Content Marketing Institute just released a new study, asking agencies about what content marketing services they offer, where they are having success and where they’re still banging their head against a wall.

The data is based on 197 respondents, with 71% being US based and 61% of the respondents being owners/partners.

There were several takeaways of note in this research and some of it supports what I am seeing among the agencies we serve and some of it makes me scratch my head and wonder a little bit.

The results certainly support the idea that content marketing is not new. I’d argue that we’ve always been in the content business, we’ve just changed up the packaging over the years and decades.

No great surprise — agencies are reporting that clients of all sizes are seeking help with their content. This isn’t going to change any time soon — and that’s good news for all of us.   

More surprising is that 73% of the agencies said they were extremely/very successful in achieving their client’s content marketing goals.  Given the challenges that I hear agency team members talk about every day (getting the content, getting approvals, getting clients to see the long tail play off content, appropriate pricing related to expectations, etc.) I question this number.  I’m sure it’s accurate from the research’s POV — I just wonder how those agencies are actually defining their client’s goals.

I also wonder if our clients have the right goals.  How often have you heard a client express frustration because their content isn’t driving immediate sales? Have we helped them really think through a content strategy that is big and bold enough?  Or is it just a two blog posts and twelve tweets a month sort of goal?

In the section of the research identifying the challenges these agencies are facing in delivering content services to clients, scale continues to be an issue for many of the respondents, as does appropriate budgeting.

Perhaps the most remarkable piece of the research for me is that most agencies reported that the #1 way they are earning new content marketing clients is by word of mouth. I am hoping that over time, agencies will actually do for themselves what they are doing for clients — building out a content marketing strategy that is big and bold enough that it earns them ideal clients, not just anyone who walks in the door via a referral.

Over all — the research results should do a few things for you:

  • Get you thinking about your own agency’s content and how to use it to grow the agency
  • How are you helping clients measure and value their content efforts and are you/they going big and bold enough?
  • Give you some insights into how agencies are pricing/billing for content marketing
  • Insight into how agencies are staffing for content marketing delivery

It’s definitely worth a look — you can download it here.

And — for many of you, it should be a reminder that content marketing is here to stay and the smarter we all get about how to do it well, the better.  If you’ve never been to Content Marketing World (Sept 3-6 in Cleveland) I highly recommend it.  The only downside to CMW is that you’ll have so many new inspirations and ideas — it’s tough to prioritize them.

If you want to go and save a little money, use the discount code MCLELLAN19 to save $100.