Ever feel like you’re falling behind? More than half of marketers believe their performance is average or below average compared to peers and competitors, according to a new report from Percolate. It’s not a good feeling, but the same study highlights a possible antidote. Marketers who create goal-focused, diverse content and use data to drive their strategies are more likely to feel confident in their efforts, and more likely to see results.

The report draws insights from over 250 senior marketers (with 47 percent of respondents at the director level or higher). In spite of the fact that only around half of respondents have annual budgets exceeding $100 thousand, poor performance is not directly tied to purse strings. Instead, content issues rank as some of the biggest setbacks. Of course, some of these challenges may be connected to lack of budgets – but the data offers a lens into which content strategy elements are worth the dollar spend, and which approaches may help maximize return.

Diverse & agile content for above-average results

High-performing marketers tend to have more content marketing agility. According to the report, nearly half of underperforming marketers struggle to collaborate with internal teams or hired partners, while only one-third of high performers have this issue. More, there’s an obvious gap in how quickly teams create content – with just 30 percent of high performers citing creation speed as an issue, compared to 44 percent of low performers.

Content marketing challenges - high versus low performers, percolate.png

While both sets of marketers cited “having a single place for planning, content and publishing,” as a relatively smaller challenge, it seems high performers are still more likely to have a unified gameplan. According to the report, “High performers are significantly more likely to see content distribution as critical to success than average or low performers.”

“High performers are significantly more likely to see content distribution as critical to success than average or low performers.”

Read more about Brafton’s approach to an agile content creation and distribution strategy: An interview with Brafton’s CEO.

The content types used by top-performing marketers indicate they consider distribution as they create content. Leaders are more likely than laggards to produce content across multimedia formats, and in bite-sized chunks that are easily shared across the web. Images, infographics, short-form posts and short videos are each used more by top-performers than their underperforming counterparts.

content format discrepencies

Here’s another perspective on why diverse content is essential to performance: Diverse content helps reach every member of your target audience.

While it’s obvious that higher performing content marketers have reliable creators (who can produce multimedia formats), the report goes a step further in demonstrating success starts before the content with a data-driven strategy.

Numbers talk: Data analysis strengthens strategies

Marketing leaders are more likely to use number-based insights to decide on content strategies than underperformers. They’re more likely to consider metrics around past performance (42 percent) and market research (35 percent) than the laggards (33 percent and 27 percent of whom rely on those insights, respectively).  

strategy drivers for content marketing.png

The leaders also have a stronger appreciation of the nuances of content analytics. While they’re more likely to rely on these figures, stronger marketers say analyzing data is a greater challenge. A full 31 percent of top marketers know there’s room for improvement in this area, while just 21 percent of underperformers recognize the need to beef up their data learning processes.  

The results indicate that marketers should build teams or choose content providers who can offer:

    • Clear creative briefs that make content accountable for specific goals (before its crafted)
    • Deadline-focused creatives
    • High-levels of collaboration and customer service from creatives
    • Teams that span media types and formats for effective and efficient content repurposing, especially with respect to social strategists 
    • Processes for metric analysis to perfect ongoing content planning

Is it alarming that laggards and leaders are equally likely to depend on intuition? Perhaps a little gut instinct can go a long way – but market with caution and back up ideas with numbers.