The best content marketing strategies are informed by data and one of the most consistent B2B marketing research reports chock full of data comes from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.
Today the 6th edition of the B2B Content Marketing – 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America report was published revealing a canyon of difference between successful content marketers and those that seem to be lost in the wilderness. This report is also a reality check for content marketers that drink too much of their own kool-aid, offering a mix of slightly downward trend data right along with numerous reasons for future content marketing optimism.
What do I mean by reality check? Fewer marketers have a documented content marketing strategy than last year 32% vs 35% and less marketers see their content marketing as effective 30% vs 38%.
What are the content marketing disconnects? Here’s one example: 57% of B2B marketers are still using Print or Other Offline Promotions, even though only 31% consider that paid tactic as effective. Also, 55% are still using traditional banner ads, even though only 29% consider banners effective.
B2B Marketers are still missing on tactics. The most popular content marketing tactics are things like shiny object social media (93%) and blogs (81%) while the most effective B2B content marketing tactics are In-Person Events (75%) and Webinars / Webcasts (66%). Only case studies get near-top treatment when it comes to both popularity (82%) and effectiveness (65%).
Marketers are still challenged to produce engaging content (60%) on a consistent basis (57%). That said, their priorities are in the right place, putting the task of creating engaging content (72%) at the top of the list for future focus.
Here’s the good news: 88% of B2B marketers are using content marketing, up from 86% in 2015 and 76% of marketers will produce more content in 2016 – they just want to know what content is effective and what isn’t (65%). They also want to know more about repurposing (57%) creating more visual content (51%) and telling better stories (41%).
The most successful B2B content marketers do these four things including documenting both their strategy (48%) and editorial mission statements (49%) as well as meeting with their content teams frequently (41%) and having organizational clarity on what content marketing success actually looks like (55%). There’s a consistent message in this: marketers who are goals focused, strategic in planning and action are more effective.
B2B marketers who are goals focused, strategic in planning and action are more effective.
Ways to use this data: Marketing research data, statistics and charts are useful in different ways when it comes to informing a B2B content marketing program. Whether it’s citing a key stat when building a business case, advocating a particular course of action in a report or reinforcing recommendations in a presentation, the kind of information in this report can be effectively persuasive.
That’s why I’ve had the individual statistics broken out by category so you can easily copy and paste into whatever content, presentation or social share you’re creating. Just be sure to cite @CMIContent / @MarketingProfs as the source.
Hopefully this compendium will help those with clarity about content marketing confirm being on the right track and at the same time help those that are a little lost get pointed in the right direction.
B2B Content Marketing Use and Effectiveness
88% of B2B marketers use content marketing (86% in 2015)
12% of B2B marketers do not use content marketing
8% of of B2B marketers rate their content marketing maturity as sophisticated
24% of of B2B marketers rate their content marketing maturity as mature
29% of of B2B marketers rate their content marketing maturity as adolescent
27% of of B2B marketers rate their content marketing maturity as young
11% of of B2B marketers rate their content marketing maturity as first steps
CMI’s Content Marketing Maturity Definitions
- Sophisticated: Providing accurate measurement to the business, scaling across the organization
- Mature: Finding success, yet challenged with integration across the organization
- Adolescent: Have developed a business case, seeing early success, becoming more sophisticated with measurement and scaling
- Young: Growing pains, challenged with creating a cohesive strategy and a measurement plan
- First Steps: Doing some aspects of content but have not yet begun to make content marketing a process
64% of sophisticated/mature marketers say they are effective at content marketing
6% of young/first steps marketers are effective at content marketing
5% of B2B marketers say their content marketing is very effective
24% of B2B marketers say their content marketing is effective
44% of B2B marketers say their content marketing is neutral
22% of B2B marketers say their content marketing is minimally effective
1% of B2B marketers say their content marketing is not at all effective
What do the most successful content marketers do to be more effective?
48% of B2B marketers with a documented content marketing strategy are effective
49% of B2B marketers with a documented editorial mission statement are effective
55% of B2B marketers with organizational clarity on what content marketing success looks like are effective
41% of B2B marketers that meet daily or weekly are effective
44% of B2B marketers are clear about what a successful content marketing program looks like
34% of B2B marketers are NOT clear about what a successful content marketing program looks like
21% of B2B marketers are unsure what a successful content marketing program looks like
Strategy and Organization
32% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy
48% of B2B marketers have an undocumented content marketing strategy
16% of B2B marketers do not have a documented content marketing strategy
4% of B2B marketers are unsure if they have a documented content marketing strategy
54% of B2B marketers say team meetings are valuable to content marketing effectiveness
Content Creation and Distribution
76% of B2B marketers will produce more content than 2015
19% of B2B marketers will produce the same amount of content as 2015
2% of B2B marketers will produce less content than 2015
The top content marketing tactics:
(the average number of tactics used: 13)
93% Social Media Content
82% Case Studies
81% In-Person Events
79% Articles on Your Website
76% Illustrations / Photos
71% White Papers
66% Webinars / Webcasts
65% Online Presentations
49% Research Reports
47% Microsites / Separate Website Hubs
42% Brand Content Tools
36% Print Magazines
29% Digital Magazines
28% Mobile Apps
25% Virtual Conferences
22% Print Newsletters
12% Games / Gamification
The most effective B2B content marketing tactics:
75% In-Person Events
66% Webinars / Webcasts
65% Case Studies
63% White Papers
61% Research Reports
58% Online Presentations
Top social media platforms for B2B content marketers:
(Average social platforms used: 6)
Most effective social media platforms for content marketers:
Congratulations yet again, to our client LinkedIn for being the top, most effective social media platform for B2B content marketers!
Paid advertising tactics used most by content marketers:
66% Search Engine Marketing
57% Print or Other Offline Promotions
55% Traditional Online Banner ads
52% Promoted Posts
51% Social Ads
29% Native Ads
14% Content Discovery Tools
Most effective paid advertising tactics used by content marketers:
55% Search Engine Marketing
48% Promoted Posts
45% Content Discovery Tools
45% Social Ads
40% Native Ads
31% Print or Other Offline Promotions
29% Traditional Banner Ads
Goals and Metrics
The most important goals for B2B content marketing:
85% Lead Generation
78% Lead Nurturing
77% Brand Awareness
74% Customer Retention / Loyalty
61% Customer Advocacy
58% Upsell / Cross-Sell
Most important metrics for B2B content marketing:
87% Sales Lead Quality
82% Higher Conversion Rates
71% Sales Lead Quantity
71% Website Traffic
69% Brand Lift
67% SEO Ranking
66% Customer Renewal Rates
64% Purchase Intent
62% Subscriber Growth
Budgets and Spending
28% on average is the percentage of total marketing budgets spent on content marketing
51% of B2B marketers will increase content marketing spending in 2016
Challenges and Priorities
Top challenges for B2B content marketers:
60% Producing Engaging Content
57% Measuring Content Effectiveness
57% Producing Content Consistently
52% Measuring the ROI of Content Marketing Programs
35% Lack of Budget
35% Producing a Variety of Content
25% Gaps in Knowledge and Skills of Internal Teams
24% Understanding / Choosing Technology
23% Lack of Integration across marketing
21% Finding or Training Skilled Content Marketing / Content Creation Professionals
19% Lack of buy-in / vision from higher-ups
18% Implementing the technology that we already have
Top priorities for B2B content marketers:
72% Create More Engaging Content
65% Better Understanding of What Content is Effective and What Isn’t
57% Finding More and Better Ways to Repurpose Content
51% Creating Visual Content
41% Becoming Better Storytellers
41% Better Understanding of Audience
38% Content Optimization
22% Content Curation
20% Content Personalization
19% Becoming Stronger Writers
To see the full B2B Content Marketing – 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America report, check it out below:
What do you think? Were there any statistics in this year’s report that surprised you?
If you’re looking at investing in your B2B content marketing skills, I would highly recommend MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum conference coming up in just 3 weeks. Boston is a great place to visit in the fall and who knows what smarts and new network connections you’ll pick up when you’re there. TopRank Marketing staff will be attending and speaking at the event so we hope to see you there.
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.
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