The “B2B Content Marketing 2019 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America” report published by the Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs and Conductor recently discovered that 93 percent of the most successful B2B marketers say their organization is “extremely/very” committed to content marketing – but how does this compare to their counterparts? Furthermore, what type of ROI are B2B marketers seeing from this tactic?
To take a closer look at the report and its findings, we spoke to Lisa Murton Beets, Research Director at the Content Marketing Institute.
B2B marketers primarily use email and educational content to nurture their audience, and may be missing out on other opportunities — what can they change on a day-to-day basis to ensure that they’re tapping into their entire target audience?
“Before you can expand your nurturing efforts, you need to be sure you really know your audience—and that takes research and conversation. What are their wants and needs? What are their pain points? You need to be strategic about it. Identify where and when you want to connect, especially over social, which provides great ways to keep conversations going. Provide value where and when you can. Be authentic. Tell positive stories about the ways your company serves your community and showcase your employees and other customers—real people. Nurturing is about building human relationships, not just moving leads through a funnel.”
96% of the most successful content marketers agree that their organizations have built credibility and trust with their audience — how have you seen marketers make this change over the past year?
“I think a lot of marketers have gotten the message that it pays to be authentic. As reported in the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, people are increasingly looking to businesses and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) for reliable information. Marketers who foster conversations between their company’s subject matter experts (SMEs) and their audience, care about and listen to those audiences, are consistent and professional across all channels, provide educational content … those are the marketers who are being proactive about building trust and credibility.”
Content creation is the area of content marketing where there has been the most reported increase in spending over the past 12 months — what types of content are you seeing marketers leaning toward more frequently?
“This depends on the specific company and their goals, but 64% of our B2B respondents said they’re creating more audio-visual content than they did one year ago – this would include things like video and webinars. Written content for the web (e.g., blogs, articles) came in a close second, at 61%, with images trailing closely (56%).”
Only 65% of the most successful content marketers have a documented content marketing strategy — what do you think is holding the others back from developing a strategy for success?
“The encouraging part of this finding is that in addition to that 65%, another 32% of the ‘most successful’ group at least has a verbal strategy. There are a number of things that might be preventing them from putting it down in writing: their organization may be in flux, they may fear that putting it in writing would prevent them from being as agile with their strategy as they would like (although that doesn’t have to be the case at all). This year’s research showed that among those who do have a documented strategy, the biggest benefit is that it aligns their team around a common mission/goals (81%), tied with makes it easier to determine which types of content to develop (81%). Those are two pretty compelling reasons to get that strategy down in writing.”
Nearly 77% of the most successful content marketers now uses personas for marketing purposes — how is personalization increasingly playing a role in the level of success content marketers are finding?
“Personalization will be so important as our digital world keeps growing larger and larger. It will be a vehicle from which to ensure your content gets seen by the people you are trying to reach. Shooting your content blind into the internet, or even aiming it at places where you think you’ll have success, just won’t work. Companies will have to get ever-more deliberate about audience segmentation and strategies for reaching and continuing to engage with those audiences.”
47% of the least successful content marketers claim their organization’s content marketing maturity level is still “young” — what do you think are the key factors holding them back?
“Their organization may have only recently started to formally use content marketing. Or if they’ve been at it for a while and are still struggling to build a business case around content marketing, they may need help. That help could come in several forms: supportive upper management (if that is missing); an employee who steps up as the content marketing leader (if that hasn’t happened yet); a documented strategy that spells out the goals for content marketing and what will be required to meet those goals; more or better qualified content creators; smart distribution of content; metrics to measure success; the list goes on.”
What was the most interesting finding/statistic to you in the report?
“I was pleased to see that 74% of B2B content marketers seek sales team feedback when researching their target audience; however, I was surprised to see that only 42% have actual conversations with customers. In-person events are a great place to have those conversations. Other ideas are listening in on sales calls or participating in discussion groups on LinkedIn; there are many ways you can connect with the audience.”
ABOUT LISA MURTON BEETS
Lisa oversees all aspects of Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI’s) annual content marketing survey, as well as all custom research projects, and reports on the insights derived from the studies. Follow her at @LisaBeets.