2017 Report: Where is Content Marketing in Asia?

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We searched reports on the state of Asia’s content marketing in 2016, and we came to a stunning conclusion for 2017. Content marketing is going to thrive in 2017.

APAC companies are increasing their content marketing budget and reported even better return on investment. It’s not too late to join in, either, as there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

Per Hubspot’s Asia Pacific Content Marketing Trend’s Report, 49% of APAC businesses increased their marketing budget in 2016, with the majority believing that content marketing is the greatest factor in their marketing success.

Still, there are obstacles they’re facing.

APAC companies might know content marketing has been a success, but many don’t know how. They aren’t tracking the effectiveness of their content marketing as well as they should be. Also, Asian companies are producing more, but still struggling to create more quality content.

The state of Asia’s content marketing gives a hopeful view of the future, with some promising facts that show that there’s even more room to grow.

Let’s dig into the reports.

What forms of content marketing are used?

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It’s difficult to market without working with some form of content marketing. The Content Marketing Institute surveyed Western B2B companies and found that 89% are now using some form of content marketing. Asian companies followed suit by using over eight different types.

At the top, Hubspot discovered that blog/articles are the most effective for APAC businesses at 47%. When thinking of online content, the standard blog post is usually what would spring to mind first for most. Even in 2016, there’s proof that blogs and articles are effective for growth.

Next, comes e-newsletters at 35%, followed by infographics. Newsletters are a powerful, personal medium. The efficiency of email shouldn’t be denied. Three-quarters of companies agree that email offers "excellent" to "good" ROI. (Econsultancy, 2016) (Source)

Third, we have infographics. The use of infographics has exploded over the past few years. Visual content is growing and companies are making use of its effectiveness.

When people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. (Source)

Infographics might increase production time, but it is one key component to creating quality content that visitors remember.

In the future, we should see more mixed mediums published to make brands stand out in the sea of information.

At the bottom of the list are webinars and calculators, interactive tools, and games.

That’s not to say that either of these will or won’t work for you or your company. Each company and market is different, and the usage of each needs to be in line with your content marketing goals.

How are companies optimizing?

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This is one area where companies are falling short. It’s not a problem only relevant to Asian marketers, but a common issue with companies all over the world.

In the Content Marketing Institute’s study on Western B2B companies, they found only 33% had a documented content marketing strategy. This is in line with what Hubspot discovered with Asian companies at 32%.

Without clear goals, a structure, and a way to track progress, it will be next to impossible to analyze your content for weaknesses or strengths. Decisions are much easier with proper data.

Here is an area that is in serious need of improvement. The majority of APAC companies have some form of basic content strategy, so the ability to optimize with the right data should be important.

How important it is might have slipped through the cracks, or maybe there is a loss on how to create buyer journeys, content calendars, and even documented strategies. Of Hubspot’s surveyed Asian companies, 29% don’t use influencer marketing, 19% don’t use content calendars, and 24% don’t use customer journeys.

Analyzing and creating such reports can take time and be difficult to process, but the Content Marketing Institute found that it was one key component of a successful content plan.

What’s their ROI?

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Once again, we see another area for improvement, and another area where the strength of content marketing shines.

Many Asian companies know that their content marketing is effective, but they’re not measuring their exact ROI. In Hubspot’s survey, only 7% of respondents said that they weren’t convinced of the potential of content marketing to deliver value. 43% reported that they were convinced and could measure ROI.

The ways they’re measuring ROI, however, might not be the best way. Like Western companies, a large portion are only focusing on traffic and sales. Only 53% of Asian companies said that they measure ROI directly.

To get an accurate account of the efficiency of content marketing, sales, leads, ROI, traffic, shares, SEO ranking, and more should be considered.

Companies might not be tracking their return well, but they are convinced content marketing is helping.

In Hubspot’s 2016 Asia Pacific Content Marketing Report, they discovered content marketing is the marketing tactic with the biggest commercial impact on incremental leads and sales for businesses in the Asia Pacific. Big data is number 2 and number 3 is marketing automation.

There is an enormous opportunity to reach more people in the Asia Pacific than ever. Take these few facts into account that will show why…

China had 563 million smartphone users in 2016. (Source)

In 2015, 76% of South Korea had a social media account. (Source)

Asia-Pacific is the world’s largest retail e-commerce market. Its sales are forecasted to hit $2.725 trillion by 2020. (Source)

APAC companies believe in content marketing to reach customers and convert. In Hubspot’s APAC report, 49% of businesses said they would increase their content marketing resources.

This is slightly higher than Content Marketing Institute’s Western study, that found 39% would increase their content marketing budget.

What's compromised?

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We’ve gone over how optimizing and measuring are obstacles that many companies are facing, not just in APAC, but around the globe as well.

Another big obstacle that Asian companies are facing is the need for quality content.

Hubspot’s APAC marketing report found that 57% of marketers reported that producing quality content was an obstacle to their success.

Also, even though content marketing was wildly effective for them, 70% of APAC businesses felt their content marketing efforts were limited, basic, or inconsistent.

This shows there is a major disconnect between analyzing what is effective and acting on it. One main struggle would seem to be creating quality content, which isn’t surprising since most companies aren’t optimizing their content marketing by using tools like content calendars, buyer personas, and documented strategies.

These lay the foundations for quality content.

Yet, most companies said they were publishing even more content in the coming year, even though they weren’t comfortable with the quality they were publishing. In this sense, APAC companies are still putting quantity over quality.

In the future, they should set aside the time and resources it takes to develop a comprehensive content strategy. Then, they should use those resources to put it toward crafting quality content, even if that means slowing down their publishing schedule.

The efficiency of content marketing is clear to see. APAC companies only need to define and refine their content marketing goals for the future, which will require a lot of contemplation and strategizing to take advantage of the power of content marketing in the coming years.

The state of content marketing in APAC in 2017

Companies continue to believe that content marketing works. They’re putting resources toward it and seeing return.

But there’s still glaring opportunities to refine and master their content marketing.

Many will need to go back to step one.

A large portion of companies aren’t thinking through and strategizing their content marketing. A documented strategy, buyer personas, content calendars, customer journeys, these will all help in creating quality content.

Quality content is one huge obstacle that APAC companies are facing.

What makes quality content? We tend to know it when we see it. But the process of creating “quality” is a multi-part process that considers many factors.

Some of these factors include: relevancy, SEO optimization, appearance, readability, interest, freshness, depth.

From these reports, it’s interesting to note that whether it be Western companies or APAC companies, they all face similar obstacles, and they all are seeing the same great return when delivering quality content.

APAC companies see the value in content marketing.

The ones who will see the most return in 2017 will be those who truly create a detailed strategy and deliver quality content. Through research, planning, and smart choices, their content will rise to the top.

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