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As the efficacy of outbound marketing continues to wane, more and more marketers are considering native advertising and content marketing as viable alternatives. The goal of our research was to take a data-driven approach to comparing the efficacy of native advertising versus content marketing. Before we dive into our findings, it’s important to know the collective objectives and challenges of the inbound marketing age. Right out of the gate we see that content, organic search, and content amplification are leading the way for marketers, priming content providers and promoters for exponential growth.
Inability to track outbound marketing ROI: Marketers can easily track content performance and conversion with inbound. High cost-per-lead for outbound marketing: Inbound leads are more cost-effective, with over 2x the marketers citing inbound (45%) as their primary source of leads versus outbound (22%) in 2014.
Low brand engagement: While outbound marketing interrupts consumers, inbound marketing attracts and engages prospects in an organic way. But what are the major differentiating factors between content marketing and native advertising? Both content marketing and native advertising can be used to generate brand awareness and engagement. At Fractl, we’ve earned an average of 90 links and 10,000 social shares per campaign, across 140 different campaigns executed between 2013 and 2015. Further into our research, you’ll see that that content marketing agencies are doing the additional legwork with influencer marketing to amplify their content, which creates a larger reach than most top-tier publishers offering native advertising. Content Marketing: ROI can be tracked through increased organic rankings as a direct result of earning a diverse, high-quality link portfolio. Has the cost of native advertising been inflated as a means of recovering revenue, or is it truly worth the tens of thousands of dollars that top-tier publishers are charging? Based on HubSpot’s report, 93% of companies with an annual marketing budget between $1 and $5 million are practicing inbound.
But can most businesses afford the exorbitant costs for native advertising on top-tier publishers? The average cost of launching a native advertising program with a top-tier news publisher was $54,014.29. When we expanded our analysis to include all publishers who have a DA greater than 80, we found the average cost of launching a native advertising program was $35,482.50*. When we evaluate all publishers and blogs below a DA of 80, we see the less valuable publishers (lower reach) offer a significantly reduced cost. Through our exclusive survey of over 30 content marketing agencies, we discovered how the content marketing landscape compares to native advertising. Of all of our questions, this answer had one of the most evenly balanced responses, which demonstrates that there is a content marketing package that almost every business can afford. Across 38 native advertising campaigns produced by BuzzFeed, only eight backlinks were earned – an average of 0.18 backlinks per campaign.
Again, we see a fairly even split with this response, likely relating back to the even split we saw with the monthly retainer. Here, we see the sweet spot for success comes from agencies that are given the budget to produce larger-scope campaigns and invest in influencer marketing – those charging $5,000 to $50,000 per content marketing campaign or retainer.
Remember, marketing professionals listed two top objectives: increasing the number of leads and reaching the relevant audience. When we plugged our most viral infographic to-date into our handy calculator, we found the client received a low estimated ROI of greater than 1,551% and a high estimated ROI greater than 2,942%. At the $100K level a brand gets 3 custom pieces of content from BuzzFeed, meaning this single campaign cost $33,333.33.
Based on all of the above, we know that the average content marketing campaign can deliver the same if not better KPIs than most native advertising campaigns.
Whether you go with content marketing or native advertising, you’ll always need to refine your processes to increase your content ROI. In closing, we want to give a special thanks to Relevance for providing us with the raw native advertising cost data from over 500 publishers.
We’d also like to give a shout out to the 32 agencies that participated in our study and generously provided their sensitive data to produce our report. Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. At the heart of email marketing campaigns, it often seems as if a tug-of-war is being waged. On one side, you have gaining attention as a tactic and on the other, you have using conversation.
Let’s take a look at how the MECLABS research team tested a promotional-style email design against a letter-style and what we can learn from the results.

Before we get started, here’s a quick review of the research notes for a little background on the experiment.
Goal: To increase the number of conversions based on the value proposition conveyed through the email. The research team hypothesized the control featured popular design principles to create balance and hierarchy on the page. The promotional-style email also featured heavy use of images and graphics to catch the readers’ attention and multiple call-to-action buttons for increased points of entry.
In the treatment, a letter-style email was designed to look and feel more like a personal letter. By limiting the amount of graphics and focusing on engaging the customer in a conversation, the treatment outperformed the control by 181%. I have been wondering about which type of email converts better recently, so finding your article was very helpful.
It seems to me that your target audience will affect whether you choose a promotional or letter-style email. If I put cereal in front of my kids each morning(control) they deal with it and assume it to be norm. Moshe Chayon: What do you think about running different campaign on each social media channel? The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect in any way the views of MarketingExperiments, its affiliates, or its employees.
Today, we release the findings from our fifth annual content marketing survey — and it’s our biggest and best year yet. For this year’s survey, we decided to ask some new questions, and change how we approached some of our regular questions, in order to provide fresher, more insightful findings. In last year’s survey, we asked for the first time whether marketers had a documented content marketing strategy.
Click to tweet: 83% of marketers have a #contentmarketing strategy, but only 35% have documented it. B2B marketers who have a documented strategy are more effective and less challenged with every aspect of content marketing when compared with their peers who only have a verbal strategy or no strategy at all.
Of those who have a documented strategy, 60 percent consider their organization to be effective. Click to tweet: 60% of B2B marketers with a documented #contentmarketing strategy say they are effective vs.
In many cases, we found that content production continues to increase, no matter how effective organizations feel they are at content marketing — or whether or not they have a documented strategy. Click to tweet: 70% of B2B marketers are producing more #contentmarketing this year than last year.
Measurement continues to be a hot topic among content marketers, so this year we asked how successful they are at tracking ROI on their content marketing programs.
Similarly, when looking at challenges, almost half of B2B marketers cited measuring content marketing effectiveness as a challenge — a number that has gone up from 33 percent last year. Click to tweet: Only 21% of#B2B marketers are successful at measuring content marketing ROI. B2B marketers use an average of 13 content marketing tactics — same as what was reported last year. Click to tweet: 36% of B2B marketers will begin working on measuring content ROI initiative within next 12 months. Join Over 150,000 of your Peers!Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Launch Your Own Content Marketing Program FREE!
I have tried (somewhat) using Google Analytics to track ROI for new content, but I haven’t really succeeded.
For example, we at CMI know that if one of our readers engages with four different types of content, they are exponentially more likely to come to Content Marketing World each year.
Some very interesting data here Joe – thank you for sharing it along with your insights. Currently we focus on getting more engagement and measuring efficiently the ROIs of our campaigns. According to our survey, 72% of clients have asked their content marketing agencies about native advertising.
For the first part of our study, we created a 14-question survey for content marketing providers which explored everything from the cost of their services to the reach of their campaigns.
Since Fractl and Moz spearheaded this study, we wanted to use an authoritative third-party source to support our research and set the stage for our discussion. The four graphs below shed light on marketing’s key objectives, challenges, and wins.

The top 60% of marketing objectives focus on increasing leads, converting customers, and reaching relevant audiences.
The number one challenge marketers report is proving the ROI of their marketing activities.
The companies with the highest ROI focus on blogging, organic search, and content amplification.
While top-tier publishers sell themselves on their large, built-in reach, sponsored content doesn’t guarantee engagement.
For sites with a DA less than 80, the highest cost was $20,000 and the lowest cost was $10. As represented in this pie chart, the pay-per-word structure is quickly eroding, and more comprehensive inbound marketing strategies are taking its place. Retainers tend to fall into four buckets: $1,000–$5,000, $5,000–$10,000, $10,000–$50,000, and $50,000–$100,000. Articles and infographics represent almost 60% of production, with case studies, interactive graphics, and videos accounting for close to 30% of production. 48% of clients measure content marketing success by the number of leads, high-quality links, and total social shares generated by each campaign. While some companies have the budget to invest in both tactics, others have to focus on the tactics driving the highest ROI.
To do this, download our research bundle and leverage data-driven insights on content creation and pitching best practices.
Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read! The design limited the use of graphics and images and featured a single call-to-action button. 181% conversion when you put Oranges infront of your audience is awesome and should probably spend more time putting variety on the table.
Thus, B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America, produced by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs and sponsored by Brightcove, reflects the progress our industry is making in exciting new ways. Forty-nine percent said “no,” which left us wondering whether a lot of those marketers did indeed have a strategy, but had just not documented it. Download The Essentials of a Documented Content Marketing Strategy: 36 Questions to Answer. Of those who have a documented content marketing strategy, 23 percent said they publish new content daily. Only 21 percent said they are successful; however, the number goes up to 35 percent for marketers who have a documented strategy. Of these tactics, 92 percent cite social media content (other than blogs) as the most used, followed by eNewsletters (83 percent), and articles on their website (81 percent). On average, B2B marketers are using three paid advertising methods, with 80 percent using at least one.
Founder of the Content Marketing Institute , Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, including best-selling Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill) and the new book, Content Inc. Our friends at Relevance were kind enough to offer the raw data on their native advertising cost research as well, allowing us to focus on gathering additional cost data from the top-tier publishers we maintain relationships with. Below, we created a Buzzsumo analysis of 38 BuzzFeed native advertising campaigns in comparison to 58 Fractl content marketing campaigns. Although BuzzFeed boasts monthly traffic numbers in the multi-millions, this doesn’t guarantee social engagement nor syndication of a campaign, as seen above. Using native advertising cost data gathered by Relevance and Fractl, we analyzed the cost of native advertising on general news publishers with a domain authority (DA) greater than 80 and a social following greater than 100,000 – highly sought after placements for most brands.
However, those who are measuring ROI have been able to prove that inbound unlocks ROI and ROI unlocks budget. Sure enough, we found that many do have a strategy (83 percent), but only 35 percent have documented it.
Infographics as a tactic saw the biggest rise in usage (from 51 percent last year to 62 percent this year).
After we received the survey responses from over 30 different content marketing agencies and cost data from close to 600 digital publishers, we began our analysis.

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