Content and SEO are equally as important… But which do you start with? We asked 60+ experts to share the strategy they prioritize—and why.
Content Marketing | Jun 25
Elise Dopson on June 1, 2020 (last modified on April 6, 2021) • 11 minute read
There’s been a long-standing debate as to whether content marketing is as effective as it used to be.
Sure, there’s more competition… But content marketing is not only still effective as a branding and acquisition tool, due to the maturation of new channels it might be more effective than ever before.
We put together this monster collection of statistics to prove it.
Click to jump to a specific section:
…or continue scrolling to read 29 crucial content marketing statistics you’ll need to guide your strategy in 2020.
*Editor’s note: Check how well your content is performing with our Google Analytics Content Analysis dashboard. It gives a breakdown of sessions, along with how many goal completions each page is generating:
First of all, let’s discuss why content marketing should be a huge part of your marketing plan.
Your marketing mix might include several channels–such as paid ads, social media marketing, and email. Why should content be a priority over those?
Here’s why: Research by Oracle found that content marketing costs up to 41% less than paid search for larger businesses, and 31% less for mid-sized companies:
So, why does content marketing get such a great ROI for the cost (compared to paid search)?
It’s because 47% of B2B buyers view at least 3-5 pieces of content before contacting a sales rep. That’s right: Before a sales demo, and long before an initial contact form submission, your target leads want to feast their eyes on content.
With the previous content marketing statistic in mind, it’ll come as no surprise to learn that over half of the marketers we surveyed said their content is written to attract new visitors:
Just less than half (47%) of our experts said their content is designed to nurture or educate existing leads.
Both are worthwhile strategies, because B2B buyers are looking for content at all stages of the sales funnel–not just the beginning. Your content is a great way to retain the users you’ve already got.
There’s no doubting that SEO is a huge part of content marketing.
We’ve previously likened it to the chicken and the egg: You can’t have great content without SEO, but your SEO won’t be successful without incredible content.
Despite Google being a huge priority for marketers, 79% of the people we surveyed said their first priority when creating new content was to write for people:
Our experts said blog posts account for 64% of all the content they’re creating, compared to almost 80% two years ago:
So, what other types of content are included in the other 36%? Here are some examples:
Remember: Content doesn’t always have to be written text.
While written text doesn’t form 100% of the content a company creates, there’s a reason why blogging forms the majority.
It’s because 61% of consumers made a purchase after reading recommendations on a blog.
Whether you’re a SaaS, eCommerce or service-based business, your customers want to read content before they hand over their payment details–and they’ll finish their purchase, as a result.
It’s a well-known fact that blogging takes a while to see results.
You can’t publish a blog post and expect to see hundreds of sales overnight; nor can you expect a lead to purchase after consuming a single piece of content.
Our survey indicates that businesses do see content marketing as a long-term strategy, with the majority voting “email signups” as their most important blogging KPI:
Finding new content ideas can be tough. So, we asked a handful of content marketers where they found them.
Personal ideas take the top spot; inspiration from other blogs take second; feedback from their team take third.
But arguably the most important–customer inquiries–are ranked fourth. (Despite those people being the audience you’re writing for.)
Companies are using customer inquiries as a source of content ideas.
But even more worryingly, just 42% say they’re talking with their customers to understand their needs.
Without speaking to your customers, how do you know what type of content they want to consume, or the topics they’re most interested in?
(Schedule surveys into your post-purchase emails to get this type of feedback. Or, take a look at the questions your sales team are frequently asked. It’s a great source of content ideas.)
So, are you convinced to start blogging (if you aren’t already)?
The most popular blogging platform is the self-hosted version of WordPress, shortly followed by HubSpot:
If you’ve picked WordPress as your blogging platform of choice, you’ve got plenty of competition.
Research by Backlinko found there were over 87 million blog posts published on WordPress sites in May 2018–which is over 27 million more than two years prior:
Sure, there are millions of companies you’ll be competing with when you start a blog. But not every business has a blog on their website–especially when it comes to SaaS.
In fact, Emily Byford found 15% of SaaS companies don’t have a blog:
You’ve invested time and effort into creating content, and you’re starting to see a handful of email signups as a result.
But you’re still not ranking in search.
You’re not alone. In fact, Ahrefs discovered that the vast majority (90%) of content gets no organic traffic from Google:
If Google doesn’t drive traffic to websites, what does?
Our experts think social media is the answer, with more than 30% voting it as the most effective channel for driving traffic to the content they produce–shortly followed by email and paid social:
If you’re sharing your content to social media, you can’t just post the link to your Facebook Page and expect people to flock to your website.
You’ll need to optimize your content for social media.
What does that optimization look like? According to this data, you’ll need to write longer headlines for your content. It’s proven to help garner more social shares:
Earlier, we mentioned that the main KPI for blogging is email signups.
That’s the same for content marketing, as a whole–with our experts voting “leads” as the most important metric to measure the success of their strategy:
It’s important to know whether the content you’re producing is achieving the results you’re hoping for.
Content Marketing Institute found that 72% of the most successful companies measure their content marketing ROI, compared to 22% of the least successful:
Despite the most successful companies tracking their content marketing ROI, it seems like not many marketers know how to do it.
Research has found that 2% of companies consider themselves “extremely successful” at measuring content ROI, and just 6% think they’re “successful”:
Earlier, we touched on the fact that content marketing takes a long time to pay off. You can’t publish a piece of content and expect leads overnight.
However, we found that almost 40% of marketers measure the success of their content weekly:
Unfortunately, there is no “best practice” for how often you should measure your content marketing ROI. The more content you publish, the more frequently you could measure it–but you’ll need to give your content enough time to get the wheels turning.
Email signups is the most popular content marketing KPI.
If you’ve chosen the same metric, you might be wondering what the typical blog conversion rate is so you can tell whether yours meets (or beats) it.
The majority of marketers we surveyed said 1-5% of visitors to their blog turn into a newsletter subscriber, with the average visitor-to-subscriber rate falling at 19%.
When you’re measuring content marketing ROI, your figures can vary massively depending on the attribution model you’re using. It can be either:
Almost half of our marketers said they prefer a multi-touch attribution model, particularly because it allows you to track a customers’ full journey through your funnel:
Content marketing isn’t a one-man-band job. As you’ll see later, content departments are teams, with several people helping to drive those subscribers.
That being said, in 55% of organizations, just one person manages the editorial calendar:
Over half of companies have a content calendar managed by one person.
However, a huge volume of organizations (90%) say they’d see a positive impact if more people within their company contributed:
So, how can you encourage more people within your workforce to help with content creation?
Start by explaining the value that content gives, and how it’ll help improve the day-to-day life of the people you’re trying to involve. (For example: If you’re asking a sales rep to contribute content, tell them they’ll have a detailed link to pass onto customers who ask the same thing.)
Ah, the fun part of marketing: Budgets.
Even though you’re not directly investing cash into a platform (like Facebook Ads, for example), content marketing still needs an investment–which usually comes from a broader marketing budget.
Izea found that on average, B2B marketers allocate 26% of their overall budget to content marketing. That comes down to 22% for B2C companies.
Once you’ve got the percentage split you’ve got to assign to content-related tasks, you’ll need to decide where to spend it.
Data by Target Marketing found that on average, 32% of the budget does to content development, and 27% heads towards paid distribution and promotion.
Just 32% of the average content marketing budget is spent on creation.
However, that seems to be on the rise. Content Marketing Institute found that 56% of B2B marketers increased their spending on content creation in the last 12 months:
You can’t have a successful content marketing strategy if you don’t have a team behind it. You’ll need to factor those costs into your budget.
The average salary for a U.S.-based content marketer is $50,096:
That increases to $57,731 per year for a content manager.
With these content marketing statistics in mind, it’s interesting to think where we’ll be in a few years time. (Especially when things have changed so much within the previous two.)
We wanted to get a rough prediction on what content marketing might look like beyond 2020, so we asked whether marketers found blogging more (or less) effective than two years ago.
The majority think it’s more effective:
Judging from that previous statistic, any form of content (particularly blogging) isn’t set to die down anytime soon.
That’s backed up with the fact that almost 50% of marketers say that if they were starting a content marketing strategy from scratch, blogging would be their main priority:
Are you ready to create a content marketing strategy that results in tons of page views, organic rankings–and more importantly, customers?
Take these content marketing statistics into consideration.
Follow Google’s guidelines for SEO-friendly content, write for people, and make your content genuinely interesting to read. You won’t go far wrong.
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