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Marketers Faced With A Content Conundrum Lose Sight Of ROI

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New CMO Council Research Finds Marketers Struggling with Content Strategy, Quality, Distribution and Measurement

A new audit on the state of content marketing finds that brands churn out loads of mediocre content and take a scattershot approach to distribution. Marketers can spend a third of their budget on content yet lack the capability to measure ROI. Worse, marketers are forced to operate under a misguided content strategy driven mostly by budget, time and the whims of executives.

These are the key findings in a new Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council report, produced in partnership with Rock Content, entitled “Making Content Grow into Customer Flow.” The report reveals the extent of the content marketing problem, which ranges from strategy to quality to distribution to measurement.

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What marketers say are the top three factors that impact, direct and shape content strategy are:

  • Budget (49 percent)
  • Time (44 percent)
  • Executive request (32 percent)

What marketers say about content quality and impact:

  • 43 percent rate their content as hit or miss without real consistency
  • 16 percent struggle to create content that is impactful with customers and prospects
  • Only 31 percent rate content as high or exceptional

The report is based on a CMO Council survey of 195 marketing leaders and eight in-depth interviews with executives from IBM, ABC Entertainment Marketing Studios, Autodesk, The Economist, Fast Company, Fuzzy Door, Guinness World Records and Boston Ballet.

“Prospects, customers and partners expect contextually relevant content distributed over the right channel at the right time. When content hits the mark, results can move the sales motion forward and even influence the way a product is sold or delivered. When it doesn’t, at the very least, it wastes budget, devalues marketing’s efforts and loses customer attention,” notes Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council.

Marketers clearly have work to do to improve content performance and return. At the top of their wish list is knowing if the content being created actually influences and engages the audience, the report found. Marketers also tend to produce too much content.

Diego Gomes, CEO of Rock Content acknowledges that, “Producing any content without understanding the buyer or their intent can compromise the best laid marketing programs and demand generation campaigns. This means doing a bit more work during the research phase to analyze data and make informed decisions to produce the right content strategy that will fuel the creation of engaging content that drives outcomes.”

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Today, there is an array of content types, such as user-generated content, video and podcasts, and distribution channels available to marketers that can lead them astray. The challenge is keeping up with content marketing’s rapid evolution while never losing focus on content’s impact on its audience, said marketing leaders in the report.

Case-in-point: When Hollywood star Jennifer Aniston broke the record for the fastest time to reach a million followers on Instagram — 12 hours, 3 minutes — the Guinness World Records team leaped into action. Records management needed to verify the feat in order for marketing to create newsy content and post it across the organization’s social platform.

“Ten years ago, our content strategy was telling stories when our book came out,” said Samantha Fay, senior vice president of global brand strategy at Guinness World Records. “But now, with 24/7 rolling news, records need to be reported on as they’re broken.”

The report delves deeply into the qualities of content and distribution practices, as well as provides tips on measuring content’s impact. Good content fills a specific need for the target audience, while selective distribution identifies where and when they’ll most likely engage with the content.

“Content is a company’s most important asset,” said Robert Schefferine, vice president of production at ABC Entertainment Marketing Studios. “It’s the way you communicate to customers about who you are, what your brand is all about, why people should care, and that you care about your customer.”

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