5 Charts Defining the Current State of Content Marketing

We’re now toe-deep into a new year. Perhaps you’re still planning your content efforts for the year. Maybe you’ve got them down.

Either way, it’s worth taking a look at the current state of content marketing.

There are tons of statistics, surveys, and studies on the rise of content marketing. They mostly paint a rosy picture. But within there are some warning signs that we, as practitioners, should heed. So we condensed the state of content marketing down to five simple charts.

1. Here Come the Dollars

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All the laudatory blog posts and tweets in the world don’t prove content marketing has earned respect. But budget allocation does.

And in 2014, more marketing teams are giving respect to content.

69% of B2B marketers and 53% of B2C marketers expect to increase spending on content this year, according to Webmarketing123′s annual report. This doesn’t mean all in-house or external. It will likely be a mix. But more resources are being dedicated to content specifically.

2. Strategy Is a Problem

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But money doesn’t solve everything. Content Marketing Institute’s annual report found that only 50% of content marketers don’t have a documented content strategy. 6% are “unsure,” which is the equivalent of not having a strategy. (Those numbers are even worse among B2Cs.)

Pouring money into something without a documented plan and process for producing results rarely gains the love of a CEO. So as content marketers get more resources, it’s on them to flip these numbers next year by outlining an actual strategy.

3. Wishing vs. Doing

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The enthusiasm for content marketing is clearly outpacing our ability to manage it. This chart, taken from a recent study by the Aberdeen Group, demonstrates that the value placed on producing quality content, and generating enough of it, is definitely high.

But execution is falling well behind the perceived value. So demand is increasing, but for whatever reason—lack of a documented strategy, maybe?—marketers are struggling to keep up with that demand internally.

4. Content Needs to Go Deeper

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And it’s not just strategy and execution. Measurement is a real issue for a lot of content marketers as they try to demonstrate the value of their efforts.

The methods marketers are using to measure performance is still primarily dictated by top-of-funnel metrics like web traffic and search ranking, according to Axonn Research. Measuring the impact on lead generation and sales is making strides, but still lags well behind.

If marketers want the increase in content spending to continue into next year, they need to start measuring performance based on leads and opportunities generated. Those are the numbers the modern CMO needs to hit.

5. CMOs Are Under Pressure

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And speaking of CMOs, the pressure to quantify marketing’s impact to the CEO and the Board of Directors is no joke. In the annual CMO Survey, 66% of heads of marketing said they are feeling pressure to prove value.

This doesn’t pertain just to content, but it’s a chart content marketers would be wise to memorize. Because if you want the top marketer in your organization to notice your team’s efforts, fund them, and reward them, then you need to demonstrate the value of your efforts on producing, nurturing, and qualifying leads. That means getting beyond web traffic and search rankings and mapping out a strategy.

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