Content may be king, but unless it becomes more engaging, its reign will end. That’s the trend the team at Demand Metric found in their new study “Content and the Buyer’s Journey.” The study was sponsored by ion interactive, and it culled responses from 185 marketing/sales and product management specialists from B2B brands, B2C brands and agencies. The team’s findings suggest that content marketing is about to move in a drastic new direction, and that content marketers are, likely, not equipped for it.
Static content isn’t paying off.
Content marketing was, in part, born out of the necessity to keep potential customers engaged and interested during a lengthy sales cycle. When consumers research a product or a service, effective content marketing can help influence their decisions. The study found, though, that content marketing is most effective in the early and middle stages of the research/buying process, so it’s important to reach them effectively and early. Unfortunately, static or passive content’s influence is waning — only 36% of the participants reported that passive content converted consumers moderately or very well.
Marketers know it isn’t paying off…
More than half of the respondents acknowledged that the most common problem with content marketing is that it doesn’t create enough opportunities for interaction and engagement.
…but they haven’t pivoted yet.
Content creators and marketers may recognize that passive content isn’t working as well anymore, but they aren’t doing much to break the cycle. Of the respondents, 36% rated their content as somewhat or very passive, 39% rated it as moderate, and only 25% rated it as slightly or very interactive.
Why interactive? It works.
Research has shown that content that stimulates engagement with a member of the target audience is far more influential and effective than its static, passive counterpart. The study confirmed that interactive content is more effective at educating buyers, differentiating brands from competitors, and being shared. In fact, 70% of respondents indicated that interactive content converts consumers moderately or very well — outperforming passive forms of content.
Why the delay?
If 70% know that interactive content’s conversion is far greater, then why are only 25% creating interactive content? It’s because time and budget restrictions have marketers’ hands tied (66% report staffing/resource constraints, 60% report budget constraints, and 53% report time/agility constraints). They know that they need to develop new, more engaging content, but there simply aren’t enough resources to see it through. Marketers can begin to add these engaging elements to their content calendars, however, by planning ahead and seeking out affordable alternatives. Setting aside a discretionary content-development budget for a handful of larger, interactive content pieces for 2015 will give brands the ability to experiment with the new form without breaking the bank. Seeking out free or cheap online templates and builders (particularly for interactive elements like ebooks and quizzes) can also help create great content without enlisting the brand’s entire digital or creative department.