An Analysis of the Content Marketing Statistics That Actually Matter to Your Business

41 Content Marketing Statistics That Actually Matter to Your Business in 2021

There’s no denying that 2020 was a challenging year.

In January, we had a great economy with people buying things right and left.

Then, the pandemic hit and it turned many people’s world upside down. Lockdowns, social distancing, and other measures have forced people to stay home and shop online. As marketers, the COVID economy has forced us to change our tactics somewhat.

However, the need for content marketing hasn’t gone away. If anything, it has become more important as a temporary substitute for in-store advice.

Hopefully, by now, your company is one of the 91% of B2Bs and 86% of B2Cs that are currently using content marketing. With increasing budgets in content marketing, it’s important to always be optimizing your budget spend and looking for new ideas to maximize ROI. However, it is a sad fact that as many as 1 in 4 marketers aren’t measuring their content marketing ROI. For that reason, I’ve compiled what I feel to be the most important content marketing statistics that should inform your strategy.

I am not going to flood you with all the statistics you can find on the Internet. I am going to present the most compelling and relevant data to you and go into the details to help you decide if it’s the piece of information that you need or not.

So, with all that being said, let’s dive into the top content marketing statistics that I have curated just for you.

The Background for Content Marketing

But before we take a look at the statistics, let’s take a step back and better understand the role of content marketing in the entire scope of marketing options that your business has.

In a nutshell, there are three main types of marketing: traditional advertisements such as those seen in print or radio/TV formats, online advertisements including banner ads on sites or paid search, and content marketing, which includes everything from blogs to social media. This third form of marketing is the focus of our discussion today. Hopefully, these statistics will help you to choose the right types of marketing for your business, and gain an understanding of the costs involved.

Content marketing use is on the rise

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably bought into content marketing or will want to increase your investment. And you’re not alone.

1. Experts have estimated that the content marketing industry will be worth $300 Billion in 2020.

Experts have estimated that the content marketing industry will be worth $300 Billion in 2020.

In short, content marketing is big business. Whether industry earnings for 2020 met this benchmark or not, we are spending a lot of money for this type of marketing alone. Lots of content creators are making good money helping us sell goods and services, and this trend will likely continue. The only question is how fast this part of the industry will grow.

And looking at the latest content marketing statistics, it will continue to grow because:

2. Content marketing is an area of active investment for 70% of marketers.

Content marketing is an area of active investment for 70% of marketers.

70% is a very large proportion of the marketing community. Whether you’re talking about in-house marketing staff or agencies, we increasingly see content creation as a critical item in our toolbox.

While this widespread adoption definitely started out as copying what other people were doing, it would have stopped long ago if it didn’t work. Nobody has money to spend on strategies that don’t prove themselves. Even if we could keep spending it, we wouldn’t because we’d be throwing money down the drain. Bottom line: content marketing works.

Perhaps that’s why

3. 62% of marketing agencies saw an increase in the number of clients seeking content marketing services

Why? As you’ve already seen, content marketing is popular with consumers, and marketers would be silly not to take advantage of this trend.

So much of being a business owner involves providing what a customer wants or needs. After all, if something isn’t popular, then it won’t sell. Likewise, the rise of content marketing is tied to its popularity with consumers, as well as its effectiveness. For so many business owners, this is a product worth buying themselves.

Compared to traditional marketing, content marketing is less expensive per lead.

In particular, one study showed that

4. Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional outbound methods, yet it generates three times the number of leads.

Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional outbound methods, yet it generates three times the number of leads.

When you think about it, these numbers are eye popping. Looked at it another way, content marketing leads are about 5x less expensive than the ones generated by traditional marketing. There are a few reasons for this, including the fact that distribution costs on content are relatively low. Most of the expense is in getting it produced and discovered by your target audience. Then, you only have to pay for continued hosting and occasional promotion as appropriate. It sure beats paying the same fee every time someone sees your ad.

Content provides benefits to consumers

No, I don’t simply mean it might get their attention or result in an amused chuckle. Rather, I’m talking about real benefits. For instance, I might read a branded article about different WordPress plugins and how they can make my site better. In the process, I have a chance to decide if the brand itself is worth trying, or if I should consider something else. Even if they don’t buy right away, people remember this sort of help and may return later.

5. 90% of customers see a benefit from content marketing

Of course, it would be interesting if we had a specific reason why this is the case. However, there certainly are some possibilities. Most of us view traditional advertisements as transactional: say, 30% off the whole site for Black Friday. What this says is, “we want your business, so we’ll discount our product.” That’s fine, but remember that on Black Friday everyone else is doing the same thing. It is easy for a customer to ask why they should accept that 30% off from your company instead of another one.

Naturally, there are some organic reasons like personal taste or function that might motivate a customer to choose one transactional offer over another. But that’s not the only reason. Perhaps they’ve decided that your product is the best of its type by reading the content you’ve produced. All they need is for that discount to push them over the edge of a buying decision. They’ve already decided your product is awesome, so they feel there’s more value to be had from the same money by purchasing what you have to offer.

6. Among buyers of B2B products and services, 95% consider content to be a worthwhile way to evaluate any business.

B2B marketers and brands take note: if you aren’t doing any content marketing then you should be. And if the content you produce is poor quality then something needs to change now. Those of you who are working with B2C brands should also take note, because the same people buy things for themselves. Anyway, doing “market research” is standard for many major purchases. Reading branded content is one of the newer ways to do this.

Customers are more likely to buy from companies with content.

According to a Dragon 360 study,

7. 61% of customers report a preference for brands with a content presence.

61% of customers report a preference for brands with a content presence.

Think about it: customers really like to read about products and services before they buy. When your company uses custom content, it allows you to help the customer become educated about what they might need. For example, let’s consider skincare: customers with dry skin have different needs than someone with oily skin. Another example might be seen in construction: if a potential customer lives in a very cold climate, they might need better insulation than someone who lives in the Caribbean. Likewise, the Caribbean customer is more worried about hurricane damage.

By providing content on these subjects (as appropriate for your products), you are giving customers something of value. If they get the same information from a sales professional at the local beauty retailer or builder’s supply, they’ll be offered products made by your competitors, in addition to your own. Then, the customer will have to decide which competitive product to buy. With content on your own website, they’ll be motivated to buy what you’re selling after determining which product they need.

Content marketing builds customer loyalty

8. Using content marketing to build customer loyalty is the goal of 52% of content marketing clients

Many industries are very competitive, and for most businesses, it is better to retain customers than to constantly be replacing the same ones. Otherwise, it’s a lot harder to expand the business. Think about the two types of auto mechanics: there are some that will try to get as much money out of each customer as they can, and the ones that always give their customers a fair deal. Each mechanic type has a different sales strategy. One isn’t worried about whether or not the customer comes back, because they’ll just find another one. The other type prefers long term relationships with clients and the referrals they provide. Usually, the dishonest mechanic can’t grow their business because they get bad reviews and are always looking for new clients. On the other hand, honest mechanics gain an ever-larger clientele.

Using content marketing as a way to foster customer loyalty is like being an honest mechanic. You’re trying to attract the type of customer that will buy your products and services again and again. The ones that will refer their friends, leave positive reviews on the Web, and share your content on social media. Happy customers are the best advertising anywhere, and smart marketers use content to earn them.

Perhaps this is why

9. 75% of marketers are increasing investment in branded content creation.

75% of marketers are increasing investment in branded content creation.

Organizations are Maturing in Their Use of Content Marketing

As the use of and profit from content marketing continues to increase, along with a recognition of all of the benefits noted above, business organizations are putting the programs in place to systematically leverage their long-term investment.

Speaking of which, content marketing has matured to the point where

10. Content marketing programs are typically judged by the amount of Total Sales resulting from them.

So many marketing campaign types are judged by the number of people who view an advertisement or fill out a contact form. This is fine, if you want to raise brand awareness or expand your mailing list. But it doesn’t always lead to sales. Some outbound advertising formats, such as traditional media ads, don’t make it easy to measure sales. Fortunately, this isn’t a problem with content marketing due to the placement of cookies on browsers.

11. For 78% of companies, the content specialist team is between one and three people.

This isn’t a particularly large content marketing team, especially considering the effort it takes to prepare these assets. It’s interesting to note that we don’t have an average here. However, it’s reasonable to assume that much of the shortfall for medium and large companies is outsourced. For smaller businesses, outsourcing is almost a necessity.

12. These days, marketers don’t create content for only one segment of their audience. Instead, they produce content for a larger number of people. Typically, marketers break the audience into three segments.

Some brands out there have very restricted niches. Especially when they’re starting out, not a lot of people are interested in the brand. However, any brand with significant growth potential will soon have multiple market segments. At this point, it’s important that content marketing efforts have a broader appeal. This is often easier to achieve if you produce content tailored to different groups, than if you attempt to make everything appeal to everyone.

The Digital Transformation Continues to Shape Content Marketing

The above content marketing statistics should give you an idea as to the background for content marketing and why more and more businesses are increasing their investments in content marketing.

Why is their such great ROI from content marketing?

It all begins with the digital transformation. Understanding this concept will unlock the ability to see the future of content marketing.

In the last two decades, there has been a monumental shift in the way that people consume media and entertainment. To illustrate this point, think about what you like to do during your free time.

When you are not working, whether it is during a lunch break, decompressing after work, or relaxing on the weekend, what do you spend most of your time doing? In the past, the most likely activities would have been watching the programmed entertainment on your television, reading a paperback book, browsing through a newspaper or perhaps surfing the web on your desktop computer after dialing up to the internet. In today’s society, all of these activities have changed significantly.

The world of leisure has gone online. We have given up browsing television channels for internet streaming sites that deliver us shows and movies on demand. We have transitioned from books and newspapers to e-readers and online blogs. And if we want to interact with our friends and family, we do so from the comfort of our apartments using social media platforms. The point I’m trying to get across is that we are always online, and the statistics back this up. The chart below comes from Pew Research Centre.

13. 81% of American adults go online at least once a day

81% of American adults go online at least once a day

Furthermore, when you break these statistics down into different age brackets, it shows that:

14. Young adults aged 18-29 the proportion who are ‘almost constantly’ online is a staggering 48%

What does this mean for marketers? Unsurprisingly, it makes it imperative that marketing strategies are focused on digital platforms. If the majority of consumers are going online for their media, news, entertainment and social life, then this is where the focus should be for companies who are trying to engage with their customers and generate new ones.

Just proving that people are increasingly living their lives online does not by itself mean that content marketing is necessarily the way to reach out to your target market. We need to ask why is it that content marketing has become so important for companies.

For marketing professionals, it is all about engagement. If you can engage your customers, then you are likely to attract them to your brand and to increase loyalty. And the statistics say that content marketing does increase engagement.

15. According to one survey, “72% of marketers say content marketing increases engagement.”

16. In addition, content marketing is said to get “three times more leads than paid search advertising.”

Clearly those companies that understand the digital transformation and the role of content are reaping the benefits of content marketing.

Online Content Marketing Distribution Channels

Now that we’ve determined that marketing efforts should be focused on people’s online activity and use content marketing as the medium, the next step is to determine which are the most effective distribution channels that should be implemented. Obviously, there are going to be certain channels which are more effective for certain types of company and product. As a result, I am not going to dictate to you which is the best option because it really will depend. What I will do is show what some of the trends are and some interesting statistics that will help you to better make your decisions.

The chart below reveals the distribution channels that companies are planning on adding to their marketing in the coming year. As you can see, many companies are opting for video content to add to their marketing strategy in the next year through platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Interestingly, 20% of respondents said that they are looking to add messaging apps as a distribution channel for their content. This channel is an even more recent phenomenon than many of the other more traditional (in a very modern timeframe) channels.

17. Many companies are opting for video content to add to their marketing strategy in the next year through platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram

content distribution channels

An important caveat to this chart from HubSpot is that it does not show how marketers are currently distributing their content, only the channels they are looking to add.

The role of social media in content marketing

Today, social media is one of the main ways in which content marketers distribute their content. 95% of content marketers leverage social media distribution. These two statistics go together: many businesses have Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn presences of some type. It might be a Facebook page or the LinkedIn profile of the founder. Twitter accounts can be used both in the corporate persona (Apple) or through a company founder (think Elon Musk). Content marketers can post stories on many different social media platforms, or use Twitter to broadcast a link. With Twitter, the content article itself is often housed on a website the company controls, and that can be the case with other types of social media outreach as well.

The chart below explains how popular the role of social media in content marketing is in more detail by comparing the types of content that marketers are using to reach their customers (the companies are separated into B2C and B2B)

18. Social media content is the type of content most used by B2C content marketing

B2C content distribution channels

19. Social media content is the type of content most used by B2B content marketing

B2B content distribution channels

If you’ve decided on your content and your distribution channel, you can now scroll down to find some statistics that are specific to your choices. We will start with blogging and then move on to the other major forms of content marketing.

Blog Content

Most of us remember the days when a blog was somewhere that people thought aloud about what mattered to them, but not many people read them. Over time, blogging has become more mainstream, and it seems like everyone has a blog. For people like myself, the blog is an important way to advertise professional services. How? By being an authority in their chosen field.

Other bloggers have carved out a niche as a thought leader in a topic of interest outside their career. A lot of thinking and creativity happen on people’s blogs, and their ability to monetize bears this out. No matter how they’re used, blogs are more current than ever.

20. There are now more than 500 million blogs. 440 million on Tumblr. 60 million on WordPress.

21. On WordPress, about 70 million blog posts are published each month.

You might think that blogging is a waste of time. After all, why put something out there that will occupy a less-visible part of the internet than a banner ad? But the reality is quite different:

22. Almost 80% of Internet users read some type of blog.

Suffice to say, blogs are very popular with consumers.

Of course, blogs can include a very wide variety of content. Bloggers write about everything from makeup tips to farming know-how. They’ll even post product reviews and thoughts on the deepest of philosophical questions.

Especially if your products appeal to a particular niche or are in a competitive industry, the opportunities are yours for the taking. Think about it: reading a blog, or performing other consumer-level market research, can really help customers learn who is the “authority” in a field. Sometimes, choosing the right product or service includes more than just considering what the customer needs. Instead, they might want to know about quality options vs. budget options. By writing your own blog, you are helping to control the dialogue about various options in your industry.

23. For 71% of B2B industry professionals, purchasing decisions are influenced by reading a corporate blog at some point.

OK I can’t say it enough: your company needs a blog. And not one of those boring ones, either. While corporate news is important and should be included in your blog, it’s also critical that you do some consumer education. This is especially true with B2B brands in more competitive niches. People want, no, need to know what your brand has to offer. Whether it’s a unique product, improved user experience or improved social consciousness, people should hear about it. Otherwise, you’re leaving sales on the table.

Somewhat surprisingly, it took businesses a fair amount of time to catch on to the idea that they could use blogging themselves as a way to engage and connect with consumers. Now, it has become one of the most popular forms of content marketing because it is low cost and has an ability to generate a narrative around your brand that is difficult to match. Of course, as its popularity has increased, so has the science around how to use blogging in the most effective manner.

According to OkDork, the longer the article, the more likely that it is to be shared online. This is a vitally important metric because the sharing of content is crucial to its success and the level of engagement. If someone reads your content and then shares it with a friend or an online community, it is much more likely to compel someone to read it, and to concentrate while doing so.

24. The longer your content, the more it gets shared

blog content social media shares by blog length word count

25. Articles with images get shared more than twice as much than those without images

average shares in social media of blog content with or without images

In addition to length, the other insight from OkDork is that articles with images are much more likely to be shared. This use of visuals as a way to increase engagement is not specific to blog posts. You will see this point made in many places that images are important both for garnering attention and for increasing the likelihood of action and engagement on a company’s marketing content.

It should be no surprise, then, that:

26. Marketers have found that using long-form content generates 9x the leads of short-form content

What is long-form content? Generally, this category includes blogs, articles, and whitepapers of 2,000 words or more. This length of content allows a more in-depth discussion of any topic. In particular, it is useful for customer education within your industry. Let’s say you’re selling building materials. Short-form content might only list what is available along with the specifications. Long-form content might allow your construction business to explain to your customers why they should choose a granite countertop over a wooden or ceramic one. Then, when they come into your showroom, they can have a more intelligent discussion about pricing or color choices to make a final decision.

The Popularity (?) of Infographics

27. Infographics are the most likely type of content to get shared

average shares in social media by content type

28. Content is most shared in social media on weekdays, especially Tuesday

average content shares on social media by day of the week

Of course, blog posts come in all shapes and sizes. One trend that I have seen represented in numerous data sets and articles is the popularity of infographic type blog posts. As the chart above suggests, they are incredibly effective in generating shares. OkDork also managed to collate data to let companies know the best days of the week to publish blogs in order to maximize the number of shares for their content. Based on the results, it would appear that consumers are much more likely to share content during a weekday whilst they browse the internet at work than when they are enjoying some leisure time on a weekend.

Interestingly, I decided to see if people were actively searching for infographics or if they were just more likely to share them once they were on the article. It turns out, the demand for infographics has actually been declining steadily since 2013. This just goes to show that when it comes to content marketing statistics, you need to be careful and properly analyze the information you are looking and to not blindly rely on a singular chart or statistic.

29. Search demand for infographics peaked in 2013

the demand for infographics has been declining since 2013

Video Content

Video content excels for many reasons. One of them is the ease of consumption: you can sit on the couch and watch video long after your brain is too tired for reading. While this might not be done often with B2B brands, it’s common for people making a B2C buying decision to consume marketing material during their free time. In fact, watching something and then thinking about it overnight is far from unusual. Sometimes, all they need is to see the possibilities with your product.

It’s no surprise, then, that the importance of video content has exploded in recent years and this is in large part due to the proliferation of cell phones and mobile data that allows consumers to consume video like never before. Consumers will watch videos on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram as well as on blogs and articles. The concept of the ‘viral video’ and the desire for companies to create content that will be shared by those who watch it has resulted in billions of dollars flowing in to this form of marketing. The following charts are all from Oberlo. They indicate the strong demand for video content that consumers have and the enormous potential that this type of content has for companies to try and reach a large audience.

30. Demand for video content is increasing: 54% of consumers want to see more video content

demand for video continues to increase

31. Video is a powerful marketing tool: 87% of marketing professionals use video as a marketing tool

video is a powerful marketing tool

32. The power of YouTube: As the second largest search engine, YouTube receives more than 1.5 billion users per month and plays over 1 billion hours of video each day to users.

YouTube is the second largest search engine

The growth in video content marketing just in the last year has been astonishing as companies look to harness its full potential. The following video content statistics all come from Wyzowl:

33. 87% of businesses now use video as a marketing tool, a sharp rise from 63% and 81% in previous years.

A lot of companies focus on Youtube and Facebook but are also now turning to Instagram.

34. 51% of companies have used Instagram in their video marketing efforts and this is up from 41% in the previous year. Perhaps most importantly, the survey found that 67% plan to use it this year.

The reason for the focus on video content is clear.

35. Of the people surveyed, 68% said that video would be their preference for learning about a new product.

Indeed, video was far more popular for this purpose than all the other types (articles, infographics, presentations etc combined).

36. In addition, 48% of respondents indicated that of all the types of marketing content that are put out there, they would be most likely to share a short video.

Fast forward to today where, according to the latest content marketing statistics,

37. These days, content marketers use video formats more often than the others. Even blogs and infographics are used less often.

As important as blogs are, they aren’t as critical as they once were. Blogs are great for extracting information in written form, which has a lot of advantages. Infographics present similar data in simpler form that’s easier to consume. But video content has a lot more room for flexibility and creativity. Depending on the intended audience and subject matter you can use special effects and an almost unlimited range of formats. From tutorials to contests and simple modeling, the possibilities are endless.

38. Due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, live streaming has joined prerecorded videos in experiencing rapid growth. In fact, The months of March and April saw a 45% industry expansion. For 2020 as a whole, this figure is estimated to be 99%.

Can I just say these numbers are stunning? Working from home has resulted in people being glued to their home computer screens for much longer than we’re used to. With this comes a blurred distinction between work and home lives, and not everyone has adjusted well. Boredom and cabin fever abound.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons why livestreaming has exploded. I’d like to advance another theory, though: livestreaming produces an often-interactive connection with other people in real time. And, we’re missing the daily office noises that kept us all honest. Either way, this is a great marketing opportunity.

Podcast Content

The final content medium I will look at is podcasts (side note: you’ve already subscribed to my Maximize Your Social Influence podcast, right?).

Podcasts are by no means a new form of audio content, but their potential for content marketing has only recently been recognized. The reason why businesses are starting to take notice of them is because there has been a huge increase in the number of people who listen to podcasts in just the last decade. In a society where people are constantly looking to multi-task and make the most efficient use of their time, podcasts offer people the ability to stay informed on current events or their hobbies or sports teams whilst they perform other tasks.

39. 90 million Americans listen to podcasts at least monthly

90 million Americans listen to podcasts at least monthly

This is what makes them so attractive. As the chart above shows, it is estimated that 32% of the US population listen to at least one podcast each month. That is around 90 million people which makes this a huge audience for companies to pitch to. There is also a core of podcast listeners who are extremely engaged with certain shows. This is indicated by the statistic that nearly ¼ of Americans listen to podcasts every week. Also promising for marketers is the fact that this is not just a phenomenon amongst young people. The increase in the total podcast audience is happening across the age spectrum, with only those aged over 55 who are not fully engaged (although even they are increasing).

40. The increase in the total podcast audience is happening across the age spectrum

podcast listeners by age group

As we just mentioned, a lot of podcaster listeners are extremely engaged when they follow a podcast. When you generate podcast content, your audience is normally much more concentrated on the content than someone who is skimming a blog post or skipping through a video. According to the data from the above source:

41. 93% of people will listen to most of a podcast episode, with 52% listening to an entire episode

Of course, there are many more forms of content marketing than just blogging, video and podcasts. Our aim here was not to list every statistic on the Internet (as you may find on other sites) but to try and analyze some of the more important bits of information that will be useful for you.

How Will You Leverage These Content Marketing Statistics?

Here’s the bottom line: content marketing isn’t going away. In fact, it’s bigger than ever. Time for us to expand our content budgets, and increase the size of our team. Alternately, increase content production with quality outsourced content such as freelancers or agencies.

If you want to learn more in depth about content marketing, make sure to check out some of the other articles on this site shown below. There’s a treasure trove of information just waiting for you to discover by some of the best bloggers on the Internet.

Which of the above content marketing statistics did you find most compelling? What’s your content marketing success story? Let us know in the comments.

I spent time analyzing all of the content marketing statistics and curating only those that are still relevant and matter to your business.
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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.
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9 Comments

  1. Hello Neal,
    Your article is very nice and helpful. I know and obey that, “Content is King”. For this, quality content should be available. I agree with you that these statistics are very important for Content marketing. I love your Content Marketing statistics, especially #Video Content and #Podcast Content. Thank you very much for sharing this valuable post.💖💖

    Anita Jacobi
    Contributor, Careeriz

  2. Hey Neal, Awesome article and thanks for including our infographic, it means a lot!

  3. That is really great article.
    I believe content that king, but in my opinion how you present your content in front of your audience that’s more important.

  4. Can’t believe I just found this site today. Great content. I will be taking notes. I totally agree with your points on social media points above.

  5. These all ways are very useful because we always need of Marketing to increase our business. Good job. Keep it up!

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