Content marketing isn’t just having a moment. It has matured to a fully-fledged, customer-first, multichannel marketing strategy.
In the time it takes you to read this report the amount of content created in the world will equal that of an ENTIRE year just a decade ago.
But how mature is the industry in Ireland and how aligned are Irish marketers with the strategies and tactics that drive content marketing success around the world?
The 256 team compiled insights from 100 companies to find the answers - almost half of our respondents are the strategy-setters and ROI go-getters for their organisations.
Our research reveals an interesting conundrum – while most Irish companies (90%) are using content marketing, there’s a worrying disconnect on content marketing strategy. There’s a giant question mark over content marketing ROI yet an ongoing commitment to increase spend in the coming years.
It’s like we all know this content marketing thing works and are focused on the ‘doing’ but we haven’t fully grasped the complexity of the content marketing ecosystem and how to measure it yet. And that’s ok. Being a publisher – which is what ALL businesses are now – is just not that easy.
This report will help you figure out just how well you’re actually doing. It’s the most comprehensive research on content marketing ever undertaken in Ireland. It tells you how long it’s taking to create a blog or a video compared to your peers, what channels are most effective for marketing content and what other Irish marketers are including in their strategies.
We’ve broken down the report into three distinct categories based on who people market to: business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C) and Enterprise marketers. Trust us – you’ll find peers who are trying to figure out solutions to the same challenges that you have.
We learned a great deal from this research and your insights will find a home in helping us become better at what we do, so thank you.
We hope it does the same for you.
The first thing you do before investing a cent in content is develop and document a content marketing strategy. Right? Well no. That's not how it's working in practice in Ireland.
While 83% of Irish companies have a content marketing strategy, when you dig a little deeper you’ll find that just 43% have a documented strategy.
But that’s not the whole story. Dig a little deeper again and you find that what constitutes a content marketing strategy, whether documented or not, varies widely and is often missing some of the essential building blocks that make up a strategy. Take personas for example - your target customers - just 48% have these, while 65% have a content calendar in their strategy.
What’s also clear is that the companies who have a documented content marketing strategy are more likely to have developed personas, measure ROI and align their efforts to the business objectives.80 % OF RESPONDENTS WHO HAVE A DOCUMENTED
*As you'll read in the next section, that’s a massive 31% increase over the field.
77% of those content marketers have detailed the KPIs that align to key business objectives – it’s the most common element of a documented content marketing strategy. Second most common? Analytics. Phew.
Despite the fact that content marketing hasn’t been in the mainstream long enough in Ireland to call a pint from a pub, 70% of respondents have seen some sort of success with it and are (presumably) pretty happy with how well they’ve adopted it.
The bulk of respondents (60%) view their maturity levels as either adolescent or mature. It’s either a signal that companies were quick on the uptake with content marketing, or there’s less humility than there should be in the discipline.
Which do we think it is? It’s tough to say, but not as tough as it is to define success without tracking your efforts and figuring out what the ROI from them is. You’ll find out later that’s not as widespread as it should be.
Despite high commitment levels, over a quarter of respondents spend less than 10% of their budget on content marketing. Another 16% tap their card without knowing how much they’ve spent.
It’s almost an even split insofar as measuring ROI. 49% measure ROI on content marketing activity and know the return they’re getting on their budget. However, 51% don’t or are unsure if they measure ROI – definitely something to look at in your next team meeting.
Even though a chunk of respondents aren’t keyed into ROI, the industry is still largely confident in content marketing’s effectiveness at generating a return, with spend set to increase across the board.
76% of companies are producing more content than they did a year ago. It does seem like a curious paradigm though: an inability to track or prove ROI often matched with having a bigger budget. So just what is it that’s tripping many people up?
They’re finding that measuring ROI is too time-intensive, while others are struggling with the technical aspects of matching content with cash flow.
The underlying train of thought here is that there has to be an easier way to measure performance and how it translates to ROI. If only half of the field is measuring ROI, then only half of them can reasonably make a real business case for content marketing.
Content marketers are using a wide variety of assets and pumping spend into their content marketing budgets.
Seemingly everyone is following the most basic tenets of content marketing: promote educational content, guide the prospect to a landing page and nurture the lead through an email campaign.
Interestingly, quizzes, podcasts and games ranked near the bottom - with 14%, 13% and 8%, respectively - despite being heralded as the 'in-thing' on trend lists for years.
What are the content marketing tactics that have been used the most over the last 12 months? Email and blogs lead the way.
A whopper 71% of you say you’re getting the most out of your content marketing efforts.
That’s an achievement we can get behind.
Analytics are the holy grail in content marketing – or so we thought. Most of the respondents are tracking website traffic, but after that the amount of measuring that’s being done take a precipitous drop.
A small majority of the industry is measuring email subscriptions and open rates – at 52% and 50%, respectively – despite the fact that 86% of respondents have used email in their content marketing tactics in the past 12 months.
We’re getting conflicting statements here; our data shows that email is the industry’s most frequently used tactic but not everyone is measuring its success. Some teams may need to reconsider their analytics frameworks.
As for the rest of the metrics our respondents are measuring:
Despite experiencing success in a variety of ways, many of our respondents still have problems with their content marketing strategy.
It’s OK – we all do.
The most common challenges you’re facing are held together by a prevalent thread: a lack of something. The issues? Behold:
Sure – the industry struggles with producing engaging content (32%) or even simply creating enough of it (18%). But it’s surprising that many of the issues that plague your content marketing efforts are either out of your control or out of the scope of your role.
The findings tell us two things:
Content marketing takes a backseat to traditional marketing more often than we’d care to admit. A lack of budget will lead to a lack of knowledge and training, and likely stems from a lack of buy-in or vision.
Organisations aren’t committing to making content marketing the main priority. It’s leaving content marketing decision-makers with a lack of time and an inability to integrate solutions and strategies across the team.
Is this a case of ‘should've, would've, could've,’ or is there a lack of belief that content marketing works? The fact that 71% think their content marketing is effective suggests it’s the former, with opportunities slipping through the cracks due to a lack of resources/time/whatever you’re having yourself.
Of course, the obvious solution to some of these issues is to outsource or hire in help. Indeed, 45% develop content as a team effort with internal and external help (*doffs cap*). Only 12% outsource the entire process, and another 43% take on the entire workload themselves.
There are no real surprises with the types of skills and roles making up marketing teams – though they give us a little insight into what the industry is outsourcing, such as graphic design (only 42% of you have a Photoshop Picasso on your team), content strategy (41%) and inbound marketing (24%).
The rest of the squad? Check it out for yourself.
Email isn’t dead.
It’s the most popular marketing tactic used over the last 12 months (by a wide margin).
But in other news, Pinterest is dead. (Or, at least just not as widely used in Ireland as it is in other territories like the US). Only 6% use Pinterest to promote content. It was also ranked the least effective way to promote content.
As for paid spend, it’s likely that you could guess the results yourself. Rather unsurprisingly, the social media apps our respondents use in their free-time every day are also the platforms they choose to promote their content.
A chunk of respondents chose Guinness and SuperValu as the Irish content marketing brands they look up to.
What’s worrying us, then? Many of our respondents couldn’t name an Irish brand they admire for its content marketing.
We’d like to think it’s a reflection of the youth of the industry – and not that they’re not paying attention to their peers.
Across the world, HubSpot and Nike are most admired.
Interestingly, many of our respondents chose Intercom as an admired global brand – which was started by four Irishmen. Its roots are in San Francisco though, so you get half a point.