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There is no question about it

Marketing has evolved.


he proliferation of social media, the shrinking of the traditional publishing i­ndustry, ­mobile, and our “always on” culture have ­contributed to an ­environment where it is no l­onger enough to just tell consumers or business partners that your ­product or service is the best. You must show them. And do it while developing a ­relationship with multiple audiences. Marketing today requires ­communication in a f­ocused and targeted manner. ­Information must be both timely and personalized. Campaigns must cross multiple online and offline platforms. A company’s ­ability to ­successfully market its s­ ervices is ­becoming more dependent on its ­ability to produce quality content for these various c­ hannels. We have seen firsthand how difficult this can be for many b ­ usinesses. For this reason, we set out to ­investigate the ­challenges and opportunities b ­ usinesses in Southeast ­Wisconsin experience as they implement content marketing.

This survey is the third research project Clear Verve Marketing has conducted. In 2010, we partnered with McGrath Marketing on research studying the social media efforts of accountants and attorneys. In 2011, we conducted a similar survey in the nonprofit ­industry. This survey differs slightly in focus and encompasses a ­broader range of industries than past surveys. Its focus on content marketing – the generation of the content to be distributed both ­online and offline – is a direct ­result of the increased ­sophistication of online ­marketing tactics and the continual ­integration of online and offline ­marketing strategies. Results between the various surveys are not directly ­comparable, but we will reference past results from time to time as a ­ necdotal or ­potentially ­indicative of trends. To help align ­responses ­between the surveys, this survey included ­questions about social media use as well as content ­marketing use.

About the survey


his content marketing survey was conducted in June 2013. 236 individuals participated in the survey, representing the following industries:

Marketing/ communications 13.5%

Nonprofit 13.9%

Health Care 10.6%

Banking 4.6%

Education 5.9%

+ -

Information Technology 4.2%

Human Resources 3.8%

Accounting 3.8%



Respondents also came from the arts and entertainment industries, manufacturing, and skilled trade industries. Twenty eight questions were asked of survey participants.


Company breakdown


articipants came from a wide range of businesses, ranging from self-employed individuals to large, well-known entities such as Kohler Company, the Milwaukee Admirals, the YMCA, Children’s Hospital and Health System, various school districts, and the PGA Tour.

Full-time employees of participants businesses 2-9 1000 or more 10-24 100-499 1 sole proprietor 50-99 Other sized

24.15% 19.92% 14.1% 13.14% 10.17% 6.78% 11.74%

Social Media Policy


Does your company have a policy regarding the use of social media?

Yes 40.25% No 45.34%

Don’t Know

Although content marketing has existed for years, social media is the driver behind the current content marketing revolution. We originally asked this question in our first social media survey taken in 2010. That survey, which included responses from more than 600 accountants and attorneys, showed that at the time, only 30 percent of firms had a social media policy. Our 2011 survey of nonprofits indicated that 36 percent of organizations had a social media policy at the time. This survey, which crossed a wide variety of industries, showed that more than 40 percent of companies currently have a social media policy. While these results certainly do not provide an apples-to-apples comparison, they do indicate that, although there is a long way to go, more organizations are becoming aware of the importance of social media policies. 4

Social Media Policy Descriptions • To be used for work purposes and communication of goals, mission and program activities. NOT to be used to check personal messages, watch movies, YouTube videos and other similar items. • We encourage the use of social media among employees, particularly to encourage the sharing and promotion of our company’s content. We ask that when mentioning our company in social media, it is in a positive and professional manner. • Advises individuals to be thoughtful on SM and remember their comments are a direct reflection of our business. However we only have three people who post messages on behalf of our agency. Upper management advises not to connect with coworkers. • Be responsible. Be truthful. Be transparent in your messages and motives. • We have corporate and business social media channels supported by specific employees. We train social media content managers if they are to publish on behalf of the company. We discourage non-trained employees from publishing on behalf of the company. • There are two individuals in the administration who monitor Facebook and Twitter and post information. As a school we are careful about protecting the children so no names or other identifying information is given. The security is set up so that others cannot tag people in our pictures.


How is social media used? • 77 percent of respondents use social media as part of their marketing plan. • 66.5 percent of respondents use buttons on their company’s website to promote the platforms on which they publish content. The most common sites were Facebook, with nearly 80 percent of respondents promoting Facebook pages; and Twitter, with 56 percent of respondents promoting Twitter feeds.

Blogger 8.28%

Google+ 18.47%

Twitter 56.69%

Facebook 79.62%

LinkedIn 42.68%

You Tube 31.85%

Pinterest 12.74%


So where does all this content go?


ot surprisingly, nearly 90 percent of respondents post content to Facebook. 80 percent of c足 ompanies post content to their own website. Company e-newsletters and Twitter tied for third place with 68 percent of respondents implementing these two marketing strategies. Offline, many businesses (45 percent and 31 percent respectively) publish content in direct mail and print newsletter pieces.


Facebook 89.91%

Company website 80.89%

Twitter 68.79%

E-newsletters LinkedIn 68.15% 59.24%


Direct mail 45.88%

You Tube 39.49%

Online ads/ Pinterest Blog Print 17.20% 36.31% newsletters Google 25.48% 31.21%

White papers 12.74% N Instagram 8.28% N Tumblr 5.10%


Why do businesses use content marketing?


early 90 percent of businesses say they use content marketing to build awareness and ­understanding of their brand. Other common reasons for engaging in content marketing include:





Promote events

Lead generation & cultivation


Search engine optimization

In addition, 47 percent of respondents reported using content marketing for professional networking purposes.

Why don’t businesses use content marketing? Of the respondents that do not engage in content marketing, the most common reasons cited (44 percent total) were related to social media challenges, namely lack of understanding of how to use social media and company policy prohibiting the use of social media. More than 20 percent (22%) of respondents were concerned about the ability to generate quality content and 16 percent were concerned about an ability to demonstrate ROI. However, nearly 55 percent of the businesses that are not currently using content marketing plan to use it in the future. Of the businesses that plan to use content marketing in the future, just over 25 percent believed it would be necessary to learn more about social media distribution channels before embarking on a content marketing strategy. Additionally, 16 percent believed it was important that co-workers or colleagues agreed to assist in content generation. 8

What type of content generates the most response?


early 43 percent of respondents have found that posting photos generates the best response. Announcements and videos came in a distant second and third, with 23 and 19 percent of respondents reporting that these types of posts generate much response. Only 17 percent of respondents reported that social dialogue generated much response, however social dialogue was the top ranked response in “generates some response” ranking.

u anno





43% video

19% 





The content marketing planning challenge


ontent marketing is a lot of work. Organizations that distribute information online and offline must remember to take photos and write articles. Employees must take the time to distribute this information in social media channels or in more traditional channels such as print newsletters or direct mail. Despite the fact that content creation and social media posting can consume a great deal of an employee’s time, our survey showed that slightly more than one third of businesses do not have a plan for content creation and distribution. This lack of planning undoubtedly results in missed opportunities and inefficacies in work flow.

Does your business have a plan for content generation and distribution?






f the businesses that have a plan for content creation and distribution, nearly 55 percent of those plans were created by internal marketing staff and 15 percent of the plans were created by ­administrative personnel. Interestingly, nearly 18 percent of respondents were not sure who had ­created their content marketing plan. This lack of planning is reflected in the responses given when survey participants were asked about the challenges involved with content marketing. The most common challenges cited included the amount of time needed to create content, and an inability to generate relevant and interesting content. Responses included: • Content development has been an issue for companies since the dawn of time. In times past, it was developing stories for newsletters. It is tough to take the time internally do develop content - experts are too busy with their work to provide information and assets OR there is the perception that there is not enough new/interesting content to disseminate. • Not enough staff or financial resources to do as much as we’d like. • It’s almost too easy lending itself to avoidable amateur mistakes (like misspelling, grammatical errors, etc.). • Measuring it’s success. Keeping it fresh and different from everyone else. • Keeping it fresh. The proliferation of online outlets is staggering. • It’s time consuming and takes longer to show results. • Time consuming and can be damaging if it’s done incorrectly or inconsistently. 10

Content Marketing Advantages


espite the disadvantages of executing a content marketing strategy, most survey respondents have positive feelings about content marketing and know that content marketing is – as one ­respondent stated, “It’s where consumers are today. If you aren’t relating to them where they are, you are missing them and not getting them to help your bottom line.” Although many survey respondents believe the ROI of content marketing is hard to track, respondents generally had positive feelings about content marketing’s ability to affect a business’ bottom line. When asked about content marketing’s impact on the bottom line, respondents stated: •

It gets us in someone’s head and once we’re there they might contact us to work with them, which leads to an increased bottom line.

It reminds current clients we are still there for them and usually a few will call to have us go ahead with another quote/project of theirs.

It’s hard to draw a direct link between the two, but it feels safe to say that without content marketing, there would be less of a bottom line.

We are just starting to revive our content marketing because we believe it will contribute to our bottom line. No other reason to do it!

We have had successful business referrals through this tool.

Content marketing has positioned us as thought leaders in our field. Many of our clients look to our blog for information and turn to us with questions. Ultimately, that leads to business.

Respondents also had positive feeling about content marketing’s effect on awareness for their organization. Responses included: •

Reaches a large audience quickly. Readers can share with their network opening up new contacts we wouldn’t have had exposure to otherwise.

It helps with SEO and is a nice way to have information available to prospective clients that shows what is important to us and relevant to them.

Reaching people that we don’t have a specific personal connection with already; creating a community feeling with a broad network that doesn’t meet in person regularly.

Content marketing expands and diversifies our audience.

It supports SEO and gaining more attention to our organization for fundraising/ membership purposes.


Content Marketing Advantages Another advantage to content marketing that was cited by respondents was its ability to position an organization as experts in their particular field. •

It is a more subtle way to market to potential customers or centers of influence and makes our brand appear more credible.

Keeps us as a trusted source with our trade audience and viewed as experts in the industry.

Reminds clients and prospects of what services we offer.

We feel by giving our customers more information they are more informed about our products. So when it comes time to buy, it will be from us.

Exposure of our thought leadership through social media creates wider conversation opportunities than we’d otherwise be able to generate.

Questions Despite greater awareness of the impact of content marketing and increased use of social media channels, many respondents had questions about content marketing. The most common questions related to best practices include these: •

How often to post content?

When’s the best time of day to post content?

What key words to use to attract readers?

How to attract loyal readers?

How to manage lists?

The other subject of concern related to how to make content generation easier. Questions such as “is there a simple way to manage and execute or a template?” illustrate a need to find a way to manage the workload that effective content marketing creates.


In conclusion There is no doubt that many businesses recognize the significance of content marketing, its ­advantages, and its challenges. As the number of communications channels and the volume of information available at the click of a mouse increases, the importance of generating quality content increases. Results of this survey indicate many companies recognize this challenge. Some are responding accordingly, planning their strategy and doing their best to generate quality content. Others are continuing to take a more cautious approach, feeling that they do not have the necessary training or information to effectively execute a content marketing strategy. Although marketing strategies change, one thing is certain: content marketing is here to stay. In today’s business environment, planning is important but should not get in the way of trying something new. We hope that you have learned something from your peers’ responses to our content marketing survey. Now get out there and share what you know!

Real comments on content marketing from our study.

“ “

It engages our members, makes them feel part of the organization, which increases their loyalty.

Helps spread the word about the great work that our organization is doing, keeps people informed of the work we are doing or planning to do.


Conducted in 2013 by:

clear ver

Clear Verve Content Marketing Study 2013  
Clear Verve Content Marketing Study 2013