Small to medium-size businesses are failing to realise the full potential of their marketing efforts, reports ETC-Digital, the European Travel Commission's digital portal.
It's generally accepted that absorbing content is one of the best ways to market to consumers - and 94% of small businesses use content marketing in some respect. Yet a study by the Content Marketing Institute has found that 65% of B2B marketers in North America admit to not having a documented content market strategy in place.
Content marketers with a documented strategy are in fact around eight times more likely - 60% compared with 7% - to consider themselves to be effective content marketers than those currently without a clear strategy.
What destinations and tourism businesses must take from this sobering statistic is the critical need for an effective a content marketing strategy - the success of your search marketing campaign depends on it.
Although businesses have shown a clear need for content marketing, many SMEs don't yet have the knowledge and wherewithal to formulate a strategy, ETC-Digital speculates.
Social media is somewhat of a missed opportunity for many small businesses. Viral social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook can be used for promoted posts; and content discovery platforms like Outbrain and Taboola can also help small businesses to increase their reach - and improve the value of their content marketing.
But many SMEs are still not creating high-quality content which delivers something truly valuable to customers. In fact, many small businesses are still sceptical about the return on investment (ROI) from search marketing. So rather than implementing a content marketing strategy, they seem to believe that all it takes is a web presence to draw people in.
A key part of any strategy is native advertising - promoted posts on social media accounts which naturally integrate into the home feed of users. These allow businesses to deliver advertising within the global user experience of a social platform, enabling them to hit home with social media users and also amplifying their reach.
Outbrain and Taboola also offer native advertising opportunities in the form of content discovery widgets which display useful and related content when potential consumers click on an article or page. What's more, they also draw more traffic to the websites of clients. Additionally, content discovery tools can be used to engage audiences in a more targeted way, amplifying the exposure of your content.
Currently just a small percentage of SMEs are using promoted posts, despite the clear benefits. A study in July by BIA/Kelsey showed that only 20% of small businesses are taking advantage of this marketing opportunity.
In short, digital marketing requires a new approach to information, given the endless cycle of information available on the worldwide web.
To stand out from the crowd, businesses need an explicit and coherent strategy. Content may have been king once upon a time, but today distribution and digital marketing have taken its crown.