Companies on average use more than 6 content marketing tools, however, limiting such tools to 4 or less generates more impactful results
31% of companies said they will reduce investment in traditional media channels, as business content marketing rapidly becomes more visual, humanized, real-time and interactive while transitioning to social and mobile
WeChat receives a lot of attention from and a high level of adoption among surveyed companies
Content production and ROI measurement remain the biggest challenges facing companies as they integrate content marketing
PR Newswire today released its annual survey report, "Content Marketing Trends and ROI Impact Assessment by Companies in China". The pool for this year's survey was made up of a fixed list of corporate brand PR specialists, marketers and C-suite corporate executives, all of whom received invitations to complete the questionnaire. 1,176 qualified responses were received. The focus of the survey included trends in business content marketing and assessment of the impact of ROI in a new media environment, in hopes that companies take advantage of the new opportunities provided by the referential information in the questionnaire.
"This is the third year that PR Newswire has published its survey report on communications practices of corporations in China," said Lynn Liu, senior manager for new media at PR Newswire. "This year's survey revealed that companies are faced with greater challenges in adapting to the rapidly changing new media environment and also, as a result, in evaluating the effectiveness of their ROI."
"In a world of media convergence, 'communications media' is constantly changing, and every technological change and new platform heavily impacts business communications. Content has value that will never die, but it needs to be coupled with strong distribution for effective reach. Business content marketing is rapidly becoming more visual, humanized, real-time and interactive as it continues the transition to social and mobile," said Yujie Chen, PR Newswire Senior Vice President, Asia-Pacific.
In the past 12 months, companies surveyed used 6 content marketing tools on average, but found that fewer than 4 of them generated the most effective results. Issuing a news release (85.3%), website/mini-site (76.6%) and Weibo (microblogging) (73.5%) remained the most frequently used content marketing tools; however, significant variations in usage preferences were noted based on the industry, the size of the business, the type of business and type of business model.
More than 80% (85.6%) of the companies surveyed had 2 or more social media accounts, however less than 50% (47.6%) had more than 10,000 followers to their respective social media accounts, with growth having slowed for 3 consecutive years. Weibo, WeChat and mobile news apps were the new media types companies valued most; Sina Weibo remained the most active social media platform, though in the past year Weibo yielded effective results to only 47% of companies in terms of branding and sales promotion, compared to 57% a year earlier.
The companies that used new media platforms for brand communications obtained notable improvement in performance in terms of product sales, media attention, website traffic and customer loyalty as a percent of all companies surveyed declined year on year. In evaluating the effectiveness of communication via new media, quantifiable indicators remained key KPIs. Benchmarks for measurement vary depending upon the industry and stated goals.
In the past 12 months the quality of business news content improved from a year earlier. The breadth of coverage, as well as the quality of the media that news releases reach, remained the key KPIs when a company measures the effectiveness of its communicating via the issuance of a news release. Companies attached greater importance to vertical sites over general information portals, and further downgraded the value derived from print media.
In the Coming Year
Companies surveyed plan to further increase the frequency with which they use content marketing tools including WeChat, mobile media, websites/mini-sites, Weibo, images, videos and news releases, while continuing to decrease budgets allocated to traditional media. More than 30% (31%) of companies surveyed said they will reduce budgets allocated to traditional media, as business content marketing rapidly becomes more visual, humanized, real-time and interactive as it continues the transition to social and mobile.
More than 65% of the companies surveyed said they will further increase the use of and investment in WeChat, but only 24.2% of respondents had a positive opinion in terms of WeChat's effectiveness in producing results. They further added that the role WeChat plays in promoting business content marketing still needs further investigation and testing.
When compared with last year, both expenditures and investment by the companies in content marketing rose, while in the coming 12 months budgets allocated to "online media" are expected to keep rising, with nearly 60% (56%) of companies saying they will increase their budget allocated to WeChat. When compared with last year, the number of companies increasing their expenditures on Weibo showed a noticeable drop, with around 50% (50.9%) saying they will increase budgets allocated to Weibo, compared with 69% last year.
Brand communications remained the primary goal of business content marketing, with 87.9% of companies saying the primary goal of their business content marketing activities was to improve media exposure and brand awareness. When compared with last year, companies had higher expectations in terms of the results from the conversion of marketing activities to content marketing. Content production and ROI measurement remained the biggest challenges faced by companies in terms of content marketing.
About PR Newswire
PR Newswire (www.prnasia.com) is the premier global provider of multimedia platforms that enable marketers, corporate communicators, sustainability officers, public affairs and investor relations officers to leverage content to engage with all their key audiences. Having pioneered the commercial news distribution industry 58 years ago, PR Newswire today provides end-to-end solutions to produce, optimize and target content - from rich media to online video to multimedia - and then distribute content and measure results across traditional, digital, mobile and social channels. Combining the world's largest multi-channel, multi-cultural content distribution and optimization network with comprehensive workflow tools and platforms, PR Newswire enables the world's enterprises to engage opportunity everywhere it exists. PR Newswire serves tens of thousands of clients from offices in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, and is a UBM plc company.