Earlier this year, The Economist Group and Hill+Knowlton Strategies published a report regarding the development, use, and effectiveness of thought leadership content. The report was based on a 2016 survey of 1,644 global marketers and business executives.
The survey found that most business executives consume thought leadership content at least weekly, and 63% of surveyed executives said they have increased their content consumption over the past 12 months. But the survey also found that, on average, executives only engage with about 25% of the thought leadership content they see every day.
The Economist Group attributed this low level of engagement to several factors.
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- The pressure on marketers to produce a “continuous stream” of content makes it more difficult to create the kind of content that executives really value – content that is innovative, credible, and transformative.
- The proliferation of content has caused business executives to become more selective about the content they consume.
This dichotomy permeates most aspects of marketing, not just content marketing. Senior business leaders are demanding that marketers demonstrate the value of marketing to the business, and marketers are responding by linking their activities to important business outcomes – things like revenue and market share growth. But the reality is, these business outcomes are not directly caused by marketing activities and programs. Instead, they result from how customers and potential customers respond to our marketing efforts.