By Beth Pearson, Director of Circle Research

Driving brand, fuelling corporate social media and ensuring clients remain engaged with businesses has resulted in Marketing Departments being put under increasing pressure to create content. In fact 44% of businesses in the UK expect to increase the amount of content they are creating over the next 12 months. Here I will explore how businesses can make their content go further and work harder.

Circle Research (www.circle-research.com) has collaborated with B2B Marketing magazine to produce a Content Marketing Benchmarking Report, which examines the importance of content marketing in the UK businesses landscape. This report reveals that 71% of UK businesses consider content marketing ‘very important’ and highlights a number ways in which businesses around the world can ensure that they are using content as effectively as possible.

Producing content now accounts for 45% of the average Marketing Department’s time — an 8% increase when compared to two years ago, which equates to an extra half a days work each week. Pressure to continue producing content at this rate is resulting in up to 31% of businesses operating without a formalised strategy in place, whilst a massive 56% do not personalise the content that they are using.

Rather worryingly, this is resulting in audience switching off from the messages that many Marketing Departments are trying to convey. The disconnect between the importance of content marketing and the effectiveness with which businesses use content is resulting in 44% of Marketers being disappointed with the return that they see from content marketing.

But with a few straightforward tweaks it is possible for businesses to break this cycle. The most significant trend to emerge from the report is that the most successful content marketing strategies focus on doing more with the content that is available, rather than producing greater volumes of content.

How are they doing this you might ask?

One of the best ways to make content work harder is by ensuring that it is backed-up with substantial evidence. People and businesses are much more likely to be receptive to claims supported by statistical evidence, rather than unfounded claims. The statistics generated from carrying out research such as a survey can provide the ‘hook’ that gets new and existing clients attention and allow businesses to begin sales discussions. Audiences are likely to pay more attention to opinions with a solid base, and with only one in five businesses regularly using survey-based research to generate content, there is the opportunity to position your business as an opinion former amongst its competitors.

Using neglected formats to reach as wide an audience as possible is a habit that all businesses can utilise. A focus on creating content, rather than how we use it, has resulted in less than one half of B2B Marketers using case studies (47%), video (34%), whitepapers (31%) or infographics (22%) in their content marketing efforts. Using a range of formats enables businesses to reach target audiences at all levels, from those looking for a detailed analysis or a particular topic to those who are more likely to engage with information presented in an infographic. Those organisations utilising a range of formats find them ‘highly effective’ in enabling them to get the very most from the content available.

And finally, milk it! You have gone to the effort of creating the content, so now it is time to squeeze every last drop of potential from it. Less than half of B2B Marketers regularly re-purpose their content and only 46% couple it with their sales enablement activity. Minifying your original efforts is the best way to boost returns.

Although this insight is based on the UK marketplace, the insights that it identifies are universal. Globalisation and the surge in digital growth has resulted in a world where it is as easy to make sales on the other side of the world as it is to sell to someone based in your own town. As a result businesses must become savvier in how to make their content do the hard work. After all, content is the foundation of a business’ communication and in a world where many businesses are competing on a global scale it is vital that organisations can build upon potential of content marketing.