Digital Content Marketing in the Global Environment. Evaluation of Global Companies in the Chemical Industry

The Markets of China and USA


Master's Thesis, 2019

193 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Excerpt

Table of contents

Executive Summary

List of Figures and Tables

1 Introduction
1.1 Background and Problem Statement
1.2 Research Objective and Research Question
1.3 Relevance of the Research Object
1.4 Definitions
1.4.1 Content Marketing
1.4.2 B2B Marketing

2 Literature Review
2.1 Content Marketing Strategy
2.2 Content Marketing Types and Tools
2.2.1 Types
2.2.2 Tools
2.3 Benefits, Opportunities and Challenges
2.3.1 Benefits
2.3.2 Opportunities
2.3.3 Challenges
2.4 Culture Influence in Business Context of China and the US
2.5 Objectives and Outlook
2.5.1 Objectives
2.5.2 Outlook
2.6 Literature Synthesis

3 Methodology
3.1 Research Strategy
3.2 Research Approach
3.3 Data Sources
3.3.1 Semi-structured interviews
3.3.2 Data Sample and Criteria
3.3.3 Secondary Data
3.4 Data Analysis and Strategy

4 Results of Field Research
4.1 General Information
4.2 Research Objectives
4.3 RQ 1: What are the applied strategies of DCM to improve the KPI of a global company in the chemical industry? Which content types B2B marketers implement for their Content Marketing Strategy (CMS)?
4.4 RQ 2: What are the benefits, opportunities, risks and challenges of DCM tools in the US and China? .
4.5 RQ 3: How do the key outcomes of DCM apply in the chemical industry?
4.6 RQ 4: What culture similarities and differences between USA and China exist and how do they might drive different applications of digital content marketing?
4.7 Summary

5 Conclusion
5.1 Discussion
5.2 Data Limitations
5.2.1 Applied semi-structured Interviews
5.2.2 Secondary Data
5.2.3 Generalization
5.3 Managerial Implications
5.4 Future Research

6 References

Appendices

Appendix A: Interview Guide
Appendix B: Approach Letter
Appendix C: Interview Consent Form
Appendix D: Researchers Role
Appendix E: Coding Scheme
Appendix F: Interview Transcriptions
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Appendix G: Influence of Corporate Culture
Appendix H: Content Marketing Strategy among Global Companies
Appendix I: Content Marketing Strategy among Experts
Appendix J: Countries with Content Marketing Strategy
Appendix K: Most favored content types among European Interviewees
Appendix L: Content Performance among B2B Brands
Appendix M: Planning Schedule of Master Thesis Project

Executive Summary

Purpose. This study explores the phenomenon of Digital Content Marketing (DCM) by evaluating if content marketing and its tools have a positive impact on global companies in the chemical industry. Rapid globalization and the development of new markets at an increasingly global scale have made DCM more important. However, global companies are facing new challenges, like new technological developments and trends and a changing consumer landscape that requires new marketing approaches. Strategies are required to overcome these challenges, adopt DCM techniques and use current techniques to gain competitive advantages. However, there are still companies that have not included digital content in their marketing strategy. Others have difficulties making their marketing content unique and powerful. The main issue is often measuring the effectiveness of one’s digital content to determine whether DCM has a positive impact. This study focuses on the chemical industry, which mainly focuses on business-to-business (B2B). Many companies in this industry are still progressing through their digital transformations. As intercultural differences have become important in the globalized world, international employees need to comprehend foreign cultures. Therefore, this study compares China and the US to investigate the influences of cultural differences in content marketing strategies.

Design/Methodology/Approach. This study uses a qualitative method. The different perceptions of global organizations in the chemical industry are evaluated. First, this study reviews secondary data, mainly consisting of published survey reports, complemented by online information and selected secondary sources for evidence. Based on this secondary data, a literary synthesis is built. In addition, qualitative interviews were conducted with marketing managers as well as managers involved in the digital content environment as candidates to improve the theoretical framework of stage one of this study. In order to limit the number of companies, a sampling strategy and criteria were developed to identify and specify candidates from global companies. These requirements were determined based on online research and based on the judgment of the researcher. Moreover, this study produces relevant knowledge on the field of DCM and identifies cultural influences on each company’s content strategy.

Keywords. Content Marketing, Digitization, Content Strategy, Global Companies, Chemical Industry, Cultural Influence, Business-To-Business (B2B) Environment, KPIs, Content Tools

List of Figures and Tables

Figure 1: Do companies have a defined CMS?

Figure 2: Key aspects that managers involve in their CMS

Figure 3: Types of content marketing B2B marketers use for content marketing purposes

Figure 4: The five most popular tools in Content Marketing in the B2B environment

Figure 5: Factors that decreased B2B marketers’ success over the last year

Figure 6: Biggest challenges of Content Marketing for B2B marketers

Figure 7: Comparison of China and USA in Hofstede’s Six Dimensions Model

Figure 8: Organizational goals for B2B content marketing over the next 12 months

Figure 9: The majority of B2B marketers have no strategy to prepare for voice seach

Figure 10: Stages of the Research Process

Figure 11: Interview Candidates where a Content Marketing Strategy was established

Figure 12: Documentation of Content Marketing Strategies

Figure 13: Organizational goals of companies in content marketing

Figure 14: Content types B2B Marketers use

Figure 15: Content tools B2B marketers are using

Figure 16: Have you been able to improve a KPI by implementing your content tool?

Figure 17: Interviewees that are able to measure the financial performance of content marketing

Figure 18: Can a global company improve its financial performance when using DCM?

Figure 19: Is intercultural knowledge an advantage when creating content?

Figure 20: Is there a culture influence when creating content?

Figure 21: Do you adopt content in China or the US?

Table 1: Compilation of analytic tools

Table 2: Overview of conducted interviews

Table 3: Required success factors of potential companies

Table 4: General Information Sheet of Interviewees

1 Introduction

This chapter provides information about the research gaps as well as a background on content marketing. The derived research objectives and questions, which give insight into the empirical part of this study, are subsequently presented. Finally, the key terms of this topic are defined.

1.1 Background and Problem Statement

As the significance of digital content in business and society grows, it is important to seek companies’ perspectives regarding Digital Content Marketing (DCM). With increasing digitization, the influence of companies’ key performance indicators (KPIs) internationally has become more relevant (Rowley, 2008). The first examples of content marketing date back to 1895 when the first prints of magazines were advertised (Gabriel, 2018). In 1996, the term content marketing was used for the first time by the American Society for Newspaper Editors (Patrutiu Baltes, 2015). From 2004, a new era of content marketing began with the introduction of content types like e-books, articles or reports (Fleiss & Bassetti, 2017). In the year 2009, the first social media channels emerged, and with that, new challenges and opportunities in terms of how to attract target audiences arose (Allen, 2017). In recent years, content marketing has taken on an important role in organizations, requiring marketers who understand their target audience and know which content has to be delivered. These marketers use certain designs and analytical tools to assess which content is most optimal for an organization (Sweetwood, 2016). The focus of this research is on the global business-to-business (B2B) environment. E-commerce between B2B companies refers to two different organizations exchanging products or services with the support of online tools. This can have economic advantages for both parties in supply chain activities and can increase efficiency in their value chain (Chong, Shafaghi, & Tan, 2011). Content marketing facilitates the purchase process and creates a richer availability of information for B2B customers. According to a recent survey, 89% of those in the B2B environment are using content marketing, but only 41% have clear sense of their content marketing success (Content Marketing Institute, 2017). Many B2B organizations are planning to increase their budgets for content marketing in the next 12 months (Content Marketing Institute, 2018; Maddox, 2015). On the other hand, half of B2B marketers still do not have a documented strategy and are struggling to measure the effectiveness of their content marketing (B2B Technology Marketing Community & Crowd Research Partners, 2016; Content Marketing Institute, 2018).

This study explores the phenomena of DCM and some of the controversial questions that have been discussed in recent years. Pulizzi (2015, p.25-27) previously explained how important DCM has become for brand publishers and argues that B2B companies find difficulties building their target audience. Moreover, he explains that many companies face the challenge of not knowing how content tools can be effectively implemented. Companies are uncertain about how to produce the appropriate amount of content and are concerned about having enough financial resources. In establishing a content strategy in particular, companies are faced with the challenge of coordinating a strategy that is in line with their business objectives (Wuebben, 2011, p.236-237).

This study explores the cultural influences of China and the US, investigating literature on the cultural influence of content marketing tools. The connections between content marketing, culture and social media are investigated through an analysis of content marketing communication tools (Copuš & Čarnogurský, 2017). Moreover, the concept of cultural background in content marketing practices is discussed (Kus, 2016).

According to the knowledge of the author, there are few empirical studies that discuss how content marketing strategies (CMS) apply in the chemical industry. This study aims to explore the applications in which cultural influences might drive content marketing.

1.2 Research Objective and Research Question

The study aims to discover whether DCM has a beneficial influence on a global company’s environment. In this context, the term global business environment is defined as “the environment in different sovereign countries, with factors exogenous to the home environment of the organization, influencing decision making on resource use and capabilities” (ICMR, 2018, overview) . This means that if DCM has a beneficial influence, it has an impact on a company’s decisions, capabilities and use of resources. For this reason, the global markets of China and the US were chosen to investigate DCM.

Based on the background information and problem statement presented, this study focuses on the following objectives:

1. Assessing the current status quo of DCM and content strategy choices in the chemical industry
2. Exploring current trends and developments in the chemical industry regarding the potential and advantages of content marketing tools
3. Deriving the cultural influences of China and the US on CMS and performance as well as how to adapt CMS depending on cultural backgrounds
4. Evaluating how global organizations in the chemical industry can overcome their challenges and become successful

The following larger question and sub-questions guide this thesis, research and analysis. The larger question is as follows:

How can DCM be advantageous for a global company’s achievement of KPIs in the chemical industry in the US and China? To answer this question, further sub-questions have been identified:

1. Which DCM strategies can be applied to achieve the KPIs of a global company in the chemical industry? Which content types do B2B marketers implement for their CMS?
2. What are the benefits, opportunities, risks and challenges of DCM tools in the US and China?
3. How do the key outcomes of DCM apply in the chemical industry?
4. Which cultural similarities and differences between the US and China exist, and how do they drive different applications of DCM?

1.3 Relevance of the Research Object

The findings of this study aim to illustrate, validate and broaden existing theories of content marketing and their application in the business context. The motivational factors of content marketing as well as other aspects, e.g., challenges and risks, are examined in order to validate the application of content marketing by companies and industries dealing with increasing digitization. In particular, companies that have a high demand for online presence place an emphasis on content marketing. A recently published survey of business decision makers argues that 80% of companies prefer to research information by looking for appropriate articles instead of advertising. Another 70% of the respondents can identify better with a sponsoring company, and 60% say content marketing supports the realization of better decisions (Smith, 2018). In an additional survey, the majority of marketers (90%) and agencies and consultants (93%) responded that content marketing will become more important in their organization in future. (Econsultancy, 2012). The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) describes content marketing as an integrated part of a multiplying strategy. Almost every enterprise (96%) is having difficulty integrating their digital marketing efforts with products, sales channels or regional subsidiaries. Another 85% of the companies are “frustrated” about not having a well-documented strategy or with the fact that digital efforts overlap with some business functions (Rose, 2018).

To summarize, the present study investigates the business strategies of global companies with regard to content marketing and the cultural influence of foreign markets, particularly in China and the US. Currently, the US has the largest economy, valued at $20 trillion USD, while China follows at $14 trillion USD. However, the U.S. lead is slowing, as China is expected to experience economic growth in 2018 and 2019, and the value of its economy is expected to become twice as large as the US economy (R. Smith, 2018). China and the US represent the two largest economies worldwide. The researcher investigates the cultural differences and similarities between the US and China as well as the usage of digital content tools and the perspective each global company on how to tackle challenges and opportunities in the field of DCM.

1.4 Definitions

1.4.1 Content Marketing

The term content itself is defined as a publication that aims to communicate a message to a target audience (Business Dictionary (a), 2018). However, the notion of content is perceived differently. One group of marketers understand it as a written, audio or video form that entertains and teaches an audience. A second group thinks it is a message that conveys useful information through storytelling. A last group indicates that a definition cannot be determined because the word content is generic and could mean anything, depending on how someone is interpreting it (Odden, 2013). For example, Handley and Chapman (2011, p.21) define content as “anything created and uploaded to a website: the words, images or other things that reside her.” Halvorson & Rach (2012, p.28) suggest that content is “the critical information the website, application, intranet, or any other delivery

vehicle was created to contain or communicate.” Wuebben (2011, p.251) thinks, “content tells the story of your product or service and propels it into the hearts and minds of your prospects, customers and others.”

However, as global managers have different conceptions of what content marketing is about, clear definitions are needed. One of the earliest descriptions of content marketing was provided by Pulizzi & Barrett (2008, p.8): “the creation and distribution of educational and/or compelling content in multiple formats to attract and/or retain customers.” Later, Rose and Pulizzi (2011, p.12) suggested that “content marketing is a strategy focused on the creation of a valuable experience.” Chaffey and Smith (2013, p.587) define content marketing as “the management of text, rich media, audio and video content aimed at engaging customers and prospects to meet business goals, published through print and digital media – including web and mobile platforms – which are repurposed and syndicated to different forms of web presence such as publisher sites, blogs, social media and comparison sites.” Burgess (2016) says that “content marketing is a strategic marketing technique that aligns business and consumer information needs with relevant content. Content can act as a means to attract, engage and convert a specific targeted audience.”

1.4.2 B2B Marketing

The business relationship between at least two different companies is defined by B2B marketing. Therefore, B2B differentiates itself from the relationship between company and customer (Weis, 2018). In particular, B2B marketing is the commercialization of goods or industrial assets that are used from other organizations (Deutsches Institut für Marketing, 2017; Kirchgeorg, 2018). The Business Dictionary (2018) proposes that B2B marketing is “the process by which businesses employ a multi-layered strategy consisting of web communications, email, media campaigns, and relationship management for the purpose of converting targeted business prospects into customers.”One of the main aspects of B2B marketing is a dependency on market demand and its related economy. Additionally, collective purchasing behavior is used to gain power in negotiations. Few B2B companies exist. Rather, these companies have a high concentration of customers. There is direct interaction between companies, and marketing instruments are used differently depending on the consumer goods industries (Deutsches Institut für Marketing, 2017). In terms of sales, B2B enterprises have a sales funnel, “which might be well organized” (Pulizzi, 2015, p.105). As a traditional B2B market, the automobile industry is a prime example of how the manufacturing of industrial parts is facilitated by the company and its suppliers (Uzialko, 2017). Regarding content marketing in the B2B environment, new brands with tools have emerged and have experienced high market growth. These brands include Eloqua, HubSpot, Smart Insights and Sales Force (Chaffey & Smith, 2013, p.13).

2 Literature Review

The literature review introduces the concept of content marketing and discusses the related core of Content Marketing Strategy (CMS), providing definitions and reasons for why it is important for companies to follow a documented content strategy. The focus then shifts to the types of content marketing and tools. In this section, the study discusses the attributes of types and the effectiveness of the most common tools. Then, the benefits, opportunities and challenges are argued. Later, the cultural influence of China and the US are measured and compared, and their results are discussed. Next, organizational goals in the B2B environment as well as future trends are identified. Lastly, a literature synthesis merges the main points of each subsection, and these points are argued from the researcher’s point of view.

2.1 Content Marketing Strategy

A CMS is part of a marketing plan and contains any tangible visual media, available in written form or as a download (McGill, 2018). Pulizzi defines a CMS as the “marketing and business process for creating and distributing valuable and compelling content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action” (Pulizzi, 2015, p.5) .

In a survey by Econsultancy (2012), 654 in-house marketers working for a brand and 513 agencies and consultants were asked about how their companies and clients defined CMS. Only 38% of in-house marketers working for a brand and 13% of agencies and consultants agreed that they had a CMS for their company and clients. However, the majority of respondents answered that they were in the process of designing a CMS. Few in-house marketers (8%) and 29% of agencies and consultants reported that their clients were not planning a CMS and that their clients have no plans in terms of defining a strategy (Econsultancy, 2012).

In a more recent study from 2016 about B2B Content Marketing, 54% of managers responded that they have no documented marketing strategy, while 50% responded that they have no data-driven strategy (B2B Technology Marketing Community & Crowd Research Partners, 2016). About 75% of those who had no strategy yet responded that they would build their own CMS within the next 12 months. The majority of B2B marketers who responded that they had not planned any strategy for the next 12 months argued that they did not plan because they had a small working team or lack of time (Content Marketing Institute, 2018).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1: Do companies have a defined CMS?, (Econsultancy, 2012)

When discussing a strategy, it is important to define the elements in order to realize success and attract higher leads, sales or web traffic. The content marketing agency The Optimist developed a framework that consists of five key components. The framework starts by defining realistic business objectives, which is essential for subsequent processes. When the targets are set, KPIs have to be defined for the measurement of the success rate of the content strategy. The metrics are based on business objectives. The audience is another important element. The behavior of the target customers has to be well understood in order for a company to deliver relevant content appropriate to clients’ needs. For the delivery of this content, different channels, like forums, communities, social media channels, etc., can be used, depending on which channel is used by the target audience (Cain, 2013; Hakes, 2017). A last key element, tactics, also appears in the business strategy. Once the CMS is established, tactics are used to refine channels or other key components, thereby establishing long-term relationships with the target audience (Hakes, 2017).

In a recent survey by the CMI (2017), the following key components emerged:

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Figure 2: Key aspects that managers involve in their CMS, (Content Marketing Institute, 2017)

Based on the graph, 73% of respondents said a key component in a CMS is a long-term plan for a content strategy. Then, in second place, 59% responded that valuable content has to be delivered, and 57% argued that a deep understanding of the target audience is essential. More than half of the participants (55%) identified a key component as a well-structured business process, including the sales department and other business departments. Furthermore, 54% responded that key components were well-defined targets, which need to be measured to rate the progress of each target (51%). A company’s scaling ability to refine the business strategy and increase long-term success as mentioned from more than one third of the B2B marketers (35%) (Content Marketing Institute, 2017).

As stated in this subsection, the slight majority of B2B marketers still do not have a documented strategy. The majority of those without a strategy are planning a documented CMS for the next 12 months. When this strategy is ready to be initiated, several key components have to be considered. Data has demonstrated that a CMS needs to be operated like a business process. Realistic business objectives have to be defined. Metrics need to be based on these objectives to measure progress. The needs and desires of the target audience have to be recognized and comprehended in order for a company to deliver valuable content. Different channels should be considered for companies to reach the audience in the most suitable way. Once the content strategy is completed, tactics are used to scale over time, with the aim of achieving positive long-term growth.

2.2 Content Marketing Types and Tools

2.2.1 Types

Different types of content marketing are available for companies today. These types support building relationships with target customers. An ideal balanced variety is important to approach a target group. Apart from social media channels, there are eight ways to provide content (Gotter, 2017):

- Blogs: Blogs are part of every CMS. They save time as they are short and can be implemented simply. As they can be found easily online with any search engine and offer accurate information, people are more likely to read it. Moreover, via a share function, the blogging is able to reach a high amount of readers. Blogging offers a high value compared to the low cost.
- Longform Content: This type of content is a longer document, which contains detailed information, comprising approximately 5,000 to 15,000 words. It is free and available online, guiding the input of necessary information so users do not have to switch to other websites.
- Case Studies: Case studies cover information of a specific context or example. They have the advantage of being unique and providing some specific knowledge about the case.
- White Papers: Inform readers precisely about a complex issue and provide a text with a philosophical approach to help readers understand a topic or solve a problem. White Papers contain a lot of crucial information and are well structured, with an introduction and summary to keep the reader’s attention high.
- E-books: The digital form of books take more to create and require more financial investment. E-books can be outsourced to freelancers to save time. They need to provide a certain value to their readers to convert them into long-lasting customers.
- Infographic: In this type of content, information is all integrated in the form of an image. The image provides easy-to-read information like statistics, charts, visualizations and diagrams. The design should be kept simple and should not be irritating to readers. A backlink is integrated into each infographic, presenting the value of the company’s content marketing.
- Template and Checklist Downloads: Templates provide structured information or automated data processing. In combination with checklist downloads, lead marketing can be increased. Documents have to be written in a well-organized way and include the company’s branding.
- Video: In comparison with readable documents, videos offer a positive alternative for content users who feel more comfortable with a combined audio and visually driven medium. Videos are used particularly for those with visual studying techniques to refresh their knowledge or to watch tutorials. Videos are strong in content marketing, as users are four times more likely to watch a video about a product than to read about it. Although videos are more time-consuming to produce, they are simple to implement and can be spread widely to an audience in social media channels (Gotter, 2017).

Gotter's (2017) arguments were confirmed in another survey on B2B content marketing. The recently published study covers the region of North America and surveyed B2B marketers about the newest trends and benchmarks. These B2B marketers were asked what types of content marketing they prefer. Almost every person responded (94%) and argued that social media posts (excluding videos) were their favorite type of content marketing. Case studies (73%), videos (72%), e-books, white papers (71%), infographics (65%) and illustrations and photos (56%) all followed (Content Marketing Institute, 2018).

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Figure 3: Types of content marketing B2B marketers use for content marketing purposes, (Content Marketing Institute, 2018)

Another question asked which formats were used for companies to share content for content marketing purposes. Different social media platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) received similar ratings, around 92%. One format that was still more highly rated were e-mails (e.g. newsletters, welcome mails), with the highest majority at 93%. Behind these two favorite formats, people identified Blogs (79%), In-Person-Events (56%) and Webinars and Virtual Events (Content Marketing Institute, 2018). E-mail content still matters because the majority of people still check their e-mails every day (IZEA, 2017). A survey from Pew Research Center resulted in more than 90% of young adults from the age of 18 to 29 years saying they frequently use e-mails as a form of text messaging (A. Smith, 2015). Another reason why e-mail marketing is still a current issue lies in the possibilities for it to be combined with other content marketing channels. E-mails can be fully customized and tracked down to know where the customer clicked and what he or she is interested in. Moreover, messages can include recommendations for blog posts, videos or articles on products (IZEA, 2017). One positive example is a US grocery brand that adapted customized e-mail messaging and increased their click-to-open rate by 180% and at the same time reduced by 99% their time effort for editorial sections of e-mails (Borichevsky, 2016).

2.2.2 Tools

With the existence of different types of content marketing, appropriate tools are required to measure success rates and effectiveness. According to Forrester, “by 2019, marketing leaders will spend more than $103 billion on search marketing, display advertising, social media marketing, and email marketing—more than they will on broadcast and cable television advertising combined” (VanBoskirk, Elliott, & Colburn, 2014) . A recently published survey by the CMI (2018) evaluated the most used content marketing tools for B2B marketers. Analytic tools were announced as the most commonly used tools, with 87% of responses indicating this type as the most popular (Content Marketing Institute, 2018).

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Figure 4: The five most popular tools in Content Marketing in the B2B environment (Content Marketing Institute, 2018)

Analytic tools are used to capture important data that is used for the CMS and give the company new insights about its target audience. Most of the captured data tends to fall into the categories of visitors, content, design and promotion (Frick and Eyler-Werve, 2015).

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Table 1: Compilation of analytic tools, (Frick and Eyler-Werve, 2015)

As the second most popular content marketing tool, e-mail marketing technology was named by 70% of respondents (Content Marketing Institute, 2018). In comparison with last year’s survey (64%), there was an increase of 6% in this tool’s popularity (Content Marketing Institute, 2017). As discussed before, e-mails are frequently used but can be fully customized and tracked down to customers’ clicks (IZEA, 2017). According to Martech Today, e-mails can be combined with chatbots, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and visual effects. A correctly programmed chatbot is able to gain valuable data by responding to a customer’s specific needs and is able to create a richer experience. Artificial Intelligence supports one’s understanding of measured data in order for companies to gain better customer insights. Finally, visual effects integrated into e-mails keep target customers more engaged and result in higher content output (Heimes, 2018). The Content Management System, ranked number three in the survey by the CMI (Figure 4), refers to a company’s website, especially how content is programmed, designed and published. Generally, there are two different approaches to a Content Management System. On the one hand, it is possible to buy a license from a provider to offer customer support. In this case the user is dependent on the provider software and service through specialists where a fee applies. The provider develops and installs the software and the user will not have any efforts. The second option is to program a company’s Content Management System via an open-source solution. In this case, no fees apply to the company, and the support is provided through an agency. The company remains independent of any provider, but is dependent on the agency’s special knowledge (Huber, 2017). Additionally, 55% of participants named Marketing Automation Software in their responses (Content Marketing Institute, 2018). With this kind of software, a company can try to create automated processes to increase its content output and save administrative time. Webinars and Online Presentation Platforms complete the list of the five most named content tools. Webinars allow B2B marketers to transfer their message with a human element. They increase the authority of the company and the target audience’s trust in the company. Relationships with customers can be built more easily, as webinars allow the target audience to get to know the person who represents the company. Companies can also develop a deeper understanding of customers when interacting with them. Lastly, webinars do not only have a positive effect on a company’s revenues, but also on brand awareness when high quality content is provided (Cannon, 2016).

Gotter (2017) has emphasized eight different content marketing types in addition to current social media channels. In a survey by the CMI (2018), social media channels were considered the most popular approach to providing target audiences with content. Case studies, videos (pre-produced), e-books and white papers as well as infographics were highly rated in this survey and strengthened the proposed content types by Gotter (2017). Secondly, the most popular tools used by B2B marketers were presented in a survey by the CMI (2018). It turned out that analytic tools have become the most desirable tools for B2B marketers. They are highly important for capturing data from a target audience and measuring the results of content delivered through content marketing types. Other content marketing tools that have been discussed include e-mail marketing technology; CMS, which applies to web content; Marketing Automation Software, which supports the building of automated processes; and webinars, which transmit content through personalized messages.

2.3 Benefits, Opportunities and Challenges

2.3.1 Benefits

Depending on the needs of the target group, content marketing can offer a company various benefits. Based on definitions of a company’s strategy and targets, benefits are the appropriate return-on-investment (ROI) of this strategy. When describing the benefits of content marketing, Myers (2016) argues that content creates value for target audiences. To create this value, a company needs to produce continuous content and distribute it to audiences. Online search engines like Google boost rankings the more current content is and the more it provides relevant information (Myers, 2016). A recent article by a content agency confirmed this argument: “The more reliable you are when commenting on a subject matter, the more likely you are considered a valuable resource by the people you’re trying to reach. Providing well-crafted written, audio or visual content on a consistent basis is the key that keeps them coming back.” (Mitchell, 2018). Another important benefit of utilizing content marketing is that it improves brand awareness and recognition. For companies to reach a high number of users, content marketing should be linked to commercial topics with a high number of followers or to websites that greatly influence people. For companies to increase their recognition, consumers need to memorize and associate the brand with its core abilities and products. A specific message differentiates a product from competition and increases a brand’s identity (Rebixit Consulting, 2017). This argument is backed by increasing customer loyalty. Valuable, consistent content leads to stronger relationships between companies and customers and increases the clients’ loyalty to a brand. Loyal customers are more likely to share the content of a trusted brand, which increases brand awareness (Ligget, 2017; Menezes, 2017). With regard to the benefits of content marketing, decreased costs are considered highly important. Unlike traditional marketing, with content marketing, the placement of digital tools like blogs, videos or infographics is not time consuming. A large investment of money is not needed for a marketing campaign. Therefore, DCM proves to be high cost-efficient (DeMers, 2017; Menezes, 2017). Finally, according to a survey, 78% of B2B marketers said that content creation was a contributing factor to the success of their content marketing activity. In particular DCM was associated with a higher content quality and to share content to a wider audience in less time. Another 72% said that an appropriate content strategy contributes to their success, and 50% argued that content supported them in targeting their audiences and in identifying which content would work. For 49% of respondents, content marketing has become a greater priority, and 46% are now spending more time on content marketing (Content Marketing Institute, 2018).

2.3.2 Opportunities

Content marketing has even more opportunities. DeMers (2017) has described seven different opportunities for achieving more effective content marketing. One of his recommendations is to introduce content marketing that applies for different purposes. Publishing content on different channels offers a company the opportunity to strengthen its relationship with customers and attract new web traffic. For a company to avoid high costs, digital content is likely to be published on free content platforms or social media channels. In order for content to be effective, the quality should be valued over quantity to guarantee positive value for the audience. Collaborating with specialists that are capable of producing content in special niches has also been presented as a way of increasing content value. Furthermore, marketing automation tools can save manual efforts and decrease the costs of content tools (DeMers, 2017).

Siemasko (2017) offers a different point of view, arguing that “conversation optimization isn’t getting the attention it deserves.” Marketers should convert e-mail lists or e-book subscriptions into new customers. Businesses focused on B2B have the opportunity to integrate digital content on mobile devices as the mobile market continues to expand. New content types that might have potential include podcasts, which grew in demand by 23% from 2015 to 2016. YouTube grew in demand by 48% as marketers are planning to include this social media type in their content strategies. YouTube is a service where users can share and upload video and audio material (Techopedia, 2018). Another large issue is the personalization of content material. Personalizing e-mails, blogs, apps or other contents types makes the distributed material more unique. Customers feel they are being specifically approached (Siemasko, 2017). In a survey, 90% of marketers argued that individualized content is the future of marketing. A company is better positioned and more able to connect with its customers when it personalizes its content (Loechner, 2015). Digital Doughnut, which provides articles about digital marketing, confirmed DeMers’ (2017) argument that content creators are likely to hire experts to produce content. Then, a Digital Doughnut contributor (2016) disagreed with DeMers, saying that there was potential “to automate the process of content creation, but, as for now, such goal seems impossible to achieve.” Additionally, it has been predicted that location-specific content will play an important future role and offer great opportunities for publishing content on mobile devices (Digital Doughnut Contributor, 2016).

A new argument has been to focus on business niches. Business niches have clearly defined audiences and are currently underserved by the media. The content’s message must be addressed individually to produce an outcome among customers. A great content success can be created if a company is applying its content narrow but highly detailed. One way of understanding customers’ preferences better is to use tools like Google’s AdWords Keyword, which mines through data from posts and likes from social media channels. This information can be used to publish personalized advertisements (ads) when the audience is actively searching on engine platforms (Norris, 2017).

2.3.3 Challenges

Content marketing also creates different challenges for companies. According to a survey of by the CMI (2017), several challenges have led to the decreased success of B2B marketers. The most mentioned challenge (57%) was not having enough time to create content. In the survey, 47% of B2B marketers argued that they had experienced challenges creating highly valuable content. Organizational issues like the fluctuation of staff (43%) and a lack of skills to develop an appropriate content strategy (40%) were also commonly stated. One third of respondents mentioned that content marketing was not prioritized enough, and another 27% of B2B marketers argued that an inadequate budget is the reason why the company was struggling with content marketing (Content Marketing Institute, 2017).

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Figure 5: Factors that decreased B2B marketers’ success over the last year, (Content Marketing Institute, 2017)

Some of the arguments mentioned by the CMI were redefined in a survey by ClearVoice. In this survey, 1,000 marketers were interviewed over several months about their largest challenges with content marketing. More than 80% said that time was the main obstacle for them. Other highly ranked challenges with content marketing included delivering valuable content (80%) and creating content (70%). The issue of engagement, which was defined in the previous survey, was not prioritized as highly as the marketing budget issues, which were described by more than 30% of marketers (ClearVoice, 2017).

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Figure 6: Biggest challenges of Content Marketing for B2B marketers, (ClearVoice, 2017)

Myers (2016) and Mitchell (2018) pointed out the need to deliver valuable content to customers. Content can be provided through visual or audio materials but has to be consistent and current. In addition, Menezes (2017) and Ligget (2017) have stated that consistent and current content provides companies with a stronger relationship with their target audiences and builds trust. DeMers (2017) and Menezes (2017) argue in support of the high-cost efficiency of content marketing. The most common types of content marketing are not time consuming and do not require large financial investments. This argument can be reconsidered when the opportunities are discussed. For companies to ensure high cost-efficiency, social media platforms and other free content platforms should be utilized. DeMers (2017) argues that high-quality content is preferable to high-quantity content in terms of effectiveness. Siemasko (2017) provided insights into how crucial the personalization of content type material is for companies to approach target audiences in a unique manner. The Digital Doughnut Contributor (2016) has pointed out the influence of location-specific content types using GPS. Norris (2017) sees its content marketing potential in the niche business. Although the niche business seems to be underserved, the message has to be sent in an individual way. According to the challenges of the DCM, the surveys provided by the CMI (2017) and ClearVoice (2017) discussed the difficulties that arose when global companies used content marketing. A lack of time and the difficulty of creating content in a high-quality manner have been argued as the greatest challenges. Further challenges include organizational changes within a company and a lack of strategy. Problems of scaling down content (discussed in subsection 2.1 as one of the key components) were more common responses given by B2B marketers.

2.4 Culture Influence in Business Context of China and the US

Content marketing benefits, like the improvement of brand awareness and recognition, have to be considered in connection with cultural influences. Having a deep understanding of target audiences is an important element. For companies to be successful, two different key aspects should be considered: content consumption habits and technology usage habits. Content consumption habits are defined as the messages that are transferred to the target audience. Technology usage habits are related to individuals that want to consume certain content through electronic devices (Kus, 2016).

In today’s globalized world, intercultural differences have become important. Employees are likely to interact with colleagues from different nations or religions. In order to be productive, employees with different beliefs and values need to comprehend foreign cultures (Collier, 2017). A published survey indicated that 15% of applicants lack the skills to work with a diverse workforce (SHRM, 2016, p.23).

In order to have a better understanding of cultural influence several business models have been developed. Richard Lewis developed his Lewis Model, which categorized countries into linear-active, multi-active or reactive. The three categories are independent of religion or nationality, and are rather based on people’s behavior. Linear-active characteristics describe employees who separate business from private life, do one task at a time and exhibit polite but direct and confrontational behavior. Managers are highly-organized planners and have linear agendas of their working schedule. Multi-active countries, such as countries in Latin America, are likely to mix private and working lives. Employees work on several tasks at once, and they exhibit emotional confrontational behavior. Reactive countries prefer to connect social life with professional life. In these countries, individuals react to a partner’s task and action, hide their emotions and exhibit non-confrontational behavior. First, they prefer to listen to a proposed position, then react to it and finally build their own opinion (Lewis, 2006). According to research, the US has been categorized as linear-active, while China is considered reactive (Lewis, 2006). When two countries are different from each other, it depends on which cultural aspects are dominant. Both countries exhibit different behaviors with regard to work and act in the business environment. Cultural sensitivities, social norms and working activities are highly recommended for companies to achieve successful working outputs.

Hofstede developed six different dimensions of cultures and did one of the most comprehensive studies to build a deep understanding of how culture influences business. The dimensions of different cultures were divided as followed: power distance index, individualism vs. collectivism, masculinity vs. femininity, uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation vs. short-term orientation and indulgence vs. restraint (Hofstede Insights, 2018).

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Figure 7: Comparison of China and USA in Hofstede’s Six Dimensions Model, (Hofstede Insights (a), 2018)

Power Distance describes the degree to which less powerful members of organizations and institutions accept that power is distributed unequally. This value represents inequality, determining who has more power or less. China scored a high value of 80. Hierarchy plays an important part in Chinese culture. In the business world, employees of lower ranks have to obey their superiors. A disagreement may be considered rude and is not accepted (Hofstede Insights, 2018). For example, in a Chinese business meeting, one has to greet a manager of higher ranking first, and during business dinner, one cannot start a meal until the manager of the highest rank begins (jasonkim29, 2012). Inequalities among citizens are accepted. Moreover, citizens are highly influenced by authorities and reprehensions from the government. On the other hand, the US has a power distance index of 40. That means people are independent and hierarchy is only accepted when there is a reason for it. In the business environment, higher ranking managers practice an open-door policy, and employees can influence with their ideas and proposals. Power is more likely to be distributed equally within an organization (Hofstede Insights, 2018).

Secondly, individualism describes the degree to which a society reflects group integration or not (Hofstede, 2011). In individualist countries, people look after themselves and their families and care less about their society. Collectivist countries display a great amount of loyalty for their groups and contribute to their society and family (Hofstede Insights, 2018). China has a low index value of 20, which makes it a highly collectivist society (Hofstede Insights (a), 2018). Groups of citizens receive preferable treatment. Within the business world in China, engagement with organizations through ideas or proposals to improve performance is low. Personal relationships among managers are highly valued and are treated favorably compared to an individual’s performance or the company itself. Compared to that, the US has a high index of 91 (Hofstede Insights (a), 2018). Employees act with direct and confrontational communication and participate within the organization to a certain degree. They work independently and display initiative by enforcing new progress. In the US, business is also done between people that do not know one another, as the opportunity of a benefit is valued more than a relationship. Moreover, decisions among U.S. organizations are based on facts, titles and evidence of what someone has achieved (Hofstede Insights, 2018).

Thirdly, the masculinity factor measures the degree to which values are distributed between genders. Feminine societies raise their children with equal rights for both genders and value quality of life and leisure time to build relationships, while masculine societies value traditional values and material success and are willing to work more to achieve financial goals (Hofstede, 2011). China, with an index of 66, and the US, with an index of 62, score similar values, identifying both countries as masculine societies (Hofstede Insights (a), 2018). The American mindset is “work to live” to receive monetary rewards or higher status in a well-paid working position. Combined with high individuality, American citizens show off their success and are open-minded about discussing their achievements. “The winner takes it all” is an accurate description of an American citizen’s mentality. In China, high masculinity is reflected in a similar way. Free time for social life is not seen as important, and services for food, consulting, travel and other needs are mostly available 24 hours. The success-oriented Chinese society gathers material rewards to obtain a higher status in life. For example, Chinese farmers living on the country side would move to the city to receive a higher income. Chinese children are taught from infancy to obtain high scores on their exams to be able to visit one of the best universities later on (Hofstede Insights, 2018).

Fourthly, uncertainty avoidance measures the degree to which uncertainty is accepted in a society. This value indicates whether members of an organization feel comfortable or uncomfortable in unstructured situations. Unstructured situations are related to unknown or surprising effects during a working project (Hofstede, 2011). China has a low value, while the US scores a middle to low value. The U.S. value reflects that new ideas for different areas are perceived well. American society is tolerant of other opinions and is not much rule-based. China has a high degree of ambiguity because the Chinese language consists of many ambiguous phrases that may be hard for a foreigner to follow (Hofstede Insights, 2018). Chinese society is more engaged politically and does not follow much religion. Children are taught to follow traditional roles (Conflict Resolution, 2013).

Fifthly, long-term orientation describes how willing a society is to change traditions in order to adapt to changed circumstances (Hofstede, 2011). In this value section, China scores a high value on long-term orientation, while the US has a low value (Hofstede Insights (a), 2018). In the business context, Chinese society has a pragmatic vision. Individuals in China are willing to invest in their future goals and are persistent in achieving them. In the American business environment, goals are short-term oriented. Most performance measurements are done in quarters of each year to demonstrate quick results. American society has strong beliefs about what is “good” and “bad” for individuals and which norms are “correct” and “false” (Hofstede Insights, 2018). One example is the belief in the liberty to possess a weapon.

Lastly, indulgence measures the extent to which a society allows individuals to enjoy human desires and offers recompense on basic demands related to enjoying life (Hofstede, 2011). China has a low score of 24, which makes it a restrained society, while the US score a high value of 68, which makes it an indulgency country (Hofstede Insights (a), 2018). Chinese society perceives individuals’ lives more pessimistically. People put less attention on maintaining friendships and feel less healthy. According to the working environment, employees put less significance on free time and pursuing hobbies and have strict working morals. On the other hand, Americans feel optimistic and have a positive attitude towards life. Having friends is considered important as well as participating in communities and taking free time to attend sport events. In business, American employees believe that they should work hard, but that they should also enjoy their leisure time fully (Hofstede Insights, 2018). One of the reasons for this mindset is that most Americans still receive only 10 days of paid vacation days after one year of engagement. It belongs to one of 13 countries worldwide that do not guarantee paid vacation (Hess, 2018).

As this section has demonstrated, cultural influences on business activities is highly important for global companies. Content marketing projects as well as collaborations between distinct cultures can lead to challenges, as the survey by Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM, 2016) argued that 15% of applicants lack the skills to work with foreign cultures. In the Lewis Model, countries are categorized as linear-active, multi-active and reactive. According to Lewis (2006), the US is considered linear-active, while China is determined as reactive. As a linear-active country, US managers have a direct and confrontational communication style. They follow a strict linear agenda and do one task at one time. Chinese managers exhibit non-confrontational behavior and hide their emotions. They prefer to listen to the proposed action of their counterpart, build their opinion and then to argue. Relationships in China are important, and therefore social life is connected to professional life.

Based on the Hofstede metrics data, the cultural dimensions of China and the US were measured through Hofstede’s Six-Dimension-Model. The comparison demonstrated that China and the US are culturally contradicting countries. While hierarchy and governmental authorities play an important role in China, in American society, independence plays an important role. Power is more likely to be distributed within an organization and hierarchy is accepted to a necessary degree. Another key difference is reflected in the individualism index. In the US society, individuality is a crucial point, based on individual success and achievements. Employees work independently and demonstrate initiative to receive appreciation in monetary form. Chinese society cares a great deal about family and exhibits a high loyalty for groups. Employees work to contribute to a company’s success. Another key difference between the countries is that Chinese employees invest in the company’s future goals and are persistent in achieving them. In the American business world, employees are focused on short-term goals to demonstrate quick results. The last key difference is described in the indulgence index by Hofstede. China is a considered a restrained society, which means that people perceive their lives more pessimistically and feel less healthy. In the business environment, employees follow a strict moral code and put less priority on their leisure time. Americans citizens have an optimistic attitude and feel positive about their future. Employees value their leisure time to participate in different events and socialize within their community. Only one key similarity resulted from Hofstede’s six-dimension model. China and the US are both considered masculine societies. In both societies, individuals work hard for their success in the form of a higher position or monetary rewards. While American citizens tend to discuss their achievements as well as to display them, Chinese citizens tend to work for the well-being of their family or community.

2.5 Objectives and Outlook

2.5.1 Objectives

When one considers the objectives of a CMS, different aspects have to be considered. Content marketing objectives have to be focused on a company’s current customers and its needs. Pulizzi (2015, p.292) argues that “goals to keep customers longer, happier, and/or spending more are the most noble content marketing objectives.” Other content marketing specialists have different points of view. Lead generation is one of the most important objectives of content marketing. Lead generation is a content marketing technique that refers to the collect as much data information as possible from potential customers (GS Lexikon, 2018). This customer data supports the personalization of products, which can be turned into sales and have a significant impact on a company. Secondly, increasing brand awareness is a crucial objective of content marketing. The more a target group is aware of a company’s brand, the more potential benefits are possible. This can be achieved through a constant and valuable delivery of content according to the customer’s target group. Thirdly, content marketing provides thought leadership. This refers to the practice of publishing insightful content that advises people on real problem issues (Hallan, 2017).

Those three arguments were recently reencountered in two published surveys. In the first survey by Crowd Research Partners, 600 respondents were asked about the top three goals for content marketing. Lead generation was named as the top goal for 55% of the respondents. Brand awareness took the second place with 38% of the answers, followed closely by customer acquisition with 37%. One third of the interviewed participants answered that thought leadership is among their top three goals (B2B Technology Marketing Community & Crowd Research Partners, 2016). The second survey by the CMI (2017) produced similar results. In this survey, lead generation was answered by 80% of respondents, and brand awareness was answered by 79% of the respondents.

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Figure 8: Organizational goals for B2B content marketing over the next 12 months, (Content Marketing Institute, 2017)

Engagement is a newly named objective and landed in the top three of the most encountered answers (Content Marketing Institute, 2017). Engagement in the context of content marketing means that the value of published content raises if more customers are liking, sharing or commenting on this content (Dhorda, 2016). Lead nurturing with 66% and sales with 62% complete the top five responses (Content Marketing Institute, 2017). Lead nurturing describes the building of relationships with target customers during every stage of the sales funnel (Marketo, 2016).

Setting the right objectives is important for a company to develop an appropriate business strategy. Some important reasons behind the importance of marketing objectives for the company’s success are explained from Feliciano (2008), who was referring to statistics of Norton and Kaplan state. In this statement, it is said that 9 out of 10 companies fail to develop a business strategy. Only 25% of managers have ideas, which is linked to strategy, and 5% of the employees actually understand a business strategy when there are no objectives predetermined (Feliciano, 2008). According to Barney and Griffin (1992), there are four main reasons that explain the need for established objectives within a company. Business objectives offer guidelines and lead the whole strategy. The planning of tasks is made easier, employees are more motivated and have a sense of direction for what to achieve in which time period. Lastly, the company is able to control performance and measure whether the set goals have been achieved (ProProfs, 2016). All these facts make objectives crucial for a company’s success.

2.5.2 Outlook

Based on the marketing objectives outlined in the previous sub-chapter, some trends for content marketing in the current year have been presented. Those favorable objectives offer a hint to upcoming trends and outlook in the near future. One of the trends defined for the year 2018 and later includes new content tools, like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and 360-degree videos. Virtual reality and AR have the ability to deliver a more unique experience to the customer, demonstrating the new abilities of a product to the audience (Martin, 2017). The difference between the new tools is that VR creates an illusion of reality, where customers can move their head in 360-degree motion to see a product in a virtual world. On the other hand, AR is used in combination with smartphones or computers, and virtual elements are integrated in combination with real elements. (Fisher, 2017).

The CMI provides a different point of view of future trends: “71 percent of marketers stated that half of their content is being consumed” (Betts, 2017) (Appendix L) . This statement demonstrates that B2B marketers need to be advanced in their competitive strategy. Andy Betts (2017) defined five different future trends for B2B marketers. The first determined future trend is the fusion of content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). This is said to provide a powerful output of consumer insights and behavior and enables companies to optimize their CMS for an audience. Moreover, the convergence of content marketing and SEO into a single function supports measurement of important metrics like web traffic or conversion rates. Secondly, B2B marketers have to increase engagement in the field of content marketing. Engagement is measured through tools like click-through rates or the time spent on the company’s website. Sources that lead to the most engagement of a target audience are social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn or blogs in which consumers share and comment on content. Thirdly, mobile devices need to provide more content on local services. Mobile searches and applications are connected via location. A published survey by Google says that one third of mobile services are already connected with location. Fourthly, voice search is considered a new future trend.

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Figure 9: The majority of B2B marketers have no strategy to prepare for voice search, (Betts, 2017)

As a newly published survey demonstrates, 62% of B2B marketers still have no plans to be able to work with voice search accounts. However, more than 20% of all Google searches are connected with voice search accounts, and 31% of marketers believe in the potential of voice search (Betts, 2017). According to ComScore, more than 50% of consumers will use voice search accounts until the year 2020 (Olson, 2016). Lastly, AI and machine learning should be considered in the future of content marketing. Today, more data than ever is being produced, which raises the demand for automation processes, and AI supports companies in obtaining a better understanding of target customers. This data is highly valuable as it can be transferred into knowledge about customers insights, which results in better content marketing decisions (Betts, 2017). According to curation, some AI tools that are already in use are based on automatically generated content. This generated content is produced by an algorithm in order to create content constantly in less time. Furthermore, chatbots, which interact with the audience, are used to answer frequent questions or help with common issues. Algorithms support companies in retrieving data from content engagement in order to customize services based on a customer’s needs. Predictive intelligence, which supports personalized messaging, causes higher lead generation. Curating content data refers to the organization, collection and sharing of the most valuable content for target customers. Algorithms help companies gather this data and find out customers’ needs and which questions to answer. Another important tool is the provision of a user experience where the target customer interacts with the AI. By interacting with customers, the AI is able to understand the customers’ needs and provide the customer with personalized content verbally or in text form (Muhammed, 2017).

In the last subsection, objectives and outlooks were discussed. As the most common goals in the B2B content marketing, lead generation and brand awareness were the most highly ranked in the responses. Lead generation highly supports data collection for a target audience, while high brand awareness can be converted into different financial benefits. Engagement was also presented among the top three most important DCM objectives, as it provides a high output of comments, likes and posts by target customers (Content Marketing Institute, 2017). One element that was previously discussed was the importance of setting the right business goals to develop a company’s business strategy and provide a guideline for employees. Lastly, some future trends based on content marketing were researched and discussed. Some of the upcoming trends presented included VR, AR or 360-degree videos. The most important future trends defined by Betts (2017) were the fusion of content marketing and SEO, as this offers powerful outputs of customer insights. Another key aspect discussed is engagement, measured by tools on websites as well as voice searches, which account for more than 20% of all mobile device searches. According to Olson (2016), 50% of consumers will use voice search accounts by the year 2020. Machine learning and AI are considered future trends in the field of content marketing. According to Betts and Muhammed (2017), algorithms are used by B2B marketers to produce content consistently, interact with the target audiences to answer frequent requests and provide them with personalized content in distinct forms on potential channels.

2.6 Literature Synthesis

As literature on content marketing has demonstrated, a minority of B2B marketers actually have an CMS (B2B Technology Marketing Community & Crowd Research Partners, 2016; Econsultancy, 2012). The main reason for this is that global companies are faced with five major challenges, namely lack of time, creation of qualitative content, cultural influences, internal organizational problems and obstacles to scaling content (Content Marketing Institute, 2017). Companies need to make decisions to overcome these challenges and remain competitive while increasing their KPIs. Content marketing comes in various forms and can facilitate the creation of high quality content, as demonstrated in subsection 2 of the literature review. Based on these content types, several tools can be used to capture data from a target audience and measure results of the delivered content. Analytic tools and e-mail marketing technology in particular are among B2B marketers’ favored tools (Content Marketing Institute, 2018). The international expansion of the information technology (IT) sector has also brought up new opportunities in content marketing. As subsection 3 demonstrates, qualitative content marketing is required for companies to compete successfully. In order to have a competitive advantage, companies need to use the most recent technologies. Marketing automation tools are able to save manual efforts and decrease the costs of content tools (DeMers, 2017). Location-specific content types, which are used for mobile devices, have the potential to grow (Digital Doughnut Contributor, 2016). Other companies and B2B marketers are focused on business niches, which are currently still underserved in terms of content (Norris, 2017). Cultural influences play an important role in global companies, according to international marketing projects and the more cross-linked business environment. However, companies need to implement long-term objectives for their CMS. Short-term sales are not the first priority to generate leads, increase brand awareness and increase the engagement of the target audience (Content Marketing Institute, 2017; GS Lexikon, 2018; Hallan, 2017). These three objectives are considered the most valuable for the successful long-term growth of a company’s KPI. Finally, current technologies used in content marketing offer an outlook of what to expect. The most valuable future trends include the fusion of content marketing and SEO, voice searches on mobile devices and AI and machine learning (Betts, 2017). These tools can satisfy the demands of global companies. They provide powerful outputs of customers’ insights, provide automated processes and interact with the target audiences consistently. As the literature review demonstrates, content marketing is an inevitable part of a global company’s business strategy. Future technologies can provide companies with more data than in the past, offering new insights into customers’ behavior and presenting new channels for opportunities to grow.

3 Methodology

The subsequent chapter provides information on the research methodology used in the empirical part of this paper. First, the general research strategy is outlined. Second, the research approach is explained. Then, the different data sources that are considered for further data collection are described. Finally, the data analysis and strategy are explained.

3.1 Research Strategy

This study consists of qualitative research and secondary sources selected from literature. First, general research and literature related to the topic were reviewed. Secondly, based on the literature review, the overall question, four sub-questions and the research objectives were developed. Thirdly, secondary data, mainly consisting of published survey reports complemented by websites and selected secondary sources with evidence for the research questions, were reviewed. Based on this secondary data, a literature synthesis was built, which analyses the findings of the previously researched secondary data. Fourthly, an interview guide is built which generally describes the basic approach of how the interviews are conducted. Lastly, a questionnaire was built and used as the main instrument for data collection. The interview candidates were business executives, marketing managers as well as managers involved in the digital communications environment to improve the theoretical framework of the secondary data. In order to limit the number of candidates, a data sample and criteria were created, which interview candidates of global companies had to fulfil (Table 2). Those requirements were gathered based on online desk research and the researcher’s judgment and support the data collection to create potential data outcome. The qualitative part of primary data consists in total of 12 semi-structured interviews: seven interviews with global companies and five with experts and consultants.

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Figure 10: Stages of the Research Process, (Own Illustration)

3.2 Research Approach

The research approach for this thesis is qualitative: “Qualitative research is a research strategy that usually emphasizes words rather than quantification in the collection and analysis of data” (Bryman, Bell, Mills, & Yue, 2011, p.27) . In this study, a qualitative approach was the most optimal choice as a great deal of data can be collected based on the experiences and observations of the interview candidates. Furthermore, this data provided knowledge about the emotions, feelings and distinct perceptions of individuals (Cooper & Schindler, 2008, p.162). The data was gathered through a specific research design, involving the recording of data and analysis of information through an evolved process. Approaches to determine the validity of data are described in this section to point out the significance of the study’s outcome (Creswell, 2014, p.183-184)

Since the goal of this study is to gather new information rather than test an existing theory, the research was done using an inductive approach. An inductive approach is more focused on a subjective perspective with open-ended and process-oriented interview questions as well as a narrative description (Research Methodology, 2018). Interviews were conducted in a semi-structured format. The semi-structured interview represents one of the most well-known qualitative methods. The data collection is likely less structured and gives the researcher the flexibility to gather further information when necessary (Ritchie & Lewis, 2003, p.111). The data was gathered from seven global companies in the chemical industry. The data sample strategy and criteria (Table 3) specify the requirements for the global companies that participated. In order for this study to take a neutral point of view with the research questions, five experts and consultants hired in responsible working positions with several years of professional experience were interviewed as well. The researcher developed an interview guide that lead individuals through the interview process (Appendix A). The guide oriented the researcher’s organization and preparation for the interviews, preventing any concerns that might arise from interview candidates.

3.3 Data Sources

The researcher decided to work with multiple data methods to increase the validity of the data and reliability of this study. The qualitative data and secondary data sources are described in the following sections.

3.3.1 Semi-structured interviews

According to Cooper and Schindler (2008, p.171), “a semi-structured interview generally starts with a few specific questions and the follows the individuals tangents of thought with interviewer probes.” Semi-structured interviews are defined as one of the major types of qualitative data research methods (Bryman et al., 2011, p. 205). The researcher was able to conduct 12 semi-structured interviews. These semi-structured interviews consisted of seven interviews with global companies and five interviews with experts in the field of digital marketing. All the global companies were based in the chemical industry, which had to meet the sample criteria developed by the researcher (section 3.3.2 data sample and criteria). An overview of the conducted interviews is described by geographical location (Table 2). An interview consent form was formulated in advance to avoid any misunderstandings or concerns. For example, interview candidates were able to stop during the interviews if they were insecure or needed more time for their response. Depending on the situation, additional questions were improvised for the researcher to obtain more precise statements and better compare responses. The interviews were recorded by audio material as well. The interviews were kept in English and were done in the most comfortable manner for the interview candidate. This means, if circumstances demanded, like geographical distance, interviews were organized over Skype or WeChat. WeChat is considered the most important communication application in China to do phone calls, send voice messages or message to other persons (Heath, 2015). Skype is a similar service that allows the user to make phone calls or voice calls online (Collins Dictionary, 2018). These alternative options allowed the researcher to conduct more interviews at the same time. The interviews were held on a certain date to make sure sufficient information was collected from the selected managers. The structure of the interview questions followed a certain sequence in order for the researcher to get used to the interview partners. The data input was consistently transcribed. In order to save time, the Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) platform Speechmatics was utilized. Speechmatics ASR allowed the researcher to upload audio material and transcribe it automatically into text form. Given its high knowledge of speech technology, Speechmatics transcribes with high accuracy (Speechmatics, 2018). After the actual interview, the individual interview transcription and audio material were sent to the interview candidate for verification. This had advantages for both sides. The interview partner was able to correct wrongly written text passages and had the option of anonymizing certain phrases. The researcher benefited by gaining a corrected transcript and more precise answers.

[...]

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Details

Title
Digital Content Marketing in the Global Environment. Evaluation of Global Companies in the Chemical Industry
Subtitle
The Markets of China and USA
College
University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland
Grade
2,0
Author
Year
2019
Pages
193
Catalog Number
V1000042
ISBN (eBook)
9783346395597
ISBN (Book)
9783346395603
Language
English
Tags
Content Marketing, Digitization, Content Strategy, Global Companies, Chemical Industry, Cultural Influence, Business-To-Business (B2B) Environment, KPIs, Content Tools
Quote paper
Matthias Hebben (Author), 2019, Digital Content Marketing in the Global Environment. Evaluation of Global Companies in the Chemical Industry, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1000042

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