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By On June 19 2020 Content Marketing With 0 Comments Permalink

7 Surprising Content Marketing Facts

As marketers, we deal with statistics every day. Whether it’s ROI, engagement rates, open rates, or data deep dives, the sheer abundance of statistics can be enough to make anyone’s head spin. 

Some stats are repeated so often that you could probably quote them in your sleep. Anyone who works in email marketing will probably know that email ROI is $44 for every dollar spent, on average[1]. Likewise, most marketers will know that the majority of leads never convert into sales (79%, to be precise). 

Still, every now and then, you come across a statistic that truly makes you sit back and take notice. 

That’s why we’ve decided to look a little further outside the box, to bring you 7 surprising content marketing facts. 

#1. Picture Perfect 

A picture is worth a thousand words. You’ve probably heard (and said) this phrase hundreds of times, never thinking it was meant to be taken literally. Well, according to years of scientific research, a picture really is worth 1,000 words (or possibly more)

A recent survey by Venngage found that nearly one third of marketers (31%) did not agree that visuals were “very important or absolutely necessary” to their marketing efforts, while just over half (56%) did not use visuals in every piece of content they produce[2]

Despite this, years of scientific testing has shown that people are significantly better at remembering images than remembering sentences or words. Memory tests conducted by Roger Shepard in the 1950s showed that participants were able to recall 98% of the pictures they were shown, compared to 90% of words and 88% of sentences[2].

More recent research shows that people are able to distinguish between similar images with 96% accuracy[2]

Perhaps most importantly though, research by Dr John Medina showed that, on average, only 10% of people recall a piece of information when quizzed about it 3 days later. However, that number skyrockets to 65% when the information is accompanied by an image[2]

However, there is one important caveat to this for content marketers. Studies by the NN Group show that people typically tune out ‘filler images’ used to “jazz up” web pages[2]. Generally, this means stock imagery. Yet, Venngage’s survey also found that 40% of marketers use stock images more frequently than any other form of visuals[2]

For marketers, this has several important ramifications. Turns out, images really are worth 1,000 words, or perhaps more, so it would be a mistake to underestimate the importance of images when creating new content. Additionally, rather than relying exclusively on stock images, it seems wise to invest in a robust, distinctive visual strategy, to ensure your content really stands out from the crowd. 

#2. Ad vs Email

Would you rather watch an ad, or give away your email address? For most people, both of these are daily occurrences. Whether you’re exposed to a 30 second ad (with no skip button!) before a YouTube clip, or you’re giving away your email address to sign up for a hot new deal, most people do these things without even thinking. To many of us, it has become second nature. 

As such, it might be surprising for marketers to learn that people would much rather watch an ad than give away their email address. In a recent survey of 1,001 people by BuzzStream, 74.6% of people said they would rather watch a 30 second ad than give away their email address in exchange for free content, compared to just 25.4% who would rather give away their email address than watch a 30 second ad[3].

However, interestingly, those surveyed overwhelmingly said they would rather give away their email address (94.7%) than their phone number (5.3%)[3]

When it came to personalised vs generic ads, the results were more evenly split, with 48% of people preferring personalised ads, and 52% preferring generic ads[3].

This is a double edged sword for marketers. Clearly, people are becoming more deliberate about who they share their personal information with, including email addresses and phone numbers. Equally, this also shows that many people are generally receptive to digital advertising – as long as it benefits them!

#3. The Rise of User Generated Video

Back in the day, video quality was predicated on a few traditional indicators, such as recognisable actors, high production quality, and being on a mainstream network or platform. These days, with shifting viewing habits and the rise of user generated content, traditional markers of video quality have been flipped on their head. 

In fact, a recent global study of video viewing habits by Google ranked ‘Has famous actors’ as the least important reason to watch a video. Other traditional attributes such as ‘has high production quality’ and ‘is on a network or platform I like’ ranked 10th and 12th respectively, out of 20[4]

Surprisingly, having famous actors was rated the least important reason to watch a video in 6 of the 9 surveyed countries[4]

Rather, the number one most important video viewing attribute worldwide was ‘helps me relax or unwind’, followed closely by ‘teaches me something new’ and ‘allows me to dig deeper into my interests’[4]

For the most part, these trends followed generational lines, with Gen Z preferring short-form content and user generated content (55%), and Baby Boomers preferring traditional, longer-form content[4]

For marketers, it is important to acknowledge and adapt to these changing expectations, and adjust your video marketing strategy accordingly. 

#4. Ad Avalanche

How many ads do you think you see in a day? 100? Maybe 500 on a big day? 

Not quite. 

Between online ads, billboards, traditional media advertising, and even the banners on the side of a bus, the average person is now exposed to a whopping 4,000-10,000 ads per day, according to Forbes[5]

Just think, without a reliable ad blocker, that number might be even higher

Still, 10,000 ads per day. That’s one every 8.6 seconds, and 417 every hour. You’ve probably even seen some while reading this article. 

If you think this number sounds slightly far-fetched, check out this account from a man who attempted to put this theory to the test:

“On my test day, I woke up in the morning to my Sony radio-alarm clock, heard about 14 ads on my local station, KTTS before I opened my eyes and hit the snooze on my Sony clock. I used my Panasonic TV and Dish Network receiver remotes, noticed a Kenwood receiver and Toshiba DVD player, and watched/listened to 46 TV commercials as I got going.

I got dressed in my Fruit of the Loom undershirt, Big Dog shirt, Wrangler Jeans and Nike shoes; 11 Brand advertisements are within eyesight in the closet. I’m not digging for them.

I opened my pantry and counted 214 food Brand labels, all colourful and professionally created. I get my box of Kellogg’s for my Jersey Maid milk and count 62 product Brands. I open a can of Folgers coffee to brew in my Mr. Coffee maker. I’ve gotten around 487 ad exposures and I haven’t even finished breakfast.

I ended my experiment here[6].”

Of course, most people won’t actually remember seeing 10,000 ads every day, but for savvy marketers, this represents an excellent opportunity: 10,000 chances per day to give users the best possible impression of your brand. 

Those ads add up!

#5. The Stars Are Out

Speaking of astonishingly high numbers, picture the night sky. How many stars do you think there are? Too many to count, right? Now, how much raw data do you think you produce in a day? Megabytes? Terabytes? Some other kind of bytes? 

Well, as data production has increased exponentially over the last few decades, we have now reached a point where there is more data than stars. Let that sink in for a moment. 

To be precise, experts estimate that by the end of 2020 there will be 40 times more bytes of data than stars in the known universe. That’s because the entire digital universe is expected to reach 44 zettabytes by the end of 2020[7]. How much is that, you ask? One zettabyte is equal to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. That’s a lot of zeroes. 

Put another way, every person on earth will be producing 1.7 megabytes of data per second. 

Some say data is the new oil, but at this rate, data will be the whole universe. Marketers, take note! 

#6.  Are you Smarter than a Goldfish? 

Hopefully, the answer to that question is ‘yes’. These days, we hear over and over again that attention spans are shrinking, to the point where apparently we have shorter attention spans than goldfish. While this makes for an eye-catching headline, it isn’t totally accurate. Well, not quite, anyway. 

What’s really happening is far more nuanced. Technically, ‘attention spans’ are shrinking, with studies showing that the average attention span for Gen Z is 8 seconds, compared to 12 seconds for Millennials. However, this only tells a small part of the story. 

In reality, younger audiences have developed sophisticated ‘content filters’, as they are being constantly bombarded with so much information (like 10,000 ads per day and 44 zettabytes of data, for example)[8]

As such, they are now able to quickly assess large quantities of information, and ascertain what is worthy of their attention, and what can be ignored. Consequently, rather than attention spans shrinking, they’re evolving, as people are simply becoming more selective of the content they consume[8]

According to Entrepreneur, “our ability to maintain our focus on content is actually improving over time as we become more selective about the content we choose to devote our attention to[9].” 

For content marketers, this is excellent news. While it means you may have to work that little bit harder to gain someone’s attention in the first place, once you have captured their attention, people are still more than willing to engage with your message. 

There you have it, you’re still smarter than a goldfish. What a relief! 

#7. Spot the Difference

Everyone loves a good game of spot the difference, so for our final surprising content marketing fact, we’ve got a spot the difference challenge for you. 

Go to your email inbox, and see if you can spot the difference between subject lines that were written by humans, and AI-generated email subject lines. We’ll wait. 

If you can’t tell the difference, don’t feel too bad. It’s much harder than you’d think. 

That’s because, these days, companies such as Phrasee can produce AI-written subject lines that outperform human-written subject lines in 98% of head-to-head tests [10]. As such, AI-generated subject lines are now nearly indistinguishable from those written by humans. 

Obviously this has huge implications for content marketers, particularly those who are closely involved with email marketing. For example, in one case study, AI-generated subject lines helped Virgin increase their email open rates by 2%[10]

As AI continues to evolve and become increasingly capable of replicating human behaviour, it is likely these numbers will continue to increase. 

When it comes to email marketing, the future is now!

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Image by: mohamed Hassan from Pixabay