The Content Marketing Institute 2019 Agency Survey Report just dropped this morning and it’s chocked full of compelling insights. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy (because they are a client) and here are a few of the key points I think all ad agencies should understand.
The Content Marketing Opportunity Is Real for Ad Agencies
In my opinion, the findings are clear. There is an abundance of opportunity for agencies to pursue content marketing services as a viable and significant revenue stream. The research confirms that content marketing is not a fad, but instead, a permanent new tool in many brands’ marketing toolboxes. It also suggests that agencies that haven’t yet taken the plunge into offering content marketing services still have time to learn about and offer content marketing services to their clients.
Here are four key insights that really jumped out at me:
Agencies Are Still Treading Carefully Into The Content Marketing World
While 98% of the agency respondents surveyed offered content marketing services, 76% report multi-tasking existing advertising creative talent to create that content. Only 50% reported using dedicated content marketing creation staff and 45% said they are still outsourcing some or all of the work to subcontractors and/or freelancers.
Historically, this pattern of repurposing and outsourcing to supply new marketing services has accompanied most, if not all, new communication channels. By and large, agencies are approaching content marketing just as they did the web, mobile, and most recently social media marketing.
Many agencies are still using “temporary talent” to offer content marketing before fully committing via dedicated staffing to this new marcom channel.
Word-of-Mouth Is The #1 Source of New Business
72% of respondents cite word-of-mouth as the top business development channel. Agency-published content (blog/website) and in-person events/networking round out the top three business development channels in terms of new revenue generation.
I love seeing WOM and EVENTS in the top three biz dev channels.
Because, in my experience, content goes a long way towards helping your agency get known for knowledge, but if you really want to leverage that content to drive new business, you have to go out and meet people.
You still have to shake hands and look a prospect in the eye if you hope to go from simply being “known for knowledge” to “hired for that knowledge.”
This stat reinforces that agencies must continue to fly the flag at key industry and category conferences and events by showing up and meeting those prospects. In fact there is a pretty good one coming up in September in Cleveland. Hint… hint…
Clients Are Looking To Agencies To Solve Their Content Marketing Challenges
Respondent agencies were asked to share the most common challenges they hear when a potential client approaches them for content marketing services.
Interestingly, the top client content marketing challenges are:
- Lack of knowledge — how to effectively create content marketing programs and how to scale them
- Unable to consistently produce and publish content
- Lack of time
- Absence of a clear content marketing strategy
- Measurement and proving ROI of their content marketing programs
These answers might just be the single most important result to come out of the research.
Thye prove that clients need help primarily in two forms.
First, they need bodies. Producing content is time intensive and either headcount limitations or scarcity in the labor pool is limiting clients’ ability to properly staff their content marketing efforts. That’s a perfect opportunity for agencies to step in and alleviate the issue.
In fact, this finding harks back to the 2018 Agency Edge Research Study, which reported client side marketers felt the following qualities were the most important when selecting a marketing services provider:
- Ability to get work done quickly (45%)
- Ability to handle difficult or complex projects (41%)
- Ability to work with minimal oversight by us (41%)
Second, clients are telling us that they don’t really have it all figured out. They need our help to develop strategy, scaling efforts and maybe most important of all, developing measurement programs that will prove the ROI of their content marketing efforts.
Agencies Still Largely Producing 1st Click Content
97% of agency respondents reported that most of their content marketing efforts were focused on the top of the sales prospecting funnel generating awareness or interest.
Only 61% were producing post-sale (customer loyalty) content. However, somewhat surprisingly (to me at least), a decent amount of agencies are producing 2nd Click Content, with 77% stating they are creating late-stage (evaluation/purchase) oriented content.
2019 Agency Content Marketing Survey Is Good News For Us Agencies
This research really excites me because it shows that contrary to what many agencies may think, content marketing is still a relatively immature and growing marcom channel that we agencies are perfectly positioned to help clients enter and leverage to grow their brands.
There is still time for non-content marketing agencies to join the party. And for those novice agencies, there is still time to up your game and create content marketing revenue streams for your agency.
And if you take my advice, be sure to check out my Turning Conversations Into Customers session on Wednesday, September 4th at 10:15am.