It’s been a huge year for content marketing globally, and I’m pleased so say corporate Australia has embraced the trend wholeheartedly if the just-released CONTENT MARKETING IN AUSTRALIA 2014 BENCHMARKS, BUDGETS, AND TRENDS report is anything to go by.
The research was conducted by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) – which runs the hugely popular Content Marketing World events – in partnership with the Association for Data-driven Marketing & Advertising (ADMA).
It’s the second year CMI has produced the Australian report so it provides a pretty interesting picture of an industry benchmarked 12 months ago.
(I wrote about the research earlier in the year: ‘Content Marketing in Australia is Expected to Boom’, which I followed up with an interview with ADMA CEO, Jodie Sangster, about the state of content marketing in Australia).
On the surface it appears the big bold take-out from the research is that 93 per cent of Australian marketers use content marketing.
But that’s not too unusual given content has been around in various forms for decades (in fact the figure is a tad down from last year’s 96 per cent). It’s companies’ changing attitudes and strategic approach towards content marketing that I think makes for the most interesting reading.
For example, the key statistic that jumps out for me is that Australian companies are producing more content for marketing purposes than they did last year.
According to the survey, 81 per cent of respondents claim they are creating more content in 2013 compared to a year ago. These are for-profit companies that operate across both business-to-consumer and business-to-business categories. Put into perspective, in North America 72 percent of companies say they are creating more content now compared to a year ago, while in the UK this figure is 76 percent.
Documented content strategy
The other key insight is that 52 per cent of respondents claim to have a documented content strategy to guide them. Again, this compares favourably to North America, long considered the home of content marketing, where the figure is 43 per cent (and 42 per cent for the UK).
Content marketing spend to increase
Spending on content marketing in Australia is set to soar, with 69 per cent of Australian marketers planning to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months. By the way, that figure last year was 61 per cent which indicates pretty strongly brands are truly embracing content marketing in this country.
According to the research, on average 27 per cent of Australian marketing budgets are allocated to content marketing. Now, I can’t see marketing budgets overall growing much in the year to come, so that means if significantly more budget is being allocated to content, what gets cut back? You’d think traditional advertising is heading for a tough time in 2014 given its decreased effectiveness in today’s noisy, fragmented marketplace.
Yet despite Australia’s bullishness around all things content marketing, the concept (as a broad strategic practice versus simple tactical application) is still very new and as such many marketers are still trying to come to grips with how to make content marketing a truly effective exercise for their organisation. For example, only a third of Australian marketers felt their organisation’s content marketing efforts were effective (compared to 41 per cent in North America and 48 per cent in the UK).
Reading into the statistics
If I were to read into these statistics, I’d say it looks like Australian marketers have boundless enthusiasm for content marketing and are super-keen to make up for lost time (and catch up with the rest of the world).
However, given the market is more mature overseas, marketers in the US and UK have had a longer time to settle into the groove a bit more, to test and experiment and discover what works more effectively for their particular organisation. No doubt Australia will follow that path.
Choice of tactics
In terms of tactics used, Australian marketers employ on average 13 content marketing tactics, the most popular being articles on the company website (and other websites), social media (other than blogs), e-newsletters, videos, case studies and in-person events.
One stat that floored me was that 80 per cent of respondents have a blog! I’m a massive fan of blogging for corporate/marketing purposes; I’m always on the look-out for best practice examples but unfortunately I don’t see too many great blogs in corporate Australia, thus I’d have to say that while Australian businesses might have a blog, I’m pretty certain they don’t use the platform with any degree of passion, purpose and strategic intent. I see a lot of unkempt promotion-oriented blogs, but none that really add any value to the customer.
Interestingly, 73 per cent of respondents nominated e-newsletters as the most effective content marketing tactic they employ.
I’d have to agree that e-newsletters, far from being ‘old hat’, can be incredibly useful. However, again, are Australian marketers using e-newsletters to pitch and sell and bang on about their products and services, or are they ensuring they provide interesting and relevant content that adds value to the recipient? The jury is out on that one
The research report also covers social media, which makes sense given it should be inextricably linked to a company’s content marketing efforts.
The survey results here paint a picture of confusion, with respondents saying the major platforms (LinkedIn, SlideShare, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook) are effective and ineffective in almost equal measure!
The latter makes the most sense to me – control the process internally and have staff on-the-ground producing content on a day-to-day basis, but augment these efforts by bringing in experts and fresh thinking and additional ‘arms and legs’ from outside the enterprise.
CMI’s next Content Marketing World event will be held in Sydney between March 31 and April 2, 2014.
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