The best stats to help you build and develop a successful content marketing strategy by tapping into new and existing blog, video, podcast and social media trends
Content marketing is on a roll, its power and influence continuing to grow as brands come alive to the benefits of creating engaging and relevant content that educates and inspires their audiences. The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) B2B Content Marketing 2020 report, for example, found that 68 per cent of marketers have used it successfully in the past year, up 10 per cent on the previous 12 months.
With 86 per cent of B2B marketers telling the CMI that they have used it to increase brand awareness, 79 per cent saying it effectively educates audiences and 75 per cent using it to build credibility or trust, it is clear that content marketing done well works. This means starting with a strategy – and brands must understand who they want to reach, where and when these consumers can be found and what types of content will help engage and grow such an audience.
At stake is the opportunity to reach a slice of the 3.9 billion internet users worldwide, but searching through endless and often contradictory advice can be both confusing and time-consuming.
With this in mind, we’ve sifted through the wealth of studies available to bring you a helpful reference guide to what best practice in content marketing should look like in 2020.
It is absolutely worth reading the whole of this article, but if you’re in a rush, the five most important takeaways for 2020 are:
- Blogs need to be a minimum of 300 words to be visible to search engines, but longer posts are often more effective at ranking
- The more often you publish, the more traffic you drive to your website
- Shorter is better for videos – and gear their length to specific platforms where possible
- They’re back, back again – podcasts are hot once more and offer great stickiness
- More than 50 per cent of all traffic to B2B sites comes from LinkedIn
Still hungry for more stats? Then let’s move into the detail.
The lowdown on blogs
Blogs are the cornerstone of any content strategy, but what form should they take for maximum impact? Well…
1) Blogs need to be at least 300 words long to rank in search engines, but bear in mind that longer posts, which have more material and keywords to index, are often more effective at ranking
2) How much is enough? Length guidelines vary enormously according to the purpose behind posts, but 500-1,200 is generally seen as optimal for content that will be shared on social media or used to establish thought leadership because it’s enough to make an argument or share a unique perspective while remaining relatively concise
3) According to digital marketing agency WESFED, posts of 500+ words offer enough space for original thought and perspective to prevent the appearance of content duplication in Google and other search engines…
4) … while blogs of 1,000+ words can boost SEO and user engagement
5) Research by blog platform Medium, meanwhile, using data from its most successful articles, found that the ideal blog post is around 1,600 words long and takes seven minutes to read
6) Regardless of length, Nielsen user-experience research shows that users only read 20 to 28 per cent of any web page during an average visit – so whatever length you’re writing to, make your words count.
Quality, volume and frequency
Of course, it’s not just what you write – how often you publish also has an impact on how effective your content will be.
7) The broad rule of thumb, for both B2B and B2C, is that the more you publish, the more traffic you drive to your website – a HubSpot study of over 13,000 companies found that those which published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5 times more traffic and 4.5 times more leads than those publishing between 0 and 4 monthly posts
8) HubSpot also found that one in 10 blog posts is compounding, which means they increase their traffic over time. Companies that published 401+ total blog posts got over 3 times more leads than companies that published between 0 and 100, so obviously, the more content you post overall, the better the chances of this happening.
9) If you’re trying to hit page 1 of Google for any given subject, meanwhile, you also need to consider the competition – if they are all posts of 2,000+ words, for example, anything substantially shorter is unlikely to be seen as more authoritative by the search engine’s algorithms. But if they’re all around 500 words, 800-1,000 words allows you to make a greater number of, or more detailed, arguments and hopefully displace one
Sometimes, though, it pays to go long:
10) According to research into one million Google search results by SEO experts Backlinko, articles averaging 1,890 words are top-ranked in search engine results
11) An AppSumo/BuzzSumo analysis into the social share counts of 100 million articles also found that blog posts with a count between 3,000 and 10,000 words had the most shares on social media
12) But be aware – another study found that when it comes to social shares, longer content does generally outperform short blog posts, but there are diminishing returns for articles that exceed 2,000 words
HubSpot has also done some research on optimal blog headlines, which found that:
13) The ideal blog post title length is 60 characters
14) Headlines between 8 and 12 words are shared most often on Twitter
15) Headlines between 12 and 14 words are liked most often on Facebook
Videos continue to be a key component of successful content marketing campaigns. According to the sixth annual Wyzowl video statistics report, more people are watching them than ever before (an average of 16 hours of online video per week) and 85 per cent of marketers already use video as a marketing tool, with 59 per cent of those who don’t planning to start in 2020. But what makes a good video?
16) In 2018, HubSpot found that 56 per cent of all videos published in the previous year were under two minutes long, responding to dwindling consumer attention spans and an accompanying growing appetite for bite-sized, snackable content
17) The same research found that Twitter users used to snappy soundbite updates also prefer video brevity, making 43 seconds ideal, while Facebook users prefer around one minute
18) Two minutes, however, is seen as perfect for YouTube, where users specifically go to seek out videos and see more in-depth content
19) Business video platform Vidyard, in its 2019 Video in Benchmark report, found that the average business video in 2018 was just over four minutes long
20) In terms of marketing platforms for video, YouTube and Facebook are the most widely used platforms by marketers, used by 85 per cent and 79 per cent respectively
21) Using subtitles on videos also brings multiple benefits. That’s because over 85 per cent of Facebook ads are watched on mute…
22) …while adding subtitles has been shown to boost completion rates from 66 per cent to 91 per cent
Big hitters – the return of podcasts
Podcasts are once again surging in popularity – but are they right for you and your audience? Consider the below…
23) Podcasts are showing explosive year-on-year growth globally, according to Infinite Dial’s 2019 annual report
24) In the US, 20 million more people listened to a podcast in 2019 compared to 2018…
25) … and over one-third – 90 million monthly listeners – had listened to a podcast in the previous month
26) In the UK, around 7.1 million people now listen to podcasts each week, an increase of 24 per cent over the last year, according to Ofcom research
27) Crucially, podcasts have good stickiness – research shows that 80 per cent of people listen to podcasts most or all of the way through
28) So what makes a good one? 20 minutes is a good rule of thumb, says FirstWord’s go-to podcast expert, ex-BBC presenter Guy Ruddle
29) This study of 10 million podcast episodes (considering volume, not quality) by a specialist podcast agency showed a median length of 38 minutes…
30) … but the agency that carried it out keeps theirs to 25-30 minutes, in part to match average US commute times – so do consider the needs of your audience
31) Meanwhile, an analysis of existing research from the likes of Nielsen and Edison by Music Oomph found that business podcasts are one of the top five most popular genres
Creating content, of course, is only half the battle – and here distribution is queen to content’s king. Finding the right audience for even the best content doesn’t happen by accident, so brands need to distribute their content where their audiences live online, whether that’s using organic reach (aka free) or paying to extend beyond their current networks. The primary platforms for both free and paid for distribution are the main social media networks – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. But which is best for you?
With more than 660 million professional users, LinkedIn is the top dog of B2B networking and a crucial plank of any distribution strategy.
32) Need a demonstration of its power? More than 50 per cent of all traffic to B2B sites comes from LinkedIn
33) How to harness this? Well, the ideal length for a LinkedIn status update is around 100 characters, as the ‘see more’ button cuts off text at around 140 characters
34) In terms of when to publish, there seems to be agreement that mid-week is best, as are mornings
35) A BuzzSumo analysis of 10 million articles shared on LinkedIn found that two types of content stood out – industry trend pieces and how-to articles
36) Meanwhile, analysis of more than 3,000 posts published directly on the platform found that those with a wordcount of 1,900-2,000 words performed best
37) The same research also found that optimal headline lengths to garner post views are 40-49 characters
The micro-blogging platform has over 145 million users and gives brands and individuals alike an even playing field. But what helps good content bubble up to the top?
38) Tweets can be up to 280 characters these days, but optimal length is between 71-100 characters, according to social media management software platform Buffer, because this gives you room to share your own message/handles/hashtags, as well as leaving room within the maximum character count for someone retweeting or sharing your status to add theirs
39) Hashtags should be no more than six characters for maximum effect, according to the same analysis
40) Optimal frequency of sending? The average tweet has a lifespan of 18 minutes, so often is good because they quickly get pushed down by new content, however one study found engagement starts to drop off after three tweets and another that this happens after five – so 3-5 tweets a day would seem to be a happy medium
41) In terms of a posting to follower ratio, social media management platform Hootsuite found that the most active US Twitter users have 20 times as many followers, on average
Facebook is a social media behemoth, with over two billion active users, making it the most popular social media platform by some distance. But this sheer volume of numbers doesn’t mean it’s easy for brands to reach them
42) In fact, a recent study found that the average organic reach of a Facebook post is just 5.5 per cent of a business page’s followers
43) Despite this, only 24.6 per cent of Facebook pages use paid media
44) The same study also found that the average Facebook user clicked on 11 ads per month…
45) … and that the average engagement for posts is 3.6 per cent
46) In the ongoing quest for organic engagement, it’s worth noting that having at least one image in your Facebook post leads to twice as many social shares
Of course, you can’t understand what you’re not measuring, so working out how you’re going to evaluate the success of your content marketing strategy, whether through KPIs, engagement, ROI or something else, is critical to ensuring you can do more of what works and ditch or adjust what underperforms. Need more convincing?
47) The CMI report mentioned at the start of this article found that 95 per cent of the top-performing B2B marketer surveys were using some form of metrics to measure performance
48) Specifically, 83 per cent have KPIs to measure content initiatives…
49) … while 67 per cent measure content marketing ROI
50) 50 per cent of marketers outsource at least one content marketing activity, according to the CMI, most often content creation (84 per cent). If you need help with any aspect of your content marketing strategy creation, content or distribution, our expert and experienced team of journalists can help – read a selection of what we’ve done for companies such as Pirelli in our case studies archive or get in touch directly here.