By Michele Linn published April 18, 2012

2012 Digital Content Marketing Survey [Research Report]

There is no doubt that digital content marketing is popular, but there are still plenty of questions in marketers’ minds. What’s working? Should I be outsourcing? What are the most important attributes of content? Brandpoint (a CMI benefactor) and the Content Marketing Institute set out to answer these questions in the 2012 Digital Content Marketing Survey. We queried 389 marketing decision-makers and found some interesting insights.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the survey:

Social content and blogging are popular and effective

Similar to what we found in the 2012 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report, the most common types of content marketers use are social content (90 percent) and blogging (75 percent). Marketers see the best results from social content, e-newsletters, and blogging.

Are you in the majority of content marketers using social content and blogging? Here are some ideas on how to effectively use these types of content:

The rate of outsourcing is increasing

Seventy percent of marketers plan to outsource at least one form of content in the next 12 months. Video is the type of content marketers most often outsource, followed by images/infographics and online articles.

If you are outsourcing, check out these ideas from our contributors:

Engaging content and storytelling are paramount

Marketers consider three attributes of written content to be of the greatest importance when they use an outsourced partner to create content: engaging and creative storytelling, custom content, and professional-level writing.

 If you are looking for some additional guidance on creating engaging stories, these CMI posts can help:

What are your favorite results from the survey, or what questions do you have?

Author: Michele Linn

Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

Other posts by Michele Linn

  • Brody Dorland

    Hey Michele! Big thanks to CMI & Brandpoint for getting this done! I wonder if you all can provide a little clarification on one of the points that is of particular importance to me and my team. 

    The data/graph on the level of outsourcing is interesting, but when I saw the breakdown of survey respondents at 68% agencies and 32% brands or other, that outsourcing graphic became much less relevant. We can probably assume that agencies are going to outsource content production much less than a brand would. Nice to see that those percentages are increasing, but still, I care less about agencies outsourcing content production. I am VERY interesting in seeing how that graph changes when you just pull numbers from the non-agency segment of survey respondents. I’m assuming that the amount of outsourcing is much higher for brands. But I’d love to see the numbers on that…

    Any help?

    • Michele Linn

      Hi Brody,

      I am working with Brandpoint to get this info. Hold tight — I should have it tomorrow. Thanks for the great questions!

  • Ethics Chair

    Hi Michelle:

    The most interesting study finding for me was the trend to rely more heavily on outsourcing.  Does that mean that corporate content marketers — like many conventional publishers — are either so pressed for time or unable to obtain a sufficient budget that the total do-it-yourself approach is off the table?   My point:  ASBPE — the association where I presently am ethics committee chair — has run several blogs addressing the career potential for journalists via materializing content job opportunity openings at the corporate level.  Is that less true now?

    Howard Rauch, President
    Editorial Solutions, Inc.

    P.S. — How much of that outsourcing do you believe will actually go directly to B2B publishers?

    • Michele Linn

      The survey doesn’t address your questions, but my best guess is that marketers are too pressed for time to execute a DIY content marketing program. Additionally, internal marketing teams may not have all of the skills that are truly requires to make these programs a success. I remember Joe Chernov from Eloqua told me the best thing he did was hire a great design team because his skill was writing, not design. 

      That said, I think there is absolutely a tremendous opportunity for journalists. Great writing s essential, so I think the more companies outsource, the more opportunities there will be for journalists. 

      As for your last question about how much of the outsourcing will go to B2B publishers, I’m not sure. It’s a great follow up question for another survey!


  • Nenad Senić

    Hi Michele,

    whenever I see these kinds of research, I always wonder, why is print (custom magazines and other special publications) so low on the US content marketing list of priorities/tools used. I still don’t have an answer to that. What’s your take on this? 

    • Michele Linn

      I don’t have an answer for that, either, Nenad. My best guess is that marketers may not use print because of the cost associated with it. Digital channels appear to be free, but as we all know, they take a lot of time (and money) to build if you do it well!

  • Bruce

    Can you direct me to any research on spending/budget information in content marketing? For example, what industries tend to spend the most on content marketing? I don’t want to waste my time with potential clients that are unlikely to see the value (or have the budget) for my services.

    • Michele Linn

      That is a great question. I don’t know of a specific breakdown by industry. I will let you know if I find something!

  • Andy Crestodina

    I think it’s interesting that press releases and advertorials are the two that are becoming less popular. To me, those two feel like shot-in-the-dark outbound marketing.

    Thanks for posting this! You guys always have something interesting to share. 🙂