Expert Insight: Why B2B Marketers Still Lack Sophisticated Content Marketing Strategies [Interview]

content marketingMany marketers turn to content marketing to reach out to customers and prospects, but new research suggests that not all of them have mature, sophisticated strategies in place.

The Content Marketing Institute recently published its “B2B Content Marketing 2020 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America” report, which showed that just 42% of all B2B marketers have content marketing strategies that are sophisticated in nature.

To learn why this is the case and gain further insight into results in the report, we spoke to Lisa Murton Beets of the Content Marketing Institute.

Just 42% of all marketers consider their organization’s content marketing to be “sophisticated.” Why do you think this is the case?

“Our survey definitions for ‘sophisticated’ and ‘mature’ set a high bar. I think it’s a good sign that 42% reported their organization is sophisticated or mature (9% sophisticated + 33% mature) – these are organizations that are providing accurate measurement, scaling across the organization, and finding success – but they are also challenged with integrating their efforts across the organization. These are hard earned achievements, especially in large organizations.”

31% of B2B marketers rate their organization’s content marketing maturity as “adolescent.” What else could they be doing to increase the maturity level?

“Our survey defines the ‘adolescent’ stage as one where the organization is seeing early success, has possibly developed a business case for content marketing, and is becoming more sophisticated with measurement and scaling.

To get to the next level, these marketers should continue to be strategic with their content marketing and make adjustments when and where necessary – it’s important to be agile. They should have a strong understanding of their audience and potential audiences and how to best reach them. They should ensure they have the right technologies in place that can help them produce, manage, distribute, and measure their content-related efforts efficiently and accurately.”

Compared to one year ago, B2B marketers now rate their organization’s content marketing as “somewhat more successful.” What changes have you seen these marketers make to develop improvements?

content marketing

“It’s been a few years since we asked this as a follow-up question on the survey. According to our 2018 annual report, the top two factors respondents attributed to increased success were content creation (e.g., higher quality, more efficient production) (78%) and strategy (adjustment or development) (72%).

I suspect the findings would be similar if we asked the same question today, but it really depends on what is going on in each marketer’s company at the current point in time. For example, did they recently add content marketing expertise? Did they employ a new content management system? Are they doing a more efficient job distributing content?”

Just 39% of all marketers claim that they have a documented content marketing strategy. Why do you think this is the case?

“This finding has inched up slowly over the last three years. That said, more marketers should put the strategy in writing. A verbal strategy is a starting point, but having it in writing as a living, breathing document keeps the team focused on the content marketing priorities their company has set.

Marketers may hesitate to document the strategy for various reasons – maybe their team is new to content marketing, maybe the company is in transition, or maybe they lack buy in to make content marketing a priority. They may need help with their strategy, or they may fear that putting it in writing means setting it in stone – but that’s the not the case. It’s important for teams to be agile and know they can change the strategy when it makes good business sense for them to do so.”

Analytics tools (86%), email marketing software (85%) and social media publishing (80%) are currently the top 3 technologies helping marketers with content marketing, according to the report. Do you see this shifting at all in the near future? Which tools could potentially rise to the top as time goes on?

Content Marketing“There are many tools and technologies available to help content marketers work more efficiently and effectively. How much they are able to invest depends on their company size, content marketing priorities, budgets, what systems – if any – they currently have in place, etc. I think the desire for tools that help content marketers find and target the right audience(s), create high-quality content in an efficient manner (e.g., workflow systems), distribute content effectively, organize their content assets, and measure results will always be there.”

What was the most interesting statistic/finding to you in the report?

“We presented content marketers with a list of 10 potential goals for content marketing and asked them to select which ones they had achieved by using content marketing successfully in the last 12 months. The stats were higher (than last year) for every goal we asked about. While “creating brand awareness” came in first place (86%) – as it often has over the years — the biggest leap was among those who use content marketing successfully to nurture subscribers/audiences/leads (58% last year vs. 68% this year).

Nurturing relationships with those whose attention you’ve already caught is so important to obtaining future loyalty and business, and I’m thrilled to see more marketers using content marketing that way.”

marketing, content marketingABOUT 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.

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