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article imageNew Research on the Power of Documentation in Content Marketing

By Jenna Cyprus     Feb 4, 2015 in Technology
When most people think of documentation, they think of a painstaking, unnecessary process that slows down productivity with tedious, manual writing.
But according to new research from Content Marketing Institute, (PDF file) documentation is an important part of almost any process. Today, millions of B2B business owners (93 percent, to be exact) are looking to content marketing as a critical element of their ongoing digital marketing campaigns, but how many of them are taking the time to document the steps of their strategy?
What the Research Suggests
This latest research acknowledges how many B2B marketers are currently using content marketing, but it also attempts to identify the root differentiators between successful and non-successful businesses. In one portion of the survey, business owners were asked if they had a content marketing strategy. Of those surveyed, only 35 percent said they have a documented strategy, but another 48 percent admitted to having an undocumented content marketing strategy. Another 14 percent had no strategy, and 3 percent were unsure.
But what gets really interesting is how those same subjects responded to another question asked later in the interview: how effective do you consider your strategy to be? When asked this question, 60 percent of participants with a documented strategy responded positively, stating that their strategy has been effective, while only 32 percent of those with only a verbal strategy considered theirs to be effective.
From these results, we can assume that simply having a verbal strategy isn’t enough to be effective. In order to maximize your results, you need to have a formally written strategy.
Why Written Strategies Are Important
There are some peripheral factors that could be interfering with the results. For example, it could be that content marketers with a written plan are simply more likely to believe that they’re effective, rather than being more likely to be actually effective. Also, correlation doesn’t always mean causation; it could be that there is a third motivating factor that underlies the tendencies to write down a plan and to be effective.
Even so, there are some real benefits to writing down a formal strategy for your content marketing campaign:
· It forces you to think things through. If you simply tell yourself it’s time to start a content strategy and you plunge headfirst, you don’t get a chance to think through all the fine details of your campaign. Writing down a formal plan forces you to face all the questions and possibilities that might get in the way of your success, so you can address them proactively.
· It sets goals and holds you accountable. If you aren’t sure what you’re doing or what you want to achieve, you could easily end up floundering. Setting goals with a written plan and holding yourself accountable to those goals will make you more driven to actually achieve them.
· It can be easily adjusted. Tracking the progress of your content marketing campaign is important, but when it comes time to make critical adjustments, you’ll need to know your starting point intimately. Having a written plan helps you identify which areas can—or should—be changed for the future.
· It’s harder to go off course. With an informal, verbal plan, it’s easy for the campaign to drift off course from your initial vision, especially as the months roll on. Solidifying your ideas and your direction can help keep you on course.
· It’s easy to find help. Finally, with an informal plan, it’s hard to communicate all your ideas and goals to another party. With a written plan, you can easily recruit others within your organization to help out with portions of your strategy.
How Outsourcing Comes Into Play
According to InboundWriter, 62 percent of companies are currently outsourcing their content marketing with another firm or a freelancer. This is a valuable strategy for smaller businesses especially, since restricted budgets and limited resources can prevent marketers from doing everything they set out to do. However, fully entrusting a generic “content marketing” strategy to an external source can be a bad idea. It’s still important to write out your own content marketing plan, complete with goals, directives, and details that you think will make your plan effective.
The average B2B marketer’s budget is roughly 2 percent of their total revenue, which isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s significant enough to warrant real attention. The majority of successful content marketers see a highly positive ROI, so it pays to do everything you can to make your campaign work.
Moving forward, your first step is to, if you haven’t already, formally document your content marketing plan. Include your goals, both short-term and long-term, your overall direction, and most importantly, the individual steps and processes that will lead you to your ultimate destination.
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