87% of Visionaries and 81% of Leaders put content at the core of their marketing efforts – according to a new study from Skyword. The most successful marketers are likely to use storytelling techniques and rely both on editorial guidelines and brand standards.
The Content Marketing Continuum report was based on a year-long study of almost 1,000 content marketers. The aim of the study was to understand the current state of content marketing and how it is being practiced around the world.
The respondents were divided into five groups on the basis of their sophistication and experience: Bystanders, Novices, Experts, Leaders, and Visionaries.
The research uncovered six common characteristics of the top-performing content marketers:
They use storytelling
Leaders and Visionaries are not simply publishing more content of great quality. According to the research, the difference between competent content marketing and masterful content marketing is a storytelling mindset.
All visionary marketers reported using storytelling as one of the techniques in the creation of content. Visionaries are very likely to say a storytelling ethos permeates their organizations. Far few Leaders report the same.
The top-performing marketers are both creative and disciplined in their content creation.
According to the report, 100% of Visionaries and 96% of Leaders use a content or editorial calendar. Nearly all Visionaries (96%) employ brand standards and editorial guidelines, compared to 40% of Experts, 11% of Novices, and 1% of Bystanders.
Excellence in Execution
The most successful content marketers are managing to focus both on quality and quantity of their content. Visionaries do more of everything – 91% of them are creating and publishing articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, and ebooks at least once per month. They are also publishing more sales- or product-focused content, and multimedia content.
No Organizational Templates
Leaders and Visionaries take diverse approaches to building their content organizations. They have different models for content creation teams and organizations—and it’s clear no single model works best. At 45% of top-performing organizations a specific content or creative team is responsible for the strategy, while the responsibility for content creation varies greatly, with 32% of leaders and visionaries employing a combination of in-house and freelance editorial creative teams.
Iterative, Agile Measurement
Traffic is one of the most popular metrics tracked by content marketers, but this doesn’t necessarily apply to the top-performers. When given a list of metrics and KPIs, Visionaries say they pay the least attention to traffic. Instead, they’re focused on indicators of audience growth and content value. They want to know if the audience is engaging with their content, not just finding it online. And they track issues like subscription rates and download forms—all signs that someone is interested enough in your content to seek it out again in the future.
Challenges are Universal
Visionaries and Leaders share many of the challenges of the less sophisticated marketers. Where are the biggest differences? Visionaries tend to struggle less often (though modestly so) with having sufficient bandwidth or resources; they also struggle less often with aligning the team properly