According to B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America, the latest benchmark report released by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, there is more to content strategy than just implementation. While the adoption of content marketing has certainly become prevalent across B2B organizations, the separation between good and great organizations revolved around one key theme: documentation.
Report findings showed that that only 35% of survey respondents had a documented content marketing strategy, which in turn has led to more effective content marketing programs. 60% of respondents who had actual documentation rated their strategy as highly effective, versus only 32% of those who had no documented strategy (or no strategy at all).
Content Marketing Implementation
Fortunately, the vast majority of B2B marketers realize the importance of content marketing regardless. 86% of B2B marketers reported using some form of content marketing in their overall marketing strategy. 70% of respondents reported creating more content than they did a year ago. And this is good news for marketers entering the field as well.
As content marketing continues to grow, the demand for talented employees who can work in this vertical is also increasing. 32% of survey participants stated that they’ve had a hard time finding experienced content marketers, which is an increase of 22% compared to last year’s report. Not having enough trained employees could bring about difficulties to content marketing teams when it comes to strategy implementation.
Why B2B Companies Use Content Marketing
B2B content marketing tactics are still used for a wide range of organizational goals and performance benchmarks. Not surprisingly, while brand awareness led all responses, sales-oriented goals were related to 5 of the top 7 responses (and 3 of the top 5).
Content marketing is also being used across a variety of different mediums in order to reach the widest range of audiences possible. An overwhelming majority utilized social media content, enewsletters, blogs/articles, events, and case studies:
Additionally, other B2B content marketing strategies used include white papers, presentations, case studies, infographics, videos, and more.
Areas of Distribution
The report also found that almost 100% of all respondents (94%) utilized LinkedIn to distribute content, which was also rated as the most effective B2B social platform. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube all scored favorably as well although popular consumer platforms rated poorly right now (Pinterest at 33% and Instagram at 24%).
When it comes to paid distribution, about 58% use search advertising, naming it the most effective paid platform for content marketing and distribution.
Quantifying B2B Content Marketing Success
Finally, how do respondents decide whether or not their content marketing efforts were a success? Most of the respondents said an increase in website traffic and sales lead quality were their biggest indicators, along with higher conversion rates.
That said, only 21% of respondents said they were “successful” at tracking the ROI of their content marketing programs, so a need for improvement in this area of marketing performance can be assumed.
Overall, the findings of the report indicate that while B2B marketers agree that content marketing is important (and therefore, are increasing content marketing in their own company), there are still areas of improvement when developing “highly effective” programs. One great first step? Putting together the right initial documentation when it comes to the types of content created and distributed, and defining metrics of success that can be used to evaluate campaign performance.
Interested in learning more? The entire report (and download as a PDF) can be found on Slideshare.
All images are screenshots taken of graphs mentioned in the report.