When Content Tanks: Brands Lack Faith In Their Efforts, Study Shows

Companies are spending millions of dollars on content. And that’s leading to a flood of webinars, email newsletters, white papers, case studies, surveys, articles, treatises, podcasts, infographics, e-books, tweets and more.   

But one has to wonder: First, are people reading it? And will they care, even slightly, if they never saw another word of it? And are firms making a single dollar out of it?

The signs are not encouraging, judging by Cut Through the B2B Noise, a study by Heinz Marketing and ON24.

Of the marketers polled, only 3.4% say their content is extremely effective, down from 12% in 2017. And a paltry 5.4% feel it’s very effective, compared to 18% the year before.

The big jump was in companies reporting that they’re somewhat effective: 47.3%. That admission of mediocrity is up from 19% in 2017.

It’s similar in the area of relevance. Only 4.7% are extremely confident that their content is pertinent, versus 9% in 2017.



Those firms may be serving “quick hits, clickbait, and disjointed efforts that do little more than insert your brand into an email inbox ready to be deleted or displaying an ad on a webpage immediately ignored whilst scrolling,” as the study puts it.

But here’s the real clincher: only 2.7% are extremely confident that their content is driving revenue, while 47.8% are somewhat confident that it is and 18.5% are not confident.

There are performance gaps in the three key elements of good content: that it is engaging, drives action and is customized. 

Not that this report consists only of bad news. In general, the number of those who lack confidence entirely has fallen.

But why do marketers feel they are failing?

Badly done content has to figure into it. If your CEO is deciding everything, intent on getting every possible and buzzword and platitude into the copy, you may have a problem. Granted, that’s subjective.

Then there’s the issue of strained resources. If you’ve got two people working nights to create content, the results may be uneven. 

Failure may have to do more with poor targeting than bad copywriting. Of the companies surveyed, 70.9% use target personas, while 59.5% use vertical industries and 54.1% use sales stages. But there is a question of whether they are correctly deploying personas.

 Marketers measure these factors: 

  • Sales opportunity conversion — 34% 
  • Sales contribution — 6.8%
  • Sales influence — 6.1%
  • Click — 5.4% 
  • Like — 2%

However, a mere 13% are extremely or very confident in their ability to measure content impact. And 70% are only somewhat sure that they can, or lack confidence totally 

In summation, the study recommends that you avoid these mindsets: 

  • Growth hacking — Conceiving and executing content without a foundational strategy, “let alone an understanding of the buyer personas and buying journey stages.”
  • Guesswork — Basing content based what you perceive as relevant, not in solid proof of what prospects want.
  • More is better — Inundating customers with more copy and longer white papers. This doesn’t deliver more value.

Heinz Marketing and ON24 surveyed over 150 B2B marketing processionals, seeking qualitative and quantitative input. 

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