ROI

13 Stats That Should Thrill CMOs

Even though I get paid to work with words, I love numbers. When I was a full-time freelance writer, my favorite assignments were short articles for The Wall Street Journal that focused on sports statistics. Each story only ran about 300 words—sometimes less—which meant I had to be as precise as possible when choosing what to write. The experience really showed me the way numbers could influence a narrative, and it’s something that stuck with me as I became an editor.

Now when I’m editing for Contently, one of my most common pieces of feedback is to ask for more data. It’s easy to make a claim based on intuition, but with so many blog posts out there, readers have reason to be skeptical of grandiose claims. To me, statistics are often the difference between a hot take and a compelling argument.

Last month, my talented colleague Dillon Baker used that data-driven approach when he wrote “13 Stats That Should Terrify CMOs.” Dillon’s article is a blunt, honest look at negative trends impacting the marketing world, touching on everything from adblockers to worthless banner ads to decreasing TV viewership. After reading some of the stats, I have to admit, I felt a pinch of panic. But even though the marketing industry is far from perfect, that doesn’t mean we’re all going to lose our jobs tomorrow.

Marketers have a lot of issues to deal with moving forward, but there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Even though, as Dillon points out, intrusive advertising is in a state of crisis, content and experiential marketing is starting to truly live up to the hype that’s been building over the past few years.

So if Dillon is the devil over the shoulder, allow me to take the perspective of the angel.

1. Content marketing will generate $300 billion by 2019

Yes, advertorials have existed for a long time, but this widespread commitment to content marketing only caught on within the last few years. As with any emerging industry, there’s going to be a learning curve, so to truly track the health of content marketing, you need to pay attention to the money. It’s the best indicator of whether or not marketers will have the freedom to take creative risks and make meaningful investments in talent and technology. Judging by PQ Media’s “Global Content Marketing Forecast 2015–19,” companies are all-in.

Both spend and revenue are projected to more than double in the next five years. In 2014, content marketing spend hit $145 billion; by 2019, PQ’s estimate puts it at more than $313 billion. 2014 revenue was a bit over $26 billion, and by 2019, it is expected to shoot to $54 billion.

2. 75 percent of marketers generated positive returns from content marketing

Content spend continues to surge because marketers are finally starting to see how their campaigns can drive business results. As Ad Age reported, a recent Forrester study found that three-quarters of marketers “saw positive bottom-line outcomes from their content marketing efforts, such as increased loyalty and reduced marketing and media expenses.” A shade under 60 percent of respondents also claimed content led to increased ROI.

A year or two ago, it seemed like brands were just publishing blindly and praying that revenue would follow. Now, according to these findings, they’re getting better at allocating resources and understanding their audiences.

3. In 2016, 77 percent of B2C marketers and 76 percent of B2B marketers expect to produce more content than they did in 2015

Along with increased ROI, another positive sign for the health of content marketing is that almost 80 percent of both B2B and B2C marketers plan to ramp up how much content they create, per the Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 “Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends” report. As brands drift away from traditional advertising, they’re likely looking to take on more ambitious content programs that combine blogs, infographics, video, and more. And if brands want to keep up, they’re going to have to produce more creative and innovative work.

4. Digital media consumption has increased 49 percent in the U.S. since 2013

For marketers to be effective, they have to go where consumers go. And wherever consumers go, there’s a good chance they’ll be looking at screens on computers and mobile devices, which is primarily good for two groups: digital marketers and optometrists.

I’m not trying to say we’re entering some digital utopia—the rise of adblockers is a serious concern that could torpedo digital advertising—but marketers have more opportunities to reach consumers on digital platforms that tend to be cheaper than TV and print. A 49 percent increase in digital media consumption is huge. I’d call that progress.

5. Data-driven marketing led to revenue increases for 57 percent of marketers

Data about data-driven marketing might be a little too meta, but don’t let that get in the way of just how important smart insights are to brand marketers. Companies are making data a priority in order to spend more efficiently on programmatic buys and ad retargeting. This suggests marketers are thinking about marketing the right way, making decisions based on quantitative analysis rather than qualitative feel.

Another result of all this number crunching is that brands and publishers al; are constantly innovating, designing new ways to measure engagement. Earlier this year, for example, BuzzFeed cracked the code on how content spreads over social media. The takeaway here is clear: Marketers are now more sophisticated than ever before when it comes to measuring the impact of their content.

6. For 60 percent of marketers, pay-per-click ads are more effective in 2015 than they were in 2014

While PPM (pay-per-thousand) buys can wind up cheaper, PPC (pay-per-click) ads are usually a better indication of true reach because they’re harder to manipulate. Google and Facebook both favor PPC over PPM when selling ads, and marketers are seeing consistent results with the format. And over the next year, eMarketer expects programmatic ad spend to jump from $15 billion to $20 billion, a signal that brands are seeing value in their PPC placements.

This success can probably be attributed to contextual relevance for paid search and social. If I search for “basketball sneakers,” there’s a good chance I’d be willing to check out options on Dick’s Sporting Goods, Eastbay, and Zappos, which are the top three PPC ads that show up. There’s intent, and that intent is a behavior smart marketers are taking advantage of.

As eMarketer’s report put it: “Like email, PPC ads—especially paid search in the form of text ads—can seem unsexy, but still deliver results for marketers and rank consistently high among spending priorities.”

7. 67 percent of B2C companies say email newsletters are effective

This stat, courtesy of CMI’s recent 2016 “Trends” report, indicates that marketers are getting more sophisticated with how they distribute their content. In terms of effectiveness, newsletters topped the list of content channels, beating everything from videos to mobile apps to infographics.1

As we have pointed out many times on TCS, email is a huge asset for Contently. With newsletters essentially becoming the new homepage, publishers of all kinds have to make sure audiences are exposed to their latest content. The New York Times, for example, has made a significant commitment to email over the last year, resulting in open rates up to 70 percent on its most popular newsletters. That number is probably out of reach for most of us, but judging by CMI’s report, the industry appears to be on the right track.

8. Marketers who publish a blog are 13x more likely to generate ROI

Here’s another data point that speaks to the power of smart content over old-school advertising tactics. HubSpot’s “State of Inbound 2014” found an eye-opening correlation between blogging and ROI that all marketers should take note of, regardless of industry. Getting an owned publication off the ground has led to gains for everyone from the world’stop venture capitalists to unknown tech companies to a pet-food delivery company.

9. 74 percent of readers trust educational content from brands—as long as it doesn’t push a sale

Even though it might seem obvious, this is worth repeating: Intrusive ads and overt self-promotion don’t work anymore. To this point, a study from Kentico Software found that “even signing off an otherwise objective blog post or newsletter with a product pitch will bring the content’s credibility level down by 29 percent.”

Everyone wants consumer trust, but some marketers have a hard time letting go of the hard sell. Today, the story is the sale. And if marketers are able to focus on providing value to the consumer, then the brand lift will follow.

10. 56 percent of marketers claim personalization drives higher engagement

It’s good to see that a majority of marketers are successfully targeting specific audiences with their content through paid channels. Now that users spend so much time on email and social media, there’s a serious need for personalization. The ultimate goal is to reach the right audience at the right time with your content, so smart marketers are reaping the benefits by targeting factors like job titles, interests, and behaviors.

Like a number of other stats on this list, the upshot is that marketers keep trimming the fat, operating more efficiently than they have in the past.

11. 78 percent of marketers are satisfied with Facebook ads

At this point, it’s tough to overstate how much marketers rely on Facebook. To be fair, there’s too much dependency, and if/when Facebook makes changes to its algorithm, the potential swings could hurt brands. But for now, marketers are pleased with Facebook’s ability to drive engagement. And since CMOs desperately need a way to reach consumers on mobile, Facebook has a ton of value. For the foreseeable future, we should all be cautiously confident.

Check out our guide for more detail on the pros and cons of today’s top distribution platforms.

12. More than 92 percent of millennials regularly watch digital video

What the hell do millennials want? That’s the question most marketers are asking themselves. Thus far, efforts to reach young, impressionable consumers have led to an abundance of emojis—even companies like Goldman Sachs and Chevrolet have jumped on the emoji bandwagon, regardless of the fit.

What millennials really want, at least according to eMarketer data from earlier this summer, is video. Over the next few years, nearly 80 million American millennials will watch at least one digital video per month.

Most marketers will tell you video is the future of content. Relative to blog posts, multimedia projects are expensive, which makes them an intriguing proposition for brands that likely have bigger budgets than traditional media publishers. It’ll be tough for a marketer to outdo a seasoned journalist when it comes to strict editorial, but if there’s a competitive advantage to be had in the battle for millennial attention, look no further than digital video.

13. In 2016, digital video ad spend will exceed TV ad spend for the first time

TV ad buys sound sexy, but compared to content marketing and retargeted programmatic advertising, they’ve just become too expensive, too much of a wild card. And I’m not just talking about dropping $5 million for a Super Bowl commercial. It’s tougher now than ever before for marketers to justify commercials due to the onslaught of cord cutting and digital streaming services.

Consider this stat, projected by Magna Global, as a passing of the torch that probably should’ve happened already. According to Cisco, by 2019, video traffic will account for 80 percent of all Internet traffic. The attention is there for the taking, and in many respects, marketers appear to be headed in the right direction.

  1. In-person events tied for first.
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