Content culture in the UK: Sticky Content survey 2015

Over 30% of companies now have dedicated in-house content teams – but senior managers are holding them back and lots of their work never even gets published, according to new survey

London 12th October 2015: Content marketing has become so mainstream in the UK that 30% of companies employ content professionals in-house, according to a new survey on the UK’s culture of content.

But these content teams are facing cultural challenges, with a lack of strategic direction and too much interference from senior stakeholders.

One third of those surveyed said senior management had a negative impact on content quality. And staggeringly, nearly half of all written content never gets published in 15% of organisations.

No clear direction for content

More than two-thirds of senior marketers responding to the survey said the biggest challenge to producing good content was a lack of clear direction, as evidenced in an absence of content strategy, guidelines, workflows or understanding about target audiences.

The majority (53.36%) also cited time spent on feedback as the biggest challenge to getting content live. Close behind, nearly 46% blamed briefs which change after content has already been created.

Content is ‘business critical’

The survey by agency Sticky Content, asked nearly 300 senior marketing professionals at organisations about the UK’s content culture.

The 2015 results show some improvement in content culture at UK organisations over the last couple of years, as awareness of the importance of content grows. Over 30% of organisations say they regard content as business critical, for instance, and have people whose full-time responsibilities are content planning, creation, delivery and governance.

No content culture without content strategy

Commenting on the results, Emily Shelley, managing director of Sticky Content, said: ‘It’s positive to see that a large number of companies have dedicated content teams, but disappointingly many still don’t have a clear strategy in place. Without a coherent plan mapped to business goals, that the whole company can sign up to, it’s very difficult for teams to make progress.

‘The survey shows that content professionals are growing increasingly frustrated at a lack of strategic direction from the business and the amount of time it takes for content to get signed off.’

‘It’s shocking to see that in a substantial number of organisations, half of written content never even sees the light of day,’ added content director Dan Brotzel.

‘Taking steps to reduce that wastage would be an obvious quick win, but the first challenge must be to understand the underlying causes. From experience, it could be one or more of several factors:

– content gets commissioned without reference to any clear strategy

– staff are creating content that isn’t fit for purpose, perhaps because of a lack of understanding of digital best practice or compliance requirements

– perfectly good content is sitting around unused because of workflow or resources issues

– in the rush to become publishers in their own right, businesses are sacrificing quality for quantity

‘Sticky Content can help address many such issues, whether through training, content strategy consultancy, or creating high-quality digital content that’s aligned with best practice, even at high volumes and frequencies.’

Headline findings at a glance

Other highlights from the survey results:

– Over 30 percent of organisations regard content as business critical and have people whose full-time responsibilities are content planning, creation, delivery and governance.

– Nearly 40 percent believe their organisation values content as important but do not have a team to manage it – the team responsible tends to be marketing

– Over 60 percent source content ideas from a team responsible for content.

– Newspapers and magazines still score the highest for quality of written content with 52 percent marking them as the best, while nearly 40 percent said the quality of customer service emails is ‘woeful’.

– Over 60 percent said the biggest challenge to content creation is no clear strategy or direction, while 30 percent said getting content out of their business was the main challenge.

– When asked what content strategy activities had already taken place in the organisation, language, style and social media guidelines scored high, while training was low – only 18 percent of people asked had trained staff.

– 57 percent of respondents said the most effort was spent on content creation with 12 percent of time spent on planning and only 5 percent on measuring the effectiveness of the content.

– Top three ways to measure the impact and effectiveness of content are: social media engagement and statistics (71 percent), website stats (63 percent), and sales statistics (26 percent)

Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, commented on the results: ‘Although more and more businesses are leveraging content marketing, most are still experimenting with it, and don’t position it as a strategic asset to grow the organisation. The research speaks directly to that.

‘What is the good news? Lots of opportunity for those more mature in the discipline to grow a loyal audience that positively affects the business.’

The report is available to download from Sticky Content’s website.

About Sticky Content:

We are clever with content

Sticky Content is a specialist content agency founded in 1997 and now owned by The PA Media Group, since 2016.

We offer strategy and creation across all channels, from content analysis and planning to content writing, production and delivery. We also provide the tools and training to develop your organisation’s own content culture.

We’ve worked with 46 of the current FTSE 100 companies, and enjoy long-standing relationships with the likes of Cancer Research UK, Dixons Carphone, Nationwide, Saga,, Sony Europe and Which?

Work with us for…

– content that’s worth finding, sharing or acting on – or that just does a really good job of explaining what you’re about

– large-scale projects such as content migrations and website launches

– always-on content marketing and specific campaigns

– content strategy consultation and training

Find out more at or call +44 (0)20 7963 7070