When I started my personal journey as a marketer back in 2009, “content marketing” was a brand new buzzword that few marketers actually understood. My personal brand was built on content marketing and thought leadership pieces because I realized that making a great first impression online was, and is, one of the best investments a marketing leader can make.
Within a few years, however, some people were boldly predicting that content marketing and written content would become less popular, replaced by trendier forms of marketing, like influencer marketing and video content. Fortunately, they were … wrong.
The results from Zazzle Media’s third annual State of Content Marketing Survey show why. Zazzle says it spoke with“thousands of marketers” and discovered that content marketing is become increasingly relevant as more companies get better at it. Here are three of the more interesting findings from that survey:
1. Almost half (41 percent) of all marketing budgets are spent on content.
In 2018, only 23 percent of marketing budgets among companies surveys were earmarked for content marketing, Zazzle said. In 2019 — just one year later — that number is up to 41 percent. That’s an impressive 78 percent increase in content spend in just one year.
The Content Marketing Institute reported a similar finding: Successful B2B marketers surveyed reported spending 40 percent of their marketing budgets on content, the Institute found.
What’s more, over two-thirds of respondents, according to Zazzle, said they expected the percentage of their marketing budgets reserved for content creation to rise next year (2020) as well.
What type of content is being produced at such a high volume? Despite claims to the contrary, written content is still king, having topped out email marketing, social media posts and video content to take the No. 1 spot. Again, according to Zazzle Media, 98 percent of all marketers surveyed said that written content was still their main output. Video marketing came in at 72 percent, while interactive content was named as dominating 26 percent of the budget pie.
Written content and blogs will continue to be the main priority for 77 percent of marketers in 2019, according to Zazzle, while SEO and email marketing come in at second and third place, with 45 percent and 42 percent of respondents, respectively, focused on these strategies. Only 40 percent of respondents are prioritizing video content for 2019.
2. Content marketing is increasingly aligned with business goals
Another research outfit, Smart Insights, reported that marketers rank content marketing as the No. 1 activity they believe will have the biggest impact on their businesses in the near future. This mirrored Zazzle Media’s findings, in which 89 percent of respondents indicated that content marketing tied in to their wider business goals in 2019 (up 44 percent from 2018). That’s an increase of nearly 100 percent.
What are those aligned business goals, according to Zazzle’s research?
76 percent of respondents indicated that brand awareness is the main goal of their content
61 percent responded that lead generation is the main goal
39 percent indicated that improved search engine visibility is the main goal
These results are somewhat surprising. The content-marketing landscape — as well as the attitude of executives toward content marketing — has clearly changed. Just five years ago, immediately improved search-engine visibility was at the top of most marketers’ minds.
But today, even the way marketers are measuring the ROI of their content marketing has changed, again according to Zazzle:
89 percent of respondents looked for increased website traffic
65 percent looked for improved SEO rankings
62 percent looked for increased subscriber growth
Only 51 percent of respondents said they looked for increased sales as a measure of content ROI. It seems, then, that more marketers are beginning to understand that content marketing is a long-term play.
3. Voice search is a growing marketing priority
When was the last time you asked Alexa or Siri to play a certain song or tell you what the weather was like? Each time you do this, you’re using what’s called voice search, an increasingly important search category that marketing leaders really need to pay more attention to.
How popular is voice search in 2019? There are now more than a billion voice searches each month, andtwo-thirds of all smartphone users, according to Microsoft’s 2019 Voice report, regularly use voice search assistants on a daily basis.
How are marketers responding to this growing search category? Surprisingly, only11percent of marketers included voice search in their content marketing strategy in 2018, according to the Zazzle study. Indeed, most marketers said they were still confused by how to factor voice into their content marketing plan:
62 percent of marketers said it’s “too soon to tell” whether voice search investment will deliver any meaningful results for their business
42 percent indicated that they are going to try and integrate voice search into their marketing efforts for 2019
According to a comScore prediction, voice search will comprise over 50 percent of all searches by 2020, so knowing how to optimize your content production schedule to include voice keyword coverage is paramount.
Written content is still king.
Why is written content still so popular? Aside from the way in which current search engines work, the answer may lie in simple human psychology.
Not only is written content the easiest form of content for most brands to produce (in terms of both cost and time), but humans are hard-wired in school to gather information by reading, and the internet has only made this easier than ever before.
For example, did you know that millennials actually read even more than older generations? According to the Pew Research Center, millennials are much more likely to have read a book in the past year than baby boomers or Gen X’ers. They also prefer to read the news rather than watch it.
So the bottom line is this: Written content isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and all marketing leaders would be smart to recognize that fact.