Study shows how Swiss SMEs practice digital content marketing

Digital content marketing - unlimited possibilities as well as high costs? The agency "The Ambassadors" asked Swiss SMEs about goals and the practical design.

The Swiss Federal Council has been on Instagram since October 2022 and has created ten posts for this purpose ( reported). Bill Gates' "Content is King" from 1996 has now arrived in Switzerland at the latest. This refers to the regular creation and distribution of content in digital channels to (potential) customers and employees. The aim is to inform, entertain and inspire them with content that is relevant to them.

In terms of resources, large companies have plenty to draw on. But how do the other 99 percent of companies in Switzerland with a maximum of 250 employees deal with the issue? From July to August 2022, the agency "The Ambassadors" surveyed German-speaking Swiss SMEs with a focus on business-to-business transactions. 272 (co-)decision-makers in digital content marketing in their respective companies took part in the online survey.

Important, but not measurable?

The good news first: 87 percent of the survey participants consider digital content marketing to be important to very important for the future commercial success of their company. At the same time, only 36 percent currently see a clear contribution to commercial success, and 37 percent see little or none.

This comment is exemplary: "It is not exactly measurable for us, but we assume that it has a significant benefit in image building and increasing awareness/traceability. The agency's assessment: What is not measured cannot be controlled and runs the risk of being at a disadvantage in budget discussions in the medium term.

Gladly the fiver and the Weggli

When asked about their goals, the SMEs reveal a colorful bouquet of approaches. Interestingly, generating leads is only in third place. 82 percent want to communicate their company's expertise, 81 percent want to strengthen their brand(s) and 69 percent want to win new customers.

This "everything is important in some way" can be an explanation for the insufficient measurability. Retaining existing customers as well as employees is rated as less important. This is surprising in view of the omnipresent "war for talent" and the widespread recognition that winning customers is many times more expensive than maintaining existing customers.

On the road with the handbrake on

Seventy-four percent of the survey participants expect greater effectiveness in digital content marketing through additional time and personnel resources. An exemplary statement: "We don't have the necessary resources for digital content marketing and do it on the side.

It is true that 81 percent of the companies have dedicated resources. However, many of them have only a few percent of their staff: A third of the companies devote a maximum of 25 percent of their staff to the topic; only 6 percent of the companies devote 100 percent of their staff.

Further comments suggest two attitudes. On the one hand, one wants to be there, but not in full consequence; if it brings nothing, it does no harm. On the other hand, the "chicken-and-egg" problem; one shows first additional turnover and only then means are spoken.

Software and budget as an indication of professionalization

The fact that digital content marketing is still in the start-up phase among Swiss SMEs is made clear by the questions about the software used and the fixed budget allocated. 32 percent of the study participants stated that specific software is used. 53 percent answered in the negative, and 13 percent plan to introduce software in the near future. HubSpot is used most frequently, followed by Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.

55 percent operate with a fixed annual budget for digital content marketing, excluding media/reach. In terms of the resources actually used, an upper and lower league can be identified: The majority invest a maximum of fifty thousand Swiss francs per year; around 20 percent invest more.

Do it yourself or get help?

From a management perspective, the question also arises in digital content marketing: What do we do ourselves, what competencies do we build up, and where do we accelerate through external support? To this end, the study examined content marketing activities today and in the future for the next two to three years.

This much in advance: While Search Engine Advertizing/Optimization and Media are supported externally today, the need for strategy, conception and automation will increase in the future. An in-depth look at make-or-buy decisions will take place on March 1, 2023 at will take place. Registration for decision makers from marketing and sales is now open.

* Erich Koller is a partner at the agency Die Botschafter.

* Axel Thoma is a lecturer at the University of St. Gallen and also a partner at Die Botschafter.

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