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The 2016 State of Digital Content

Comprehensive research on the trends, challenges and best practices of companies using digital content to meet business objectives and customer needs.

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The 2016 State of Digital Content

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  1. PREVIEW COPY The2016 State of DIGITAL CONTENT Content Strategy Goes Beyond the Marketing Department By Omar Akhtar October 25, 2016 Includes survey data from 528 digital transformation leaders and strategists

  2. PREVIEW COPY EXECUTIVE SUMMARY KEY FINDINGS To understand how brands are using content to achieve business goals and deliver on customer needs, we surveyed over 500 content strategists in North America and Europe across major industry verticals including IT, retail, manufacturing, finance, and healthcare. • Most companies have moved beyond using content purely for marketing purposes. They are now deploying it across other parts of the business such as sales and service. Over 80% of the respondents said they had a unified content strategy that applied to the entire organization. • Majority of companies displayed high levels of maturity for digital content operations. Over 80% of respondents said they had executive support, were able to attribute revenue to content, and created personalized content based on customer data. • Companies still struggle with aligning teams around a common content vision. Despite having a unified content strategy, 55% of companies said aligning multiple teams around that strategy was their biggest challenge, and 70% said this alignment was one of their top initiatives in 2017. We tested the hypothesis that content is no longer a marketing function, but a strategic tool for multiple parts of the organization to meet business objectives and deliver on a unified customer experience. We charted the progress companies have made towards achieving this vision across several different aspects of the business, including leadership, organization, strategy, and technology. We also created a snapshot of the most common practices by industry and identified the future initiatives and technologies that companies were investing in. • Brands use content mostly to create awareness and build credibility as thought leaders. The top objectives for producing content were brand health (36%) and thought leadership (32%).This implies that brands are neglecting other opportunities to use content such as inspiring trust, or providing product support. • Brands produce most content in-house (68%). However brands also rely on user- generated content (62%) and to a lesser extent, outside agencies (43%) to help scale the production of content. • Data drives content. Almost all companies (99%) use some form of data to create relevant content, the most popular sources being social media metrics (65%) and website analytics (63%). Data analysis was the most desired skill (67%) for content strategists and 51% of respondents said the data team was leading the content strategy discussion. • Nearly everybody uses Facebook for content. Brands received the most engagement for their content on Facebook (71%) followed by email (61%). To get that level of engagement, brands are spending ad dollars to amplify content. Another key channel: 46% cite native advertising as their most engaging content. 2

  3. PREVIEW COPY INTRODUCTION We believe that in 2016, mature and effective companies use digital content, not just in marketing, but across their organization. Content can do more than the typical marketing objectives of creating brand awareness or maintaining brand health. It can now promote loyalty, create transparency, fuel a community, provide technical support, and even generate direct revenue. So we set out to track how far companies had come in managing content across the organization, what objectives companies were pursuing, and which strategies they were implementing. We also tracked factors that drive maturity, such as executive support, revenue attribution, and the use of sophisticated technology such as personalization and real-time delivery. An additional goal of this study was to create a snapshot of current content practices. We determined what respondents considered the most effective formats, delivery channels, and measurement techniques for their content strategies -- and what they planned for the coming year. For each of these questions, we looked at variation across industries and geographies. 3

  4. PREVIEW COPY CONTENT PRODUCING COMPANIES SHOW HIGH LEVELS OF MATURITY Based on responses to our behavioral questions, we found that companies displayed high levels of maturity when it came to how they used digital content. Over 80% of respondents agreed that they had content strategies that extend across departments, executive support, and the ability to deliver data-driven, personalized, real-time content (see Figure 1). • 41% of companies agree that they have an organization wide content strategy. When we include people who “somewhat agree,” this proportion rises to 88%. Companies are planning beyond content marketing plans, working on central strategies across all customer-facing departments who can benefit from deploying content. In Europe, only 31% agreed that they had a unified content strategy. Comparing industries, IT was the most confident, with 49% of respondents saying they had a unified strategy. FIGURE 1. INDICATORS OF MATURITY FOR PRODUCERS OF DIGITAL CONTENT Agree Somewhat Agree Neutral Somewhat Disagree Disagree My company has a unified content strategy that applies to the entire organization 41% 47% 8% 4 1 • 39% of respondents had the complete support of executive leadership. And an additional 44% somewhat agreed that they had complete support. The majority of companies have executive buy-in for using content, which indicates that it has graduated from the “testing and learning” phase to showing real business impact. This figure was consistent across North America, Europe and all industries, but with higher support (55%) in manufacturing companies, where the benefits of B2B content are clearer. Executive leadership fully supports and invests in using branded content to achieve 39% 44% 14% 3 1 business goals My company is able to directly tie revenue to engagement generated by branded content 39% 47% 12% 2 1 My company creates relevant content based on customer data gathered from multiple departments/resources 38% 44% 14% 2 1 Multiple departments within my company consistently produce content according to a central vision and common set of guidelines My company can deliver personalized content in real-time to customers based on the actions they take on our digital properties 36% 49% 12% 3 35% 48% 13% 4 4

  5. PREVIEW COPY • 39% of respondents can tie content efforts to revenue generation. Adding in those who could identify some support, 86% could show revenue results. This is a crucial factor in getting departments other than marketing to invest in content as a strategic tool. North America (44%) has made more progress in this regard than Europe (31%). Comparing industries, IT (45%) and manufacturing (45%) were most likely to be able to tie content to revenue, while retail was least likely (30%). Again, B2B companies were more likely to attribute revenue impact to content. This can be explained by the comparatively long sales cycles of IT and manufacturing companies, where content has a greater chance of influencing the purchaser to make a considered decision. 39% of respondents are able to tie content efforts to revenue generation • Overall, 38% of companies create content based on data gathered from multiple sources. Unifying data to create an accurate picture of the customer and their needs continues to be a challenge, not just for content strategy, but for teams that are focused on the entire, unified customer experience. Only 29% of European companies could do this, while North Americans were more confident at 44%. 38% of companies say they are able to create content based on data gathered from multiple sources • 36% of companies say they’re able to align different content-producing departments. A key component of a mature content strategy is that multiple stakeholders create and follow the strategy, which enables many departments to coordinate as they create content on their own. This was tougher for finance (28%) and healthcare (26%) respondents, where compliance with regulations makes cross- department coordination challenging. • 35% of companies can create personalized content and deliver it in real- time. This is a little surprising given that marketing tech platforms have been offering this technology for at least the last two years, and there are more tools than ever that enable companies to create personalized, data-based content. It highlights a gap between the technology and its adoption, and indicates that brands still aren’t factoring personalization and real-time delivery into their content strategies. There was also a sizeable gap in adoption between North America (40%) and Europe, where only 28% of respondents said they practiced real-time personalization. 36% of companies say they’re able to align different content-producing departments 5

  6. PREVIEW COPY ALIGNING TEAMS AND ACCESSING DATAARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FIGURE 2. BIGGEST CHALLENGES FOR CONTENT PRODUCING ORGANIZATIONS Question: What are the biggest challenges you face in creating and implementing a content strategy? (Choose 3) 55% 54% 53% 47% 37% 35% Aligning multiple teams around a unified strategy Accessing relevant customer data Companies are well versed in the technology and skills needed to execute a digital content strategy, but still face challenges on the processes side, specifically around alignment and setting governance across multiple teams (see Figure 2). Difficulty in proving business impact of content Producing content at a large scale Purchasing or integrating the right software Leadership and strategists aren’t on the same page when it comes to defining business impact Getting investment/support from executive leadership 18% Hiring the right skills/people 6

  7. PREVIEW COPY TO DOWNLOAD THIS REPORT IN FULL AT NO COST, PLEASE VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT http://www2.prophet.com/the-2016-state-of-digital-content 7

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