The Economist, in association with New York-based marketing research firm Peppercomm, recently conducted a global survey of 500 global business executives to find out what they look for from content providers; and 500 global brand marketers to determine their expectations of “content.”
The findings, published in a study titled “Missing the Mark: Global Content Survey of Brand Marketers and their B2B Audiences,“ show that there is a massive disconnect between the content that business executives seek and the content that marketers provide.
Though marketers are increasing their investment in content, content strategy remains poorly understood organizationally. 93% of brand marketers surveyed have plans to either maintain or increase their budget for content marketing. Despite this heavy investment in content creation, less than a third of marketers believe that the purpose of the brand’s content is highly understood within their organizations.
75% of global business leaders surveyed report that they turn to content to research complex business ideas within their industries. Executives find the most value in content that helps them better understand the general views and practices of their peers. Also, content that presents two sides of complicated industry issues and content that confirms or sheds new light on business strategies are considered to have value.
Conversely, 71% of executives have a strong distaste for content that reads like a sales pitch. Unfortunately, most marketers produce content in order to sell. 93% of marketers surveyed reported that they connect their content directly to a product or service.
There is an equally large disconnect between the goals of content marketers and the KPIs they use to measure success, says the report. 85% of marketers surveyed believe that the primary purpose for creating content is to strengthen their brand and build positive awareness of the company. Yet, 70% directly measure the effectiveness of their content by the number of leads it generates.
By evaluating the success of content marketing strictly by leads, brands end up creating the exact type of sales-centric content that business leaders dislike. Many of these brands simply have no better alternative, as a third of global marketers report that they simply do not know (or do not have access to) the proper KPIs to accurately measure and assess their content marketing campaigns.
Traditional digital content mediums, though, still resonate best with global business leaders, says the report. 85% of those surveyed prefer text-based articles, while only 5% polled find video to be useful for helping to make business decisions. 78% of executives surveyed prefer to browse content on their laptop or desktop computers, with only 7% reporting a preference for smartphone consumption.
In conclusion, the report makes a couple of suggestions for some resolution to this apparent standoff. First, marketers should double down on efforts to raise awareness within the organizations about the value of content marketing, and find a mix of KPIs that will not necessitate turning our content in a sales pitch.
Finally make the content stand out from the crowd by providing executives with the type of content they are looking for. Putting the customer first, resisting the natural urge to sell, and presenting content in a way that aligns with reader preference maximizes chances to build influence and brand equity.
To view key findings of the report, please visit The Economist here