Need to reference a few content marketing statistics? Maybe you…
- Need some data to convince your CEO to give you a bigger content budget;
- Want to know what results to expect from your hard work producing, editing, and perfecting blog articles, videos, podcasting episodes and infographics;
- Are creating a content marketing strategy and want to discover the biggest and best opportunities;
- Have invested some time or money in content marketing, but aren’t seeing results and you want to know what you’re doing wrong;
- Are an established content marketer and simply want to stay on top of industry trends.
If any of those statements ring a bell, this article will be right up your alley.
We’ll cover what the latest data says about content marketing in 2021 — curated from hundreds of thousands of data points across all types of content.
Ready? Put your data-nerd hat on and dive in.
Content Strategy and Return on Investment Statistics
It’s 2021, and well over a decade has passed since the first digital marketing gurus gave content the keys to the online kingdom.
And a decade is a long time on the rapidly evolving, ever-changing internet.
So is content still king? Or has it been dethroned in favor of some new, exciting marketing channel?
Let’s look to the data to find out.
6 Content Marketing Strategy Statistics
SEMRush’s whitepaper, The State of Content Marketing 2019, reports that 91% of organizations around the world use content marketing in their marketing strategies.
In CMI’s (Content Marketing Institute) 10th annual content marketing survey, only 33% of the B2C (business to consumer) respondents reported having a documented content strategy, while 3 out of 4 reported that they’ve achieved some level of success with content marketing.
The same survey separated out those companies who have reached a level of sophistication and maturity with their content marketing to examine their responses alone. Let’s look at some of their statistics:
- 52% report they’re extremely successful with content marketing;
- 53% have documented strategies;
- 92% used metrics and analytics to assess content performance.
What can we learn from the successes of these B2C companies?
First, what gets measured gets managed.
Keeping an eye on Google Analytics to assess the performance of your content is good business. This can help you determine what works for your organization and how best to attract and serve your target audience.
Second, recording an official content marketing strategy may help you realize more success with your content.
And third, while correlation is not causation, it’s safe to say that looking to the data to craft your content marketing strategy is smart.
The relative success of the mature B2C companies in the survey suggest that there’s an opportunity for more B2C marketers to analyze content metrics and use them to craft an intentional, data-driven content marketing strategy to make their content efforts work harder for them.
7 Content Marketing Budget Statistics
There are a few things required to create a documented strategy for any marketing channel.
You need data, ideally pre-existing, about your website’s performance, your marketing funnel, and your target customers.
You need goals, or at least a sense of what you hope to achieve with your strategy so you can determine whether you’re successful.
And you need a budget that will help you reach those goals.
If you’re crafting your strategy for the first time, you might wonder what the budget is for other companies.
What do you have to spend to achieve some success with content?
Let’s look at the statistics:
The average annual B2C content marketing budget was $230,000 in 2019, with 23% of marketers surveyed stating they had no budget for content, and 31% reporting a budget of under $100,000 (Content Marketing Institute).
When looking at B2B content, these numbers change slightly:
- The average budget was $185,000 in 2019;
- 18% stated they had no budget for content;
- 36% reporting a budget of under $100,000.
These numbers suggest that you should set aside some money from your company’s marketing budget to spend on the content channel (even if your budget isn’t $230,000/year).
62% of marketers surveyed by SEMRush expected to increase their content marketing budgets in the following year.
Likely because content marketing still generates a strong return on investment.
How strong? Let’s find out.
3 Content Return on Investment Statistics
The purpose of any marketing effort — whether it’s email marketing, inbound marketing, PPC ads, etc. — is to generate sales and conversions.
We’ll see shortly that there are many benefits to content marketing beyond revenue generation, but content is no exception.
So what type of return on investment (ROI) can you expect from your content marketing efforts?
According to data collected by Chief Marketer, 41% of B2B (business to business) marketers state content marketing as one of the traditional marketing channels that attracts the highest ROI leads, and 62% said it was one of their most valuable lead-nurturing marketing strategies.
In fact, a survey of more than 600 senior-level marketers identified content marketing as the marketing channel responsible for the second highest ROI (Statista, 2017), next only to SEO (with which content goes hand-in-hand).
But measuring the content marketing ROI isn’t as black and white as many other channels. There are two reasons for this:
1. Content marketing is a team player
Content marketing attracts traffic at the top of the funnel, and assists many other channels in converting.
For example, a piece of educational content related to your product might attract organic traffic from Google if you rank on the first page for your target search term. If the visitor doesn’t convert from that session, you can retarget them on a social platform like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn using your website’s pixel, and they may convert from that channel.
This conversion wouldn’t be possible if they hadn’t landed on your website via content.
2. Content marketing enjoys compounding returns
Unlike with paid acquisition channels, you only have to pay for a piece of content once, but it can keep generating revenue for you forever. You may pay $500 for a piece of content that generates only a 10% ROI the first month, but then a 15% ROI the second month, and so on.
The nature of content marketing means that it’s best to look at the other benefits of content as well as the revenue it generates to best understand it’s return on investment.
4 Statistics on the Benefits of Content Marketing
Aside from direct conversions, Content Marketing Institute’s 2019 report suggests that there are many other benefits of content marketing.
Survey respondents reported the following:
- Improving brand awareness (81%);
- Audience education (73%);
- Building trust and credibility with audiences (68%);
- Lead nurturing (58%).
Content marketing is effective at relationship building, not only with your target audience (whether that’s boomers, millennials, or people who live in a specific location), but also with other companies in your industry, influencers, and partners.
Now that you know the numbers to take care of the data and budget portions of your content strategy, you need to know what type of content to build your strategy around.
Content Marketing Statistics by Content Format
So you know you need to double down on content marketing in 2021.
Now you just need to decide what type of content to invest your resources into creating.
Not sure where to start? Let’s look at the statistics that’ll help inform the meat of your content strategy.
7 Written Content Marketing Statistics
HubSpot’s State of Marketing Report indicated that written content through blogging was the primary type of media used in marketing strategies in 2019, and it was only barely beaten by video content in 2020.
This makes sense, since text is the basis of Google search, at least until Google’s algorithm is able to accurately make sense of audio and video content.
Of those who actively engaged in content marketing, 92% of B2B companies used shorter articles and blog content, whereas only 32% used long-form articles (Content Marketing Institute, 2020).
This statistic changed slightly when looking at B2C companies, with 80% of B2C content marketers publishing short articles and only 28% employing long-form content.
This is a shame, since the average first-page Google search result contained just under 1500 words, according to Brian Dean of Backlinko, who also reports that longer-form content is linked to more often, collecting over 77% more backlinks than short-form content.
These statistics suggest that while written content will probably be the backbone of your strategy, investing in long-form, in-depth content over short-form content will generate more results.
But what if your audience isn’t the type to sit down and read long articles? What if they prefer to consume their content in a more convenient, portable form?
Here’s what the data says about other content types.
7 Audio Content Marketing Statistics
Since podcasts came on the scene in 2004, podcast listening has risen tremendously in popularity.
Edison Research reports that 100 million people in the United States alone listen to podcasts every month, and like any form of media, we should expect to see that number increase.
Audio content has an edge on written content too. We’ve long known that people don’t read every word on the page. Nielsen reports that 79% of users scan the page, and only 20% of users will get to the bottom of an article (Sumo, 2018).
Compare that to podcast listeners, where 43% will listen to the entire episode.
This suggests a huge opportunity to keep your audience engaged with your content through audio.
Of those identified as monthly podcast listeners in the U.S. in 2019, 54% were men, and just under 40% were between the ages of 25-54.
Is there room in your strategy to incorporate audio content?
7 Visual Content Marketing Statistics
Many marketers know this intuitively. According to data gathered by Venngage, 74% of marketers surveyed use some form of visual in the majority of their content.
But between photos, infographics, charts, graphs, illustrations, and slides, there are billions of visuals on the web today. Trying to stand out using visual content is like finding a needle in a haystack, right?
The statistics paint another picture (pun intended).
Only 8% of marketers surveyed by Venngage reported using charts and data visualizations in their content, and only 34% reported using original graphics such as infographics and illustrations.
This is a huge gap in visual content marketing, especially since original graphics (such as infographics and original illustrations) was the #1 visual content type to help marketers reach their marketing goals (Venngage, 2020).
This suggests an opportunity for marketers to build visual, custom content into their content strategies.
6 Video Content Marketing Statistics
No content marketing strategy is complete without including video marketing.
Not only does video allow for engaging, interactive content, but as you’ll soon see, it’s also a turbocharged marketing tool that’s only growing bigger.
3 billion searches per month are done on YouTube (Mushroom Networks, 2020), making it the second-largest search engine in the world, next only to Google.
HubSpot’s 2020 State of Marketing Report identifies video as the primary content type used in marketing strategies last year, outpacing blog posts, infographics, case studies, and webinars.
But if you’re looking to utilize video in your content marketing strategy for 2021, you may have some competition. According to Statista, in 2019 there were 500 hours of video content uploaded to YouTube every single minute.
Even so, 87% of content marketers who used video in their content strategies reported that it increased website traffic, and 80% reported an increase in sales conversions from video content (Wyzowl, 2020).
These video marketing successes show up in how companies spend their marketing dollars. In the U.S. in 2019, marketers spent $9.95 billion on digital video advertising (Statista, 2020).
If you’re not making room for video marketing in your content strategy, you may want to reconsider.
4 Content Distribution Statistics
You’ve just read the key statistics to help inform your content creation strategy. Now all you need to do is do some keyword research and start producing, right?
Not so fast.
Even if you produce a stunning amount of content perfectly targeting the keywords your audience is searching, and even if it’s quality content, if you don’t have a distribution strategy, your content won’t get the attention it deserves.
So where should you promote your content to get the most eyes on it?
Other than the company website (30%), nearly 30% of survey respondents reported that Facebook was their primary content distribution channel (HubSpot, 2020).
In a survey done by Content Marketing Institute in 2019, 71% of B2B marketers in the “successful” group reported using paid channels, such as search engine marketing (SEM) or paid social media marketing to promote their content. Only 55% of the respondents in the “least successful” group reported doing the same.
While content marketing is typically regarded as an organic marketing channel, this statistic suggests that it can be made more powerful when given a leg up with digital advertising.
The Data Proves That Content (Marketing) is Still King
You can’t just put together a couple of short articles, post them on your website, and watch the traffic, lead generation stats, and conversion rates soar. As the data clearly shows, you might need to build a small budget for content creation if you want to see real, tangible results.
These content marketing stats confirm what marketers in the top performing companies all over the world already know:
Content marketing is still one of the most effective and profitable digital marketing channels available.
You just have to get a little savvy (and a little creative) to reap the benefits of this marketing powerhouse.
So, are you ready to take the marketing throne?