Marketing strategy has been shifting over the last decade, and it has to – because both businesses and consumers are buying differently.
Traditional marketing campaigns are no longer as effective. TV ads get skipped, magazine advertising is being largely ignored, and consumers online have such a short attention span that they barely even glance at the ads for longer than half a second. Direct mail still works, but once it’s sent, it’s over – it goes in the bin, along with your marketing spend.
But there’s a marketing strategy now being used by smart marketers that takes advantage of these changes. And if you don’t start accounting for it in your marketing budget like a rapidly increasing number of other Australian businesses, you’ll lose your B2B clients before they’ve even realised they have a problem you can solve.That strategy is content marketing.
Why content marketing?
Content marketing, the strategy of creating and sharing useful, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain customers largely during the awareness and consideration stages of the buyer journey, has a number of attractive benefits that set it apart from traditional strategies:
- It generates traffic – producing quality content relevant to your target demographic attracts them directly to visit your website. Studies show businesses with a blog attract 55% more traffic.
- Builds your reputation and trust – Creating valuable content shows authority in your field to customers and as they consume your content, their trust in you as an authority and company increases.
- Grows conversions – More visitors to your website gives you power to sell directly to them with calls to action and internal advertising.
- The returns are long term. Content you create is yours, and over time, it will continue to attract new potential customers to your site. If your content isn’t time sensitive, i.e. always relevant, it will always be generating traffic.
- It enhances other marketing – Content improves your SEO by raising your ‘domain authority’ with Google, provides useful material for sharing on social media, and drives creation of assets you can use in other areas of your marketing (e.g. repurposing a collection of blog posts into an ebook).
Content marketing holds incredible long-term and complementary value within any marketing budget.
Content marketing trends
Data shows investment in content marketing strategies has been rising every year since 2010, and shows absolutely no sign of slowing down.
In 2016 a total of 81% of Australians used content marketing in their business.
Of this group, 58% of businesses said they were increasing their investment in content marketing in the next 12 months. Those who were least effective with their content marketing in the previous year had tasted enough to up their spend even more than those that were more effective, at 59% and 48% respectively.
An average of 30% of total marketing spend was dedicated to content marketing strategies, which has grown by 3% from last year. The most effective content marketing businesses invested 44% of their total spend, which increased by an even bigger 8%, showing a larger investment does usually equal a larger return.
Australian businesses are increasing their efforts to produce more content in 2016 than they did last year, and focusing on improving the quality of what they produce as a number 1 priority.
How much to spend on content marketing
Tracking the direct effect marketing has on company growth isn’t always straightforward, which means deciding how much to spend in your marketing budget isn’t either. However, without marketing you would have very few customers, and your chances of growth would be slim to none.
Studies show the following averages of marketing spend as a percentage of revenue by business type, which can be used as a guide:
- B2B Product Businesses: 10.6%
- B2B Service Businesses: 10.1%
As the economy stabilises and begins to rebound, marketing budgets will remain healthy and are predicted to grow, particularly around digital and content marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute:
- The most effective B2B marketers spend 39% of their marketing budgets on content
- 59% of marketers expect their organisation’s content marketing budget to increase in the next 12 months
Similarly, the Custom Content Council has said that marketing budgets are heading up 13.7% year-over-year, and content will make up 37% of that spending plan (2013).
What does content marketing success look like?
When deciding on a content marketing budget, also ensure your team knows what content marketing ‘success’ looks like. Only 44% of B2B content marketers say their business is clear on what effectiveness looks like, and only 30% of businesses overall have reported success with B2B content marketing – which is down 8% from last year.
Bottom line on content marketing budget
As you can see, content marketing is here to stay, and it’s especially useful for B2B businesses with a longer buying cycle where potential customers need to be educated on the product. Deciding on the right budget is going to be an iterative process that will take some time, but ignoring content marketing and hoping it goes away is a recipe for disaster.