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Four in 10 companies are now reallocating marketing spend to more cost-effective, organic channels amid a wider push for change driven by digital transformation and the global pandemic, a new joint study by MediaMonks and Forrester Research has found.

At the start of the year, only 40% of marketing leaders were focusing on new digital approaches to processes and activities, a mindset that was characterised as “important but not urgent”.

While that outlook may have appeared complacent in the age of artificial intelligence, cloud computing and machine learning, many would not have been able to predict the impact of COVID-19 on all aspects of business.

Leaders were generally focused on putting ‘tech pipes’ in place that could support a solid tech infrastructure, but this changed in March. Almost two-thirds of leaders are now not only prioritising but also actively accelerating digital experience initiatives to support marketing and sales.

“It’s surprising how much the concept of digital transformation has been removed from actually delivering better digital experiences for consumers, after a decade of work mostly defined and delivered by consultancies,” MediaMonks co-founder Wesley ter Haar notes.

He adds that digital transformation was often mired in the process of getting things done rather than being implemented for a specific end goal.

This has changed, at least for now. Marketing leaders are enacting digital schemes and restructuring teams to ensure that marketing spend is funnelled into better channels and formats. 42% of respondents say that they are doing this.

A focus on publishing high-quality, targeted content is also taking precedence. The report urges brands to better understand customers’ needs so that they can deliver tailored content at the right time – something that will also help with the objective of delivering more relevant digital experiences.

It is no surprise, then, that 56% of the 366 global marketing decision makers surveyed said that teams are now prioritising new initiatives and that 48% are retraining employees to improve data and analytics.

Just 23% admit that they are well versed and successful in using analytics to determine the performance of marketing campaigns. The report said that brands and their partners should make analytics, which is also central to SEO and search strategies, a top priority as there is a mass of data that can be mined for insights.

Analytics is one of the top skills that marketing leaders are looking for to support ‘digital first’ initiatives, second only to content development, highlighting how the two are closely linked.

Marketers also want more design/virtualisation and AI/machine skills. 

The report also said that marketers must recognise that customers now need to be engaged across a “series of touchpoints” that places more emphasis on content creation and experiences. These journeys can start with virtual events and then move through digital experiences on apps, social and commerce before being nurtured via automated email marketing.

Brands are also advised to work with select partners to support omnichannel solutions and experiences across broader ecosystems. It concluded that unifying all of these important marketing touchpoints will help companies to drive sustainable impact and growth.


Content marketers are overwhelmed by the sheer scale of technology platforms and services available to them and largely get by via the use of outdated brute force methods, according to a study by Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

The 2019 Content Management and Strategy Survey show that marketers have never had it better in terms of the options available to them, but the near-limitless avenues to success are making it difficult to create and optimize a seamless pipeline for creativity and distribution. More than three-quarters admit that manual work still takes precedence despite having systems in place and having the appropriate technology, such as automation, available.

The good news is that businesses now recognize the critical importance of content marketing and have made the effort to adopt a strategic approach during the last 12 months. About 59% of those surveyed said they now have a documented strategy for content in place, and more than three-quarters are strategic in at least some part of their efforts.

When drafting strategies, aligning content with business goals and objectives is a high priority for marketers, as 94% include these elements. Other popular aspects of strategy include defined roles and responsibilities (79%), measurements and KPIs (76%), desired outcomes (72%) and workflows (71%).

However, a failure to identify the right tools for the job is undermining efforts to achieve many of these plans. Just 16% say they are using the right technology and maximizing its potential, while 42% believe they can leverage the correct technology but are not making the most of it.

The mish-mash of technology and platforms is making it very challenging for enterprises to scale their content marketing campaigns, with one in ten even admitting they are still doing things ad-hoc. Again, only a mere 13% say they have a “completely systemic approach” capable of supporting their production, management and distribution channels effectively.

“This year’s research suggests that while many organizations have a handle on the physical management of content assets with nearly 70% having undertaken content inventories and audits, there is a great need for optimizing the use of technology to make content flow more quickly and seamlessly throughout the enterprise—and to get that content in front of the right audiences at optimal times,” CMI chief strategy advisor, Robert Rose said.

Putting audience wants and needs above all else has been a key trend for content marketers during the last 12 months, but the majority are still struggling to serve up experiences that are tailored for each subset of a target audience. Six in ten admit that knowing what is most important to focus on for an audience is an ongoing challenge.

Content marketers also continue to operate in a silo, often away from IT, sales and wider marketing departments. Respondents said they are aware that improving communication between each of these teams will probably be the single biggest strategic challenge during the remainder of 2019. Those that can increase cooperation and collaboration stand the best chance of driving the best returns from content marketing.


Content marketers need to work harder to gain traction on social networks as the number of articles is increasing, but brands can cut through the noise by creating “evergreen” content that continues to pay dividends months after its publication date.

That is one of the primary takeaways from the Content Trends Report 2018 published by BuzzSumo earlier this week. The 36-page study found that the number of shares per post on social platforms has seen a marked decline since 2015 due to more competition for engagement, a decline in organic reach on Facebook, and a rise in “dark social” sharing away from bigger, public platforms.

BuzzSumo Director Steve Rayson believes brands can still achieve success with their campaigns by adopting a different mindset. Rather than jumping on trends when they blow up and creating viral content with clickbait titles, they should move towards a more organic, evergreen strategy which can really pay off in the long term.

Evergreen content can continue to perform years down the line, as it will always remain relevant in search and social media. Rayson says evergreen content usually features one of four characteristics that are well suited to gaining shares and clicks over time:

  • It focuses on long-life topics that don’t go out of style
  • It is research-based
  • It is composed with a reference style that acts as a benchmark for a subject
  • It is regularly updated

It appears that content saturation is more common when a brand attempts to focus on a hot trend as the number of articles for this trend often explodes. The recent craze about bitcoin is an example of this. It is impossible for readers to wade through every piece of content published, so they veer towards pages and sites that have an authority on the subject prior to the boom.

Rayson says marketers must, therefore, build authority before a trend hits and look at “sub-trends” proactively to create a hub of high-quality content that may later become more popular if the trend goes mainstream. Working on direct distribution networks, including email subscribers and customer lists, can help to increase private audiences where social algorithms cannot impact reach.

Econtent also recently published its State of Content Marketing report for 2018, where it looked back on how the landscape changed last year and outlined several key trends for the coming months. MGID content strategist Megan James believes infographics and other high-end media formats will be popular this year.

Furthermore, the Pedowtiz Group’s Revenue Marketing Coach Pamela Muldoon claimed content supports a more flexible and scalable consumer experience. She said: “As content marketers become more savvy around the strategy of content, we will see smarter content ideation happening in all stages of the buying journey or customer experience. Instead of deciding that certain types of content are good for certain stages of the marketing and sales funnel, a more holistic approach to how an audience intakes information will be considered as content development takes place.”


Brands often take a “risk-averse” approach to content marketing as they view it through a “campaign lens” rather than recognising how it can be central to deeper brand building and success in the long term.

That observation was one of the major talking points raised at the recent Mumbrella360 Asia conference in Singapore, which covers all aspects of the content marketing industry in Asia. Earlier this month, Indian marketers said they would be focusing on thought leadership and high-quality branded news, blogs, articles and videos as they plan to up their investment in 2018, so it appears that content is very much a hot topic in the East right now.

While marketers are eager to make the most of the content zeitgeist this year, Vice Australia’s Head of Content Alex Light said brands in Asia are still effectively finding their feet and that a less mature approach, when compared to Europe and the US, is manifesting into a trend of risk aversion.

“It’s unproven and people aren’t necessarily willing to go in with big budgets and investing behind it,” he said. “This is the same in the US and Australia, but people still see it through a campaign lens. It’s seen as a short-term solution rather than long-term brand-building.”

However, Light admitted that these frustrations will do little to dampen the enthusiasm for content and that there is currently a “massive opportunity” for brands to jump on board. He added: “This region has so much potential and I think content marketing is really about to take off here.”

Working with agencies specialising in translation and transcreation could help brands in Asia to deliver relevant and targeted resources to audiences at home and abroad. To improve ROI, however, Click2View Editorial Director Jackie Shorey believes brands must outline a better vision for their content efforts and be sure about what they want.

She said: “I do the usual journalistic stuff and say: ‘What are you trying to do?’ They will say they don’t know, they just want some articles. So I say: ‘What does success look like? What do you want? Who’s your audience? Who’s going to read it?’ And then it’s just: ‘Go away and do 10 articles.’ And that’s a pity; with a bit of digging we’ll do our best, but rather than me guessing or having to tease it out and getting it wrong.”

However, those challenges are universal and are not restricted to Asia, as better relationships between agency and client and a more holistic view of what each party wants would benefit content campaigns around the world.

Finally, industry leaders at the event touched on the ongoing conversation about metrics and measurability. The panellists said having clear goals and objectives in the first place would help brands to determine ROI for content marketing, though Andrea Edwards, of The Digital Conversationalist, said a new measurement tool that could bring everything together to give “one picture” and clear insights would be a great help.


UK brands can drive significantly better results from their content marketing campaigns with just a “small shift” in commitment levels, according to new research published by the Content Marketing Institute, which suggests an “all in” mindset is preferable for creative strategies.

The report, Content Marketing in the United Kingdom 2018: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends, shows a strong link between how much time, effort and resources brands are willing to invest in content and the success they subsequently experience through a variety of positive business outcomes, such as increased conversions and sales.

It is perhaps not surprising to see that those with a “somewhat committed” approach are failing to drive the results they need. Only 5% of this group said they had high success, which is significantly short of the 38% who said the same from the “most committed” pool of content marketers.

However, what is interesting is that it wouldn’t take a notable shift for those with a neutral outlook on content to start enjoying more success with infographics, videos, articles and other high-quality published resources. Working with a third party, such as an agency, is a simple course of action that can increase commitment and raise standards.

This is now a common trend, as most UK marketers reveal in the study that they now outsource one or more of their content marketing activities, while content creation is the single most popular activity for outsourcing. This finding suggests that more brands are using agencies to create written and visual content for corporate websites and social platforms.

Conducting data analytics and comparing metrics has traditionally been a blind spot for marketers, and this is still true to a certain extent, as 40% admit they do only a poor or fair job of ailing metrics with content marketing goals. However, 43% said they are now doing an excellent, very good or good job in this regard, which suggests there is a slow and steady improvement overall.

The Content Marketing Institute also published a five-point plan for marketers to help them emulate their highly committed counterparts. This plan includes strengthening commitment and adopting a “go hard or go home” mentality, being more tactical by using a documented strategy, being more realistic about expectations, and placing a greater focus on creative output.

“Our annual UK content marketing research shows that a small shift in commitment can make a big difference in terms of overall content marketing success,” Content Marketing Institute research director, Lisa Murton Beet, said in a statement.

She added: “The strongly committed are more likely than the ‘somewhat’ committed to have a documented strategy and are more realistic about what content marketing can achieve, among other distinguishing characteristics. Based on these insights, we recommend that companies hovering in the ‘neutral’ zone with their content marketing consider what it would take to strengthen their resolve – it might be that they need more buy-in, a better strategy, more budget, more people – and, in some cases, a simple shift in mindset.”


According to a new study published by Marketing Week, grasping the concept of marketing and the value of content continues to be a blind spot for brands in numerous sectors and industries. About a third of the marketers surveyed said their organisation completely misunderstands the practice.

The Career and Salary Survey takes an in-depth look at many topics, such as diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, but the latest study has highlighted what appears to be a general lack of knowledge about the primary functions of marketing and how it can and should benefit the company.

More than one third of those surveyed said their company’s marketing strategy was completely at odds with objectives and goals, and a common trend is that many key decision-makers are focusing on creative and promotional material as an investment only, rather than considering it a flexible activity capable of driving customer engagement, retention and other positive business outcomes.

It is perhaps no surprise that agencies are ahead of the rest in terms of marketing comprehension, as more than half said it is completely understood within their company. The gaming and gambling sector and fast-moving consumer goods enterprises also show an aptitude for understanding marketing’s main purpose.

However, there were some surprising statistics at the other end of the scale, as just 47.5% of marketers in travel and leisure could say the same about their brand, which is rather low considering how important content can be for connecting with consumers at the right time and driving sales.

Ryanair CMO Kenny Jacobs said. “It’s an industry where communication plays a key role. It’s a very competitive consumer category, so communicating what your product is, what the value is and your proposition to your target consumer is central to every single travel business.”

The report also found that marketing was often misunderstood by employees and departments outside of creative, communications and PR, which means many are acting in isolation and therefore are unable to bring the various functions of a business together to amplify the effectiveness of marketing.

Several industries where marketing is most misunderstood include construction and property and the utilities sector. More than a third of marketers with job roles at media owners, which are typically larger corporations, also said marketing was still viewed as a foreign concept by executives and employees.

UKTV CMO Zoe Clapp said: “Marketing is such a central function to grow the business and to fully understand consumers, so that figure needs to be much, much higher. Part of the problem is the language marketers use. We use so much jargon and what we’re trying to do is a very simple thing: we’re trying to grow market share and grow the business.”

Clapp also touched on the topic of eliminating silos, adding that UKTV always communicates with the entire organisation and that all disciplines work in tandem to improve their marketing skills to benefit the overall business and drive growth.


Christmas is almost here, and marketing teams across the globe are ramping up their marketing efforts to connect with customers over the festive period. With this in mind, Adext, an AI ad enterprise, has published a series of innovative and creative tips and strategies to help brands drive engagement during the next two weeks.

First, Adext recommends using every content marketing avenue available to inform, educate and entertain in the run-up to Christmas. The team at Adext believe any medium or format can underpin festive campaigns, from infographics and videos to podcasts and e-books, if it provides some additional value to the end reader or viewer.

It is obviously best to tailor creative content towards the Christmas theme, so try to think of ways that a product or service could help a consumer on the big day. Including a call to action at the end of an article or blog piece that clicks through to a product can also drive sales. Finally, optimising content for search engines and publishing it across social media will maximise the reach of high-quality resources.

Digital marketing agency PMX Agency has also outlined a few tactics and recommendations to help smaller and medium-sized brands to remain competitive during a time when larger online behemoths such as Amazon usually garner the greatest amount of mindshare with consumers eager for tech bargains.

Toni Bix, Group Director at PMX Agency, again notes that longer forms of editorial content are best, as more than two-thirds of search traffic is long-tail, which is defined as keyword phrases with three or more words. However, many brands still optimise content for solitary keywords or very short phrases. Bix recommends thinking about phrases that consumers may use during the festive period, such as searching for gift ideas or exploring products.

Providing a rich brand experience on websites is also important, and consumers are eager for compelling storytelling around the products and services they are looking for. To supplement these with creative articles, brands can also publish a few “how to” pieces and FAQs to answer questions consumers are likely to be asking, which will increase trust.

Perhaps most importantly, brands should attempt to make better use of data and analytics to provide the content consumers not only expect but demand in the digital age. A report published by L2 Inc this week found many brands still fail to collect data points, including age, gender and birthday, which is leading to irrelevant content and ads.

L2 Vice President of Intelligence Evan Neufeld said: “Very few brands effectively deploy data on a consistent basis. The truth is that brands may never achieve the perfect system for storing and using consumer data, but they cannot let perfect be the enemy of good. Incremental data improvements pay major dividends in terms of personalized marketing and meeting the rising tide of consumer expectations.”

By following these trends and tactics, brands and marketers can not only improve their campaigns for Christmas but also give themselves a head start on the competition as they look to 2018 and a new year of content strategies.


The versatility of content marketing was highlighted again this week after Spanish banking group Santander revealed how it has been using an educational content hub to reach new audiences, and a current survey found that private equity firms are leveraging engaging news and articles to build their brands.

Digital content marketing has been around for a decade now, but large organisations are still discovering how beneficial a targeted and relevant marketing campaign can be for driving positive business goals and objectives. Santander said it recently turned to content marketing after struggling to acquire customers due to a focus on product promotions.

Santander realised that its previous strategy was failing to meet the needs of its current customers and decided to create a “Prosper and Thrive” content hub to address the problem. It says high-quality content has been a core component of its strategy as informative articles have driven social engagements, website visits and email signups.

Santander has used content to demystify finances for millennials, a group of young people it claims has often “shied away” from the industry. The latest targeted campaigns have not only been practical and entertaining but have added value by improving the financial wellbeing of millennials.

“Millennial expectations have dramatically shifted. They want and expect more from their everyday experiences, which includes how they bank, who they trust and how they consume information,” Arnold Worldwide VP and Director of Engagement Planning Jessica Newton said.

She added: “Content allows us to build and nurture relationships with millennials without talking about products and services, on their time and in environments most relevant to them. Through this approach we’re able to make them more aware of who we are as a bank and shift their perception of us as a bank.”

The program launched less than a year ago, but it has already been a huge success, having driven more than a million site visits and 200,000 engagements on social platforms. The 125 published articles have also led to thousands of people opening new accounts and opting into the bank’s email initiative.

A new report from Pitchbook and BackBay Communications has also revealed how private equity firms have embraced content marketing campaigns en masse during the last two years to build their brands. Content is now seen as an asset in an increasingly competitive market where deals and funding are more difficult to secure.

Creative videos and articles are now used by almost half of the enterprises surveyed to demonstrate their expertise within the industry and company culture. Demand for excellent copy is also set to soar during the next 12 months, as 58% said they are increasing budgets to improve their visibility and reach to give themselves the best chance of succeeding.

BackBay Communications President & CEO Bill Haynes concluded: “It is essential for private equity firms today to have a professional approach to media relations — whether residing in-house or outsourced to an agency — to manage and protect their reputations and that of their portfolio companies, as well as to capitalize on positive news and demonstrate their expertise.”


Content marketing continues to find favour with a growing number of firms around the world as a way to connect with their customers and establish a new audience; however, it is a complex topic and does not guarantee success. For any brand wanting to put a strong foundation in place as a way of leveraging content marketing to achieve its best potential, there are three essential requirements to consider.

Marketing executives must actively participate

 The best and most successful campaigns have been conducted by organisations allocating the proper external and internal resources, including staff. Conversely, less successful marketing often occurs where content strategies are tacked on to a role as additional duties. It sounds obvious that more success is noted in cases where more resources are used, however, it is also important not to overlook marketing leadership.

In general, a chief marketing officer (CMO) cannot just delegate content marketing to a team to go and work out. To be effective, leaders must actively participate and include their personal experiences.

An executable content marketing plan is vital

Research has also revealed that success campaigns normally hinge around a well-documented strategy. And, above all, plans must include executable stages. That might sound simple, but many marketing teams have created long and impressive plans that, when undertaken, fold in on themselves.

All plans need objectives, goals and vision. They also need to be tightly integrated with other marketing work. However, it’s important that no stage of the plan hinders a strategy’s streamlining, as this will likely cause content marketing strategies to falter.

Marketers need tenacity and resolve 

One of the most important things in content marketing is consistency. However, even if marketers may start out with good intentions, content consistency can fail over time. This is a problem because content marketing takes a time to become successful – often a minimum of six months is required.

That is mainly because few buyers are willing to spend hundreds of thousands on enterprise technology, for example, just because they read a blog post. Instead, it takes months of content, building trust and adding value before true conversions can be seen. This means that content marketers must have a strong sense of resolve and tenacity to keep going over many months where it might seem as if a strategy isn’t working.

But those who can keep going and come back with fresh content time and time again are often the real winners – finding customers, strengthening relationships and building trust within an industry through relentless work.

When it comes to content marketing, perseverance can be one of the most difficult things with which to deal. That is especially relevant as many organisations use relatively short metrics based on weeks, months and quarters – not necessarily the biannual or yearly dates required for content marketing.

Content marketing strategies continue to evolve and become highly complex undertakings, however, for those able to maintain determination while incorporating executive leadership and executable plans, there is every chance for success.


Content marketing has become one of the most important go-to advertising strategies for modern businesses, regardless of their size. For small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as well as start-ups, this form of marketing can offer great dividends for those undertaking campaigns correctly because anyone (as long as they have the right insights and approach) can create a successful strategy that resonates with consumers and target audiences in a way that boosts loyalty and buying potential.

Content marketing is a strategy used to curate and promote material with an end goal of boosting traffic, forming a business relationship, increasing the awareness around a brand and increasing the level of trust between the company and potential customers. Content includes videos, podcasts, blog posts, audios, emails, newsletters, infographics, tutorials and more. Material can be used to educate prospective customers or current clients, and this often leads to a larger audience. Finally, more customers are attracted, and start-ups can generate better revenues.

Expert Rick Eliason, a consultant for online user experiences, said: “Content marketing is important to every single business operating on the web. It sounds like a horrendously large undertaking but chances are you are already doing it without realising.”

In the modern era, an increasing number of firms are moving away from the traditional cold pitch approach. Instead, the material is being use to attract and inform clients of products and services before they make a purchase. In fact, recent data has revealed 86 per cent of business to customer and 89 per cent of business-to-business marketers are now using content strategies. Seventy per cent of respondents conceded that this approach is now their most successful.

However, SMEs and start-ups need to remember that content marketing is not a quick fix. It takes some time to build loyalty and trust, and the initial momentum can be hard to achieve. It’s for this reason that identifying a target audience is so important. It enables businesses to start positively, actually pushing their content towards the right prospective customers. It’s also important to start early because previous data shows it can take six months to a year for positive results to be shown.

The digital world has many ways for SMEs to reach customers, whether this is via Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram or many of the other available platforms. Video content is currently in high demand, with live video in particular finding attraction. However, to maintain a live video strategy, companies need to curate a stream of high-quality material. It’s estimated that 74 per cent of customers find live video boosts their understanding of a service or product, while 80 per cent of viewers admit they remember these advertisements. That fact is crucial for any start-up.
So, going forward in 2017, SMEs and start-ups should continue to take advantage of content marketing to level the playing field between them and larger competitors. In addition, for those able to leverage their content in the right way, there are many positive gains to take.