Content marketing is the show horse of customer acquisition and retention — and second only to social media as a digital marketing spending priority among U.S. brands, according to my newly published report for Gigaom.
The report, Workhorses and Dark Horses: Digital Tactics for Customer Acquisition, examines how companies use digital to acquire customers (beyond awareness building). Content marketing emerges as an essential priority along with email marketing, social media, and search engine optimization. Workhorses and Dark Horses counsels brands to apply content systematically across digital touch points to guide prospects them along a path to acquisition and conversion.
64 Percent of Marketers Use Content Marketing Regularly
Workhorses and Dark Horses is based on a new Gigaom survey of 300 U.S. digital marketers. We wanted to understand how brands are using digital marketing tactics across the marketing funnel, spanning awareness, customer acquisition, conversion, and retention. We also asked marketers to tell us about their 2014 spending priorities. Our survey affirms that digital marketing is being used consistently across the entire customer experience. Here’s what we learned about content marketing:
64 percent of marketers use content marketing regularly, making content marketing the fourth most popular tactic behind email, social media, and search engine optimization (SEO). The popularity of both content marketing and SEO together underscores the importance of inbound marketing.
Marketers find content marketing most useful for awareness building and customer retention.
What does the future of content marketing look like? According to Gini Dietrich, founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, succeeding with content in 2014 and beyond means being visionary, practicing brand journalism, embracing native advertising, and telling employee stories. The co-author of Marketing in the Round and publisher of the Spin Sucks blog delivered her points October 17 via a keynote presentation at Content Jam, an annual event where marketers discuss the state of the art in content marketing.
By 2007, seven out of 10 publications in the United Kingdom were produced by corporations. According to a study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 93 percent of marketers use content marketing, and more than half of marketers are going to increase their spending in this area. So what are the forward-thinking brands doing with their content spend? According to Dietrich, successful content looks like this:
Occasionally I am asked how content marketing differs from other forms of building a brand. After all, doesn’t all marketing contain content of some sort?
Two recent blog posts I wrote for the iCrossing Content Lab illustrate how content marketing consists of building your brand by sharing useful ideas that engage people. For instance, the February 15 post “How Clorox Used Content Marketing to Help Me Fix a Toilet” discusses a Clorox how-to video that rescued me from a plumbing problem (a perfect example of a brand engaging you by sharing a useful idea).
And on February 16, I reviewed a new Altimeter Group report that contains some excellent examples of how brands are applying content marketing, one of them being the case of Eloqua, which has differentiated itself through a compelling thought leadership program run by Joe Chernov.
My own employeriCrossing uses content marketing to build connected brands (or brands that build close relationships with consumers by being useful, usable, visible, desirable, and engaging). In 2011, iCrossing issued anoteworthy report designed to help companies become content publishers in real time, and then, as discussed here, iCrossing made a number of other moves to deepen its content marketing expertise, especially to help brands create more personal relationships with audiences. As a result of iCrossing’s commitment to building its own brand through useful content, Jeff Ernst of Forrester Research cited iCrossing as an example of how to differentiate through thought leadership.