How can it be that Australian marketing professionals consider their content marketing efforts less effective than last year?
Could they be suffering from a crisis of confidence?
The Content Marketing Institute in partnership with Australia’s Association for Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising recently compiled their third annual report, Content Marketing in Australia 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.
It highlights some interesting facts about the state of digital marketing in Australia, as outlined below:
Only 29% of Australian marketers believe their content marketing efforts are effective
Respondents were asked to rate their content marketing efforts on a scale of 1 being ‘not at all effective’ to 5 being ‘very effective’. Only 29% rated themselves either four or five.
Half of the respondents rated their company 3 out of 5 for content marketing.
Interestingly, only 20% believed their company had successfully tracked the ROI of their content marketing, and 22% responded that they don’t track, or that tracking was unsuccessful.
I would presume this lack of confidence stems from insufficient analysis. Let’s take a look at how Australian marketers measure their content marketing success:
50% of Australian marketers use website traffic to evaluate their content marketing efforts.
Respondents also highlighted conversion rates (46%), sales (46%), and SEO rankings (39%) as the key metrics for evaluating the success of their content marketing efforts.
Surprisingly, very few marketers use sales lead quality (37%), subscriber growth (32%), inbound links (28%), and customer renewal rates (19%) to gauge content marketing.
I would argue that this indicates a lack of understanding of content marketing in Australia. Another reason, however, could be silos within the workplace. Let me explain.
We all assume that with greater resources, large organisations are better equipped for digital marketing but the opposite is often the case. Large organisations with multiple departments can be cumbersome.
Digital marketing is often seen as a separate entity, with specialist teams hired for social media, content marketing and email. How many of these specialists actually understand the company’s overall marketing goals? Or more importantly, how many people within the organisation understand the goals of the content marketing team?
Within this organisational structure, not too many. Read ‘Skills and silos still inhibiting leading Aussie brands from being modern marketers‘ by cmo.com.au for a more in-depth discussion.
Popular Content Marketing Tactics
Social media (86%), website articles (85%), and enewsletters (83%) are still the most popular content marketing tactics used by marketers.
Infographics however, have increased in popularity in the last twelve months; up from 43% in 2013 to 61% this year.
Blogs have fallen out of favour. Despite the fact that most respondents feel they are an effective marketing tool and 80% used them in 2013, only 68% used them this year.
Social Media’s Role
Participants were also asked which social media platforms they use to distribute the content they create.
Some may be surprised to learn that LinkedIn topped this list. 83% of respondents use this platform to distribute content. Facebook (81%), Twitter (79%), and YouTube (70%) were the next three platforms noted.
Interestingly, only 57% felt LinkedIn was effective, whilst just 47% thought Facebook was effective.
Under-utilised platforms include Slideshare (23%), StumbleUpon (8%), and Reddit (no mention). These are all great ways to get your content out there and expand your audience. To read more on these three tactics and explore the opportunities further, read ‘How to Promote Your Content Across Owned, Earned, and Paid Media‘.
68% of respondents use search engine marketing to advertise content, and 61% find this effective.
One method worth noting is traditional banner advertising. 58% of respondents use it to promote content but only 32% thought it was effective.
I also found it interesting that only 16% use content discovery tools but 33% believe it is effective. Does this mark content discovery tools as an underperformer? Or as a great opportunity?
Budgets and Plans for 2015
Whilst some aspects of the study paint a grim picture of content marketing in Australia, it does highlight some positives. A whopping 74% of respondents are creating more content than a year ago and 63% of Australian marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget in 2015.
Alarmingly, 5% plan to reduce their spend. Seriously, who are these people?
Survey data aside, I strongly believe in content marketing and what it represents – a renewed focus on the consumer and meeting their needs before going in for the sell.
Take the time to understand your audience. Accept that potential customers fall into different categories and are seeking different things from your site. Some may be actively researching your product, while others are simply gathering information with no intention to buy.
Ask yourself what information your audience is seeking, or any issues they may have within your field of expertise. Then make sure they can find this information quickly and easily.
Make sure your content marketing efforts complement your business objectives, so you create business opportunities rather than just website traffic.
P.S. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to measure your content marketing efforts, check out this short post I published on Quora – ‘How to measure the success of your content‘.