I talk to a lot of marketers in my work as a freelance copywriter, and a common thread, no matter the industry, is that marketing managers get the importance of content marketing, but don’t always know what’s the best way to implement it.
And I totally get it.
We’re constantly bombarded with new strategies, techniques, platforms and technologies, that it’s challenging to decide what to try or what to do first.
After all, none of us have crystal balls. We do, however, have budgets to worry about, and we want the greatest return we can get on our investment.
So it’s time to do something other than guessing, and take a shortcut to success by seeing what other marketers are finding effective.
Not just one or two random marketers, but 1,521 B2B marketers.
Fortunately for us, Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs decided to help us out of the guessing game. In a research sponsored by Brightcove and released a few months ago, they surveyed 1,521 B2B marketers from diverse industry classification and company sizes.
The #1 survey respondent type was the content marketing leader, who’s in charge of the overall content marketing program at the company. Interestingly, the second more popular respondents are writers, and the third is website/technology.
But take under consideration that each respondent was allowed to mark more than one option, and too many companies have one marketing manager in charge of everything.
You can read the entire report here, but if you want a quick overview of some of the most interesting findings, I’ve got you covered.
According to Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs’ 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends in B2B Content Marketing research…
Understanding What Effective Content Marketing Looks Like Drastically Improves Your Chances of Success
Only 32% of marketers said they document their content marketing strategies (down from 35% last year), which is a shame, because a documented strategy increases effectiveness by 48%. It’s a stat that keeps repeating in these annual benchmarks surveys, so consider prioritizing it.
According to this latest research, 79% of the most effective marketers have clarity on what it takes to create a successful content marketing program.
77% of the least effective marketers, on the other end, lack this clarity.
Making Things Up as You Go Along is a Recipe for Failure
Clarity on its own isn’t enough. Once you make sure your team understands what it takes to develop a successful content marketing program, make sure they actually develop a plan.
That’s because, according to the report, 40% of the least successful marketers don’t have a marketing strategy.
True, it’s important to stay flexible and agile, as the market and our industry keep changing nonstop. But having a plan and understanding where you’re going makes it easier to know when you need to adjust – and to make better choices for both your company and your audience as you do.
The Most Important Content Marketing Goals for B2B Companies
But there’s something you need to do before you create a content marketing plan. As I always tell writing clients, the #1 thing you need to understand is your goals for the content.
According to Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs’ research, these are the top marketing goals for B2B companies:
- Lead generation (85%)
- Sales (84%)
- Lead nurturing (78%)
- Brand awareness (77%)
- Engagement (76%)
The Most Popular Marketing Methods vs. the Most Effective Marketing Methods
The five most popular marketing methods:
- Social media content – other than blogs (93%)
- Case studies (82%)
- Blogs (81%)
- eNewsletters (81%)
- In-person events (81%)
The five most effective marketing methods:
- In-person events (75%)
- Webinars/webcasts (66%)
- Case studies (65%) (Click here to read how 21 marketing pros increase case study ROI)
- White papers (63%)
- Videos (62%)
Does that mean that blogs and newsletters no longer work?
Absolutely not. At 60% (newsletters) and 59% (blogs), they’re still pretty effective, but to bring these numbers to a higher level, you need to incorporate more of the stuff that ranks higher in your posts, like videos, case studies and white papers.
While you can’t conduct in-person events on your blog per se, embedding videos of your team or your customers talking directly to the camera could give your blog a more personal feel. The videos can be answers to reader questions in order to make it more interactive, and you could also cross-promote your blog, email list, live social media platforms (like Periscope or Facebook Live), and webinars.
The Most Effective Social Media Marketing Platforms
Social media didn’t make it to the top 10 most effective marketing strategies, but on average, survey respondents said they’re active on 6 social media channels.
The most effective ones for B2B marketers:
- LinkedIn (66%)
- Twitter (55%)
- YouTube (51%)
- SlideShare (41%)
- Facebook (30%)
How Much the Most Effective Companies Invest in Content Marketing
The companies that are most effective in content marketing invest 42-46% of their marketing budget on content marketing. The average is 28% – not including staff salaries.
35% of marketers think their marketing budget will remain the same, but 51% plan to increase it.
The Biggest Challenges Content Marketers are Facing Today
Remember how we looked at survey respondents’ positions and talked about marketing managers having too much on their plates?
No wonder these are the biggest challenges they say they’re facing now:
- Producing engaging content (60%)
- Measuring content effectiveness (57%)
- Producing content consistently (57%)