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The top content formats produced by content marketers in the US are research/original data, infographics and product reviews, each created by 74% of respondents to a survey from Clutch. These were also the top 3 content types in terms of effectiveness, per the study, with research/original data leading the way.

The results bring to mind survey results released last year by Ascend2, in which research reports were perceived by marketers to be the most effective content format.

The effectiveness rankings do seem to owe in part to popularity, in that the top 3 formats are both the most commonly-produced and the most likely to be seen as effective. There’s a little more discrepancy when it comes to blog posts and video, though. While video seems to be used by considerably more content marketers than blog posts (70% and 57%, respectively), it was the latter edging the former in the effectiveness rankings. That’s an interesting result, given the aforementioned Ascend2 survey that had video near the top of the effectiveness ratings. Still, for B2B marketers, research suggests that blog posts are considered more indispensable than video.

While there might be some debate about which content is most effective, there appears to be some consensus about the leading role of paid content distribution. Content marketers are engaging in a variety of distribution tactics, including paid ads (71%), organic social media (70%), traditional marketing channels such as TV, radio, and print (69%), email newsletters (63%), events (62%) and press releases (44%). But when it comes to effectiveness, fully 85% of respondents agreed that paid tactics – including paid social, PPC and native ads – are more effective than organic efforts for distributing content.

Measures of effectiveness do depend on the goals at hand, though. Paid distribution, in this case, might get the nod because it guarantees eyeballs (particularly on social media, where organic reach has declined significantly over the past few years). It’s worth noting here that out of 3 content marketing goals identified, more than twice as many respondents chose brand awareness (49%) as their main goal as did lead generation (21%).

Interestingly, lead generation metrics are seen as just as important as consumption metrics by respondents. The most important content marketing metric, though? Sales. That’s also an intriguing result, as last year’s Content Marketing Institute annual studies had found sales declining as a content goal for both B2B and B2C marketers.

Those studies suggested that around 4 in 10 marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. For those looking to develop a strategy, the Clutch survey may signal some areas to start with. According to the survey’s, the most important factors to include in a content marketing strategy are brand story (18%), mission statement (17%), content types (17%) and metrics (15%). Somewhat surprisingly, content distribution processes (8%) are considered the least important factor to include (of the 7 identified), though the Clutch analysts do recommend that marketers “spend less on content creation and more on distribution.”

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 300 respondents who are involved in content marketing at work and use some type of content marketing software. 84% identify as either expert or advanced content marketers. All respondents hold an associate level position or higher, with 58% being directors or higher. Respondents work at enterprise companies in the US with more than 100 employees, with 72% representing companies with more than 500 employees. 34% work for business-to-business (B2B) and 66% work for business-to-consumer (B2C) companies.

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