Report: 47 percent of content marketers struggle to measure ROI

As the strategy gains momentum—and budget dollars—in organizations around the world, communicators say they’re getting more savvy. However, measurement still confounds them.

If content is king, marketers are making sure it stays on the throne.

A recent report by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs surveyed more than 2,000 communicators around the world in a range of industries and organizations to reveal how they’re using content marketing—and what trends will rise in 2018.

Most B2C marketers use content marketing (86 percent), and 60 percent said that their organizations are highly committed to using the strategy—the same amount as in 2016.

Content marketing strategies will continue to gain momentum, however—37 percent of marketers said they expect their budgets for content efforts to increase over the next year.

Executive approval and bigger budgets for content marketing are probably manifesting because communicators are securing more wins with their efforts—if only slightly.

The report revealed that 28 percent of marketers said their approaches were “extremely” or “very” successful, up from 25 percent last year. Half of marketers said their efforts were “moderately” successful (increased from 45 percent in 2016). Sixty-six percent of survey respondents noted that their content efforts were either “much more” or “somewhat more” successful than last year.


To what do marketers owe their successes? Most attributed it to either developing or adjusting a content marketing strategy (75 percent) or creating better and more engaging content (72 percent).

More than half of marketers (53 percent) said success came from being able to identify the right content and channels and better target distribution; nearly half said their successes came from either spending more time on content marketing, or making content marketing a priority (47 and 46 percent, respectively).

Marketers don’t mind asking for help, either.

Though most organizations’ content marketing strategies are created in-house, 62 percent of marketers said they outsource at least one element of content marketing campaigns, such as creating videos, images or articles (49 percent), promoting and distributing content (26 percent) and measuring efforts (17 percent).

Content marketing hurdles to overcome

Despite the growing success of content marketing efforts and increased resources to launch campaigns, many are still struggling to gain expertise and measure the effect they have on their organizations’ bottom lines.

More than half (54 percent) of marketers said their organizations’ content marketing maturity level was in the “young” or “adolescent” stages. Some cited campaign wins, but also admitted to struggling with a cohesive overall strategy, along with proper measurement and scaling efforts.


Fifty-three percent of respondents said their organizations are “excellent,” “very good” or “good” at matching their content marketing goals with meaningful metrics, which means that nearly half of communicators struggle to measure their ROI.

The majority of respondents (79 percent) said that they can prove how content marketing has increased audience engagement, but the number drops for those who can tie content efforts to increasing leads (65 percent), increasing sales (58 percent) and decreasing customer acquisition costs (34 percent).

Nearly half (45 percent) of those that don’t measure their efforts say they’re seeking an easier way to tie content marketing to ROI, and 34 percent say they don’t because it is not asked of them. Not knowing how to measure (26 percent) and finding measurement too time-consuming (25 percent) are also issues.

Turning problems into opportunities

Fake news has also been a problem for communicators of all stripes, so it’s no surprise that 90 percent of marketers surveyed said they always or frequently ensure that their content is credible or fact-based.


Along with maintaining credibility, marketers are also focusing on consumers. Seventy-nine percent said they consider how their content plays a role in customers’ experiences with their organizations, and 72 percent said they make delivering the right type of content to the right person at the best time their priority.

Seventy percent of marketers focus on quality over quantity—which might be why only 60 percent say they distribute content on a consistent basis.

Many brand managers (68 percent) are concerned about crafting videos, articles, images and more for the consumers they want to reach, rather than their organizations—and the same amount try to make their content different from their competitors. These content marketing elements can be crucial as brand managers fight to stand out among the clutter of messages competing for consumers’ attention online.

Wondering how to serve consumers content that they crave? One idea is to craft content based on points throughout a customer’s journey: Less than half (47 percent) of marketers say that they always or frequently meet this mark.

How do your content marketing efforts align—or differ—from the communicators surveyed?

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