July 09, 2013

Marketing Research Chart: Data on content difficulty reveals customer reviews may be overlooked by marketers

SUMMARY: Through previous research at MarketingSherpa, we've learned that content is considered among the most difficult, yet most effective, marketing tactics.

In today's MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week, we are taking a look at types of content marketers indicated as the least and most difficult, and compare the data to previous charts on effectiveness and usage to see what type of content may be overlooked by many marketers.

by Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content

In previous Charts of the Week, we took a look at the most commonly used types as well as the most effective types of content to produce. In today's Chart of the Week, we will explore the most difficult types of content.

To discover which types of content most challenge marketers, we asked the following question in the 2013 MarketingSherpa SEO Marketing Benchmark Survey …

Q: Please indicate the DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY (time, effort and expense required) in creating each of the content products your organization is using.

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Click here to see a printable version of this chart

Images were the easiest content to produce for marketers, with 73% considering images to be "not difficult." Interestingly enough, images were also the only type of content listed that do not require words or writer.

When we looked at what content was most difficult for marketers, two trends emerged.

Technology and production was considered a challenge, with 26% of marketers saying online video and mobile apps are both very difficult, and 80% of marketers considered these tactics to be somewhat or very difficult. Both tactics require heavy non-content inputs. In the case of mobile apps, that is IT resources. In the case of online video, video production resources.

Long-form, in-depth content was also a challenge — 26% of marketers considered white papers very difficult, and 78% considered white papers very or somewhat difficult. Other long-form, in-depth content — case studies, e-books, and webinars/webcasts — rounded out the most difficult tactics.

No significant differences between primary sales channels

While we found differences between primary sales channels concerning the effectiveness of content — for example, B2C marketers favor webpages, while B2B marketers favor webinars — marketers were fairly unanimous on their content challenges, or lack thereof.

When we broke down the data, marketers who identified themselves as B2C, B2B and/or B2G, as well as both B2C and B2B all ranked images as the least difficult content, and online video as the most difficult.

For B2B and/or B2G marketers, white papers and case studies ranked right up there for difficulty with online video, with 28% of marketers finding white papers very difficult (80% somewhat or very difficult) and 31% of marketers finding case studies very difficult (74% somewhat or very difficult).

Too few B2C marketers responded about the difficulty of these efforts to constitute a valid sample size, so an apples-to-apples comparison is difficult to make. Of course, that is a significant piece of data in and of itself. When we asked B2C marketers about usage of different content types, only 10% used white papers and just 9% used case studies. Since B2C marketers tend to have a more direct sales path, versus the complex sales path for many B2B marketers, less usage of long-form, complex content makes logical sense.

Are there any content diamonds in the rough?

When we compare this week's chart about content difficulty to previous charts about usage and effectiveness, we see that webpages are considered both quite effective and not too difficult, and they are, not surprisingly, also the most used type of content.

It should also be noted there are many types of content, like case studies for example, that are considered effective, but also difficult, so their usage rate is lower.

But, where is the low-hanging fruit? Are there effective, easy-to-execute types of content marketers are overlooking?

Customer reviews stick out as one possible diamond. While 43% of marketers consider this tactic to be very effective, and 92% of marketers consider it to be very or somewhat effective, only 35% of marketers are using customer reviews. And yet, as you look at the difficulty data in the chart above, you'll see that 54% of marketers consider customer reviews to be not difficult, with only 12% of marketers rating this tactic as very difficult.

This could be a worthy survey to conduct within your own marketing department or agency. Survey your team, and perhaps your client's team, about the most used, difficult, and effective content types they are using. Then look for your own diamonds in the rough. What type of content is effective, not too difficult, but for whatever reason, has been overlooked?

Related Resources

Content Marketing: 3 tips for producing engaging email content

Content Marketing: 3 tips for how to get started

Content Marketing: Targeted persona strategy lifts sales leads 124%

Content Marketing: A process for evaluating content channels

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