Increase In Content Marketing Investments Compensating For Keywords Not Provided

A Forrester Consulting study released Monday shows that some 24% of participating marketers spent between $1 million and $9.9 million on content marketing in 2013. Nearly one-quarter of survey respondents are expected to increase investment this year.

The survey, commissioned by search agency Acronym, reveals that keywords are an important contributor to paid media campaigns, customer understanding, and measurement. Overcoming the challenges of keywords not provided data means adopting multiple sources of data, analytics skills, expanded attribution models, and trusted agency partners.

Forrester Consulting fielded the online survey to 102 U.S.-based marketing professionals who influence their company's digital marketing budgets and strategy. This brief survey allowed Forrester to identify marketers' top goals and metrics of content marketing, the role of keyword data in content marketing, and how encrypted search policies such as Google Secure Search, where keyword-level data is not provided, will affect content marketing.

Content marketing has become an increasingly important priority as the encryption of keyword-level data has removed a valuable source of information about customer search intent. Most marketers rely on several sources to inform their content marketing efforts in the absence of keyword data. About 76% will use Web analytics data as an alternative data source, followed by 67% who will use paid-search data and 46% who will rely on social network data, including likes, follows, and social sentiment.

About 41% said that driving sales is the No. 1 goal for their content marketing strategies, and 94% put sales in their top five content marketing goals. Brand awareness was the second-most-popular goal with 88% adding it to their top five, and 21% chose lead generation as their No. 1 goal.

Customers prefer to interact with branded content, despite an increase in personalizing advertisements. The top five most-trusted types of online promotional content include peer reviews, natural search results, and brand Web sites. U.S. online adults trusted display advertising and push text messages the least. That's why I believe the industry will see a shift away from traditional IAB ad units and a move toward content that looks similar to product placements in early television shows.

Yet challenges remain. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said limited budgets challenge their content marketing strategies. Participating marketers also pointed to lack of internal expertise and copywriters as concerns. Most considered site traffic, revenue, conversions, and rankings among the most important metrics used to measure content marketing. The findings note that these metrics do not measure the benefits of content marketing on customer relationships.

While 71% said they rank site traffic among the top five metrics used to measure content marketing strategies, only 18% ranked customer value, and 18% named customer sentiment. Some 57% said revenue, 46% note keyword traffic and conversions, and 46% said search engine rankings. The findings note that some of these metrics don't measure the benefits of content marketing on customer relationships, which the study calls important.

Join us at the MediaPost Search Insider Summit Dec. 10--13 in Deer Valley, Utah, as we debate this challenge.

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