting just yet—or that it may only be doing so intermittently.

An example of this is ROI, where there is evidence of backsliding. Last year’s edition of the report found that 62 percent of respondents weren’t confident in their ability to properly tie content marketing efforts to ROI. This year, the number is up to 68.9 percent—lower than the 71 percent seen in 2017, but evidence of something of an annual yo-yo effect around ROI. A similar yo-yo effect was seen in content marketing integration with strategy, which 62.5 percent of respondents in this year’s study said their programs were—up from 46.5 percent in 2018.

“Consistency year over year continues to be a struggle in terms of measurement, ROI, and content marketing integration,” the report’s introduction says. “It’s something that marketers should strive for in the near future as they work toward content resonation, authenticity and trust, brand awareness, and standing out amongst key competitors as go-to thought leaders within their industry.”

Other notable points from the report:

Where to invest? The report noted that, given additional budget, 30 percent of respondents would invest in channel diversity, while 27.8 percent would build out their content development resources, and another 27.8 percent would spend on marketing technology tools. Less interest was seen in paid reach tools, such as social advertising, which only 12.2 percent said they’d invest in.

Where to improve? Respondents noted that weak points within their content marketing programs came from three places: storytelling, analytics, and automation. When asked what skill sets were most lacking on their content marketing teams, these three categories stood out as the areas where respondents felt the most difficulty, with storytelling in particular a pain point. “Storytelling plays a large component when it comes to relaying your brand’s messaging and defining a solid industry stance, but companies often lack an experienced storytelling team,” the report says.

Does traffic still matter? Content marketing goals have traditionally been tied around website traffic, but the report noted that (while traffic still, of course, mattered) it seemed to be fading in prominence compared with broader goals that traffic often enables, such as brand awareness and thought leadership.

(wabeno/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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