It’s likely you know content marketing is valuable in scaling your business online. But do you know where the content marketing industry is going, and why?
Because Decibite offers non-technical entrepreneurs fast hosting, we were curious about the state of content marketing.
Some questions we wanted data-backed answers were:
For some, doing research is about as fun as doing taxes. It’s not like the adrenaline rush you get when you make your first dollar online. So we did the hard work and put together this report to give you data-driven answers to some of the biggest questions in content marketing.
Note: We surveyed 664 people who said a blog had some importance to them making money online. This includes business owners, managers, freelance content marketers, in-house content managers and specialists.
For simplicity, I used the label “content marketers” to describe everyone surveyed.
Are you ready to dive deeper into the content marketing report?
If you want to grow your business online (and who doesn’t?), you can’t escape hearing about content marketing. Content marketing is everywhere you look and listen.
But why is content marketing important for growing your business?
According to our survey, the top 10 reasons content marketing is important for business is because it helps:
Each survey responder assigned a score of “+1,” “0,” or “-1” to each category. This allowed everyone to respond to every topic without assigning equal value to each area of importance. They were then divided by the sample size of 664 responses.
Content marketing is more than a writer seeking to promote content. It’s a tool that, when executed correctly, positions your brand to be a trusted friend and adviser to potential customers.
And this is what’s most important to content marketers: building relationships with their customers and to become a trusted expert.
It was also surprising to find organic traffic 8th on the list. For most content marketers, SEO is necessary to make their traffic growth sustainable. And while 47% of content marketers surveyed believed SEO is important to long-term growth, 17.8% believe SEO was not important.
Let me make this simple for you.
If you’re not measuring with clear metrics and KPIs, you’re not doing content marketing.
Crafting articles and infographics without measuring results is a faster path to disaster. If you can’t show the money, you’ll get burnt out.
But what metrics should you track to measure content marketing effectiveness?
According to our study, here’s how people who make money with content marketing measure results:
It’s no surprise that tracking sales is the best way to measure the value of blogging.
But you may find it surprising content marketers do not have a clear answer which is best to measure content marketing effectiveness. The difference between the four ways to measure is only 8.2%.
Here’s one possible explanation.
Very few would disagree with the success of a marketing channel is the sales it makes. But measuring and attributing the success is extremely difficult. Attribution isn’t perfect.
The total number of email subscribers is an excellent measure of future sales and it’s easy to track. But it’s also a lagging indicator of success. For example, a large list of people who have no interest in your product won’t make you money.
Tracking views is often easy if you install Google Analytics. But smart content marketers know not all traffic converts the same.
Content engagement is also easy to track and find. And many savvy content marketers observe those who engage are often those who most likely become a customer. But comments and social shares by themselves don’t pay the bills.
Different business models and marketing channels may also change your tracking priorities. Consider these three scenarios:
In the end, you need sales to keep your business's lights on. But determining how to measure success will depend on your situation and job function.
An effective content marketer is a master of many disciplines.
But what are the skills necessary to transform you from a novice to a content marketing specialist? And what types of knowledge and experience do you need to be an effective content marketer?
We asked our survey respondents to rank 10 content marketing skills on how important these skills are to them.
Here are the 10 most important skills to content marketers:
These numbers are an average of where each person ranked the skill. Ranking a skill as “one” is most important while “ten” was the least important. Therefore a lower average score means responders believe this skill is more important.
Content marketers get it. If you don’t hustle to promote what you wrote, you are shooting yourself in the foot.
Writing and copywriting is a critical skill (ranked #2). But content marketers believe social media and content promotion takes the cake as the most important content marketing skills.
Design tied writing and copywriting as the second highest ranked content marketing skill.
Why is design so important? Here are three possible explanations.
First, images and graphics are an excellent way to keep readers engaged. Second, design is a form of content you can share. And when done right, images will lead to links, which helps SEO. And third, as competition increases, stellar design becomes a fantastic way to set your blog apart from the competition.
Once upon a time, marketers believed there were 200 ranking factors Google uses in their algorithm. Since then, the list has grown and expanded. Yet most factors have little (if any) impact on your organic traffic.
Organic traffic is key to sustainable traffic. So we wanted to find out what people believe are the most important organic ranking factors.
According to our survey, here are the top 10 SEO organic ranking factors:
These numbers are an average of what people who have a blog believe is most important to rank on Google. Ranking an SEO factor as “one” is most important, while “ten” was the least important. Therefore a lower average score means responders believe this factor is a more important element of SEO.
The days of keyword-stuffed articles are as dead as a stuffed turkey. So much so, content marketers and entrepreneurs who have a blog feel content quality is the number one organic ranking factor.
It’s a delight to find many content marketers care about fast site loading speeds. At Decibite, we believe all content marketers deserve faster hosting because:
It’s surprising to see backlinks are ranked so low by those who own a blog. When Moz asked 150 SEO experts, domain links and page links were the #1 and #2 SEO factors. Perhaps many content marketers still lack the knowledge why SEO is valuable.
Content marketing is simple to learn, but challenging to master.
Perhaps you struggle to make money from your content. Or maybe it’s consistently produce high quality content and remembering to promote after you hit publish.
Are the challenges you face the same as other content marketers? And where are business opportunities to help solve these challenges? Let’s find out.
Here are the top 10 challenges of content marketing:
Each survey responder assigned a score of “+1,” “0,” or “-1” to each category. This allowed everyone to respond to every topic without assigning equal value to each area of importance. They were then divided by the sample size of 664 responses. A negative score means more people felt it was not a challenge than it is a challenge.
Contrary to what YouTube ads and Facebook gurus will tell you, it’s not easy making money online. A full 63.7% of content marketers felt making money from their content was their biggest challenge.
Publishing high quality content is the second highest important factor. Given that content marketers surveyed felt content quality was the #1 SEO factor, perhaps that explains why this is such a huge challenge. Yet the issue isn’t not knowing what to write about, ranked at #8.
And while many content marketers feel content promotion is the #1 skill, it’s also their #4 greatest challenge too. Perhaps this pain explains why many content marketers view this skill should be a high priority.
It’s interesting to note that “unrealistic expectations from a boss or client” was so controversial. Here are three possible reasons why this might be true:
Are you curious to learn about the people we got this data from?
We wanted 664 people to fill out our survey.
This gave us a confidence level of 99%. This means there is a 99-in-100 chance that a future experiment will encompass the true value of the population. Most empirical studies should use at least a 95% confidence level, meaning there is likely an error in 1-in-20 tests.
There is also a margin of error of 5%. This means any answer we provide may be plus or minus 5%.
As a qualification to keep responses relevant, each person answered two questions:
For the first question, a person was given five responses:
They needed to respond with either statement one or three to fill out the survey. 481 people (or 72.4%) said they have a job which requires them to work online. 183 people (or 27.6%) said they have a business OR website which makes money online.
For the second question, a person was given another five responses:
They needed to answer with any but number one to continue. Of the 664 people who responded, here was the breakdown for each answer:
The responses are subjective. So there is a possibility that some may have over or under-estimated the importance of a blog to them.
We felt using subjective responses was necessary because there was not a clear way of finding content marketers. Once consideration was monthly traffic. However this would potentially skew the results too much to the opinion of top content marketers. Further, asking about their traffic is skewed because they self-report this data.
In hindsight, it may have been better if we did not include everyone who has a blog who views it as a lower importance.
Still, we were delighted there was a balanced spread of answers from content marketers at different skills.
Here are some other fast facts about our sample population:
Content marketers are valuing quality and user experience more-and-more.
Consider these statistics found in this survey:
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, once said, “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we (Amazon) are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
Improving the customer experience could be improving design to make your blog more inviting. It could be improving your site speed to reduce load time frustrations. And it can even be just writing quality content.
Whatever you do, keep seeking to improve the customer experience through your content.
Perhaps that’s why a satisfied customer is the best business strategy ever.