The coronavirus pandemic has shown us the need for content marketing hasn’t gone away. If anything, content marketing efforts have only become more important as more people spend more time online searching for more information–often in the form of visual content, or easily-digestible content.
Hopefully, by now, your company is one of the 91% of B2Bs and 86% of B2Cs that are currently using content marketing. With increasing budgets in content marketing, it’s important to always be optimizing your content marketing budget spend and looking for new ideas to maximize positive ROI. However, it is a sad fact that as many as 1 in 4 marketers aren’t measuring their content marketing ROI and their content marketing efforts are not living up to their potential. For that reason, I’ve compiled what I feel to be the most important content marketing statistics that should inform your content strategies.
I am not going to flood you with all of the statistics you can find on the Internet. I am going to present the most compelling and relevant data to you and go into the details to help you decide if it’s the piece of information that you need or not to create quality content and improve your business’ conversion rate.
So, with all that being said, let’s dive into the top content marketing ROI statistics that I have curated just for you.
Before we take a look at the statistics, let’s take a step back and better understand the role of content marketing for successful content marketers, whether they focus primarily on visual content or audio markets.
In a nutshell, there are three main types of marketing: traditional advertising such as those seen in print or radio/TV formats, online advertisements including banner ads on sites or paid search, and content marketing, which includes types of content ranging from blogs and email marketing to social media. This third form of marketing is the focus of our discussion today. Hopefully, these statistics will help you choose the right types of marketing for your business, and gain an understanding of the costs involved in creating email newsletters, interactive content, social media posts, and more.
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably already bought into content marketing or may be looking to increase your investment and utilize various tools, such as search engine optimization software. The most fascinating part? You’re not alone.
In short, content marketing is big business, whether it is coming from B2C marketers or B2B content marketers. Whether we will meet the $900 billion benchmark or not, we are spending a lot of money for this type of marketing alone. Lots of content creators are making good money helping B2B companies and everyone else sell goods and services, and this trend will likely continue. The only question is how fast this part of the industry will grow–and if content marketing ROI statistics are to be believed, that growth will continue and will be substantial.
Looking at the latest content marketing statistics, it will continue to grow because:
97% is a very large proportion of the marketing community, which means that a solid content marketing strategy is absolutely essential. Whether you’re talking about in-house marketing staff or agencies, we increasingly see content creation as a critical item in our toolbox.
While this widespread adoption definitely started out as copying what other people were doing, it would have stopped long ago if it didn’t work. Nobody has money to spend on strategies that don’t prove themselves. Even if we could keep spending it, we wouldn’t because we’d be throwing money down the drain. Bottom line: content marketing works and you need to come up with your own content marketing strategy to maximize your impact, whether it focuses on interactive content on a single platform or a larger number of marketing campaigns spread out over numerous sites and platforms and optimized to reach mobile users.
Clearly content marketing is still in a growth stage. In fact,
Why? As you’ve already seen, content marketing is popular with consumers, and marketers would be silly not to take advantage of this trend, regardless if there is a documented marketing and messaging strategy in place or not.
So much of being a business owner involves providing what a customer wants or needs. After all, if something isn’t popular, then it won’t sell. Likewise, the rise of content marketing is tied to its popularity with consumers, as well as its effectiveness. For so many business owners, this is a product worth buying themselves, regardless of the precise content marketing costs.
In particular, one study showed that
When you think about it, these numbers are eye popping. In-person events are no longer the best way to effectively humanize your brand and reach out to customers, and these old-school means of reaching your audience (often called outbound marketing) are far less cost effective. Looking at it another way, content marketing leads are about 5x less expensive than the ones generated by traditional marketing, such as in person events or television spots. There are a few reasons for this, including the fact that distribution costs on these content types are relatively low. Most of the expense is in inbound marketing produced and discovered by your target audience, whether through social media posts, blogs, or other types of content marketing. Then, you only have to pay for continued hosting and occasional promotion as appropriate. It sure beats paying the same fee every time someone sees your ad, which is a large part of what drives content marketing success.
No, I don’t simply mean it might get their attention or result in an amused chuckle. Rather, I’m talking about real benefits. For instance, I might read a branded article about different WordPress plugins and how they can make my site better. In the process, I have a chance to decide if the brand itself is worth trying, or if I should consider something else. Even if they don’t buy right away, the vast majority of people remember this sort of help and may return later–an approach that directly opposes outbound marketing while dramatically lowering traditional marketing costs.
Of course, it would be interesting if we had a specific reason why this is the case. While there is no definitive answer as to why customers assert content marketing effectiveness, there certainly are some possibilities. Most of us view traditional advertisements as transactional: say, 30% off the whole site for Black Friday. What this says is, “we want your business, so we’ll discount our product.” That’s fine, but remember that on Black Friday, everyone else is doing the same thing. It is easy for a customer to ask why they should accept that 30% off from your company instead of another one.
Naturally, there are some organic reasons, like personal taste or function that might motivate a customer to choose one transactional offer over another. But that’s not the only reason. Perhaps they’ve decided that your product is the best of its type by reading the relevant content you’ve produced, or they feel connected to the authentic content found on your social media platforms. All they need is for that discount to push them over the edge of a buying decision. They’ve already decided your product is awesome, so they feel there’s more value to be had from the same money by purchasing what you have to offer.
B2B marketers and brands take note: if you aren’t doing any content marketing now, then you should be ASAP, as virtually all statistics on content marketing can attest. If the content you produce is poor quality, then something needs to change now. Those of you who are working with B2C marketers and brands should also take note, because the same people buy things for themselves. Anyway, doing “market research” is standard for many major purchases. Reading branded content is one of the newer content marketing activities that can help drive sales.
Think about it: customers really like to read about products and services before they buy and any company’s budget on content marketing should take note. When your company uses custom content, it allows you to help the customer become educated about what they might need. For example, let’s consider skincare: customers with dry skin have different needs than someone with oily skin. Another example might be seen in construction: if a potential customer lives in a very cold climate, they might need better insulation than someone who lives in the Caribbean. Likewise, the Caribbean customer is more likely to be worried about hurricane damage than windows designed to hold in heat.
By providing written or visual content on these subjects (as appropriate for your products), you are giving customers something of value. If they get the same information from a sales professional at the local beauty retailer or builder’s supply, they’ll be offered products made by your competitors, in addition to your own. Then, the customer will have to decide which competitive product to buy. With content on your own website, they’ll be motivated to buy what you’re selling after determining which product they need. The takeaway for these types of content strategy statistics? Educational content creation is an invaluable, effective content marketing tactic.
Many industries are very competitive, and for most businesses, it is better to retain customers than to constantly be replacing the same ones. Otherwise, it’s a lot harder to expand the business. Think about the two types of auto mechanics: there are some that will try to get as much money out of each customer as they can, and the ones that always give their customers a fair deal. Each mechanic type has a different sales strategy. One isn’t worried about whether or not the customer comes back, because they’ll just find another one. The other type prefers long term relationships with clients and the referrals they provide. Usually, the dishonest mechanic can’t grow their business because they get bad reviews and are always looking for new clients. On the other hand, honest mechanics gain an ever-larger clientele. Different types of content marketing have similar traits and goals.
As a whole, using content marketing as a way to foster customer loyalty is like being an honest mechanic. You’re trying to attract the type of customer that will buy your products and services again and again. The ones that will refer their friends, leave positive reviews on the Web, and share your content on social media. Happy customers are the best advertising anywhere, and smart marketers use content to earn them, while making their budget for content marketing absolutely ecstatic.
Perhaps this might explain why:
Further Reading: 4 Stellar Content Marketing Examples that Bring Results
As the use of and profit from content marketing continues to increase, along with a recognition of all of the benefits noted above, business organizations are putting the programs in place to systematically leverage their long-term investment by paying close attention to the form of content marketing they are using and identifying successful content marketing strategies that can be implemented quickly and effectively.
Speaking of which, content marketing has matured to the point where
I saw the same trend with social media marketing in the early days that prompted me to write Maximize Your Social, to help the undocumented companies put their strategy on paper. I feel that same need today, vis-a-vis content marketing strategy. After all, if you don’t have a plan, how do you properly measure ROI as well as find out how to further improve your program in PDCA fashion?
That being said, the majority of companies having a documented strategy does show the maturation of the industry.
So many marketing campaign types are judged by the number of people who view an advertisement or fill out a contact form. This is fine, if you want to raise brand awareness or expand your mailing list, as might be the case with an explainer video or an educational blog post. But it doesn’t always lead to sales. Some outbound advertising formats, such as traditional media ads, don’t make it easy to measure sales. Fortunately, this isn’t a problem with content marketing, due to the placement of cookies on browsers and the SEO tools that are at the fingertips of virtually anyone willing to spent some time and money on developing effective content strategies.
This isn’t a particularly large content marketing team, especially considering the effort it takes to prepare these assets. It’s interesting to note that we don’t have an average here. However, it’s reasonable to assume that much of the shortfall for medium and large companies is outsourced. For smaller businesses, outsourcing is almost a necessity.
To me this means that companies have already built out their content, measured the ROI, and now know that they need to up their game as competition increases and the industry matures. From video marketers to blog writers, successful companies and content creators can tell you that high-quality content is key.
Further Reading: How to Growth Hack Your Content Marketing for Optimal ROI
The above content marketing stats should give you an idea as to the background for content marketing and why more and more businesses are increasing their investments in content marketing.
Why is there such great ROI from content marketing?
It all begins with the digital transformation. Understanding this concept will unlock the ability to see the future of content marketing.
In the last two decades, there has been a monumental shift in the way that people consume media and entertainment. To illustrate this point, think about what you like to do during your free time.
When you are not working, whether it is during a lunch break, decompressing after work, or relaxing on the weekend, what do you spend most of your time doing? In the past, the most likely activities would have been watching the programmed entertainment on your television, reading a paperback book, browsing through a newspaper, or perhaps surfing the web on your desktop computer after dialing up to the internet. In today’s society, all of these activities have changed significantly.As search algorithms and studies on the subject can tell you, the world of leisure has gone online. We have given up browsing television channels for internet streaming sites that deliver us shows and movies on demand. We have transitioned from books and newspapers to e-readers and online blogs. And if we want to interact with our friends and family, we do so from the comfort of our apartments using social media platforms. The point I’m trying to get across is that we are always online, and the statistics back this up. The chart below comes from Pew Research Center.
Furthermore, when you break these statistics down into different age brackets, it shows that:
What does this mean for marketers? Unsurprisingly, it makes it imperative that marketing strategies are focused on digital platforms and optimized for mobile devices. Online search happens on handheld devices more than computers, and the ROI (return on investment) of mobile-friendly sites cannot be understated. If the majority of consumers are going online for their media, news, entertainment and social life, then this is where the focus should be for companies who are trying to engage with their customers and generate new ones.
This stat surprised a lot of people when it was announced, but it bears reminding:
Just proving that people are increasingly living their lives online does not by itself mean that social media marketing is necessarily the way to reach out to your target market. We need to ask, “Why is it that content marketing has become so important for companies?”
For marketing professionals, it is all about engagement. If you can engage your customers, then you are likely to attract them to your brand and to increase loyalty. And the statistics say that content marketing does increase engagement, whether we are discussing video marketers posting on YouTube or visual creators posting on Instagram and Facebook.
Clearly those companies that understand the digital transformation and the role of content are reaping the benefits of content marketing.
Further Reading: The 6 Content Marketing Future Trends You Need To Understand Today
Now that we’ve determined that marketing efforts should be focused on people’s online activity and use content marketing as the medium, the next step is to determine which are the most effective distribution channels that should be implemented as the primary form of delivery. Obviously, there are going to be certain channels which are more effective for certain types of companies and products. As a result, I am not going to dictate to you which is the best option, because it really will depend on your primary goal and target audience. What I will do is show what some of the content marketing trends are and some interesting statistics that will help you to better make your decisions regarding things such as the best SEO tactic to use, the best editorial calendar to follow, and the most important type of content promotion for your business.
The chart below reveals the distribution channels that companies are planning on adding to their marketing in the coming year. As you can see, many companies are opting for video content to add to their marketing strategy in the next year through platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. Interestingly, 20% of survey respondents said that they are looking to add messaging apps as a distribution channel for their content. This channel is an even more recent phenomenon than many of the other more traditional (in a very modern timeframe) channels.
An important caveat to this chart from HubSpot is that it does not show how marketers are currently distributing their content, only the channels they are looking to add. The precise type and appearance of content production and content promotion are still largely obscured.
Further Reading: 11 Content Marketing Examples You Can Learn From
Today, social media is one of the main ways in which content marketers distribute their content. In fact,
Almost all businesses have Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn presences of some type. It might be a Facebook page or the LinkedIn profile of the founder. Twitter accounts can be used both in the corporate persona (Apple) or through a company founder (think Elon Musk). Content marketers can post stories on many different social media platforms, use Twitter to broadcast a link, or utilize user-generated content to improve their own content marketing landscape. With Twitter, the content article itself is often housed on a website the company controls, and that can be the case with other types of social media outreach as well.
The chart below explains how popular the role of social media in content marketing is in more detail by comparing the types of content that marketers are using to reach their customers (the companies are separated into B2C and B2B)
If you’ve decided on your content and your distribution channel, you can now scroll down to find some statistics that are specific to your choices. We will start with blogging and then move on to the other major forms of content marketing.
Most of us remember the days when a blog was somewhere that allowed people to develop pieces of content based on what mattered to them, but not many people read them. Over time, blogging has become more mainstream, and it seems like everyone has a blog, whether those blogs use content marketing plans or not. For people like myself, the blog is an important way to advertise professional services. How? By being an authority in their chosen field and even a jumping-off platform for field-related virtual events.
Other bloggers have carved out a niche as thought leaders in a topic of interest outside their career. A lot of thinking and creativity happen on people’s blogs, and their ability to monetize this type of content production bears this out. No matter how they’re used, blogs are more current than ever and the value of blog content creation cannot be overstated. In fact, it bears reminding that
and blogs are one of the best tactical ways that marketers can improve their search engine optimization, including through organic search. Once you understand the connection between content marketing and SEO, it should come as no surprise that
That explains the huge number of blogs that we see in successful content marketing.
You might think that blogging is a waste of time. After all, why put something out there that will occupy a less-visible part of the internet than a banner ad? But the reality is quite different:
Suffice to say, blogs are very popular with consumers, whether they come in the form of long-form articles or are much smaller posts.
Of course, blogs can include a very wide variety of content. Bloggers write about everything from makeup tips to farming know-how. They’ll even post product reviews and thoughts on the deepest of philosophical questions and may even turn to user-generated content for special blog posts.
Especially if your products appeal to a particular niche or are in a competitive industry, the opportunities are yours for the taking. Think about it: reading a blog or performing other consumer-level market research can really help customers learn who is the “authority” in a field. Sometimes, choosing the right product or service includes more than just considering what the customer needs. Instead, they might want to know about quality options vs. budget options. By writing your own blog, you are helping control the dialogue about various options in your industry while maintaining a focus on content marketing.
I can’t say it enough: your company needs a blog, even if your primary focus on content marketing has revolved around social media advertising. Not one of those boring ones, either. While corporate news is important and should be included in your blog, it’s also critical that you do some consumer education. This is especially true with B2B brands in more competitive niches. People want–no, need–to know what your brand has to offer. Whether it’s a unique product, improved user experience, or improved social consciousness, people should hear about it. Otherwise, you’re leaving sales on the table and limiting your search ranking.
Somewhat surprisingly, it took businesses a fair amount of time to catch on to the idea that they could use blogging themselves as a way to engage and connect with consumers. Now, it has become one of the most popular forms of content marketing because it is low cost and has an ability to generate a narrative around your brand that is difficult to match. Of course, as its popularity has increased, so has the science around how to use blogging in the most effective manner.
According to OkDork, the longer the article, the more likely it is to be shared online. This is a vitally important metric because the sharing of content is crucial to its success and level of engagement. If someone reads your content and then shares it with a friend or an online community, it is much more likely to compel someone to read it, and to concentrate while doing so. It may seem that short-form wins the day, but the average time it takes to read an Instagram post for instance, offers little in the way of true education and informative reading.
In addition to length, the other insight from OkDork’s survey reports is that articles with images are much more likely to be shared. This use of visuals as a way to increase engagement is not specific to blog posts, but extends across all online marketing channels. You will see this point made in many places: images are important both for garnering attention and for increasing the likelihood of action and engagement on a company’s marketing content.
It should be no surprise, then, that:
What is long-form content? Generally, this category includes blogs, articles, and white papers of 3,000 words or more. This length of content allows a more in-depth discussion of any topic and makes better use of your marketing budget. In particular, it is useful for customer education within your industry.
Let’s say you’re selling building materials. Short-form content might only list what is available, along with the specifications. Long-form content might allow your construction business to explain to your customers why they should choose a granite countertop over a wooden or ceramic one. Then, when they come into your showroom, they can have a more intelligent discussion about pricing or color choices to make a final decision. Continual improvement of your marketing efforts usually means creating more long-form content.
Of course, blog posts come in all shapes and sizes. One trend that I have seen represented in numerous data sets and articles is the popularity of infographic-type blog posts. As the chart above suggests, they are incredibly effective in generating shares. OkDork also managed to collate data to let companies know the best days of the week to publish blogs in order to maximize the number of shares for their content. Based on the results, it would appear that consumers are much more likely to share content during a weekday whilst they browse the internet at work than when they are enjoying some leisure time on a weekend.
Interestingly, I decided to see if people were actively searching for infographics or if they were just more likely to share them once they were on the article. It turns out, the demand for infographics has actually been declining steadily since 2013. This just goes to show that when it comes to content marketing statistics, you need to be careful and properly analyze the information you are looking at and not blindly rely on a singular chart or statistic to create relevant content.
Video content excels for many reasons. One of them is the ease of consumption: you can sit on the couch and watch videos long after your brain is too tired to read–even if those videos are actually made up of helpful content. While this might not be done often with B2B brands, it’s common for people making a B2C buying decision to consume marketing materials during their free time. In fact, watching something and then thinking about it overnight is far from unusual. Sometimes, all potential customers need is to see the possibilities with your product.
It’s no surprise, then, that the importance of video content has exploded in recent years and this is in large part due to the proliferation of cell phones and mobile data that allows consumers to consume this content format like never before. Consumers will watch videos on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as on blogs and articles. The concept of the ‘viral video’ and the desire for companies to create content that will be shared by those who watch it has resulted in billions of dollars flowing into this form of marketing. The following charts are all from Oberlo. They indicate the strong demand for video content that consumers have and the enormous potential that this type of content has for companies to try and reach a large audience.
A lot of companies focus on Youtube and Facebook but are also now turning to Instagram to create original content.
The reason for the focus on video content is clear.
Indeed, video was far more popular for this purpose than all the other types of helpful content (articles, infographics, presentations etc combined).
Fast forward to today where, according to the latest content marketing statistics,
As important as blogs are, they aren’t as critical as they once were in creating original content that grabs potential customers’ attention. Blogs are great for extracting information in written form, which has a lot of advantages. Infographics present similar data in simpler form that’s easier to consume. But video content has a lot more room for flexibility and creativity when developing relevant content. Depending on the intended audience and subject matter, you can use special effects and an almost unlimited range of formats. From tutorials to contests and simple modeling, the possibilities are endless.
The final content medium I will look at is podcasts (side note: you’ve already subscribed to my Your Digital Marketing Coach podcast, right?).
Podcasts are by no means a new form of audio content, but their potential for content marketing has only recently been recognized. The reason why businesses are starting to take notice of them is because there has been a huge increase in the number of people who listen to podcasts in just the last decade, making them a focal point of many companies and brands looking for continual improvement in their marketing efforts and ROI. In a society where people are constantly looking to multi-task and make the most efficient use of their time, podcasts offer people the ability to stay informed on current events or their hobbies or sports teams whilst they perform other tasks.
This is what makes them so attractive. As the chart above shows, it is estimated that 32% of the US population listen to at least one podcast each month. That is around 90 million people, which makes this a huge audience for companies to pitch to. There is also a core of podcast listeners who are extremely engaged with certain shows. This is indicated by the statistic that nearly ¼ of Americans listen to podcasts every week. Also promising for marketers is the fact that this is not just a phenomenon amongst young people. The increase in the total podcast audience is happening across the age spectrum, with only those aged over 55 who are not fully engaged (although even they are increasing).
As we just mentioned, a lot of podcast listeners are extremely engaged when they follow a podcast. When you generate podcast content, your audience is normally much more concentrated on the content than someone who is skimming a blog post or skipping through a video. According to the data from the above source:
Of course, there are many more forms of content marketing than just blogging, video and podcasts. Our aim here was not to list every statistic on the Internet (as you may find on other sites) but to try and analyze some of the more important bits of information that will be useful for you.
Here’s the bottom line: content marketing isn’t going away. In fact, it’s bigger than ever. Time for us to expand our content budgets, and increase the size of our team. Alternatively, you can increase content production with quality outsourced content through freelancers and agencies.
Which of the above content marketing statistics did you find most compelling? What’s your content marketing success story? Let us know in the comments!
Further Reading: 14 Content Marketing Platforms to Empower Your Digital Marketing
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