The 2016 State of Digital Content

By Omar Akhtar, Analyst and Managing Editor at Altimeter, a Prophet company

Audience

Intended for digital strategists, content marketers and executive leadership who are creating plans for using content to achieve business goals.

Executive Summary

To understand how brands are using content to achieve business goals and deliver on customer needs, we surveyed over 500 content strategists in North America and Europe across major industry verticals including IT, retail, manufacturing, finance, and healthcare.

We tested the hypothesis that content is no longer a marketing function, but a strategic tool for multiple parts of the organization to meet business objectives and deliver on a unified customer experience. We charted the progress companies have made towards achieving this vision across several different aspects of the business, including leadership, organization, strategy, and technology. We also created a snapshot of the most common practices by industry and identified the future initiatives and technologies that companies were investing in.


Key Findings

  • Most companies have moved beyond using content purely for marketing purposes. They are now deploying it across other parts of the business such as sales and service. Over 80% of the respondents said they had a unified content strategy that applied to the entire organization.
  • Majority of companies displayed high levels of maturity for digital content operations. Over 80% of respondents said they had executive support, were able to attribute revenue to content, and created personalized content based on customer data.
  • Companies still struggle with aligning teams around a common content vision. Despite having a unified content strategy, 55% of companies said aligning multiple teams around that strategy was their biggest challenge, and 70% said this alignment was one of their top initiatives in 2017.
  • Brands use content mostly to create awareness and build credibility as thought leaders. The top objectives for producing content were brand brand health (36%) and thought leadership (32%), which implies that brands are neglecting other opportunities to use content such as inspiring trust, or providing product support.
  • Brands produce most content in-house (68%). However brands also rely on user-generated content (62%) and to a lesser extent, outside agencies (43%) to help scale the production of content.
  • Data drives content. Almost all companies (99%) use some form of data to create relevant content, the most popular sources being social media metrics (65%) and website analytics (63%). Data analysis was the most desired skill (67%) for content strategists and 51% of respondents said the data team was leading the content strategy discussion.
  • Nearly everybody uses Facebook for content. Brands received the most engagement for their content on Facebook (71%) followed by email (61%). To get that level of engagement, they must be paying to boost it. Another key channel: 46% cite native advertising as their most engaging content.