According to the Creating Connections report, most businesses have increased or maintained their spend on public relations (77%), content marketing (77%) and advertising (71%). Meanwhile, 67% of businesses have decreased their events budgets amid social restrictions.
The vast majority of businesses expect these same activities to be a priority as they rebound from COVID-19. And among the major marketing and communications activities, more businesses rank content marketing as a high priority than any other.
Content marketing has also grown in importance as a result of COVID-19, with 62% of businesses saying it’s now more vital to their commercial strategy. Businesses are most likely to use content marketing to develop trust and credibility (58%), brand awareness (52%) and to drive sales and educate customers (both 44%).
While 60% of businesses will lift their content marketing budget in the next 12 months, the research found that only 10% believe their content marketing is highly effective in meeting objectives. Changing audience needs due to COVID-19 was seen as the biggest challenge.
The report shows that the most effective content marketers share a similar focus in approach and execution. They are active in more channels and combine soft evaluation metrics like social media engagement with hard measures like sales and leads. Leaders are also more focused on the quality of the content, with 90% believing that value and relevance drives audience satisfaction.
Alexandra Coroneo, Director at The First Principle said: “Many businesses have seen revenues fall due to COVID-19 and its renewing their focus on marketing activity that enables them to stay close to customers and drive sales.”
“Compounded by the absence of physical events, everyone ramped up their focus on digital channels and it’s shone a bright light on digital content. As saturation increased, we have seen the quality and relevance of content come under greater scrutiny.”
James Organ, Managing Director, Fifth Quadrant said: “Overall, more than nine in ten businesses recognise that market research can drive content marketing success, and top performers put a premium on research and data to enhance the relevance and quality of their content.”
Adoption of emerging methods and technologies remains low, set to accelerate
Highly effective content marketers are earlier adopters of emerging methods and technology-assisted tools, however, that’s set to be a greater focus for most businesses in the year ahead. Currently, only a small proportion of businesses are targeting micro-influencers (14% of businesses), optimising formats for voice search (14%) and data-drive hyper personalisation (13%). Adoption is set to accelerate by more than 100% in each of these areas over the next 12 months.