The Content Marketing Institute recently published their annual report, Enterprise Content Marketing, which captured the perspective of over 200 enterprise content leaders. Combined with the ANA’s landmark study from 2020, a clear picture of where enterprise marketers stand with their content is emerging.
Here’s our analysis on select findings from the report, with recommendations (where appropriate) on how to better the existing processes to significantly contribute to the growth of your business:
Major Disconnect in Goals and KPIs
As one would expect, 84% of content teams at enterprise organizations use metrics or KPIs to measure performance. The most commonly employed KPIs include website traffic, email and website engagement, social media analytics and conversion.
Now let’s take a look at the top goals that were achieved through content marketing efforts—creating brand awareness, building (brand) credibility and educating the audience.
One cannot help but wonder how content leaders concluded that these goals were achieved when none of the aforementioned KPIs provide data that is reflective of these goals. This showcases a striking misalignment between goals and KPIs.
In order to successfully measure the impact of your content, every goal needs to be tied to a KPI. Without this association, a goal is reduced to a mere aspiration.
Content leaders must ensure that each goal is converted into an objective that can be measured through a clearly defined KPI. A goal without an associated KPI can severely impede the growth of your business and could lead to poor decision making that is driven by inaccurate results. At Knotch, we prioritize helping our clients create a ‘business outcomes’ framework, which directly connects content to business outcomes. This in turn is indicative of the real ROI of your content.
49% of respondents have a documented strategy, while 30% claim to work with an undocumented strategy.
It’s baffling to see that in a budget-growth environment, content strategy is still not clearly defined for the most part. It’s hard to achieve your business outcomes, if you fail to explain how you will achieve them. There’s work to be done here, especially for the undocumented marketers who claim to have a strategy, but have not taken the time to document it.
The starting point to build a content strategy is to clearly identify the business outcomes that your content marketing efforts aim to achieve, as well as a formal description of how content will be used to achieve those outcomes. A successful content strategy is one that finds distinct, memorable ways to fulfil the audience’s needs while effectively contributing towards business goals.
Talking about the maturity level of an organization’s content marketing, only 7% of respondents considered themselves to be sophisticated (where CMI defined ‘sophisticated’ as ‘providing accurate measurement to the business and scaling across the business’). 43% believed their content marketing was mature ( where ‘mature’ was defined as ‘finding success, but challenged with integration’).
Silos continue to be the enemy of content marketing efforts, with organizational structures and thinking being focused on a line of business or brand, rather than the audience. Au contraire, content marketers who work across the organization, horizontally, are rewarded with results that indicate the success of their content. To move up the maturity ladder, organizations need to focus on an enterprise content strategy that serves the business goals as opposed to implementing multiple content strategies that have been developed by individual teams or/and departments.
Also, let’s not forget that many don’t have a content strategy at all, and its absence doesn’t prevent marketers from believing themselves to be mature or sophisticated.
Based on the data shared in this report, one can see the interesting characteristics that are shared by top performers, who believe their content marketing efforts were very successful—documented content strategy, centralized content team, use of editorial calendars, implementation of metrics and the presence of an online community among others. Is it no surprise then that these top performers were effectively able to pivot their efforts during the pandemic.
These characteristics have set a framework that can be emulated by emerging enterprise content teams, alongside Gartner and Forrester’s maturity phases. On the subject of centralization, Knotch would recommend walking down this path carefully. Excessive centralization, especially for larger businesses, can increase efficiency in achieving business goals but can come at the expense of reducing sensitivity towards a specific audience.
The most adopted content marketing team structure is a centralized group working alongside individual teams throughout the organization. The least popular team structure is one where each department has its own content marketing team.
There is no right formula to set up a successful content team. Most companies are guided by their company culture when setting up their team structures. However, each organization must make time to clearly define what needs to be centralized and what belongs to individual teams. Knotch believes that content vision, measurement, technology, and governance should be centralized, and then there should be timely assessments of efficiency versus responsiveness for tactical development and implementation.
In-house or Outsourced
For the 62% of the sample, who outsource all or parts of their content marketing activities, content creation is the most outsourced by far.
The need for flexibility around content creation and resources lends itself to outsourcing. But here’s something to consider. If you work with an outsourced content creation team, it’s recommended to engage in a long-term commitment, so that the knowledge pertaining to your organization’s content style, voice and tone can be passed on to the executing team. Also, it’s important to find a good match based on your industry in order to ensure that subject matter expertise is gained and not lost.
It’s good to see that measurement is not outsourced, which is a sign that it’s considered a core competency of the enterprise content team, and too important to outsource.
Finding partners with topic expertise and budget issues are the top two issues faced by content marketing teams when looking to outsource content marketing activities.
The search of topic expertise is a constant requirement for content teams large and small. There’s no reason to limit this search by geography, especially in the current virtual environment. There are rewards for long-term relationships, which allow expertise to be nurtured both ways. This will also lead to improvement in quality and speed of work.
On the budget front, an investment in the right measurement tools will result in rooting out the low-performing content assignments, allowing more investment to be put into a short list of content deliverables. While getting to this point can take some time, it is greatly beneficial in the long run.
When looking at technologies that organizations are using to aid content marketing efforts, there’s a high level of adoption of analytics and publishing tools but a significantly lower adoption of tech enabling content performance/recommendation. \
Content recommendation engines are a bulletproof way to improve content consumption and action rates. So it’s worth the effort to work with your CMS platform to set up the business rules to recommend content, or to work with a machine learning personalization platform to do this automatically.
The Knotch team consistently witnesses that when people consume more than three pieces of content, that actions rates improve by up to 500%. The way to measure this is through the recirculation rate - the ability of a page of content to get you to the next page of content.
The Way Ahead
In summary, the Content Marketing Institute’s report provides an informative view of the current content marketing landscape. Here’s hoping our analysis and recommendations will help you implement changes that will directly connect your content to business outcomes.
Brands that understand the importance of content measurement use Knotch everyday to stay ahead of their competitors. If you wish to join their ranks, click here to request a free demo.