As part of my research I happened across the Content Marketing Institute's Content Marketing in the UK: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends whitepaper created by data-driven agency Tomorrow People in January 2018. Following a series of surveys the paper distilled some interesting statistics about content marketing approaches in the UK.

First we need to define they key term - what is content marketing?

Content marketing consultant Ryan Robinson describes it in its simplest form as education: a brand has insider knowledge of both itself and its industry, which can be transformed into pieces of shareable content designed to create interest in the brand, positioning it as a trustworthy authority and allowing for engaging and repeated exposure to its audience. Creative minds can take simple narratives ongoing in the workplace and transform them into videos, photos or graphics that tell a story to the audience, and the brand can comment on developments or changes within the industry through the use of platforms such as email marketing campaigns or blog posts. With enough outside-the-box thought, there's no end to the amount of content that can be created from all the things ongoing behind the scenes in a business.

There's one problem however - since content marketing is so broad and takes so many forms, its exact difference made to the business is hard to quantify. Its ubiquity makes it a bit like quantifying the business worth of your telephone - if not all calls are sales related, and all your departments are using it day-in-day-out for internal and external purposes, how do you know what it's actually bringing to the business? And yet, we'll never get rid of our phone line because we know somewhere in that infrastructure new business is being created.

Instead, we rate content marketing's success based off the thoroughness of its execution and its success in the perception of the business leaders. So, here's some interesting findings.

86% of respondents use content marketing.

We'll start simple - it's clearly popular. If you have social media, you're content marketing. The paper doesn't specify what the remaining 14% do that they don't think is content marketing but I'd be willing to bet some of those have a Facebook page, which means it goes so underused that they don't see it as an arm of their marketing efforts.

The beauty of social media is that all platforms can be presented - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all have capabilities for text, images and videos to be uploaded which means your marketing opportunities have expanded to all the capabilities creative writing, graphic production, photography and filmmaking allow. All of these can tell a story with the right skill.

68% report a considerable growth in business success through content marketing compared to the previous year.

Content marketing, like social media, follows a snowball effect. One share might reach 100, and 100 shares might reach 10,000. It's a process that continually evolves as it develops, offering analytics as influence for hindsight which in turn feeds continual improvement. What we do know is that the longer our efforts last, the more we reap from it.

Only 38% of content-marketing-using businesses have a documented content marketing strategy!

Of the above 86%, two in five are bothering to write something down. Content marketing does start in infancy, but after enough time and effort you should be creating a clear strategy to influence your approach. Do that and you'll be outperforming 62% of your competition!

83% of marketers saw increased audience engagement through content marketing.

This statistic is self-explanatory - content marketing done right ensures a response from your audience. To not use content marketing is to neglect a community around your brand that could become stronger (read: repeat custom).

68% saw an increased number of business leads through content marketing.

One for the B2Bs - a content marketing strategy helps to bring in more leads. The better the strategy the more leads attracted.

Factors that dictate increased success in content marketing:

  • 83% - higher quality content creation
  • 68% - strategy development
  • 41% - content distribution strategy
  • 39% - higher prioritisation of content marketing
  • 38% - spending time on content marketing

So, if you want to up your game and get better results from your content marketing campaigns, here's five pillars to work on. Produce better content, further inform your content and distribution strategies, increase your efforts and devote more time to it.

Brands on average use 5 forms of content for content marketing purposes. These include:

  • 91% - social media text posts
  • 70% - case studies
  • 67% - videos
  • 56% - whitepapers
  • 54% - illustrations/photography
  • 46% - research reports

Here the posts, videos and images serve predominantly as the deliverables which are used upon the campaign's execution, but brands can also look to existing styles used by competitor brands to influence their posts. The case studies, whitepapers and reports are used for strategy development, influencing the approach at the top of the funnel.

Respondents spend on average 30% of their marketing budget on content marketing. Those who described themselves as 'somewhat committed' spend 19%.

Of course, you can go too far with anything, so here's a benchmark for brand owners to measure their investments by. If you're looking to introduce or strengthen content marketing efforts, about a fifth of your budget is a standard amount to set aside. If you really want to hit it hard, add another 10%. The success of a content marketing campaign relies on the strength of the strategy behind it and the creative capabilities of the people turning that strategy into content.

And now, a shameless plug:

The stats on this paper were of particular interest to me because they proved the value of my Social Media Package service. Content marketing campaigns are improved through higher-quality content, more time devoted and a well-informed strategy, but small brands don't always have the access to professional kit, creative skillset, time or frameworks to build and execute a campaign by themselves. With the added pressure of a 20%-marketing budget limit, every penny counts, so the cost of bringing in agencies or staff is sometimes not feasible.

My service involves a start-to-finish comprehensive strategy development process based off the frameworks large agencies use to turn hard data and facts into effective design concepts, and with my numerous years' experience in media production, I'm able to tick off high quality and well-informed strategy without even trying. Since I'm the one creating the content and I'm scheduling everything to post itself automatically, I'm also taking the time drain out of the brand team's schedule as well, and because my overheads are lower, I undercut agency and staff costs by thousands with my fixed-cost three or six month Social Media Packages.

Plug over! Keep checking back for more posts about content marketing and how you can use it to strengthen your business.