The importance of content marketing is clearer than ever. And that’s not just according to me. In our recently released 2021 Marketing Leadership Benchmark Report, we found that content marketing has become a bigger priority for marketers looking to generate pipeline.
We also discovered that content marketing is the top priority for investments in both hiring and marketing technology (martech).
Having created content for almost two decades now, I’m pleasantly not surprised. Here’s what marketing leaders had to say.
3 Interesting Stats from Our Survey of Marketing Leaders
In our recent survey, content marketing was a clear winner for the future. With so many different strategies available to us marketers, it’s exciting to see content given so much respect.
Here are three finds pulled from the report:
Content Marketing Is the Top Specialization CMOs Want to Hire
What’s the secret weapon that CMOs believe is important to their team’s success? Is it media buying? Tech stack integrating?
No, it’s content marketing.
53% of leaders said content marketing will be the most important specialization to their team’s success over the next five years.
When your company provides better content than your competitors, you become a resource for customers and prospects. That sort of relationship-building (while it might be a slow burn) is hard for competitors to replicate. This means your company will reap the benefits of increased brand awareness, the psychological phenomenon of reciprocity, and of course, trust.
Content Marketing Is the Most Common In-House Function
Of all the marketing functions, content marketing is the one most commonly managed in-house. While teams might not always employ web developers, publicists, and pay-per-click (PPC) pros, most content marketers work from within the company.
This doesn’t mean that content creation isn’t outsourced. But you need that in-house person who will continually engage with customers, listen in on sales calls, and make sure that content addresses the customers’ problems and desires. Otherwise, you might find yourself with rehashed ideas from agencies who don’t know your business the way that you do.
Content Marketing Software Is the #1 Martech for Driving Pipeline
While I wasn’t surprised to find that content marketing came out as the top specialization and in-house role, I was surprised that it jumped to the top in martech.
Since our last survey in 2020, content marketing software has gone up from seventh place to first in mission-critical martech.
While customer relationship management software (CRM) was a close second, content marketing software might have taken the top spot because CRMs are so par for the course.
Meanwhile, many businesses are just now realizing big results come from content-related martech. Content marketing software helps streamline content operations, convert casual site visitors into hot leads with Conversational Content, nurture leads across multiple channels, and deliver personalized content.
Why Is Content Marketing Coming Out on Top?
With content marketing, you can communicate who you are as a brand and what you stand for. Content also educates prospects, helping them make decisions as they go through the buying process. At Drift, our content goes further by incorporating pro tips so that our prospects aren’t just learning about our mission and product — they’re also taking action.
The content that you offer can make a massive impact on your customers’ lives. Think of a time when you discovered a webinar, template, calculator, or guide that resolved your exact problem, just when you needed it most. Unlike other forms of marketing, content’s success is driven by its usefulness and its meaning. Because your content truly matters to your audience, it has the potential to make big contributions to pipeline.
So why content? And why now?
Content is more authentic than other marketing methods. Plus, marketers have finally found ways to truly measure its effectiveness after years of guesswork.
Here are some more insights into why content marketing is coming out on top:
Personalization, Meaningful Interactions, and Authenticity
When we asked marketing leaders what trends will have the biggest impact on their role in the future, one CMO in the information technology sector responded: “Personalized content, delivered through personalized channels at scale.”
High-quality, unique content can help marketers cut through the noise and truly engage with their audience. Another person noted that exhaustion and burnout among target audiences should inform how marketers attempt to reach them.
“I think people (including myself) are feeling exhausted and burned out, and are looking for more meaningful interactions with brands they care about, and better ways of filtering out the noise they don’t. Too many junk phone calls and texts and (often socially irresponsible) social media platforms spewing ads. It can make marketing a big turn-off, and I see a return to pre-digital relationship authenticity made easier with tracking tools and software.”
Truly great content is human-centric and serves as a form of community building (no custom-coded forum required). Here are some more ways that offering great content can provide a sense of community:
- Comments and conversations in social media posts and live video streams
- Surveys, interviews, and interactions between customers and your team
- Creating a useful resource destination for your audience to return to
Improved Feature Adoption and Results Tracking
From AI-driven personalization to full-view analytics dashboards, marketers are now able to experience return on investment (ROI) from content and correctly attribute ROI to content.
Content marketing software is getting more advanced, offering more personalization to your target audience and better analytics for your team. The marketing teams that more accurately track conversion paths are better equipped to measure real ROI from content. That’s why marketing leaders are saying that content marketing software is the number one mission-critical martech.
Check Out the Full 2021 Marketing Leadership Benchmark Report
What else did we learn from this year’s study?
Top marketing leaders have shifted their priorities, with customer experience now coming in second after the top goal of generating pipeline. Today’s marketers are much more concerned about the full customer experience vs. solely generating leads. Campaigns aimed at retention are increasingly on their radars.
Again, it comes down to seeing the customer as a real person and giving them the authentic human experience that they deserve. Content marketing helps set the tone that B2B companies need to adopt in order to create a frictionless buying experience. So then you can ensure that your first conversation with a prospect won’t be the last.