How Mature Is Your Content Marketing Operation?


70% of marketers plan to create more content in 2017 compared to 2016, an indication that marketing organizations have grasped the concept of content marketing and are ready to scale their efforts. At this stage, brands are typically seeking out ways to make their content marketing ship sail more smoothly, drive deeper engagement, generate more ROI and have a greater cross-functional impact.

This is exactly what Altimeter set out to study with its latest set of content marketing insights—how mature and effective companies use digital content across marketing and other areas of the business. Today, content marketing has the power to do more than support typical marketing objectives like building awareness and driving traffic. It can now promote loyalty, drive ongoing engagement and even generate revenue. These are all signs of a mature content marketing operation that has scaled content’s impact to help multiple business units reap the benefits of content.

So, what does a mature content marketing operation look like? Here we share three tell-tale signs of a seasoned content marketing organization so you can determine how you stack up and then plan the next phase of your content strategy accordingly.

A unified content strategy

Over 80% of the respondents said they had a unified content strategy that applied to the entire organization. This means that their content is scaling across the organization, like sales and customer service, rather than being used solely for marketing purposes.

While content marketing is focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience, scaling that content to other areas of the business is a real sign of an organization-wide culture of content. In this scenario, content is supporting sales in conversations with prospects and customer service teams in building loyalty, all while supporting key marketing objectives.

However, despite having a unified content strategy, companies reported they still struggle with aligning teams around a common content vision. 55% said aligning multiple teams around that strategy was their biggest challenge, and 70% said this alignment was one of their top initiatives in 2017.

A strategy for real-time, personalized content marketing

Only 35% of companies reported they have the capabilities to create personalized content and deliver it in real time. These brands have conceived the right content strategy to attract the right audience and also defined how personalization fits into their overarching content marketing program. But the real kicker here is how they use technology to deliver individually personalized content based on the unique characteristics of each reader.

The most mature content marketing operations have successfully adopted content marketing technology platforms and fully leveraged their personalization features to create one-to-one content experiences for audiences. While there are more tools than ever that enable companies to create personalized content experiences, the majority of content marketing operations are still relying primarily on tactics like email segmentation or A/B testing to tap into personalization. Organizations that are still growing in this area are seeking out the best ways to integrate individualized personalization into their content strategies.

Deeper content marketing metrics

Measuring the ROI of content marketing is still one of the biggest challenges for most organizations. As a result, many still focus on marketing-focused metrics like clicks, page views and shares to determine the success of their content. While 55% of marketers surveyed struggle to prove the content’s impact on their business, the most mature content marketing operations (39%) can successfully attribute content to incoming revenue.

Mature organizations may look at ROI in a variety of ways, including:

  • Operational ROI—This approach concerns “dollarizing” content impact in terms of direct economic impact. Examples include cost per page view equivalency with other programs or cost/time savings.
  • Engagement—These include attention metrics that go beyond page views and shares, such as scroll rate and on-page dwell time. Even more useful are deeper engagement metrics, which can indicate how successful your content is at capturing and retaining an audience.
  • Sales lift—For many organizations, proving sales impact is one of the top use cases for content. In these organization, revenue attribution may be the core metric when determining the value of a branded asset.
  • Brand lift—This is a popular non-sales metric that includes factors such as brand consideration, brand preference, attribute association and purchase intent. For example, a OneSpot client recently conducted such a survey and discovered those who saw three pieces of branded content were 24% more likely to purchase.
  • Action—Action or conversion-based metrics uncover the impact of content consumption behavior on high-value calls to action, like “Buy Now” or “Sign Up.”

Content marketing maturity is somewhat of a long game. It requires a holistic vision for cross-channel content programs and objectives that are aligned to business goals. Check out the full study to evaluate your content marketing operation against these benchmark results.  


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