Chief marketing officers’ sense of the value and effectiveness of custom content has increased significantly since 2006, and concerns about custom content are diminishing, according to new research from the Custom Content Council.
The survey, conducted this month by Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communication, was released today at the fourth annual Custom Content Council conference, held in Charleston, South Carolina.
Eighty-seven percent of CMOs said they perceive custom content as valuable or very valuable, according to the survey, an increase of 15 percent in the five years since the last survey. Forty percent said it was “very” valuable, compared to just 11 percent in 2006.
How do marketers see custom content as valuable? Ninety-four percent of the 100 or so CMOs and top-level marketing executives surveyed indicated that custom content strengthens their bonds with consumers. Eighty-five percent say it makes consumers likely to buy again. And 90 percent said they believe that consumers find custom-content information useful. In each of these three instances, the percentage of CMOs who believe this increased from five years ago.
“To quote an earlier speaker today, this is our time,” said Mike Winkleman, president of Leverage Media and immediate past president of the Custom Content Council. “Five years ago, there were some questionable things. There was only a faith on the part of marketers that people were using it. The diminishing concerns on the part of marketers are the most important part of this research.”
Those concerned centered on three things: That custom content programs are too expensive; that there’s no way to measure ROI; and that convincing others internally, within the marketer’s organization, that custom content is viable is a challenge.
All of these concerns have diminished, the survey indicates. “That means it’s strategic,” Winkleman said. “It’s an integrated marketing campaign. It’s not tactical anymore.”
Joe Pulizzi, executive director of the Content Marketing Institute, agrees. “At the end of 2009-2010, most CMOs stopped asking why we need to do this,” he said. “That’s been answered. They know they need to do it. It needs to be a core part of their marketing strategy today. There’s no executive at a senior brand that I’ve asked in the last two years has questioned that need. Now it’s all about best practices and key performance indicators.”
The survey also indicates that marketers are increasingly incorporating custom content into their marketing plans, and that they are shifting funds from traditional advertising campaigns to do it. Eighty-one percent are engaged in custom content, up from 67 percent five years ago, while 59 percent are shifting funds, a number that has increased from 41 percent in 2006.
Interestingly, custom magazines are not close to the most common form of custom content. That goes to customized Web content. Magazines rank at number 7, after e-newsletters, print newsletters, social media, video and conferences. White papers, advertorials and Webinars round out the top 10 most common forms of custom content. Ironically, print magazines rank highest in terms of consumer awareness, according to the study.