The B2B Content Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report from Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs has been published and it's packed with data.
In the report's overview page, CMI's Joe Pulizzi and MarketingProfs' Ann Handley write:
Even though we've made great strides, the industry is clearly still in the early adoption phase. However, some marketers are seeing substantial success. Read on to find out what a best-in-class content marketer does differently and delve into many other findings as well.
I'd like to help you with this. So here, we'll examine the data and put many of the measurements in motion with action items you can use to achieve effective online marketing that pays huge dividends. (Beware: this is a long post crammed with resources and advice.)
93% of B2B marketers use content marketing.
7% do not. When you're done reading this post, I hope you'll help make this number shrink. If you want to grow your business with online marketing, it's time to turn on the power of pull and get serious about publishing magnetic content.
- Beginners: Understand content marketing basics. Watch this: Transform your business into a customer attraction force field. (A 30-minute webinar that spells out the formula for getting started.)
- B2B content marketers: Realize 93% is enormous. Realize the 7% on the outside will soon be in. Realize creating content along with the rest of the world is not going to help you achieve your objectives. You need to elevate your game. It's time to create the most amazing content in your industry and dominate your niche.
42% of B2B marketers say they are effective at content marketing.
If you're part of the majority who confess to doing content marketing ineffectively, it's time to identify what's wrong.
Audit your approach.I've identified 13 ways content marketers miss the mark. This will be worth your time.
44% of B2B marketers have a documented strategy.
The majority of B2B marketers are creating random acts of content. Random acts of kindness: beautiful. Random acts of marketing: ugly.
- First, form a strategy. If you'll require assistance with your planning, download "The Plan to Grow Your Business with Effective Online Marketing."
- Second, document it.
- Finally, execute it. Every. Day. Of. Your. B2B. Marketing. Life.
73% of B2B content marketers are producing more content than they did one year ago.
Many of the companies creating more content are enjoying greater results. Many are not. If you don't know which group you fall into, you need fix that immediately.
- Research and then adopt reliable mechanisms for analyzing the effectiveness of your content marketing initiatives.
- Cut the crap. If you're doing content marketing on the cheap (i.e. sourcing your blog posts to low cost content farms, writing with no point of view, covering the same old same old), STOP.
- Learn what 311K others have here:
B2B marketers use an average of 13 content marketing tactics.
Far too many are not giving enough consideration to the immensely wide variety of preferences prospects have for consuming content.
- Consider your voids in today's top 11 tactics:
- Social media
- Articles on your website
- eNewsletters (You NEED to do this.)
- In-person events
- Case studies
- Articles on other websites (guest blogging)
- White papers
- Online presentations
Infographics have seen the largest increase in usage.
You have shied away from infographics because (A) you don't really like them, (B) you think they cost too much to produce, or (C) you're not familiar with what it'll take to produce an eyeball-capturing infographic.
- Learn the ABCs above in one fun article, "The Most Important Thing You Need to Know About Infographics."
- Create an killer infographic and feature it on your website and SlideShare and link to it with your social media posts. You're going to be amazed what happens.
Effective B2B marketers rate blogs as the most effective tactics. In-person events are right behind blogs in the #2 spot.
- You don't have a blog. Ouch.
- You have a blog, but it's neglected.
- You're blogging consistently, but striking out.
- You do not conduct in-person events.
- You need to have a blog. It's the cornerstone of your content marketing program. Believe it or not, I have quite a lot to say about this in 21 Benefits of Blogging and 22 Blogging Tips.
- Don't neglect your blog. Line up the resources you need to post content at least once per week.
- If you see your investment in blogging swirling down the dumper, revisit your approach. It's likely you lack in one or more of the following: keyword usage and optimization; effective onsite practices; the relevance of your content; promotion of your content; and last and foremost-the quality of the writing.
- I suspect if you don't conduct in-person events it's because doing so is pricey. Conduct webinars instead. Webinars cost far less and can be extremely effective lead generators.
B2B marketers are using social media more frequently than last year.
Six is the average for B2Bers. In order of usage, these are: (1) LinkedIn (2) Twitter (3) Facebook (4) YouTube (5) Google+ (6) SlideShare. Are you using these? No? Who's fault is it?
- Get serious about social media. If you don't have time, get someone who does.
- Don't go from zero to six overnight. Add one social media platform to your plan today. And... if the evidence suggests you're wasting your time with one, can it.
- Get serious about #6, SlideShare. It's a diamond and can become one of your sharpest swords.
- Get serious about #5, Google+. In my opinion, it's the most feature-rich and interesting social platform and likely to dominate in coming years. And then, it's not a matter of opinion, Google+ is far more than just a social media network. It's very much the key to succeeding with Google.
I offer a neat stack of helpful Google+ tips and resources here: Are You Using the Most Powerful Social Media Platform?
Brand awareness continues to be the top organizational goal for B2B content marketers.
No faults here, but stay tuned. I do object. The goals that followed brand awareness, in descending order are:
- Lead generation
- Customer acquisition
- Thought leadership
- Customer retention
- Website traffic
- Lead management/nurturing
Though brand awareness has topped this list for four years running, it feels old school to me. I believe #5, engagement, should be your top goal. I also believe, if you understand what it takes to engage prospects and customers and succeed in doing it, ALL of the other goals can and will be achieved.
58% of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months.
- The budgets of the remaining 42% will remain the same (32%), decrease (1%), or participants reported they were unsure (8%).
- My questions: Will your the investments be smarter? Will the results be greater?
Whether your budget remains the same or increases, two interrelated principles will help you realize greater results:
- Increase your commitment to planning and your ROI will increase.
- Repurposing your effective (carefully planned) content is the key to getting more bang for your buck. Download this excellent eBook from Vertical Measures, "Content Repurposing: How to Lower Marketing Costs and Expand Audience Reach."
Challenges have remained fairly consistent year over year.
Over two-thirds claim to suffer from a "lack of time."
Reprioritize. Lack of time is not a fair excuse for anything. In my mind, it's a euphemism for "low priority." If content marketing is a priority, you must become a publisher. Put the people and processes in place required to make it work.
Over half claim "producing enough content" remains a challenge.
Focus on quality. Producing a lot of content is not as important as producing great content.
47% are challenged by producing the kind of content that engages.
Sound the alarm.You read my take: engagement is the key.
- Identify who your ideal customers are.
- Understand and document what they want to know to address their challenges.
- Use the very best writers. Engagement is their specialty.
There you go: the state of B2B content marketing in 2013. It's getting bigger. You're getting better. Now go forth and engage.
Thanks, as always, to Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs for the leadership and inspiration they provide.