Every year, I look forward to the “Technology Content Marketing: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends” report from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). Nearly 1,800 marketing, content and corporate executives and professionals took part in the research for this year’s edition, which is packed with findings that illustrate the state of content at IT organizations today.
Fortunately, for the most part, the state is a good one: Nearly four of five technology marketers describe their content initiatives as either “very” or “extremely” successful – a trend that is on the rise. What’s more, it appears that content marketing is poised to expand its reach, as only 45 percent of respondents consider their content programs either “mature” or “sophisticated.” A clear majority assess them as, at most, “adolescent.”
That means there’s lots of room for growth. And while continued advancements in analytics and automation promise to accelerate that growth, we can’t forget about the fundamentals. That’s why it was so reassuring to find these three “truths” about the current state of content marketing in the survey results:
When overseeing/producing content, technology company marketers are most focused on fact checking to ensure accuracy. More than nine of ten survey participants cited this, which I’m surprised – and delighted – to see. Ever since our Content Development unit launched in December 2010, our agency has committed itself to closely vetting what we produce. I have always viewed rigorous fact checking as a tremendous value distinction, as target audiences will recognize and appreciate the superior credibility, integrity and authority of our clients’ content. In turn, this greatly helps distinguish our clients as respected thought leaders. If our commitment to accuracy involves spending time tracking down and cross checking our writing with the original sources of reports, statistics, quotes, etc., then the outcomes are worth the often tedious efforts.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents prioritize their audiences’ informational needs over a sales pitch or promotional message. This tells me that most of these marketers “get it.” They realize that their target audience seeks content that will solve their problems. An effective author will take on the voice of a helpful, friendly teacher who understands these problems and offers tangible, readily accessible solutions. Of course, we are promoting something – but, in most cases – we are primarily showcasing our clients’ wisdom, as opposed to writing the equivalent of an 800-word sales pitch.
Three-quarters say their organization values creativity and craft in content creation and production. As well they should. Content, after all, cannot be “king” if it’s tedious, bland, poorly constructed, etc. Ultimately, it’s all about strong storytelling. That’s why we spend a considerable amount of time “peeling the onion” with our clients to discover the compelling narratives behind their experiences, products and services. We dig deep to come up with the concrete, telling details and anecdotes that make these narratives come alive. Then, beyond our Content Development division, our Creative Design team is pushing creative boundaries to align our clients’ business goals with innovative and inspiring graphic designs, web pages and videos.
At our full-service integrated marketing firm, we’re dedicated to taking whatever steps are required to rise far above our clients’ expectations. Our content is no exception. The CMI report indicates that 55 percent of IT companies are outsourcing their content marketing, and 88 percent of those organizations are outsourcing content creation. That’s our specialty here. We collaborate with clients to tell their stories clearly, accurately and compellingly, so they make unique, relevant, lasting and impactful connections with target audiences.
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