In March and April 2015, content marketing software vendor Kapost (now turned marketing content software vendor, there is a tiny difference, more on that evolution below) and Gleanster conducted an online survey of 3,048 marketers.
Based on the results, Kapost released a report and an infographic on the quantification of inefficiency in content production processes. We are talking about the production process of content for marketing purposes, not just content marketing in the all too narrow definition we still often see.
According to the report US B2B firms spend over $5.2 billion a year on the content creation process. Content creation efforts turn out not to be easy to execute and managing the overall content process is the key struggle for midsize to large B2B firms according to the survey results.
Content production challenges that shouldn’t be challenges
While 93% of respondents struggle with the management of the overall content process, 90% find it hard to justify budget for new content. Could it be related with the fact that it’s hard for many to measure the effectiveness of content creation (and content marketing) efforts overall?
So it seems as for 86% of respondents measuring the effectiveness of content is the third challenge marketers struggle most with from the list of possible replies they could fill in.
The always remarkable, as far as we are concerned at least, challenge to find ideas for engaging content (82% of respondents). When looking at how poorly the questions of prospective buyers and customers (including partners, customer service staff, sales, you name it) often remain unanswered (no content available), it keeps amazing us that the idea challenge is still such a big one. Probably there is still too much focus on the top of the proverbial funnel and on the “wow” and not enough on the essential content and information customers in the broadest sense need. And even if we look at customers and buyers in the strict sense, it’s hard to imagine we can “run out of ideas” when looking at content marketing from the perspective of addressing customer pain points and questions. I guess we still too often ask the wrong questions and focus on just some of the potential goals content marketing can serve.
Producing a volume of content is a challenge for 78% of respondents. Also a remarkable finding each time again. What is a volume and how much volume do you need? The answer is simple: you don’t need volume. You need the right content for the right reasons in the right place, starting with the most obvious content. Volume is one of the last things one should consider when looking at an overall content marketing approach that focuses on what matters or a marketing approach using content (any marketing approach really) if you prefer.
The other two challenges mentioned in the list are supporting content for different channels (76%) and finding the time to develop content (70%), for us more signs that the essence of content marketing and content production might still not be understood and that content and channels might come before other issues to tackle.
While the rest of the infographic focuses a lot on content production and content management processes and shows that efficient companies plan, execute, distribute and optimize well (not really new), let’s take a look at what might be more important (and Kapost sells the software you need I guess).
The difference between content marketing and marketing content – or not
A while back Kapost CEO Toby Murdock announced that his company would focus less on content marketing and more on marketing content.
There are several definitions of content marketing. There are not so many definitions of marketing content: it’s simply the content, whatever form it takes, you need to serve customers, enable sales and partners and find the sweets pot between what customers in the broadest sense need (the key factor) and we want to communicate as brands on an ongoing basis across all touches, INCLUDING sales interactions, to name just one.
Content marketing is the worst term in the world — except for every other one. So I’m sticking with it. To me, it may be dissolving into general marketing, but it’s still a distinct subset (Doug Kessler interview)
For us the examples of marketing content Murdock mentions (competitive battle cards, product one-pagers and anything your marketing, sales, business and customers need) are part of the overall content marketing (from the integrated perspective) equation.
Probably the demand generation, branding, top of the funnel (TOFU) view, whole traffic mindset, focus on PR, “native advertising” and so on we’ve seen growing in recent years is the key reason why marketers fail to see return and content creation opportunities to begin with. But that has nothing to do with content marketing. It’s just related with what the term means to different people and what it has become.
Information management meets content marketing meets analytics meets data meets customer experience
So, go out there, look into all these information and content silos (including existing sales material in your DAM, for instance) and get the big picture, serving all the stakeholders in the overall business.
Just make sure it’s (re)created in a way that suits the needs of customers and stakeholders today (today’s formats but most of all dropping the corporate speak). Your stakeholders include product marketing, sales, partners and all those people who need competitive battle cards as well.
The lines between content marketing – as a process – and information management, content management and marketing resource management (MRM) get thinner and thinner from the platform perspective. Next (well, not really next) is customer experience management (the platforms) and the increasing role of intelligent technologies (e.g. AI) and data on both marketing and information management with the revival of content analytics (as we know it from information management) and the connection with customer analytics.
After all, as said many years ago, both information management (traditionally IT) and content marketing (as well as other forms of marketing) strive towards getting the right input/feedback and having the right output/response at the right time and so on in an increasingly real-time economy. Come to think of it: that “right” aspect is also key in customer experience management. It’s a small world. Time to connect the docs and dots – once again.