CoSchedule, a top content planning and research tool vendor, just released its State of Marketing Strategy Report 2017, based on a survey of nearly 1,600 marketing professionals. Many of the findings were enlightening through not terribly surprising. But a few stood out as…unexpected.
- Document their marketing strategy and processes: Marketing teams that document their strategy are six times more likely to report success than those who don’t, and those who document processes are five times more likely to say they’re successful.
- Set goals: Marketers who set goals are five times more likely to call themselves successful than non-goal-setters, and 81% say they achieve their goals as well.
- Conduct audience research: Successful marketers are three times more likely than their less successful counterparts to say they do audience research at least once per quarter.
In other words, solid marketing practices tend to produce solid marketing results.
The team at CoSchedule asked marketers 10 questions. Many of the findings, again, were reassuringly predictable. But the results also contained a few surprises.
Content quality doesn’t matter (much) to marketing success. The CoSchedule study found no correlation between the amount of time spent creating content and marketing success, and only a weak correlation of success with content quality.
What matters is producing strategic, relevant, high-quality content. It not only has to be good, it also has to solve a problem for readers—and serve the needs of your company. Which is why a documented strategy and audience research are so important.
Just 30% of marketers say “generating qualified leads” is their top key performance indicator (KPI). This seems crazy low, as marketing research studies from 2015 and 2016 ranked generating high-quality leads as the top goal for close to 70% of B2B marketers.
Meanwhile, 19% of marketers identified website traffic as their top KPI. That’s a terrible metric to focus on. Yes, traffic matters, but what’s far more important is the quality of that traffic: are visitors engaging with your site’s content and taking any type of conversion action?
Put another way, it’s not difficult to trick people into visiting a website (that’s what clickbait does, and it’s not a productive strategy). But you can’t trick them into becoming long-term, happy, profitable customers.
Just one out of eight marketers “strongly agree” they have a marketing strategy in place. Another 36% “somewhat agree” with that statement. Considering the high correlation of marketing success to having a documented marketing strategy in place, one may have expected these numbers to be higher.
Given the importance of strategy documentation and team communication to marketing success, it’s likely this will be an area of focus for a lot of marketing groups in 2018.
There’s (almost) no correlation between publishing frequency and marketing success. With more than two million blog posts published each day, it’s far more important to create content that stands out and provides compelling value rather than simply producing more content. Brian Dean’s blogging strategy provides a convincing if somewhat extreme example of this.
This contradicts earlier research from sources like HubSpot, which found a strong correlation between higher blogging frequency and content marketing success. So what’s the best approach?
When in doubt, experiment. If you’ve got the budget, try incrementally increasing your publishing frequency while keeping a close eye on results. “Quality content” may be better than “more content,” but “more quality content” may be better yet. Or as the CoSchedule report advises: “increase publishing frequency as a test, not as a rule.”
“There is no correlation between type of primary content created and marketing success.” That conclusion seemed so stark it was worth quoting directly. In other words, marketing success correlates weakly, if at all, with whether a content team focuses primarily on producing blog posts, ebooks, social media campaigns, podcasts, or webinars.
That said, there are numerous reasons a blog should be the center of a business’s content marketing and social media strategy. And other forms of content each have their place. Tweets and YouTube videos may be the “bookends” of social content strategy.
Twitter content is (very) brief, frequent, and great for driving website traffic. YouTube videos, in contrast, take far more effort to produce and terrible at directly driving website traffic, but can be highly effective at engaging your audience with your content in a channel other than your website.
Blog posts are a great way to attract a new audience. Ebooks, checklists, online tools, and white papers can be effective at top-of-the-funnel lead generation, while webinars are effective mid-funnel. Podcasts and video are convenient for mobile consumption.
There are other surprises as well in the State of Marketing Strategy Report 2017. As you do your research for 2018 planning, this is a resource worth including in the mix.