Design Content Marketing For Engagement

According to Demand Metric’s Lead Generation Benchmark Report for 2014, organizations of all sizes are recognizing that content is the best way to influence buyers during their journey from need realization to purchase decision. But, content clutter that is producing content fatigue is causing marketers to innovate with new forms of content, and the common denominator of what works best is engagement, says the report.

In the study, sponsored by ion interactive, Demand Metric conducted a survey to explore how effectively marketers are using content to influence the buyer’s journey, concluding that any content that stimulates engagement with a member of the target audience is far more effective and influential than content that doesn’t.

Some of the key findings of the study include:

  • During their journey from need to purchase, only 25% of buyers reveal their interest to vendors early. 90% of study participants believe that it is somewhat or very important to engage buyers earlier in their journey (compared to status quo)
  • 25% of study participants rated their content as slightly or very interactive, 39% rated it at a moderate level for engagement, and 36% rated their content as somewhat or very passive
  • Interactive content, such as apps, assessments, calculators, configurators and quizzes, generate conversions moderately or very well 70% of the time, compared to just 36% for passive content
  • Comparing interactive to passive content, interactive content is somewhat or very effective at educating the buyer (93% versus 70%), differentiating from competitors (88% versus 55%) and being shared (38% versus 17%)
  • The most frequently encountered problem with content marketing efforts is “content doesn’t create enough opportunities for interaction and engagement”, experienced by 58% of study participants
  • 17% of study participants have no content effectiveness measurements in place, and 49% are
  • using only basic metrics such as clicks or downloads
  • 55% of organizations in this study are allocating 15% or less of their marketing budgets to content creation and marketing. The study found no relationship between increased spending on content and increased content effectiveness

Almost 60% of study participants indicated it was very important to influence buyers earlier in their journey (than what is currently occurring). There’s no surprise in this data – it supports the instincts of every sales and marketing professional.

Importance of Influencing Buyers Early

  • Very important (59%)
  • Somewhat important (31%)
  • Very or somewhat unimportant (5%)

But only a quarter of buyers reveal themselves to vendors early in their journey.

  • Early: as soon as they know they have a need (25%)
  • Mid-way: after they have a short-list of solutions (53%)
  • Late: when they're ready to Buy (22%)

To determine the relationship between content type and effectiveness, participants were asked to categorize their content as either passive or interactive, and the following category options were provided for this rating This division of content into passive and interactive categories became the

most valuable filter though which to analyze and view other data collected in this study:

Content Type

% of Respondents

Very passive: content produces little or no engagement with the buyer


Somewhat passive: content produces slight engagement with the buyer


Moderate: content produces some level of engagement with the buyer


Slightly interactive: content produces measurable engagement with the buyer


Very interactive: content produces highly engaging experience with the buyer


Source: Demand Metrics, June 2014

The difference between the performance of passive versus interactive content at producing conversions is dramatic, says the report. In the study, interactive content converted buyers moderately or very well 70% of the time, compared to just 36% for passive content.

Conversion Comparison: Passive vs. Interactive




Very poorly



Moderately poorly






Moderately well



Very well



Source: Demand Metrics, June 2014

Just as interactive content was more effective in educating potential buyers, interactive content is also more effective in helping differentiate the content publisher from its competitors. 88% of interactive content users report it is somewhat or very effective at differentiating, while 55% of passive content users report the same level of effectiveness

Content Effectiveness Against Competitors




Very ineffective



Somewhat ineffective






Somewhat effective



Very effective



Source: Demand Metrics, June 2014

As content marketing has evolved, marketers have given more thought to how to best deploy content across various stages of the buyer’s journey, says the report. Participants indicated the stages of the buying process in which their content was most effective.

Buying Stage with Content MOST Effective

  • Early stage (42%)
  • Middle stage (44%)
  • Late stage (14%)

The study data suggests that content effectiveness in the early stage of the buying process isn’t where it should be, concludes the report.  According to the data,content is most effective in the early and middle stages, and least effective in the late stage of the buyer’s journey. Almost all study participants, 90%, agreed this influencing buyers earlier in their journey is important.

Further analysis of content marketing problems to determine to what extent the passive or interactive nature of content changed the frequency with which they are experienced. This analysis yielded four, statistically significant relationships:

Statistically Valid Problem Relationships To Content Type


Passive Content Frequency

Interactive Content Frequency

Content quality is poor



Content doesn’t create enough opportunities for interaction and engagement



Content formats (e.g. text-based white papers) are boring or uninspiring



Content is not generating much interest or getting much attention



Source: Demand Metrics, June 2014

From this data, the report concludes that interactive content enjoys a quality perception advantage, produces better engagement, is perceived as more interesting and is better at generating attention than passive content. These results show the value associated with creating and publishing interactive content.

This study concludes that content marketing effectiveness isn’t a matter of how much is spent, but how it is spent. An “arms race” mentality won’t improve the strategy’s effectiveness, says the report. What’s needed is a “smart bomb”, and in the world of content marketing, that smart bomb is interactive content. The organization that publishes an assessment app that does in five minutes what hundreds of competing white papers attempt to do will quickly eclipse the passive content, says the report.

To access the whitepaper from Demand Metrics, please visit here.

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