State of Content Marketing Report (2024)

15 min
CONTENTS

5 Changes that Impacted Content Marketing and SEO in 2023

Key Survey Information

Results of the 2023 State of Content Marketing Survey

Final Thoughts

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There’s no denying that 2023 has been challenging for content marketers.

The overarching adoption of AI, numerous core updates, generative search—these are only a few factors that have been keeping content marketers on their toes this year.

The generally excited/uncertain/mildly concerned mood that governs content marketing right now was reflected in our 2023 State of Content Marketing Survey that we ran together with Superpath.

How do people feel about the future of content marketing?

Do they feel secure in their jobs?

What is the general sentiment toward AI?

We have answers to these questions and more.

5 Changes that Impacted Content Marketing and SEO in 2023

The worldwide content marketing community observed many pivotal changes in 2023.

These five, in particular, have been the most influential (in our opinion):

  • The growing influence of AI The increasing variety of AI tools, such as Jasper or ChatGPT by OpenAI, has allowed for the automation of many content marketing activities (with some limitations).
  • Google’s AI-powered Search Generative Experience (SGE). Generative AI is transforming the search experience, allowing searchers to ask more complex questions and get descriptive answers, receive the gist of any topic, and more.
  • Massive layoffs in tech companies. A high rate of employee terminations certainly has impacted the content marketing landscape, especially in terms of budget.
  • Google’s Helpful Content Updates. With these updates, Google validated a shift toward experience- and expertise-first content, giving a backseat to content that lacks purpose and clear intent.
  • Content democratization. Gradual commoditization of traditional content marketing channels is pushing businesses to invest in other outlets, e.g., media singular.

We asked our respondents about some of these key events.

Let’s see how they responded.

Key Survey Information

The Minuttia/Superpath survey on the State of Content Marketing in 2023 had the following goals:

  • Explore how the content marketing landscape has changed over the past 12 months.
  • See how content marketers react to the changes that happened in content marketing this year.
  • Understand how the current state of content marketing will define its future.

To reach these goals, we surveyed 685 in-house content marketers to get their responses to the questions below.

The respondents had the following job titles:

 

EDITOR'S NOTE
The number of surveyed participants represents just a small cross-section of the content marketing industry. However, this number was enough to help us understand the general mood and insights within the industry.

Results of the 2023 State of Content Marketing Survey

We asked the participants to answer 17 questions covering different aspects and challenges in content marketing over the past 12 months.

Here’s how they responded.

1. How excited are you about the future of content marketing?

Most respondents seem to feel cautiously optimistic about the future of content marketing, with their responses ranging from 7 to 10, 10 being “very optimistic.”

 

Our conversations with content marketers and marketing executives backed up the variations in opinion.

Here’s what Chima Mmeje, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Moz, shared with us.

On a scale from 1 to 10, my excitement for the future of content marketing is a resounding 10, and here's why: AI is pumping out content at breakneck speed, but this is setting the stage for expert-driven content to truly shine. The future is all about value-packed content from thought leaders and niche experts who have deep, firsthand knowledge of their topics. I'm eager to see how this shift amplifies the voices of genuine authorities and helps brands emerge as beacons of trust.

At the same time, Melanie Broder, content marketing consultant, showed cautious optimism in an interview for The SaaS SEO Show.

I really would like to be optimistic about it. … Before, we’ve seen that content has been a bit divorced from growth. People see SEO content as not really creative stuff, and, in a lot of cases, it’s not anymore … There will be this branded content that will be more creative … Brand will become more and more important. And I think that originality and authenticity and humanity will be rewarded.

In turn, Mordy Oberstein, Head of SEO Branding at Wix, also seems to rate his expectations for the future of content marketing at 10.

I'm ecstatic about the future of content marketing and I am incredibly bullish on content in general. The web feels as if it is maturing. One of the silver linings to the focus on AI is that it's reinvigorated the conversation around content quality, so as to differentiate from AI-written content. That, combined with user expectations for experience-based and quality content, puts nuanced, targeted, well-substantiated content that doesn't oversell at the forefront of the marketing conversation. If we, as content marketers, have the maturity to see these trends and to embrace them then we have a very bright future ahead of us.

Let’s move forward.

2. How secure do you feel in your current role?

The responses range between 6 and 8, indicating a certain level of uncertainty among content marketing professionals.

 

This year’s much-debated post-COVID layoffs by major tech giants may have caused the precariousness.

  • Google’s parent company, Alphabet, laid off 6% of its workforce in January 2023—around 12,000 people.
  • Amazon terminated 27,000 employees, most of them in January 2023 (18,000).
  • Shopify let 20% of its workforce go in May 2023, which is about 2,000 employees.
  • Meta cut 10,000 jobs in April 2023 on top of the 11,000 people they laid off in November 2022.

We can see that, only in the indicated months, all four companies let 51k people go, and the total number is much higher.

And although there was no specification that these layoffs included content marketing roles, it definitely caused a stir in the industry.

So, naturally, we had to ask about the state of psychological well-being among content marketers.

3. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your day-to-day work stress?

The survey showed a high variance in answers regarding stress levels at work.

 

Overall, 502 respondents rated work stress at 5 to 8, demonstrating the moderate-to-high levels of tension they go through at the workplace.

EDITOR'S NOTE
The definition of stress can be subjective (starting a new position, being laid off, etc.) and this must be taken into account when evaluating these responses.

To understand factors that might cause high levels of stress in a content marketer’s work life, we asked the following question.

4. What concerns you most in your current role?

The majority of survey participants (all of whom were allowed to name one or more concerns) seemed to be most concerned about driving results.

 

Their position is understandable and most probably comes from facing challenges in content marketing during the recession.

Other than that, content marketers stay alert for future changes in Google search, AI, and being able to effectively communicate the value of content marketing in its swiftly changing landscape.

So, given the stress levels and these concerns, we were curious about how respondents would react to the following question.

5. How frequently do you look at other jobs?

Even though most responses indicated moderate levels of stress and concerns regarding reaching scalable results, most content marketers remain somewhat passive in their job search.

 

So, most seem to look at other positions occasionally, either monthly, quarterly, or weekly.

Only 96 participants replied that they were looking at other jobs daily.

Now, let’s investigate the changes to the core content marketing processes in 2023.

6. Over the last 12 months, has your content budget increased/decreased/stayed the same?

Interestingly enough, despite the recession, most (282) survey participants shared that their content marketing budgets grew this year.

 

Yet, 215 content marketers indicated that their allowance for content marketing expenses has decreased. For 188 respondents, the budget stayed the same.

At the same time, those who plan to further increase investments in content next year don’t necessarily do it for the sake of creating more content.

Here’s what Emilia Korczynska, Head of Marketing at Userpilot, shared with us:

In 2024, we're planning to increase our content budget by 20%. It's already a mid-five-figure number per month, and we are publishing a lot of content. Our goal is 100 blog posts per month—60 new blogs and 40 programmatic ones—plus around 20 content updates. Next year, we don't want to necessarily increase our content output but improve the quality of our content updates and downright rewrite some of our old content. That might need to include off-page SEO, i.e., a link-building budget if we find out we can't bump the content in SERPs anymore with just on-page optimizations. Another thing is optimizing our content more for conversions rather than just the position in SERPs. We want our content to be the best and to rank the best it can.

Furthermore, Dennis Buckley, Senior Content Marketing Strategist, shared an insightful thought regarding the chart:

Economic conditions are definitely squeezing budgets of many companies right now. However, it's encouraging to see that many brands are still maintaining—some even increasing—resources to content. It's hard to provide a thoughtful take without knowing more details, but based on this raw data, it seems likely that the optimizers are getting more strategic - focusing on high-quality, differentiated content vs. high volumes of derivative, or commodity content. Those making smart investments now will be poised to capitalize when the dust settles.

However, given that budgets still decreased for so many content marketers, how did it impact the size of their teams?

Let’s find out.

7. Over the last 12 months, has your in-house content team size grown/shrunk/stayed the same?

Even though 215 respondents saw a budget reduction over the past 12 months, only 187 survey participants said the size of their in-house content marketing team had shrunk.

 

At the same time, team size stayed the same for 219 respondents, and 279 content marketers managed to hire additional team members this year.

The following question suggests itself here.

If the team size either grew or remained the same for so many survey participants, what about outsourcing?

Has it increased, decreased, or stayed the same?

We’ve got an answer for that, too.

8. Over the last 12 months, has your outsourcing increased/decreased/stayed the same?

289 respondents (42%) shared that their content marketing processes relied more on outsourcing this year.

 

At the same time, the reliance on outsourcing has stayed the same for 207 content marketers and decreased for 189 surveyed participants.

Interestingly, some content marketers benefited from decreasing their outsourcing budgets.

We asked Noelina Rissman, Content Marketing Manager at Constructor, to comment on the matter.

Our outsourcing has decreased. We’ve pivoted to creating more product-led and thought-leadership content in-house vs. outsourcing SEO content to freelancers. So far, this change has proven more efficient and effective. We’ve reduced hours spent editing since our product- and industry-heavy pieces are created by those with appropriate expertise on our team.

However, we should note that outsourcing remains topical for many companies.

For instance, for a company that wants to do link building on a scale but doesn’t have in-house resources, it would make sense to outsource this task to an agency.

This comment from Eric Doty, Content Lead at Dock, supports this idea.

People are trying to be leaner about how they build a marketing operation … Teams want to reduce head count because it’s way less flexible than outsourcing. So if I have a full-time employee, they’re going to take three months to ramp up … So the content role has shifted from “produce everything in-house” to being a project manager of people … And, outside of the flexibility, it allows us to hire a specialist for each channel.

On that note, many businesses outsourced part of their content marketing activities to AI.

So, the following few questions will cover the topic of AI in content production.

9. On a scale of 1-10, how concerned are you about AI and its impact on content marketing?

The responses varied for this question, but most respondents seem to be somewhat concerned about the increasing impact of AI on content marketing.

 

What are the reasons for the concerns?

Turns out, it’s not always the fear of AI stealing content marketers’ jobs.

Mordy Obersetin, Head of SEO Branding at Wix, expressed concern during an interview for The SaaS SEO Show that uncontrolled use of AI will flood the internet with low-quality content.

I think that ... if we leave people to their own devices (when it comes to using machine learning) and we don’t supervise them, ... people are going to spin up endless amounts of content. If you flood the internet with such content, the value of it will be completely destroyed. Unless there's a correction, we will destroy the web with this thing (AI-generated content).

In an interview on The SaaS SEO Show, John Ozuysal, Co-founder at Datapad and Founder at Houses of Growth, expresses a similar opinion.

It (AI) writes an article, but when I read it, it’s dull. If your only purpose to write content is traffic, maybe it’ll work for you. But if you’re serving it to a customer, and there’s a human being reading it, I think that’s where AI fails.

In turn, Ryan Prior, Head of Marketing at Modash, shared a thought that AI content can hardly outperform human-made content.

I think I’d rate it (the concern about AI and its impact on content marketing) 2/10. From the perspective of a marketing leader (not an IC/writer) we can’t ignore it, but everyone has access to the same AI tools. They are not cost-prohibitive, generally, and nobody has an unfair advantage. I’m not worried about AI content outperforming ours, and I’m not worried about competitors executing AI strategies—because we can do it too.

Finally, Jess Cook, Head of Content & Comms at Island, sees a more optimistic picture:

I think AI is already flooding us with low-quality content. And it will continue to do that until we get better at crafting prompts or AI gets better at crafting quality output. Both of these will come with time. But I am not concerned with this. In fact, I see it as a HUGE opportunity for those of us who take the time and effort to craft truly great content. That truly great content will stand out even more, be seen as more valuable and credible, and reflect positively on the brands it came from. Original research and thought leadership, in particular, will have an inherent advantage due to the human input and points of view critical to those two content types. Brands and content marketers that know how to craft original research and thought leadership will have a leg up on those who rely solely on high-quantity commodity content.

Yet, given that mild concern still governs the minds of many (according to the responses), how do professionals react to the unauthorized use of AI?

Let’s find out.

10. On a scale of 1-10, how concerned are you regarding unauthorized use of AI tools from your in-house team and contractors?

The concern regarding the unauthorized use of AI appears to be higher than moderate.

 

Such a response calls for the application of certain limitations for the use of AI in content marketing.

In other words, no matter if you’re giving a task to an in-house team member or a contractor, you should specify to what extent AI tools can be used in the process.

Some content team leads refer to AI content detectors, but this method is somewhat controversial.

Here’s a quote from John Ozuysal, Co-founder at Datapad and Founder at Houses of Growth.

Many people rely on AI detectors to spot AI content but this method is flawed … You can't rely on detectors; you need to have good processes to create great content, and we already have it.

We were also curious as to how many respondents use AI for content marketing.

Here’s how they replied.

11. Over the last 12 months, have you used AI in any part of your content creation process?

The overwhelming majority of surveyed content marketers confirmed using AI in the content creation process.

 

As you can see, it’s 627 respondents for Yes against only 58 for No.

Naturally, the question arises: to which tasks do content marketers apply AI?

We’ve given the respondents some options.

Let’s see which one they picked the most.

12. How are you using AI tools in your current workflow? Check all that apply.

Outline/brief and content creation are the top activities outsourced to AI tools, according to the majority of surveyed content marketers.

 

Topic ideation, repurposing, editing, and content promotion/distribution seem to have a roughly equal number of votes. Finally, workflow/operational improvements received only 194 votes.

Some experts we interviewed for The SaaS SEO Show gave answers that align with the responses to this question.

Here’s what Kas Szatyłowicz, Head of Marketing at Lakera, shared during her interview on The SaaS SEO Show.

To give you a short answer, yes, we do use AI-generated content. It’s not fully AI-generated; I think of it more like an AI assistant. It can help me write case studies, landing pages.

Bianca Anderson, SEO Strategist at HubSpot, also shared a few good use cases for AI.

I’ve been using AI more like a virtual assistant. HubSpot has its own internal ChatGPT alternative called HubGPT; it’s essentially ChatGPT but with better security and restrictions to prevent the leaking of important data. So, I’ve been using HubGPT for building marketing memos. There’s still a lot of human work that needs to be done, but (AI) helps to organize your thoughts. I’ve been using it to read Zoom call transcripts and give me the takeaways of a meeting if I haven’t been able to take notes ... A colleague of mine, who has no Python experience whatsoever, was able to use ChatGPT to create a Python script for mass converting images into WEBP format.

And a few more suggestions from Farzad Rashidi, Lead Innovator at Respona.

We use AI tools in almost every step of our content marketing, from generating keyword clusters to outline generation, data analysis, and content refreshes. These tools help us create more engaging content much faster. The use of AI in content marketing has exponential growth potential. We're just scratching the surface. As models get more advanced, we'll see a shift toward a more cost-effective content creation process, enabling more businesses to rely on content marketing as their main acquisition channel.

So, it’s clear that content marketers have automated some of their tasks with AI’s help.

But have they ever considered replacing any of their internal or external resources with it?

Surveyed respondents seemed to feel conflicted about this issue.

13. Over the last 12 months, have you considered replacing any of your internal or external resources with AI?

Even though most participants confirmed considering replacing internal or external resources with AI, many content marketers appear to reject this idea.

 

We can read the responses to this question in the following way.

Even though most content marketers considered handing the reins to AI in some areas, it doesn’t mean it came to fruition.

Besides, however tempting it can be to rehaul every task into an AI-assisted version, many respondents seem to realize the limitations of artificial intelligence and are not ready to place full trust in it.

Now, let’s see how content marketers from SaaS companies generally feel about AI.

14. What’s your company’s overall sentiment toward AI? (Positive, Negative, Neutral)

Most surveyed content marketers reported positive attitudes toward using AI within their organizations.

 

In turn, 127 are neutral about AI, and 154 feel worried about its growing role in content marketing.

Given the generally positive point of view, how much do content marketing teams spend on AI tools?

Here’s what we learned.

15. How much does your team spend on average on AI tools like Jasper, Writer, Copy.ai, ChatGPT, etc., on a monthly basis?

Only a few respondents pay more than $500 a month for AI tools.

 

Most content marketers spend from $100 to $500.

Overall, AI tools are not the most expensive investment.

To compare, only an advanced version of Ahrefs would cost a content marketing team $399 a month, and only if you add some automation tools, like Zapier (Team package costs $103 a month), or social media management platforms, like Hootsuite ($249 monthly for the Team plan) would the cost exceed $500.

So, all these tools, including AI-powered ones, aren’t a financial burden but rather a smart investment that pays off and adds value.

The next couple of questions touch upon the topic of SEO.

16. Over the last 12 months, has SEO become more important/less important/equally important?

When asked about the role of SEO in content marketing, most survey participants said it became even more important this year than last year.

 

Will the importance of SEO continue growing?

And, most importantly, what future awaits SEO in general?

Here are some opinions that guests of our podcast shared with us.

Will the importance of SEO continue growing?

And, most importantly, what future awaits SEO in general?

Here are some opinions that guests of our podcast shared with us.

Brian Shumway, Director of SEO Product at Upwork, says SEO will become more product-focused.

Now, (SEO is) either focusing on really good, really strong, high-quality content or SEO is, at least in our world, being pushed into the product realm. I think that SEO can be less of a marketing activity and more of a product activity where it’s an investment in a product, or at least in how a product is implemented. (So SEO professionals should be) working with designers, engineers who are building this product, to do (SEO) in a scalable, efficient way.

In his turn, Jason Barnard, CEO and Founder at Kalicube, highlights the importance of building relationships in SEO.

Google is looking for close and long relationships. The closer—the stronger, the longer—the better. So, we need to build up the understanding of the machine using our knowledge. And the better we can build that understanding about who we are, what we’re doing, and who we serve, the more Google is going to be able to match its perception of its users’ need to its perception of what we actually offer.

Finally, Eric Hoover, Organic Search Director at Jellyfish, is certain that the work of SEOs will be more human-focused.

I think SEO is going to be human-focused, whether it’s written content, interactive content, which is still going to be helping people find the information they’re looking for, helping them throughout their journey and doing it as quickly as possible both from a technical and informational standpoint.

So, we can sum up that content will remain the core tool in SEO to help brands build those “strong and long relationships” with users.

The responses to our last question confirm it.

17. What are your main areas of focus regarding SEO content? Check all that apply.

For most respondents, content creation remains the central area of focus when asked about SEO.

And, given the number of responses supporting the importance of content creation, it will remain on top of content marketers’ to-do lists in the future, too.

Emilia Korczynska, Head of Marketing at Userpilot, also expressed her support for this point.

I feel a lot of people are turning away from SEO content. Some see diminishing returns—it is true that with ChatGPT and the proliferation of AI writing tools, a lot of niches have become painfully saturated with mediocre content. … On the other hand, many people are afraid of SGE and how it will affect search behavior in general. We've been seeing an increase in zero-click searches for years, and I feel chatGPT has only made it worse. While I have taken these risks into account naturally, I think it's too early to turn away from content. And since we have already dominated our niche by playing very aggressively in this domain, we will continue to invest in it—but we will not also grow a second leg to drive leads independently from our content motion.

Final Thoughts

Let’s sum up what we’ve learned from the survey:

  • Content marketers generally feel optimistic about the future. The role of content remains dominant but will change from supporting search engine optimization tasks to serving the needs of a target audience.
  • AI fear turned into skepticism, then acceptance, and finally mild excitement. Content marketers widely adopt AI tools but don’t trust them completely yet when it comes to replacing internal or external resources with them.
  • The tech industry hasn’t fully recovered from the downturn. Massive layoffs and budget cuts encourage content marketers to be smart about available resources.
  • Content marketing is changing and is likely to look a lot different a year from now. However, many experts say that’s a good thing, as content will become more human-focused.

Looking for help to keep your content strategy aligned with constant changes?

Let’s talk!

HUMAN CRAFTED
This piece of content is the work of a human mind.

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