Content marketing is cool, but effectiveness is still an issue

New report on Australian, UK and North American marketers finds content marketing is prevalent and tactics and social media abound, but there are still concerns about its effectiveness

A new study has found 96 per cent of Australian marketers are using content marketing to reach out to customers but just 29 per cent are happy with its effectiveness.

The Association for data-driven marketing and advertising (ADMA) and the Content Marketing Institute's (CMI) new Content Marketing in Australia: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report found Australian companies allocate 25 per cent of their total marketing budget to content marketing, with 61 per cent planning to increase the amount in the next 12 months.

On average, marketers are using 12 different content marketing tactics, led by articles on a company’s website (88 per cent). Rounding out the top five is social media (83 per cent), e-newsletters (82 per cent), in-person events (74 per cent) and case studies (71 per cent). The top four social media platforms for distributing content are Facebook (71 per cent), Twitter (67 per cent), LinkedIn (67 per cent) and YouTube (57 per cent).

Emerging platforms are prominent nonetheless and include Google+ (38 per cent), Pinterest (21 per cent) and Slideshare (14 per cent). Perhaps surprisingly, B2B marketers lead the use of content marketing at 98 per cent, compared with 89 per cent of B2C marketers.

The study claims to be the first allowing Australian marketers to benchmark their content strategy against North American and UK counterparts and overall, the comparison is favourable. For example, B2B marketers in Australia are more involved with content marketing than their UK and North American peers. In addition, 64 per cent of UK marketers plan to increase content marketing spend in the next 12 months, followed by Australians at 61 per cent and North America at 54 per cent.

Despite all these efforts, however, just 29 per cent of Australians surveyed reported content marketing is effective, in contrast with 39 per cent of UK and 37 per cent of North American marketers. The biggest challenge proved to be producing the kind of content that engages. Other top reasons are producing enough content, and a lack of budget.

“Australians have embraced content marketing but we have realised it requires a new skillset and change in mindset,” ADMA CEO Jodie Sangster said. “It is the merging of marketing, journalism and PR. They need to think more like journalists and publishers rather than marketers because content marketing is about providing valuable information rather than selling.”

The ADMA/CMI report also looked into the effectiveness of various tactics and found in-person events lead the way, with 76 per cent of Australian marketers rating them as effective. Mobile also figured prominently led by mobile content (58 per cent), microsites (57 per cent) and mobile apps (51 per cent). Overall, Australians claimed mobile tactics were more effective than both those operating in North American and the UK.

The primary goal for content marketing in Australia is brand awareness, followed by engagement, customer retention/loyalty, customer acquisition and lead generation. In terms of measurement criteria for content marketing success, website traffic was top of the list with 61 per cent of Australian marketers. Social media sharing was the next closest at 47 per cent.

The new report was based on responses from 216 participants across B2B and B2C companies from August 2012 to January 2013.

You can check out the ADMA/CMI report online here.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia.

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