A recent study revealed most brands are creating content, but that doesn't always mean they're doing it strategically.

More than half of marketers admit creative brand content is a now a competitive differentiator, and companies producing digital collateral are stepping forward as industry leaders. Despite the spreading consensus that content is essential, the vast majority of companies still struggle with basic web marketing principles.

From the planning stage to content sourcing and strategic sharing, most marketers face challenges that are likely impacting success, according to a Curata report. Brands must identify their own content woes and find appropriate solutions to lead the pack rather than fall behind.

1. Minimal context

Two-thirds of marketers identified content contextualization as their biggest stumbling block and one in 10 said they don’t do this at all. Essentially, these companies are creating collateral that may not be relevant to their target audiences, which means missed lead generation and conversion opportunities. Contextualizing content requires editorial prowess and thoughtful consideration about the readers of each piece and what they need to know.

Contextualizing or synthesizing information is arguably the most important part of content marketing because it’s where original insights and value are added. In a previous Google Webmaster Help Channel video, Matt Cutts pointed out that true synthesis goes far beyond stitching, or peeling quotes from multiple sources and parsing them together in a new piece. It’s unique context that compels readers to return to certain sites and demonstrates why one brand is a better partner than another.

Two-thirds of marketers identified content contextualization as their biggest stumbling block. 

2. Low levels of planning and organization

More than six in 10 marketers said organization was a major pain point, which means they may not be creating editorial calendars that provide campaign benchmarks. Over 13 percent said they are not organizing their content at all as of 2014. Yet, having a basic content calendar is an easy way to ensure websites receive regular posts that map to strategic goals.

3. Difficulty sourcing information

While four in 10 marketers said they do not struggle to source information for their web content, approximately 57 percent report this is still a challenge. If marketers don’t have time to source data themselves by checking online publications for fresh information, they must find content writers who can own this task and fully immerse themselves in the latest news. This ensures brands are consistently reporting on the data that’s most relevant to their prospects and establishing themselves as reliable online resources.

4. Confusion about where to share information

Over half of all marketers admit they’re uncertain about where to share their custom content.

Finally, over half of all marketers admit they’re uncertain about where to share their custom content, a finding that implies they are leaving money on the table. To generate the most ROI, timely news content and trending posts can’t sit idle on brands’ websites. They must be distributed across the ‘net to people seeking information.

Marketers need to close the gaps in their content creation loops and bring their strategies to the next level of sophistication to fuel results. We’ve entered an era when web marketing’s no longer new, but a standard that’s quickly evolving and challenging agile brands to keep up.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.