How Mature Is Content Marketing?

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Creating engaging content is proving to be a major challenge for B2B marketers, a recent Forrester Research report has revealed. While more than half of the marketers surveyed are developing and implementing a content strategy, most are not far enough along in the process to see results, according to Forrester analyst and report author Laura Ramos. By Forrester's standards, 52 percent of marketers are considered aspiring editors, while only 4 percent are considered content masters—the level for which all marketers should strive. The rest are somewhere in between, Ramos says.

Though 51 percent of B2B marketers say their practices are very mature, roughly 85 percent can't attribute business value to content activity. "While creating great content is something even the best marketers and agencies toil over, this disconnect reveals a more fundamental problem with content marketing today. Content marketing doesn't produce expected results," Ramos wrote in the report.

When marketers reach content mastery, however, measuring business impact becomes much simpler because the content is optimized for action. For example, actionable content that requires filling out a sign-up form can not only generate demand but can also be traced back to existing or new customers. Inactionable content may generate demand as well, but won't provide any return value to the business. Ultimately, content mastery implies that marketing can demonstrate a direct link between content publication and a specific business outcome, be that a sale, a sign-up, or another type of engagement.

There are several reasons content marketing is tough for organizations, but failing to make content creation a priority could be a large part of the problem.

Producing content is typically not the first item on a marketer's to-do list, and according to the report, 72 percent of marketers say that less than half of their marketing staff plays a primary role in content marketing.

Another concern is that marketers are primarily producing content only when a need arises. In other words, they're developing content to fill in gaps.

According to the report, 62 percent admit to producing content on a campaign-by-campaign basis, which doesn't address how buyers digest this content over time, Ramos explains. With 47 percent focusing mainly on creating content for distribution channels, such as their 

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