What’s hot and what’s not in the world of content creation
Content marketing remains a great way to educate and inform audiences, but the rise of generative artificial intelligence (AI) services such as ChatGPT over the past year has dramatically and permanently changed the creator landscape.
As machines join humans in being able to produce content (to a degree, at least), the conversation has shifted from volume to quality. More than half (57 per cent) of marketers told the Content Marketing Institute’s annual B2B benchmarks survey that their focus has moved from creating enough content to creating the right content. A deep understanding of what audiences need is more important than ever to stand out.
Yet even as technology evolves, some challenges stay the same, with 58 per cent telling the CMI that they suffered from a lack of resources, 34 per cent saying it is difficult to keep up with new technologies and tools, and 25 per cent citing lack of a strategy as a hindrance.
So what should best practice in content marketing look like in 2024? Once again, we’ve scoured the web to find the most authoritative stats and indicators to guide success.
In a rush? The full article is stacked with useful information, but the key points to absorb are…
- AI is changing the game for content creation – but it is not game over. While AI certainly has a wealth of uses and applications, it also needs to be treated with extreme caution.
- Blogs are still big, with short-form content remaining the most popular type created. But it is case studies and customer stories that have the biggest success in garnering eyeballs.
- Video remains a powerful and popular tool. Marketers report high ROI on video content and its use continues to rise – one survey found 91 per cent of companies were using it.
- Online listener numbers keep rising – which means ‘podcast marketing’ is becoming an increasingly popular way to reach audiences with engaging and long-form content.
- Social media remains the most popular way to distribute content. And LinkedIn also remains streets ahead in providing the most value for B2B marketers.
READ ON FOR THE BIG 50 STATS YOU NEED TO KNOW…
AI – say hello to content’s fastest-growing trend
- Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of more than 1,000 marketers questioned by the CMI said they are now using generative AI in their work.
- Of these, about half (51 per cent) use it to brainstorm new topics, 45 per cent use it to create initial drafts or research headlines and keywords, and 23 per cent find it useful to create outlines.
- These findings are backed up by a worldwide survey of marketers by Salesforce, which found basic content creation and copywriting to be the most useful generative AI applications…
- … as well as by an annual survey of more than 1,000 bloggers that found 43 per cent were using AI to generate ideas, 29 per cent to write headlines, 28 per cent to write outlines, and 21 per cent to write first drafts.
- For those not using AI, the main reasons cited to the CMI include concerns over accuracy (36 per cent), lack of training and also understanding (both 27 per cent), and copyright worries (22 per cent).
- But 61 per cent said that their organisation lacks guidelines for its use. This is dangerous, as we explain here, because AI is – at best – an intern and requires significant human oversight to ensure that brand-damaging mistakes are not made.
- It’s not just written content where AI is being seen as useful; research by leading video explainer company Wyzowl found that 75 per cent of video marketers are using AI to help them create or edit videos.
- And a survey of more than 1,400 marketers globally for marketing software company HubSpot’s annual State of Marketing report found that 36 per cent of marketers are using AI chatbots in their day-to-day tasks, with 58 per cent planning to increase their use of AI and automation in 2024.
- Because AI has been integrated into search engines, it is also having an impact on strategy, with 27 per cent saying it is inspiring them to create more thought-leadership content.
- Elsewhere, a survey by recruitment platform Zippia found that 84 per cent of digital marketing leaders believe AI helps with personalisation efforts.
Written content – still firmly in vogue
- Despite predictions that video would overtake written content in popularity in 2023, short article and blog posts remained the most popular type of content, with 94 per cent of B2B marketers creating them, up from 89 per cent last year.
- Case studies and customer stories are also increasingly popular, with 78 per cent creating them in 2023, up from 67 per cent in 2022…
- … and these are also the types of written content that are most effective, according to 53 per cent of marketers…
- … followed by thought-leadership white papers and e-books (51 per cent), and short articles (47 per cent).
- Meanwhile, an annual survey of more than 1,000 bloggers reveals that it takes, on average, just under four hours to write a blog post – 60 per cent more time per post than 10 years ago…
- … with the average blog post now 1,427 words long – or 77 per cent more words than 10 years ago.
- Taking care and attention pays off – bloggers who invest more time in crafting compelling content also report better results.
- In terms of return on investment (ROI), HubSpot found that 16 per cent said website, blogs and SEO delivered the best results, while content marketing, paid social media content and email marketing all tied on 14 per cent.
- Long form is far from dead too, despite predictions it would dip in popularity amid the rise in bite-size content, with almost three-quarters of marketers (71 per cent) creating longer articles and 59 per cent crafting thought-leadership white papers or e-books.
- Overall, most published blog posts sit in the 500-1,500 word range, with just three per cent of blogs over 2,000 words.
Videos – growing in popularity but not top… yet
- Videos were the second most-popular B2B content type created, according to the CMI survey, with 84 per cent of respondents creating them, up from 75 per cent the previous year.
- This is not surprising when, according to data insights company DeepSage, video accounts for 82.5 per cent of global internet traffic.
- Video is also the area where most respondents (69 per cent) plan to increase their spending, followed by thought leadership on 53 per cent.
- Of those surveyed by Wyzowl, 90 per cent said video marketing had given them good ROI…
- … with 60 per cent saying they measured this through video engagement such as likes, shares and reposts.
- Short-form videos, in particular, perform well, with 17 per cent of marketers surveyed by HubSpot saying they generated strong ROI results…
- … and 30 per cent of marketers who don’t already use short-form video saying they plan to start in 2024.
- Surveying the positivity around video, it makes sense that 91 per cent of businesses are using video as a marketing tool, according to Wyzowl – maintaining an all-time high since the company started tracking this data in 2016.
- And, according to research from on-demand video production company Lemonlight, the top two traits that consumers continue to value are clear messaging / storyline and authenticity.
- This survey also found that 58 per cent of consumers prefer to watch video content on a smartphone, with laptops coming second at 19 per cent.
Podcasts – stop, collaborate and listen
- According to content creation agency ClearVoice, ‘podcast marketing’ is becoming an increasingly popular way to reach audiences with engaging, long-form content.
- Listener numbers keep on rising – according to the 25th edition of Edison’s Infinite Dial research, 75 per cent of Americans aged 12 and older (214 million of them) had listened to online audio in the past month in early 2023, while 70 per cent had listened in the past week – the highest since 2002 when data was first tracked.
- ‘Podcast familiarity’ has also topped 237 million – or 83 per cent of the US population.
- According to podcast host Buzzsprout, Apple remains the top hosting platform, with 37.1 per cent of market share, followed by Spotify on 31.3 per cent.
- The same stats reveal that the most popular duration of podcasts uploaded to Buzzsprout’s platform remains 20-40 minutes (31 per cent of episodes), while 20 per cent are 40 minutes to an hour, and 16 per cent are over 60 minutes.
Distribution – directing eyes to your content
- Organic social media remains the most popular platform to distribute content, used by 90 per cent of marketers, followed by blogs (79 per cent), email newsletters (73 per cent), and in-person events (56 per cent).
- Of social media channels, LinkedIn is streets ahead in providing the best value for marketers, on 84 per cent, with only 29 per cent citing Facebook as the top performer, 22 per cent saying YouTube, and 21 per cent saying Instagram.
- In not-surprising news, this led 72 per cent of those surveyed to increase their use of LinkedIn over the past year.
- But the great new hopes of years gone by, Twitter (now known as X after Elon Musk’s takeover) and TikTok, are both seen as relative flops for B2B content marketing success, polling at 8 and 3 per cent of users respectively.
- Again not surprisingly, X is also the platform most B2B marketers have given up on, with 32 per cent decreasing their use last year. This compares to 20 per cent decreasing their use of Facebook and just 2 per cent reducing LinkedIn usage.
- When B2C marketers are added into the mix, though, as in the HubSpot global survey, it’s a slightly different story – with respondents there saying they are increasingly targeting Millennials and Gen Xers who grew up online. These marketers say Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok have the strongest ROI – proof that in marketing, as in everything else, it really does take all sorts.
- However, in terms of B2B content performance, it is in-person events and webinars that do best, according to 56 and 51 per cent of respondents respectively.
- These are followed by organic social media (44 per cent), blogs (40 per cent) and email newsletters (39 per cent).
- In terms of paid promotion, social media advertising and promoted posts are still top of the pops, used by 78 per cent of respondents. Native advertising is used by 35 per cent and print display ads by 21 per cent.
- Overall, it’s big business – social media ad spending is predicted to top $300 billion this year.
Measuring metrics – aka keeping tabs on what works
- A survey by marketing insights company Semrush found that 61 per cent of marketers conduct content audits at least twice a year to assess what is working and what is not.
- Almost half (46 per cent) of content marketers, meanwhile, told the CMI that their organisation measures content performance effectively and just three per cent don’t measure performance at all.
- The top five metrics used are conversions (73 per cent), email engagement and website traffic (both 71 per cent), website engagement (69 per cent) and social media analytics (65 per cent).
- Just over half (52 per cent) mention the quality of leads and 29 per cent keep track of the cost of acquiring a lead, subscriber or customer.
- In terms of measurement challenges, the most common is integrating or correlating data across multiple platforms (84 per cent), followed by extracting insights from data (77 per cent) and tying performance data to goals (76 per cent).
- Can we help you with your content? Get in touch to see how we can use our experience working with 200+ clients in 18 countries to help meet your content goals in 2024.