The usage of content marketing in the United Kingdom: analysis

Content marketing spend in the UK over the next 12 months - source

Content marketing spend in the UK over the next 12 months – source (PDF opens)

A few weeks ago we posted data regarding content marketing spend and usage in the UK (also see infographic below). We based ourselves on data from Econsultancy. The company found, among others, that 70% of client-side respondents would be increasing their content marketing spend.

We also mentioned another UK content marketing survey as you can read here. Today, the Content Marketing Institute released the results of a UK content marketing survey, conducted in association with the UK Direct Marketing Association.

The Content Marketing Institute report found that, overall, 64% of UK marketers are increasing content marketing budgets. That’s pretty close to the percentage Econsultancy released (more from Econsultancy at the bottom of this post).

There is a striking difference between B2B marketers and B2C marketers: while 72% of B2B marketers plan to increase content marketing spend, only 45% of their B2C peers plan to do the same. However, there is an explanation for this difference.

As opposed to North America  and Australia, content marketing – until now – was more practiced by B2C marketers in the UK so it seems their B2B peers are catching up. As the report found, actually 97% of UK B2C marketers have adopted content marketing, compared with 95% of B2B marketers. Furthermore, content marketing was originally more aimed at B2B marketing, as Joe Pulizzi told us a few years ago.

The rapid uptake in B2C is not totally unexpected though, given the strong presence of what we once knew as custom(er) publishing. It’s important to realize there are differences between the way content marketing is approached from a B2B perspective and the way many B2C marketers see it. Remember that content marketing is an umbrella term.

Content marketing tactics and budget allocation

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) also found 94% of UK marketers currently use content marketing. However, as you’ll read further, it’s important to understand which tactics are categorized as such. From a content marketing spend perspective, it’s also interesting to note that on average, 27% of marketing budgets in the UK are now allocated to content marketing. This number differs from other surveys but it obviously depends on how you define content marketing and thus what tactics you include in the results. Fortunately, the report provides some insights in this regard.

An overview of the different content marketing tactics – and in which degree they are used in the UK – is shown in the graphic below. You’ll notice that eNewsletters, for instance, are included in the report and even rank third among all content marketing tactics, after articles on websites and social media, other than blogs. It can be debated to which extent these first tactics are content marketing tactics.

Content marketing usage in the UK according to content marketing tactic 2013 CMI

Content marketing usage in the UK according to content marketing tactic 2013 – click image for larger version – click for source (PDF)

Other findings from the UK content marketing research

Content production sourcing. For those interested in the insourcing versus outsourcing debate: one average, 55% of UK companies outsource content creation. In most cases, it’s a combination though: 51% combines in-house and outsourced while 4% outsources everything (hence the 55%). Just as in other regions, outsourcing happens most in larger companies.

Tailoring and personalizing content. 96% of UK B2B marketers claim to tailor their content in at least one way. 88% of B2C marketers claim the same. In both cases UK marketers personalize and tailor their content more than their Australian and North-American peers. The most popular methods of tailoring content are according to:

  • The profile of individual decision makers (56%).
  • Industry trends (55%).
  • Company characteristics (54%).
  • Stages in the buying cycle (41%).
  • Personalized content preferences (31%).

It’s not clear in which degree UK businesses use content marketing and buying personas, nor content gap analysis, to tailor their content.

Content marketing challenges. It’s striking to see that producing ‘enough’ content, producing the kind of content that engages and producing a variety of content are the top three challenges that UK content marketers face. It remains a remarkable fact as a proper content strategy, oriented around the questions and needs people have, should never lead to such challenges as far as we’re concerned. It’s probably yet another sign many businesses still have to think and work in a more integrated and customer-centric way and focus less on the content production from their viewpoint than that of the different personas and target audiences.

Content marketing effectiveness. UK marketers are quite confident about the effectiveness of the way they use content marketing though. 41% of B2B marketers believe they are effective or very effective. 33% of B2C marketers believe the same. That makes UK marketers the most confident in terms of their content marketing effectiveness (compared to North America and Australia, that is).

Finally, check out the graphic below, plotting the degree in which UK content marketers feel their content marketing efforts are effective against other answers. It can serve as a guideline or benchmark but remember that content marketing and content marketing effectiveness is very individual.

Comparison of most effective content marketers with least effective content marketers in the UK - click for full report

Comparison of most effective content marketers with least effective content marketers in the UK – click for full report (PDF)

Full data in the report here (PDF opens) and in the slideshare below. Below the slideshare presentation you find the promised infographic based on the Econsultancy research.

Other UK content marketing research: Econsultancy

Check out the infographic below, made by BlueGlass, summarizing some key findings of Econsultancy’s content marketing report. The report and research were sponsored by Outbrain.
Join us on June 10th in Antwerp, Belgium, for the Content Marketing Conference Europe. With confirmed speakers such as Jay Baer, Lee Odden, Mike Corak, Kelly Hungerford, Dado Van Peteghem, Tristan Lavender, Guido Everaert, Tom De Baere and Xaviera Ringeling (more to be announced), we'll take you across a learning experience leading to tangible insights and actionable inspiration, moderated by media expert Jo Caudron!

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  1. says

    Thanks J-P, these are some interesting findings. However, I think these surveys are misleading because of the people answering them.

    There are tons of small businesses out there which aren’t using content marketing at all. Or they wouldn’t call it content marketing. And they wouldn’t be answering the surveys.

    What do you think? :)

    • says

      Hey Alex, I think that we indeed always have to be very careful with surveys and look at who does them with what methodology and on which lists and demographics ;) You’re right of course. But the folks at CMI, as the folks at Econsultancy, do mention their methodology and the profiles of respondents. But I couldn’t agree more: always take a fault margin and sometimes more into account. On the other hand: I don’t doubt the two mentioned parties too much.

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