What is “content marketing”?
By Cameron Reilly
It’s simply the creation and sharing of content that you believe will be useful to your customers. You work hard to make that content interesting and useful enough that your customers will find it (usually via their networks), take some time to read / watch / listen to it, and think positively about your brand afterwards because you’ve made their lives a little better or more informed.
Content marketing often takes the form of blog posts, Facebook posts, tweets, podcasts, YouTubes, Instagrams and Pinterest boards. There are new ways of sharing your content almost every month and yet a lot of Aussie businesses haven’t worked out their content strategy.
Oh yeah – they tweet, they post on Facebook – but usually they’ve put VERY little thought into what they are posting and how it’s going to make their customer’s lives better. That’s not a strategy. That’s just doing it so you can check a box.
The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and The Association for Data-driven Marketing & Advertising (ADMA) have teamed up to produce Content Marketing in Australia: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends. It contains some very interesting data points that every Aussie business should be thinking about carefully. The research is based on 216 participants (139 B2B, 45 B2C, 32 unknown) surveyed between August 2012 and January 2013.
This research ties in neatly to the work Mark and I have doing on our book, The Motherlode Guide to Australian Marketing.
Here are some of the highlights that jumped out at me:
1. Bigger Budgets Perform Better.
It’s perhaps little surprise that the more money you spend on content marketing, the better your returns are likely to be. This might be worth thinking about if you’re spending more on, say, direct marketing and advertising, rather than genuine content.
- The average percentage of marketing budget spent on content marketing was 25%.
- However companies that spent 36% of their marketing budget on content got better results.
- They companies that got the best results, also used a wider variety of content tactics across 5 social platforms.
2. Content Marketing Is Difficult.
Very few businesses find it easy to create regular content. It is usually thought of as a luxury, both in terms of hiring decisions as well as time investment. Even the businesses that participated in this survey, who take content marketing somewhat seriously, find it difficult to create excellent content.
- 68% of the businesses rated the effectiveness of their content marketing as average or worse.
- Aussie marketers apparently rate themselves lower than their contemporaries in the UK and USA. It is because we are a few years behind these other markets in terms of content marketing maturity? Or are just more honest or self-deprecating?
Producing engaging content is also a major challenge, as is getting buy-in from business leadership. I suspect this is because content marketing is still a bit difficult for many business leaders to get their heads around. It seems a little fluffy. Spending money on hard marketing (ie advertising or direct marketing campaigns) might be easier to get our heads around, compared to soft marketing, where we post interesting content on our sites and promote it via social media platforms. It’s sometimes harder to make the connection between that kind of activity and a pay-off.
Nearly two-thirds of Aussie companies are overcoming the difficulties in creating content by outsourcing it to others to produce for them. Surprisingly, the bigger the company, the more they outsource their content creation. You might expect that the companies with more employees in their marketing department would be able to do this in-house, but apparently that’s not the case.
So I guess the lesson from this information is this:
Making great content is challenging but important.
I urge you to think about how much of your marketing budget you are currently spending on content marketing – is it 25% or greater? – and how you can make it more effective by outsourcing.
By Cameron Reilly
Cameron is a Director of Motherlode, a marketing consulting business that specialises in helping mid-market Australian companies improve their marketing strategies. As the co-founder and CEO of The Podcast Network, he spent several years building some of the world’s first podcast content for an audience of 500,000 people.
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