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Content marketing saw its importance balloon between 2012 and 2013. According to the digital marketing company that delivers branded newsletters and content for vertical markets IMN’s “2013 Content Marketing Survey Report,” the number of US companies with formal content marketing strategies in place jumped from 28% in 2012 to 49% in 2013, while those without a content strategy contracted from 26% to 18% during the same period.
And even if not all companies surveyed had a content marketing strategy in place at the time, another one-third said they were working on one, suggesting that by 2014, the percentage engaging in content marketing will only go up.
As more have focused their efforts on content, the purposes of the tactic are convering on one key goal: lead generation. Last year, increasing leads was the No. 4 goal among marketing professionals—cited by only 16%— behind engagement, awareness and loyalty. This year, generating more leads was the No. 1 goal, cited by 44% of respondents, far ahead of any other response.
This points to content marketing as primarily a first step in new customer acquisition, as opposed to a tactic used primarily for hooking current or already-identified customers. However, awareness and engagment were still cited by 19% of respondents each.
In keeping with lead generation as the primary goal of content marketing, social media’s role in content strategy also keeps growing, as social outreach helps companies reach new potential clients. Just over half of respondents said social media was the most effective content marketing tactic in 2013. That was followed by the company website (44%), newsletters (42%) and email blasts (42%).
Perhaps adding to content marketing’s appeal—the price is right. More than one-third said they devoted less than 10% of the marketing budget to content marketing in July 2013. But cheapness is not necessarily equivalent with ease of implementation. Content marketing is consistently cited as one of the most difficult tactics to pull off, even if it is one of the least expensive.
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