July 08, 2013

IMN unveiled the results of its second annual multi-industry content marketing survey. IMN once again polled marketers to better understand the current state of their content marketing programs including the structure, goals and challenges, and how these programs fit into their overarching marketing strategies.

The results of the survey revealed an increased awareness of content marketing since last year, with marketers more frequently putting formal content marketing programs in place. 78 percent of respondents stating that they are somewhat familiar or very familiar with content marketing (up 13 percent), and nearly half (49 percent) reported having a formal content marketing strategy in place.

"It is encouraging to see more and more marketers understanding content marketing and putting formalized programs in place, however, the survey uncovered that there is a lot of room for the programs to mature and be further refined," said Craig Fitzgerald, editorial director, IMN. "Putting channel-specific strategies in place, having adequate resources to develop content that marketers will be proud of and utilizing basic program tools, such as editorial calendars, are key for marketers to work on as they fine-tune their content marketing programs."

Additional key survey findings include:

While content marketing is a priority for marketers, budgets allocated to it do not necessarily reflect its importance. According to the survey results, content marketing was a medium or high priority for 90 percent of those surveyed, but for nearly half of respondents (46 percent) it represented less than 10 percent of the marketing budget.

Monthly newsletters continue to serve as an effective content marketing tactic. Two thirds (67 percent) of marketers distribute and share engaging content with their customers/prospects via newsletters. Of these respondents, 51 percent distribute the newsletter once per month. 27 percent distribute it quarterly and 14 percent distribute it more than once per month.

There continues to be confusion around curating content. For those who curate content from the Web and other sources (78 percent of respondents), 48 percent ran into issues during the process, highlighting the critical need to understand copyright laws and rules associated with this tactic or risk potential legal repercussions.

"As content marketing and social media have evolved so quickly, it's not all that surprising that only 22 percent of respondents have a separate content marketing strategy in place for each channel," said Michele Linn, content development director, content marketing institute. "However, I think there is a significant opportunity for brands to thoughtfully repurpose existing content for specific channels. This doesn't mean using the same content in every channel but reimagining it so it is applicable to that channel and that audience."

Broken down by specific industries, the survey results revealed the following trends:

Marketers in the automotive industry cite awareness as the primary goal of their content marketing programs (44 percent), and have more difficulty than any other vertical group in finding and sourcing relevant content (63 percent).

For direct selling marketers, content marketing programs are the highest priority (67 percent) and have the largest budget dedicated to it (56 percent of respondents had 25 percent of their marketing budget designated to content marketing), though the programs in place are not considered "formal" programs.

Given the heavy regulations they face, banking and financial services marketers have a tighter grip over their content marketing creation and topical planning. For instance, 56 percent of respondents had a content marketing editorial calendar in place to guide content creation and all respondents from this vertical cited content as being internally developed.

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