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CMO Insights: The New State of Content Marketing

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Author: Mark Nardone, Chief Marketing Officer at PAN Communications, headshot
Mark NardoneChief Marketing Officer

Every year, PAN Communications surveys over 200 marketers and CMOs to get the pulse on content marketing. Based on the data, we come away with a better lens on best practices, opportunities, challenges and trends. These types of insights ignite ideas for brands to connect better with customers, refining the overall experience and figuring ways to drive engagement and emotion.

We’ve taken the time to summarize the top five challenges marketing teams are facing from this year’s Content Fitness Report below.

1. Marketers are Taking a Deeper Dive into Their Brand Positioning and Buyer Personas

The assessment and reassessment of buyer personas and brand positioning helps marketers drive more tailored content marketing campaigns. But while brand messaging and positioning is a high priority for 54 percent of marketers, only 47 percent frequently update their buyer personas and create personalized content. Segmenting and clarifying your audiences is key to creating messaging that sticks. Personas are truly the foundation of any successful content marketing campaign. It’s easy to get lost behind the data, but personas remind marketers that it’s all about the people and that we care about our audience’s interest.

If your brand is still at the beginning stages of this journey, I’d recommend downloading ‘How to Master Buyer Personas’.

2. Marketers are Experimenting with Different Avenues to Help Support Their Content Initiatives

It’s an exciting time for marketers as new opportunities arise every day to help us stay connected to our audiences. This wide net – influencer marketing, social media, demand gen, employee and customer advocacy – forces marketers into a corner. While we’d love to capitalize on all growth opportunities, we are forced to prioritize and map our budgets accordingly. In 2017, only 7 percent of marketers felt they had an “advanced” degree of integration between social and content marketing (defined as having an influencer relations strategy in place and a high level of connected content). So, it came as no surprise that marketers in 2018 chose content and social media marketing as their number one priority, coming in at 60 percent.

So, why is content marketing growing at such a rapid pace and becoming more of a priority than ever before?

  • Personalized, valuable content promotes brand recall
  • Increased lead generation in comparison to outbound marketing
  • Combo strategies like an ABM approach boost sales and revenue
  • More cost effective, which means higher ROI and conversion rates
  • The customer calls for it, so marketers must adjust

Learn more in: Ignite Your Content Marketing with the Power of an Idea.

3. Marketers Are Faced with a Combination of Opportunity and Obstacles When It Comes to Influencer Marketing

Yes, influencer marketing offers marketers a world of opportunity. Promising to turn your brand around by instilling trust, credibility and awareness, not to mention the perfect chance to build your brand relationship portfolio and move beyond analysts, media and partners. However, it’s clear that the biggest obstacle for marketers is driving it back to ROI. Success parameters should be defined before an influencer and content marketing campaign begins.

Digital Strategist and Influencer Consultant Shane Barker recently broke it down in his article 6 Important KPIs of Influencer Marketing That You Should Know. The only way your brand will move the needle is if your team can demonstrate value and worth through your campaigns. Metrics are important, but don’t forget about the personal and emotional benefits that come with this type of campaign. The true power behind influencer marketing is their connection with audiences that brands simply can’t have.

If you haven’t started your influencer marketing campaign yet and you need some guidance, download The Power of Voice: The Art + Science of Influencer Marketing.

4. Marketers Feel Successful with Video Marketing but are Lacking Mobile-First Strategies

This year, marketers are on top of utilizing and capitalizing on video marketing. Eighty percent of marketers surveyed said they were using video for internal, external and social media marketing strategies. This compares to last year’s 46 percent of participants who said they were at a beginner level when it came to visual storytelling, and just 5 percent saying they were advanced. The number will certainly continue to grow, as Cisco reports that video will account for 82 percent of all global internet traffic by 2021.

Visualizing content via mobile and video strategies can go hand in hand. Still, marketers feel that they haven’t grasped mobile just yet, with 20 percent of marketers struggling to create compelling and engaging content on mobile and almost 25 percent still struggling to understand the mobile user journey.

eCommerce platforms like Amazon and eBay are on the rise, spurred by people’s comfort level with buying on the go. But, people are getting smarter with their shopping techniques, as they can quickly compare between brands. If you haven’t mastered the powerful combination of SEO and an easily navigable site, you’ll lose out to your competitors.

Want more on integrated marketing for B2B tech brands? Read, ‘Defining Your B2B Tech Integrated Communications Strategy’.

5. Marketers Still Struggle to Define Success and Measure ROI

The struggle remains for marketers trying to master content marketing measurement and ROI. In 2017, we found that 51 percent of marketers surveyed said they didn’t feel confident in their ability to properly attribute ROI to their content marketing programs. This stat increased in 2018 to 62 percent. For B2B marketers measuring content marketing ROI, it really comes back around to setting your KPIs and growth metrics. PAN’s very own Ariel Novak breaks down 5 best practices for creating great content to achieve business impact in her recent blog. She states:

“You can’t measure ROI if you don’t have clearly defined metrics for success. Take a close look at which metrics matter – for example, SEO rank, conversions, or site traffic – and understand the results that are more difficult to measure directly, like brand awareness.”

If you’re looking to up-level and integrate your measurement, download “Build a Winning Measurement Strategy from the Ground Up.”

These challenges may seem overwhelming, but overcoming these obstacles takes a combination of discipline, collaboration and innovation. Move your ideas forward with the right combination of internal and external skill sets and your team will break barriers and move markets like never before.

I hope you can take some time to learn more about the state and “health” of content marketing by downloading @PANComm’s 5th annual Content Fitness Report here, and let’s be sure to connect further around the state of content @markcnardone.

CMO Insights is PAN Communications’ marketing leadership series. We examine the pain points of today’s CMO, how to effectively and emotionally impact the customer along their path to purchase, and trends at the forefront of today’s digital landscape, alongside insight from experts.


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