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Top Content Marketing Challenges, Benchmarks, and KPIs

As buyers navigate the research and sales processes independently, marketing organizations have realized the need for more sophisticated engagement strategies. To cultivate a greater role in decision-making process, companies are employing content marketing as part of an aligned, integrated communication strategy.

Content marketing maturation appears to be steadily increasing, as more than half (59%) of ‘leader’ respondents to the Aberdeen Group Content Marketing and Management Study say content marketing efforts are well aligned with sales methodology, compared with 45% of ‘follower’ respondents. The survey uncovered many valuable findings to help marketers assess their strategy and performance metrics.

Demand Gen Report and Harte-Hanks hosted a webinar yesterday underscoring these benchmarks, called “Getting Content Marketing Right: Right Stage; Right Persona; Right Content”. Aberdeen Group Senior Research Analyst, Trip Kucera, highlighted the challenges, benchmarks, and key performance indicators (KPIs) driving the content marketing discussion.

Survey respondents pointed to these top 3 challenges to content marketing success:

  1. Talent/resources for content development & management (39%)

  2. Generating enough relevant content (37%)

  3. Ensuring relevancy of content (30%)


Kucera cleverly compared lead management to scotch, in that distillation adds value to each. Good quality leads are developed through consistent, relevant interaction. To support positive interactions, marketers need to leverage content marketing to support our audience and help them identify with the information offered. The webinar explored many important concepts for marketers grappling with content marketing strategy, and provided benchmark data to help organizations align their efforts. Here are some key stats:


What types of assets are marketers gating?

  • Company authored white papers (52%)

  • Web events (31%)

  • eBooks (31%)

  • Online assessments/ROI calculators (23%)


 What types of assets do marketers ‘set free’?

  • Video (74%)

  • Slides (48%)

  • Infographics (44%)

  • Company authored white papers (41%)

  • Third party curated content (27%)


Ungated content is used primarily for inbound initiatives, to drive eyeballs and engagement, connect with people, and invite them to the ‘next level’ of the content experience. By producing valuable, relevant content, marketers support a relationship with the buyer and support their desire to move to the next stage of engagement.


Overall, top performing companies are adopting content marketing initiatives. While engagement is a driving force of content marketing, 53% of respondents use content in nurture-based marketing campaigns that move buyers closer to purchase. Half of respondents cited focus on improving the target of content marketing efforts, such as personalized and situational content; while 47% of respondents want to increase the quantity of content being published on their sites.

Interestingly, the research points to content marketing becoming more sophisticated, as a vast majority (77%) of leader respondents are able to track how specific content is performing, compared to 47% of followers (which is still a viable percentage, intrinsically).

Which content KPIs are leading marketers measuring?

  • Inbound/referral traffic (95%)

  • Utilization/consumption/views (91%)

  • Conversion (64%)

  • Impact on sales cycle (36%)

  • Virality (how much it’s shared) (32%)


How do you get content right? Here are 5 takeaways from Kucera’s presentation:

  1. Remember the “hidden sales cycle”, where buyers are educating themselves, and ‘have gotten good at answering their own questions’

  2. Create content that helps your brand be discovered based on your core messaging

  3. Content isn’t necessary for every single buyer persona at every stage in the game (For example: a financial services buyer may not get involved in content until after sales engages when a value analysis is required. Keep that in mind!)

  4. Sales is responsible for becoming a trusted advisor, creating a need for marketing support by providing valuable content

  5. Align the content experience to sales methodologies and support alignment handoff to enable strong metrics and conversion rates


Click here to check out the archived Demand Gen Report webinar, “Getting Content Marketing Right.” Follow the discussion on Twitter #RightContent


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