Sophisticated or First Steps: Driving Success at Every Content Marketing Maturity Level
When it comes to content marketing maturity, it seems organizations are stuck. Consider that in 2016, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) reported that content marketing maturity levels were roughly proportionate: approximately one-third of businesses were in the early stages; one-third in the adolescent stage; and one-third in the sophisticated/mature stage. This year, however, CMI reported slightly worse rankings: 28 percent were in the sophisticated/mature stage; 35 percent in the adolescent stage; and 36 percent in the early stages of content marketing.
Marketers should generally become more effective with content marketing as they gain experience, so what’s the reason behind these worsening figures?
The fact of the matter is that every company has a different content marketing approach based on its unique differentiators and goals. No two businesses are alike, and neither are their content strategies. These differences only grow considering today’s varying levels of content marketing maturity. A company taking its very first steps towards content marketing, for instance, will have a drastically different approach and set of goals than an organization that boasts ample experience.
To help organizations see success, here’s a breakdown of recommended (and doable!) steps that can be taken based on content marketing maturity level:
FIRST STEPS: As defined by CMI, these organizations are “doing some aspects of content, but have not yet begun to make content marketing a process.”
What to do: Appoint someone to specifically oversee your content marketing plans.
When asked what factors contributed to their increased content marketing success over the last year, 53 percent of marketers said spending more time on their strategy. It makes sense, then, that most organizations have a small (at least one-person) content marketing team. If your company has no dedicated employee or team to oversee your plans—rather, content marketing is something that is done by whomever, whenever there is time—bring someone on who can support your strategy the way it needs to be in order to see success.
ADOLESCENT: These businesses “have developed a business case, [are] seeing early success, [and are] becoming more sophisticated with measurement and scaling.”
What to do: Make content marketing an ongoing business process, not simply a campaign.
This is something that 73 percent of organizations specifically focus on. It’s good to develop business cases; however, until content marketing is considered an ongoing process within your organization—verses a one-and-done campaign—you simply won’t see the kind of long-term success you’re looking for. Hunker down and dedicate the time, resources and budget towards content marketing that you would for any other long-term, ongoing business initiative.
MATURE: These organizations are “finding success, yet [are] challenged with integration across the organization.”
What to do: Build a centralized content marketing group that works with multiple departments/product lines throughout the organization.
This is the way that content marketing is structured within 24 percent of organizations today, and it’s understandable why. A cohesive content marketing strategy is ultimately one that extends across the entire organization (after all, customer relationships are shaped across the entire business, not just one department). As opposed to one or two siloed employees, a centralized content marketing group can cast a net across all lines of business, meaning your organization will be able to more easily and effectively integrate enterprise-wide.
SOPHISTICATED: These companies—totaling just 6 percent of all surveyed organizations—are “providing accurate measurement to the business, [and are] scaling across the organization.”
What to do: Create a dedicated content marketing strategy for each brand (product line/property) within the organization.
This is something that only 5 percent of companies currently do. Doing so will enable you to further authenticate your brand, deepen your messaging and create more contextual experiences with customers based on their specific needs.