Are UK marketers becoming less effective at content marketing? [New report]

Content marketing benchmarks study 2015

New research by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) released today suggests that UK marketers believe their content marketing efforts have fallen short over the last year.

The research was released in the ‘Content Marketing in the UK: 2015 Budgets, Benchmarks and Trends’ Annual Report, sponsored by UK Content Marketing Agency Axonn Media, earlier today and points to a worrying decline of confidence among content marketers.

Only 42 per cent of marketers questioned said they are effective or very effective at content marketing, down from 48 per cent a year ago.

A documented strategy for content marketing is key to success

This Annual Report has long been used to identify and define trends in the UK content marketing industry and this year the research shows that many marketers are still not working to a documented strategy.

Just 36 per cent of marketers have a strategy written down, compared to 42 per cent last year, and one in ten don’t have any form of strategy at all.

The importance of a strategy was underlined by the research which found those with a documented strategy are 36 per cent more effective in all areas of content marketing. What’s more, seven in ten marketers with a written-down strategy said they were effective at content marketing.

Commenting on the report, Axonn Media marketing director Karen Webber said: “In order to be effective at content marketing, marketers need to get the three pillars of content marketing right: creation, technology and strategy.

A documented strategy allows them to be effective and accurately measure their success, especially when they are targeting several audiences using numerous tactics at any one time. Also, without a documented strategy and recorded results, it’s much more difficult for marketers to get budget and buy-in.”

Content marketers are kept busy

The report found UK marketers target on average four different audiences and use an average of eight different tactics to reach these audiences. Unsurprisingly, the most popular tactics among the majority of marketers were social media channels (89 per cent), eNewsletters (88 per cent), blogs (85 per cent) and website articles (82 per cent).

Only 41 per cent of marketers use webinars to target audiences, 33 per cent use digital magazines, 32 per cent use mobile apps, 23 per cent use virtual conferences and 22 per cent use podcasts.

Shift in focus from brand awareness to sales

As technology continues to evolve and platforms become more sophisticated as measuring results, so do marketers’ expectations. This year’s results show a shift in focus in content marketing, with an emphasis on the goals of sales, lead generation, lead nurturing and engagement.

Lead nurturing was cited by only 30 per cent of marketers as a key goal in 2014, but in 2015 it will be a focus for 85 per cent of those surveyed.

Businesses are less interested in brand awareness and customer loyalty in 2015, and aiming to use content marketing more for ROI and sales.

However, one in ten marketers don’t track ROI in any way and only seven per cent think their methods of measurement are very successful. The most popular metrics for measuring content marketing success are website traffic (used by 61 per cent of marketers), higher conversion rates (47 per cent), sales (44 per cent), sales lead quality (41 per cent) and SEO ranking (40 per cent).

Joe Pulizzi, founder of CMI, commented: “There are two critical factors that differentiate effective content marketers over the rest of the pack – having a documented content marketing strategy and following it very closely. Those two things make all the difference.”

“It’s fascinating to see how UK marketers have shifted their goals for content marketing over the last year to focus more on engagement, leads, and sales. There’s been this big increased emphasis on lead nurturing in particular, with the percentage who cite it as a goal nearly tripling. This tells me that a lot of marketers have taken a closer look at what they want to achieve with content marketing, and I suspect the next step for many will be to fine-tune their strategy around those goals.”

Fergus Parker, CEO of Axonn Media, will be joined by Joe Pulizzi, founder of the CMI, in a webinar to discuss the report findings in more detail and give marketers advice about what to focus on in 2015. The webinar takes place on December 11th at 15:00 GMT.

You can find more information about the report and the infographic on the Axonn Media website >

What are your thoughts on the report’s findings, does it reflect how you feel about content marketing? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


2 thoughts on “Are UK marketers becoming less effective at content marketing? [New report]”

  1. Vanda

    Interesting point about the push towards proving ROI and boosting sales. I definitely feel the focus shifting within my organisation – our main goals next year are better tracking, attribution modelling and proving ROI on content marketing. Brand awareness has taken a backseat, for sure.

    Thanks for going through this report so I didn’t have to! 😉

  2. Beth Lloyd-Wright

    Great round-up, thanks Elizabeth. Content marketing IS marketing, though right? Just as digital and social is too. I would agree a strategy is the best place to start; know your goals for the business but keep plans flexible to be able to quickly respond to changing customer needs. The way in which we share content is key too; a bit like the “think with your thumb” concept when it comes to web design: marketers probably need to remember to “think digital/social” first. If we understand how it is consumed we will be better at producing worthwhile, useful and shareable content.

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