While Joe Pullizzi talks passionately about the long history of content marketing, it is only recently that content marketing has exploded, with more and more marketing departments transforming themselves into publishers.
As new business strategies like modern content marketing emerge, the software industry reacts with new offerings to organize and optimize those business operations, driving dramatically higher levels of performance. For example, as the modern sales operation evolved, Salesforce.com developed its platform that has driven dramatically higher results for sales teams around the world.
Content marketing pioneers beat their own path with spreadsheets and whiteboards to manage their operations, and an array of software providers is developing new systems to help them in these management tasks. Now, the Aberdeen Group has published research investigating just how much the use of content marketing software tools impacts marketers’ key objectives, such as site traffic, leads, and new customers (an infographic summarizing the research is below). The study’s findings show dramatically higher performance from marketers who use content marketing software platforms.
Most marketers are challenged by content marketing
The research begins by illustrating that while content marketing is on the agenda for CMOs, most marketers feel challenged by the discipline. While a small number of marketers — 16 percent — state that they are operating a robust content marketing strategy, 12 percent say they don’t know what content marketing is, or don’t have it on their agendas at all. And the overwhelming majority — 72 percent — are assessing content marketing or looking to improve their practice of it.
Why are these marketers so challenged by content marketing? For starters, it is difficult for brands to become publishers: Rather than a few content pieces focused on their own products, marketers must now produce much greater volumes of content with a focus on the customer’s interests. And then there is the technology issue: While adopting the right software tools and processes is critical to the success of any new business strategy, the Aberdeen data shows that this is particularly true when it comes to content marketing.
Content marketing software drives greater success in reaching key objectives
The Aberdeen study segmented marketers into three groups:
- Best in class: those whose performance in key marketing objectives is in the top 20 percent
- Industry average: those who rank in the middle 50 percent
- Laggards: those who are in the bottom 30 percent
The study found that Best-in-class marketers are more than 80 percent more likely than Laggards to use content marketing software platforms. It seems that in their efforts to become publishers, the successful marketers are also the ones using the software tools to help them.
The Aberdeen study also explored the impact that content marketing software and best practices have on key marketing metrics — specifically, what increases in web traffic, leads, and customers do users enjoy relative to non-users. The results are stunning.
At the top of the funnel, companies that tracked the utilization and performance of web traffic enjoyed a three-fold increase in web traffic. The right tools and practices lead to more content, to content that’s better targeted to persona interests, and to higher quality content — all of which result in a dramatic rise in site traffic.
The impact of tracking continues through the middle of the funnel, as well. The study found that companies using content marketing software platforms convert their website visitors to leads at a rate that is 44 percent higher than non-users. More content and higher quality content are better at engaging site visitors, helping to develop trust, and at motivating visitors to fill out a form and start heading down the funnel.
And the dramatic benefits of content marketing software continue down through the bottom of the funnel. Marketing automation is increasingly used to nurture leads into qualified opportunities and closed customers. But it is also increasingly recognized that content is the fuel that drives the marketing automation engine. At the bottom of the funnel, the study found that users of content marketing software platforms achieved lead-to-close rates that were 124 percent better than non-users.
As marketers confront content marketing, software can enable success
Marketers are confronting a historic shift in their strategies: Instead of pushing the message about their product at prospects, they now need to pull prospects in with content about their customers’ interests. This transformation generates tremendous challenges in how they run their operations.
Technology has always enabled businesses to adapt to and excel in new strategies, and content marketing is no exception. As this Aberdeen study demonstrates, content marketing software platforms drive remarkable improvements in key marketing metrics around web traffic, leads and customers. These software tools can be key enablers of success for businesses engaging with the challenges of content marketing. As marketers look to take their content marketing to the next level, they should consider content marketing software platforms to accelerate their content marketing success.