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Ascend2 Top Thought Leadership Content Formats Apr2020Thought leadership plays a positive role in reaching and educating target audiences as well as fostering trust and loyalty. With this in mind, half of the more than 250 marketing professionals surveyed for a report [download page] by Ascend2 say they have a strategy to produce thought leadership content. Not only that, but another one-quarter (23%) say that while they do not currently have such a strategy, they do have one planned.

The report investigates the types of content that marketers feel are best for thought leadership, with some interesting results. Video comes out on top, with more than half (54%) saying it’s one of the best formats for thought leadership content, well ahead of the other formats identified. This may be due to video’s educational nature: 6 in 10 respondents separately said that it’s important for thought leadership to be educational, with this again the top response and far ahead of other characteristics cited.

Consumers in general do tend to turn to places like YouTube to learn how to do things they didn’t already know. Of note, though, B2B marketers were more heavily represented in the survey sample than B2C marketers, indicating that B2B marketers are also seeing the value in video. Previous research has indeed found that more B2B marketers are finding video to be indispensable.

Meanwhile, respondents also cite case studies (39%), blog posts (36%), reports/ebooks (34%), and images/graphics (33%) as some of the best content formats for thought leadership, though podcasts (22%) have yet to see as much enthusiasm.

Thought Leadership Performance

When asked what thought leadership does most effectively, the widest consensus was for its ability to build brand awareness (59%), with many also pointing to its effectiveness in building expert status (49%). Thought leadership is also useful for generating and nurturing leads (47%), per the respondents, which may relate to the perceived effectiveness of webinars as a thought leadership format, given that many use webinars for lead nurturing and activating existing leads.

To a lesser extent, some marketers feel that thought leadership content also increases website traffic (35%), defines target audiences (28%) and shortens the sales cycle (18%).

Quality, Quantity and Budget Challenges

For about half of those surveyed, producing the right content is one of their most critical challenges to creating content for thought leadership. This is compared to the two-fifths (40%) who claim that producing enough content is a challenge. Although more marketers appear to be concerned about the quality than the quantity of the thought leadership content they are producing, B2B content marketers are prioritizing both quality and quantity this year.

Budget is one thing that marketing leaders have pointed to that impacts what types of content are developed and produced, and lack of budget is also a challenge to producing thought leadership content for 3 in 10 (31%) marketers surveyed for the report. Nonetheless, despite the perceived benefits of thought leadership content, 64% also say that no more than one-quarter of their content marketing budget is used for thought leadership, while only 13% say that thought leadership accounts for more than half of that budget.

For more, the report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Results are based on a survey of 265 marketing professionals from B2B (51%), B2C (35%) and B2B and B2C equally (14%) companies, fielded at the beginning of March 2020.

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