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10 Signs of Highly Successful Content Marketing

According to CMI’s 2020 “Content Marketing Benchmarks” report, 75% of organizations believe they are much or somewhat more successful with content marketing compared to one year ago. As more brands climb the ranks, the question remains: what are today’s top-performing companies doing to achieve the best results? The report shares some eye-opening insights…



They rely heavily on email, and are good at it

Most organizations--including top-performers--rate email newsletters as their highest performing type of content for securing and nurturing leads, and a close second for converting leads.


They outsource at least one content marketing activity, usually content creation

More than half (55%) of organizations outsource some of their content marketing strategy, again including top performers. For the majority (80%), this is content creation.


Top priorities include conversion, content quality/quantity, and audience expansion

When presented with a list of seven possible content marketing priorities for 2020 and asked to select their top three, top performers indicated “improve quality/conversion of audiences,” “focus on content quality/quantity,” and “increase the size of our audiences.”


They have a documented strategy

Every year, we see the ongoing issue of strategy documentation. This year’s no different, with only 33% of organizations (arguably, top performers) reporting that they are documenting their content marketing plans.


They use metrics to measure content performance

Almost all (93%) of sophisticated or mature companies (a.k.a. top performers) say they use metrics to measure content performance, compared to 78% overall. While 78% is a high number, the 15% increase is still noteworthy. Top metrics used today include conversions (i.e. traffic to subscribers, leads to sales), website traffic (i.e. page views, backlinks), website engagement (i.e. time spent, bounce rate, form completion rate), social media analytics (i.e. followers, likes, shares) and email engagement (i.e. opens, clicks, downloads).


They craft content based on specific stages of the customer journey

Nearly 75% of today’s most successful brands create content based on specific stages of the customer journey, compared to 48% overall and 26% of least successful. This means going beyond single touchpoints to focus on the end-to-end experience a customer has with a brand, knowing where, when and how to amplify content in a way that encourages engagement and progression through the customer journey.


They prioritize their audience’s informational needs over their sales/promotional message

Top performers prove they understand the delicate balance between delivering real value based on their target customers’ needs and organically promoting their product/service/brand.


They focus on delivering relevant content when and where a person is most likely to see it

Content marketing is defined as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” Top performers understand that in the case of content marketing, “relevancy” doesn’t just mean the kind of content you create. It also means when and where a person sees it. Just as important as the content itself is the ability for the intended audience to see and engage with it in the right place at the right time to maximize its impact.


They work to provide optimal experiences across the engagement journey

Just over half (54%) believe they provide customers with optimal experiences across the engagement journey. In other words, they’re making their content easily digestible and accessible, regardless of what device or platform a customer may view it on. They position their content as one component of the greater, long-term journey a customer has with a brand.


They understand that you get what you pay for

It’s shocking to me that 23% of organizations have no content marketing budget. Zero. NONE. A little over one-third of all organizations say they have a budget of over $100,000 per year, with the average organization reporting $230,000.


Bottom line: if you want to improve your content marketing, do these 10 things.

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