Get excited. The 2013 edition of the annual content marketing study of North American B2B marketers conducted by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and Marketing Profs is out, and has a number of findings that should be of interest to anyone in the B2B space. Titled,"B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends-North America," the study is the result of a survey of roughly 1,400 B2B marketers from a range of industries, functions, and company sizes. After detailing its findings, the study lists five traits of successful B2B content marketers that I believe are spot on.
Before I touch on the five traits, here's a brief review of some of the study's key findings.
Perhaps the most significant single data point is that 91% of B2B marketers surveyed are using some form of content marketing (I am left wondering what the other 9% are doing). Given the universal adoption of all things content over the last year, this probably should come as no surprise. Still, I think it's significant that over 9 in 10 B2B marketers acknowledge that what they are doing, at least in part, is "content marketing."
Larger companies (over 10,000 EEs) tend to use more content marketing tactics (18, on average) than small companies (who average 11). This probably makes sense, owing to the limited resources smaller companies are working with.
So what's the number one overall content marketing tactic? Social Media (yes, social is content). Fully 87% of all B2B marketers surveyed are using social media (not counting blogs, which are considered a separate tactic) as a content marketing tactic. What makes social media so significant is its dual role as content marketing tactic and distribution method.
It's a good thing that, according to a recent IBM study, only 16% of CEOs participate in social media (sarcasm intended).
Interestingly, usage of all content marketing tactics is higher year-on-year, with the exception of print magazines. Taken directly from the study, check out this cool graphic of tactics used:
According to the survey, the content marketing tactics that have enjoyed the biggest gains over last year are videos (70%), research reports (44%), mobile content (33%), and virtual conferences (28%). This suggests that content marketing use among B2B marketers is gaining in sophistication over time.
I was surprised and pleased to see higher usage numbers for some of the more creative content marketing tactics, such as mobile apps (26%), podcasts (27%),and infographics (38%)
SOCIAL IS PROMOTION
Looking at the numbers, it's clear that B2B marketers are increasing their dependence on social media channels for content promotion. Perhaps not surprisingly, LinkedIn is now the number one channel used by B2B marketers to distribute content (83%), followed by Twitter and Facebook (each at 80%), You Tube (61%), and Google+ (39%-up from 13% last year). I am impressed to see that in its first year tracked, Pinterest is already being used by 26% of B2B marketers.
A FEW OTHER TIDBITS
- With regard to organizational goals for content marketing, the top five (in order) are brand awareness, customer acquisition, lead generation, customer retention/loyalty, and thought leadership.
- The top three metrics used by B2B marketers to define content marketing success are web traffic, sales lead quality, social media sharing (1st year tracked), in that order. Interestingly, SEO-related metrics such as page rank, time spent on website, and inbound links came in at 7, 8,9th in importance, respectively.
- The top three challenges B2B content marketers face? Producing enough content, producing engaging content, producing a variety of content (I can empathize with all three).
FIVE TRAITS OF SUCCESSFUL CONTENT MARKETERS
So, according to the survey respondents, what are the five traits of successful B2B content marketers?
- Commit Resources- Successful B2B content marketers spend a higher percentage of their marketing budget on content marketing
- Dominate Social Media- They use more tactics to distribute content on more social networks
- Personalize Content- These marketers frequently tailor content to specific profiles/personas.
- Possess Talent- They can are able to produce engaging content that works.
- Have Organizational Support- They are not stymied by lack of vision/ buy in from higher ups.
These traits, when taken as a whole, can be translated into a successful recipe of content marketing success for any organization. It begins with an honest commitment from the powers that be to get really behind content marketing, viewing it as a critical marketing process rather than a single initiative or campaign; these people must also be prepared to allocate both short and long-term budgetary resources to the endeavor.
The company must then hire (either through in-sourcing or-outsourcing) a talented content marketing team that clearly understands the company's main business goals. This team should have two core focuses: 1) to create unique and personalized content that speaks to each segment of the brand's target audience, and 2) to use relevant social media channels to disseminate existing content and create new, social-based content.
On a side note, someone needs to call the 9% of B2B marketers not currently using content marketing and ask them what the he#% they are thinking...