SYDNEY: A majority of Australian businesses are using content marketing but very few would describe their efforts as "sophisticated", with responsibility frequently being delegated to small teams or a single person and only half able to say what success looks like.

A report from the Content Marketing Institute and the Association for Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising, based on responses from 119 Australian businesses as part of a wider global survey, found that 82% used content marketing; and more than half of those that didn't planned to start doing so within 12 months.

But when asked to describe the level of maturity of their company's content marketing set-up, just 8% said "sophisticated" – being able to provide accurate measurement to the business and scaling across the organisation.

Most were evenly spread over three categories ranging from "young" (27%) through "adolescent" (28%) to "mature" (27%), with 11% taking their "first steps".

Those in the mature stage were finding success but faced difficulties with integration across the organisation, while adolescents had developed a business case and seen some early success while building measurement and scaling up.

Those at the young stage were still struggling to create a cohesive strategy and measurement plans while the first steppers were doing some aspects of content but had yet to start making it a formal process.

In terms of organisational structure, the report found that over half (52%) of content marketing efforts were overseen by a small team, or just one person, that served the entire business.

Some 23% involved a centralised group working with multiple brands and product lines across the business; just 6% had a content marketing team for each brand or product line, while 14% operated a mix of both.

As to what constituted success, 49% of Australian marketers reported that their organisation was clear on this point, but 30% were unsure and 21% didn't know what success looked like.

Lack of time emerged as one of the main hindrances to effective content marketing, cited by 63% of respondents, while just over half (53%) complained that content marketing was not prioritised highly enough – although, on average, 30% of an organisation's marketing budget was spent here.

"To succeed with content marketing, you need to be committed — and truly believe in — the benefits of content marketing," said Joe Puluzzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, advising marketers to "go all in or do nothing".

Data sourced from Content Marketing Institute; additional content by Warc staff