It’s hard to believe it’s been 12 years since Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs began their trends and insights report, but here we are. And what a year this 12th year has been!
The report looks back on the past 12 months, of course, and includes expectations for 2022.
It also asked the impervious question: what did the pandemic change most about your organization’s content marketing strategy or approach?
The key theme they found is that the pandemic awoke a sleeping giant in content marketing.
Without in-person events and face-to-face selling, many who had previously paid little attention to content marketing suddenly became aware of its power.
More content marketers got a seat at the table and helped keep many businesses on their audiences’ radars. Some discovered new audiences altogether.
The research also confirmed what many of us already know: content marketers are some of the fiercest business pros around.
In the words of CMI in the report, “In the most difficult of times, they get the job done—and many come through more creative and stronger than before.”
And, because content is my first love, I love reading this report every year to see where my business is excelling and where we need to improve.
It also gives us great fodder when discussing content marketing—or owned media as we call it in a PESO Model program—with clients.
Content Marketers Have the Budgets They Need
The pandemic has been rough in many ways, but for content marketers, an entire world (finally) opened up.
One respondent said, “Who would have thought that a pandemic would be the thing to finally bring content marketing out from behind the shadows and into the forefront of marketing communication?”
In other research we’ve seen this year, many respondents have cited budget being one of their biggest concerns.
But not for content marketers!
Forty-three percent said their 2021 budgets were higher and two-thirds said they expect their 2022 budgets to increase. To boot, 20% think the increases will be greater than 9%.
If that isn’t an indicator that companies (and their CFOs) value content marketing now—and most likely see the value it drives in terms of revenue—I don’t know what is.
Most of the respondents expect increased spending in video, events—digital, in-person, and hybrid—owned media, and paid media.
In the Spin Sucks Community, we had a conversation just a couple of weeks ago about video and whether or not to bring that capability in-house.
The responses were a mixed bag and depended on the size of the business and the size of the marketing or communications budgets.
From my own experience, we have one client that spends a considerable amount of money on a retained video firm and it’s getting to the point that it’ll be more cost-effective and strategic to have that expertise in-house.
But Not Necessarily All of the Resources
The downside of all of this, with the exception of perhaps adding new expertise in 2022, is that the budget boosts didn’t necessarily equate to additional resources.
Two-thirds say their team was asked to do more with the same resources.
Whether they were asked to do more or not, content marketing team sizes didn’t grow.
Both last year and this year, only 10% of respondents had six or more on their content marketing teams.
Half of all marketers say they outsource some content marketing, which is on par with a year ago (49%), but there was a marked difference at larger companies (1,000 or more employees).
A year ago, 61% of these marketers at large companies outsourced content marketing.
This year, that percentage has risen to 75%.
That’s continued good news for those of you who work at agencies and do content marketing.
Start beefing up those offerings on your websites!
They Realized Content Marketing Is Not for Sales
Let’s discuss more data.
I love me some data, especially when it comes to my content marketing love.
But also, this survey shows there was a bit of a shift in how content marketing is perceived.
People, gasp!, realized you shouldn’t use it to sell with right out of the gate.
Many content marketers realized that they need to create daily and authentic content.
The biggest shift is that brand awareness is the top goal for content marketing, with 80% reporting success in achieving brand awareness, 75% saying it builds credibility/trust, and 70% say their content marketing educates audiences.
And, as we’ve seen in overall communications efforts in the past 20 months, the experience forced everyone to be more empathetic, which created more authentic content.
They’ve also begun talking to their audiences as humans, not just members of buying committees, accounts, or brands.
And There Are Established Success Metrics
Some other useful stats of the most successful content marketers:
- 62% of them have documented strategies;
- 71% characterize their content marketing as sophisticated;
- 83% use software to keep track of it all; and
- 90% track effectiveness.
If you’re among the content marketers that don’t do those four things, it’s time to get going.
For 2022, your focus should be to craft a strategy, set goals based on data, and get yourself some technology to make things easier.
Our Content Marketing Tech Stack
Our content marketing tech stack includes:
- Google Analytics
- Google Data Studio
- Google Suite (so much Google!)
Notion and Bizible are our 2021 adds—and my newest loves.
I don’t know how we did any work before Notion came into my life.
And Bizible is an attribution software we’ve begun using for one client.
We’re just getting started with it so I’ll report back later, but right now, it looks very promising to be able to attribute first, middle, and last touch to all of our comms efforts, including content marketing.
Next year is going to be fun–lots of opportunities to grow and mold our efforts into even more of a passion. I can’t wait to hear what you have up your sleeve, too!