What purpose does content actually serve within a marketing plan? For more than half of the companies Ascend2 surveyed, “improving customer engagement” and “increasing lead generation” were cited as the primary goals for content, trailed closely by “increasing brand awareness” at 44 percent. In terms of their content marketing success, a staggering 63 percent of companies rated their content efforts as “somewhat successful,” while more than a quarter reported their efforts to be “very successful.” However, it’s important to note that Ascend2’s study doesn’t cross-reference this data with the type of content—the difference between “very successful” and “somewhat successful” content marketing may not lie in the pure use of content, but rather in knowing what sort of content works best for a given brand situation.
This is a reality driven home by the challenges brands reported having. Fifty-three percent of brands reported that a “lack of content creation resources” proved the most challenging for their teams, followed by the “lack of an effective strategy” at 42 percent. It appears the primary barrier to maximally effective content could be either a brand’s ability to produce the sort of content that fits its needs best (a very real challenge for brands trying to take advantage of video’s growing popularity), or having enough data to know how to effectively plan out their content efforts.
With regard to that struggle, the survey asked what types of content were proving the most effective for marketers. The top three were articles/case studies (54 percent), videos (46 percent), and infographics (43 percent). Those top three slots include two types of content—videos and infographics—that require considerable design and/or production skill to create. This presents a challenge for many brands that are already working with tight budgets or a specialized team. For brands facing this problem, some freelance sites provide simple solutions that can hold you over until a relationship with a more lasting and reliable design or production partner can be found. Indeed, a massive 75 percent of companies said they use a “combination of in-house and outsourced” creation resources to meet their needs.
So what’s the takeaway here? The simple answer is that it’s vital for brands to target their needs. Ascend2’s survey illustrates many of the difficulties content marketers face in terms of effective content creation; what’s more, it also shows there isn’t really a substitute for good content. Take time each quarter to learn what types of content have been most effective for your brand, and ask yourself what new types might augment them. Beyond that, having a go-to team of freelancers can make all the difference in creating the best content, without tasking your team with projects that don’t suit their already in-demand skills.
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