We’re in the midst of the year’s biggest shopping season and entering end of quarter crunch, where many business buyers are making final annual budgets decisions.  It’s critical for content marketers to step up their games yet in December, yet some of our key insights from November show that your content may not be as effective as you think… Click play to watch Brafton’s November 2013 content marketing recap, or read the full blog post below.

Is your content as good as you think?

According to an x+1 survey, more than 80 percent of marketers think they’re killing it with email copy, but only about one-quarter of surveyed consumers think branded messages are valuable. The disparity was even larger for web copy, with 90 percent of marketers claiming they creative effective personalized web experiences, compared to less than 20 percent of consumers who say that’s true.

Images & videos boost content efficacy: Stats

One way to boost web content is with pictures. November data from Buffer shows shared pictures garner 18 percent more clicks on Twitter than text-only Tweets. Brafton has previously reported that creating visual content is commonly a strugge for marketers, and graphics are one of the most outsourced content types. In our latest video blog, we offer some quick tips on turning text into compelling visual media – for any industry.

And speaking of videos, that’s another great format for building interest around your brand. Last month, Brafton ran a Google Analytics experiment with a client and found a text-only page had a 7 percent conversion rate, compared to a 25 percent conversion rate for the same page with a custom video. More companies are catching on to the value of video, with a Web Video Marketing Council report showing 71 percent of marketers are increasing their video budgets. At the same time, a separate report shows 59 percent aren’t sure about best practices for distributing video across the web.

Sharing videos on highly trafficked YouTube is considered a core practice, and many professionals feel they have to start from scratch to build a YouTube strategy. One Brafton social strategist recently shared her insight on how she’s driven clients’ video marketing success by applying some universal social practices to YouTube, including limiting character counts, interacting with influencers and monitoring analytics.

Measure success to build success: Higher demand for content analytics

Of course content analytics – for any format – is essential. November data from the Online Marketing Institute reported that 37 percent of marketing teams surveyed struggle to understand their content metrics, lacking in-house talent to analyze marketing results. This is something companies should get on lock before 2014: With copy, video and graphic budgets poised to rise, content has to be accountable for results.

Beyond individual pieces of content, companies also need to know which channels deliver the most qualified traffic. Though conversion rates will vary, a recent benchmark highlighted that organic search traffic has an average 16 percent conversion rate across the web.

SEO best practices still essential to content (and web marketing) success

With that in mind, here are some of the biggest SEO takeaways from November:
– Site speed is becoming more important than ever, and Google’s released Site Speed Suggestions tool helps marketers get a little faster
– Structured data is also highly recommended for making content more SEO-friendly, with everyone’s favorite search engineer Matt Cutts saying the more markup, the more easily search engines can understand site content
– Cutts also had some comments about commenting across the web as a link strategy: Brand employees should post comments as themselves (not as the company), and Cutts advised sharing site links only when they’re highly relevant lest they set off spam alarms

Keeping search best practices in mind will be essential this holiday season, with searchers expected to have a 1.5 percent higher conversion rate than their non-searching counterparts. In fact, 79 percent of Americans say the internet will be their most valuable research tool this holiday shopping season, and the average American will spend 11 percent more than in 2012.

Hopefully these tips will help marketers prepare last-minute details for end-of-year campaigns, and then we’ll have more next month to bring your content strategies into the new year.

Check out Brafton.com for ongoing insights and happy content marketing.