Everyone knows how important content is for your business. It’s a critical tool for attracting new customers and communicating effectively with the ones you have already. But no one seems to talk about the fact that creating great content is hard.

To learn more about the challenges that companies face in creating content — and how they overcome them — we decided to do some research. At the end of last year, we surveyed more than 250 content professionals from around the world to find out about their content creation practices. The respondents were mostly mid-level content practitioners working at either small businesses or big corporations like IBM, Amazon, and Mastercard.

Here’s a rundown of some of the things we learned:

Content Professionals Want to Be Seen as Authoritative Experts

No matter who they are or where they work, most content professionals share some common goals. Key among them are a desire to produce content that demonstrates their company’s expertise and authority, generates leads to help drive their business forward, and helps them educate the market.

content professionals' top content goalsThe Key to Achieving Those Priorities Is High-Quality, Informative Writing

To meet these goals, content professionals think it’s important to make sure they:

  • Have high-quality, error-free writing.
  • Demonstrate thought leadership and offer how-to advice or instruction.
  • Write with an engaging style and tone of voice.

important factors for creating good contentUnfortunately, a Number of Challenges Get in Their Way

Despite their best intentions, most content professionals face a variety of challenges that can limit their success. These include factors ranging from not having enough time and resources to more systemic issues. Fundamentally, content creators have three big hurdles to overcome:

content professionals' content challengesVarious Factors Contribute to These Challenges

A variety of issues contribute to these challenges. For example, only 39 percent of companies said that they have enough content professionals in-house to meet their content needs. The rest either rely on other staff who aren’t professional writers, or they outsource large portions of the work to third parties. Meanwhile, in most companies (63 percent), content creation is a siloed process. That can lead to issues with quality and consistency.

Speaking of consistency, although 67 percent of content professionals said that their company has a corporate style guide, only 30 percent of them said it’s followed. Meanwhile, 52 percent of respondents said their company’s tone of voice is average or weak.

tone of voice effectivenessWhat all of this suggests is that content creators don’t have it easy. But there are still plenty of ways to be effective. Today’s content professionals are creating better processes, relying on more people for help, and using a variety of technologies — from organizational tools through to artificial intelligence. And many are getting results.

To get the full story, and better understand how all kinds of different companies think about content, download your copy of “Content 2018: How Top Business Approach Content Creation.”