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Plenty of speculation exists about where the content marketing industry is heading over the next few years and how it will change. The field is still relatively new and continues to evolve. Several years ago, no one was talking about influencer marketing or native advertising, and everyone had opinions about the future of authorship.
While plenty of information about content marketing exists, you’ll also discover a significant amount of misinformation. Naysayers fill this industry with predictions about the end of content as we know it, throwing out words such as content saturation and noise. We set out to disprove these naysayers with facts.
Earlier this year, we sent a survey to more than 300 industry professionals and asked them what they thought about content marketing. Respondents ranged from freelance writers who have seen their positions shift in the past few years to agency owners and business managers who are forming their marketing strategies. By pooling their responses, from multiple-choice questions to open-ended responses, we were able to apply facts and concrete data to the hypotheses of industry gurus everywhere. Discover what we found and now present to you in The Current Content Ecosystem whitepaper.
The Current Content Ecosystem is available for free in our resource section. Here, you’ll find all of our guides, tutorials, and explanations of the industry. You can also compare the results to our State of Content Marketing 2013 survey, which took a deep dive into content types, authorship, and budget allocation.
Three particular audiences will benefit from this white paper, each with their own goals when entering the industry and each in different parts of the content marketing process. The first group is freelance writers and creatives. These professionals create the content and rely on the industry to pay the rent. Often, freelance creatives rely on agencies to set the pay rate, byline qualifications, and assignment types, which means they have the most to gain or lose as content marketing trends shift. We wanted to unmask the practices of working with creatives to create transparent industry standards that they can use when starting their careers.
The next group that will benefit is agency managers and account representatives. Some agencies depend on the industry more than others, and a drop in popularity could cost their business greatly. As content marketing expands, so too do companies that work exclusively to offer it as a service, as opposed to full-service agencies that offer everything from social media management to website design. In this white paper, we tapped into agency professionals to hear what they think about industry trends and how their business is changing.
Finally, this white paper wouldn’t be complete without talking to business owners. They’re the ones who decide to contract freelance creatives or work with content marketing agencies. If they don’t have faith that their budgets are providing enough return on investment, then the industry itself can take a hit and start to crumble. We wanted to see where they think content is going and how it will change in the next few years.
Image via Flickr by Stefan Leijon
What did we ask these industry professionals to determine how content marketing will grow? We used three main sections to paint a complete picture of the industry and what to expect.
The first questions we asked focused on the types of content that marketers are creating. Are they expanding into visual and digital media or sticking with text? If so, how are they finding the right resources to meet their needs?
We wanted to see what content was in demand and who was creating this content in the first place. This supply and demand will determine how companies hire and which creatives make the most money within the industry.
Once we determined the type of content that companies need, we started identifying what they were doing with that content and how they were promoting it. How much time and money were they spending promoting content as opposed to creating it? What kind of results are businesses hoping to get out of the content they create?
Over the past few years, we’ve seen different brands switch from a quantity-based production schedule to a quality-based one. Instead of generating a ton of content and hoping it goes viral, companies are creating one or two high quality pieces and building a strong marketing and outreach strategy around it. This focus increases the shelf life and ROI of major creative pieces.
Another change in content marketing that has been palpable for agencies and businesses alike is the tracking and ROI goals within the industry. We asked professionals if they outsource to contractors as a way to scale their content creation or tap into a better skill set. We also asked them how they determine the success of a piece when they feel like a project was a success.
Most companies today know that their websites need blogs and content, but few know what to do with them once they’re live. By identifying how different brands measure success, we can see if they’re getting better at benchmarking success and setting goals moving forward.
By focusing on these three sections, we’re able to understand the entire content marketing cycle — from ideation to evaluation — and get into the minds of everyone who interacts with your content. We’re also able to find shifts in perceptions and different parts of the content process.
We’re always looking to improve our resource section and discuss industry trends and problems that relate to employees, managers, and contractors alike. If you discover something that we missed in this survey or anything that raises questions for you, feel free to email or message us on Facebook. We love hearing from our audience and discovering new ideas. In the meantime, check out our new whitepaper to learn how content marketing is changing and how changes will affect creator roles — even yours.