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  • Geraint Holliman

Come on in! The water's lovely!

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) has today published UK Content Marketing for 2017, its 5th annual survey into content marketing usage in the United Kingdom.

In last year's study UK content marketers were encouraged to get over the hype and get back to basics by putting the structures and processes in place to ensure their efforts delivered genuine results. This year CMI sees that UK marketers who are truly COMMITTED to content marketing are beginning to see real results.

As I have said, on numerous occasions, content marketing is not a tactic to substitute for other tactics that are failing through wear-out, lack of cut through, ad blocking or customer push back. Content marketing is an approach, a culture, a discipline.

Content marketing is an approach, a culture, a discipline.

By going ‘all in’ on content marketing, as Joe Pulizzi’s recent keynote at Content Marketing World 2016 suggested, then marketers can generate tangible results and convince their organizations to back them with time and resources. The data this years shows quite clearly that those marketers who have committed their brands to a content marketing approach are performing better than those that are simply ‘playing at it’.

25% of UK content marketers now consider themselves very or extremely successful with content marketing and 60% think they are better at it now than a year ago through better quality content, better strategy and spending more time on CM. Perhaps, more importantly, CM has become a greater priority for brands. Maybe, reports of content marketing’s demise might have been off the mark?

Customers as subscribers

Delving into the details, for me, one of the key out-takes is the increased appreciation of customers as ‘subscribers’ rather than ‘leads’ with 76% saying they are more focussed on building subscriber bases. This illustrates a maturing approach to 'brand-as-publisher' which builds a deeper, more engaged relationship through the provision of content which is relevant, compiling and timely. And whilst marketers continue to struggle to deliver the instantaneous results beloved of their executive leadership thankfully 74% say that their organization has realistic expectations about what (and, presumably, when) content marketing can achieve.

Clearly, content marketing in the UK continues to mature and it’s becoming more about quality not quantity. Rather than build a factory you need to build a content marketing engine and 71% of UK marketers say they always or frequently prioritize delivering content quality over content quantity.

So, on the face of it, UK marketers are taking a more planned and rigorous approach to content marketing AND seeing the benefits of doing so. Big tick. Well done us.

But it’s not all good news.

Having a written, documented content marketing strategy still remains worryingly low at 40%. How can you expect to execute a strategy effectively if you have nothing formal to refer to?

Also, I grumble at the low instance of marketers using quantitative or qualitative research to find out what messages customers want, rather than simply relying on keyword analysis. Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but I still like to ‘talk’ to customers.

I am perennially flabbergasted that 64% of marketers claim to be measuring content marketing ROI when, in my experience 99.5% of marketers haven’t the faintest idea what ROI really means (look it up kids). But that is a conversation for another day.

Similarly, I can’t tell you how frustrated I am when relatively little attention is paid to post-purchase content marketing with only 16% of UK marketers measuring content marketing effectiveness at post-sale stages despite 54% of marketers claiming it to be an organizational goal. We are so utterly obsessed with customer acquisition yet we all know that it is financially more important to develop and retain existing customers, why then, don’t our content marketing efforts appear to properly reflect that?

It's warmer than it looks

Fundamentally, customers have rumbled marketing. They will no longer accept poorly articulated, poorly targeted and poorly timed spray-an-pray messaging which ignores their individual needs and homogenizes their requirements. If we do not put the needs of customers at the heart of our marketing then we will continue to lose relevance and become further marginalized by our executive leaderships. Ultimately, all marketing is becoming content marketing. As Seth Godin says:

"Content marketing is the only marketing left"

- Seth Godin

Despite the naysayers and those obsessed with the minutiae, content marketing is continuing to grow and thrive in the UK. We still need to ensure the structures and processes are in place to help us deliver, and we must continue to create content that is useful and helps customers make better decisions.

To do this we have to commit our organizations to go all in on content marketing. There’s no point in standing poolside dipping your toes in. Pull on your Speedos and dive in.

For the full 2017 UK survey results visit the Content Marketing Institute site here.

Contact us at Giantoo for more information on how brands can harness the power of storytelling.


About the author: Geraint Holliman is Managing Director of Giantoo Content Marketing. A leading speaker and academic author he speaks at events all over the world on content marketing, and branding. He will bore you to death on all content marketing issues if you give him a chance. Don't do it!!!! (But you could LinkIn to him here)

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