How Sophisticated Are Digital Content Strategies and Efforts?

October 26, 2018

Content and digital marketers have buy-in for their efforts, that much can be said. Fully 86% either agree (50%) or somewhat agree (36%) that executive leadership fully supports and invests in using content to achieve business goals, according to Altimeter’s “2018 State of Digital Content” report [download page]. And about 8 in 10 are sophisticated in their production, deployment and leveraging of digital content.

The survey, conducted among 400 content and digital marketers in North America, Europe and China, found that the vast majority at least somewhat agree with the various indications of maturity tested in the report. Respondents are further along in some areas than others, though.

One of the areas of sophistication that’s encouraging to see relates to content strategies. Some 46% agreed that they have a clearly written content strategy that is shared throughout the organization – and another 37% somewhat agreed that they have such a written strategy. (By comparison, newly-released B2B content marketing research indicates that 39% of North American B2B content marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.)

One of the areas of maturity in the Altimeter report that’s interesting to see concerns measurement. Though there’s less agreement on this end, 41% say their company is able to directly tie revenue to engagement generated by content – and another 40% somewhat agree. It would be quite a significant step in the right direction were 8 in 10 to actually be able to directly measure revenue generated from content, given that content marketing is generally considered to be very difficult to measure for ROI.

Finally, 38% of respondents agree that their company can deliver personalized content in real-time to customers based on the actions they take on digital properties. Another 41% somewhat agree – with these appearing to be high levels of confidence given the difficulties in personalizing content. Altimeter notes in its report that the ability to create personalized content in real-time is highest in North America (45%) and among respondents in the retail industry (56%).

Content Strategies Revolve Around Product Information

One of the more noteworthy findings in the report is that content marketers are the most focused on providing customers with information and support. That emerges as a larger objective than inspiring trust and loyalty, creating awareness and positive perceptions of the brand, and positioning the brand as thought leaders and subject matter experts.

To some extent, this seems like a move in the right direction: consumers are clamoring for more informative content that serves their needs rather than just relays the company’s message. However, it’s nonetheless interesting that a tactical priority (providing information) would be more highly prized than strategic ones (inspiring loyalty, creating positive feelings about the brand).

This order of hierarchy is vaguely reflected in the top-performing content archetypes, too. A leading 29% share of respondents said that their best performing content is product-focused content that educates customers about specific features and helps them operate, repair and best utilize the brand’s products. This product-centric content outperforms even high-value, high-investment content that helps the customer make a decision in their personal or professional lives and promotes the brand as subject matter expert (cited as the best-performing by 25%).

As for the most effective formats, it’s neck-and-neck at the top, with short-form video (52% citing as a top-3 format) and static images (51% citing) clearly sitting atop the heap.

Beyond these visual-focused content types, marketers are also finding success with native advertising and long-form research reports/whitepapers, according to the study.

The full report is available for download here.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 400 content and marketing executives and practitioners in companies with at least 1,000 employees in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany and China. The sample included a fixed quota of respondents in Banking/Finance, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Retail and Technology.

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