While the vast majority of organizations seem to be adopting content marketing in some shape or form, there are several questions that continue to confound them:
- How should we operationalize around this discipline?
- How are marketing leaders in our industry scaling this discipline?
- How much are those leaders spending — and on what, specifically?
These are especially complex challenges for large, enterprise organizations to have to face.
To help provide these businesses with some guidance, we conducted 27 in-depth interviews with marketing leaders and spent two days with 40+ execs at CMI’s inaugural Executive Forum. (You can read about our findings in full detail in our report, The State of Enterprise Marketing 2014.)
While our goal was to learn what “best in class” marketers are doing and provide a structure that others can emulate, one thing became especially clear: No one formula for success exists. In fact, businesses haven’t even yet agreed on how to characterize the nature of their content marketing roles: Of the 27 people we interviewed, every single one had a different job title.
Though lots of uncertainty persists, there are quite a few things we did definitively learn from our research, and many trends became apparent, as well. You can read the full report to learn the specifics, but a few key observations are listed below.
(Note: If you would like to download a PDF version of this study, select Save via the SlideShare link.)
Everyone is ‘working on it’
At first glace, the amount of variance we saw was somewhat surprising, but that is quite telling within itself. From staffing to budgets to structures, the overwhelming refrain was “We’re working on it.” The vast majority of participants (77 percent) think their marketing departments will look substantially different in the future because of content. Tellingly, those who are not anticipating a big change indicated that they have recently undergone a substantial revision already.
This is to be expected to some degree, as content marketing is a nascent and quickly evolving discipline; but it also indicates that there is much more work to be done.
Content marketing requires hybrid organizational structures
In most cases, the responsibility for content marketing — regardless of whether there is a formal team in place — sits within the marketing function. However, content marketing must, inevitably, involve significant participation by many parts of the organization — especially when the company’s content marketing strategy requires looking for subject matter expertise, sourcing brand stories, or supplying multiple business units with content. It’s incredibly challenging to get all these moving parts in sync, but those organizations that develop a dedicated structure to facilitate the necessary interplay have a much greater chance of being successful.
While, as I mentioned, there is no single “right” way to structure a content marketing team, there are a number of different models companies are using to build their operations around content, as explained in more detail in the report.
Here are a few of the models that emerged:
- All-in, ad hoc models work well within organizations that are “beginning the shift.”
- Engaging external content marketing agencies and in-house “agency-like” teams seems to work best with large companies trying to mature and/or currently experimenting with different models.
- Assigning channel managers works best when there is a primary owned media platform (e.g., a blog).
- A central strategist model seems to work effectively when the business already has executive buy-in and the effort is to fundamentally transform the team.
Regardless of how content marketing is structured within the organization, it’s crucial to align the goals for different departments so that everyone is working toward —and measured against — the same outcomes.
Effective marketers are allocating a higher percentage of budget to the promotion of content
- Content creation: People, processes, and technology needed to create and produce the content and materials
- Content distribution and management: Social channels, software, and agency costs around distributing the content
- Content promotion: PR, ads, and other paid channels used to promote the content being created
The general budget allocation was 50 percent on creation, 25 percent on management and distribution, and 25 percent on promotion.
However, while content marketing is often seen as a way for a business to own its media channels instead of renting them, using paid promotion to distribute content (rather than to support a product or service) is another key place where marketers are spending. Effective marketers typically allocate a larger percentage of their budget to promotion as they realize the importance of marketing their marketing.
Content marketers with codified “plans” are feeling more effective
As we often discuss in our annual Content Marketing Budgets, Benchmarks and Trends reports, one of the key correlating factors for effective content marketing is the presence of a documented content marketing strategy. As such, we wanted to see what role this might play for the marketing leaders we interviewed.
Eighty percent of those interviewed had some form of documented content marketing strategy or plan in place. About 40 percent reported a formal document or presentation existed, which is in sync with our 2014 B2B study, which found that 44 percent of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.
Roughly a similar share of participants stated that “elements were in place” and/or they were working toward having a more formal content plan or document. Many in the “in progress” stage have content marketing plans for some business units or beta test units but have not implemented the plan across the entire organization.
A huge thanks to the marketing leaders who generously shared their time with us for interviews and at our inaugural Executive Forum.
To learn more, read The State of Content Marketing Operations for the Enterprise: Research on the Process, Team, Budget and Content Marketing Effectiveness.
We’d love to hear about your experiences: How is your team organized, and how are you most challenged?