IMN, the digital marketing company that delivers branded newsletters and content for vertical markets, today unveiled the results of its third annual multi-industry content marketing survey. IMN polled marketers to better understand the current state of their content marketing programs and how those programs fit into their overarching marketing strategies.
The results revealed that while 76 percent of marketers classify content marketing as a medium or high priority in their overall marketing plan, nearly 40 percent are still dedicating less than 10 percent of the marketing budget to it. As a result of these shoestring budgets, content marketing programs are suffering—46 percent of respondents feel that their content is OK, but leaves room for improvement to position their company as an industry thought leader.
“The majority of organizations surveyed see content marketing as an important business tool to build awareness and establish credibility,” said Steve Henning, senior director at IMN. “But, the survey also highlighted a troubling trend for marketers – shoestring budgets and ad-hoc approaches continue to constrain content marketing efforts. This is problematic for marketers charged with effectively reaching prospects and customers and positioning their company as a thought leader.”
Additional key survey findings include:
- Marketers are adapting content for use across a variety of channels without having channel-specific strategies in place. Nearly 80 percent of marketers are adapting content for use across a variety of channels, yet almost 60 percent don’t have separate content strategies for each channel. For those with channel-specific strategies, they were most often in place for email (93 percent), corporate websites (93 percent), social media (86 percent) and newsletters (71 percent).
- Approximately one third of content marketers are “winging it”. For 30 percent of respondents, content marketing is an ad-hoc effort with no formal program in place. One third of respondents either don’t measure the ROI of their program at all, or don’t know whether the return justifies the investment. Additionally, 60 percent of marketers aren’t using an editorial calendar.
- Content marketing goals change, but challenges remain the same. This year, respondents cited the primary goal of content marketing to be awareness, whereas in 2013, increased leads was the main objective. Finding and sourcing engaging content was cited in both years as the primary challenge in implementing a content marketing strategy.
- Newsletters are increasingly cited as one of the most effective content marketing vehicles. Sixty percent of respondents cited newsletters to be one of the most effective content marketing vehicles to date (up from 42 percent of respondents last year). Three quarters of respondents use content in a newsletter that is sent to customers and prospects and 60 percent of respondents that distribute newsletters send them monthly.
Broken down by specific industries, the survey results revealed the following trends:
- Marketers in the automotive industry have more formal content marketing programs than other industries; however, resource constraints are a bigger problem than in other verticals. More than 45 percent of automotive marketers cited resources as their primary challenge, compared with 23 percent of overall respondents. Automotive marketers also use newsletters more than other industries—92 percent of respondents use content in a newsletter (compared with 75 percent overall).
- The banking and financial services industry is the only vertical that uses open rates for email blasts as the primary measure of success for the content marketing program. Given the regulations this vertical needs to comply with, nearly half of respondents worry about trademark, copyright and citation issues arising, and, as a result, 38 percent of respondents have outsourced content marketing efforts.
To request the detailed survey report, visit the IMN website (click here).
iMakeNews, Inc. (IMN) is the digital marketing company that delivers branded newsletters and custom content for the automotive, direct selling, banking and financial services, and franchise industries. For more information, visit imninc.com, follow on Twitter @loyaltydriver, or connect on the IMN Facebook page.