Do you want to take your content marketing to a new level?
Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs just published their latest report, B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America. The report shows two sides of content marketing.
Where Are We Headed?
On one hand, the industry is still growing and has a long way to go. On the other hand, things are looking up and confidence is growing as many marketers start to get it right!
What's clear from the report is that the most successful B2B marketers are doing more! “More what?” you ask. Well, they're spending more money, paying more attention to strategy, using more tactics and social media platforms and even producing more content.
Let's dig deeper into five trends that show exactly what the most effective B2B content marketers are doing.
#1: Have Someone to Oversee Content
Seventy-three percent of all B2B organizations have someone in charge of content marketing strategy. However, the majority (86%) of the most effective or best-in-class marketers had someone to oversee content strategy, compared to only 46% of their least effective peers (Figure 1).
Don't kid yourself—you do need someone to manage your content marketing! To be successful in this industry, there should be at least one person in your organization designated to ‘own' the content marketing initiative. This person is in charge of executing the content goals that you want to accomplish as an organization.
In his book Epic Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi says that a lot of times when content marketing fails, it's not because your organization lacks good content. It's because execution has failed.
Even if you're a small business and don't have the budget to hire a dedicated person, you can get one of your managers within the company to supervise content production (UPS does this!).
#2: Have a Documented Content Strategy
Among the most effective marketers, 66% have a documented strategy compared to 11% of the least effective marketers (Figure 2). But overall, only 44% of B2B marketers have a documented strategy.
Key Takeaway A: 44% is a really sad number…or maybe not.
Let's look at it in context. In previous years, the idea of having a documented content strategy didn't even arise (See Figures 3 and 4 below). Notice that the most effective marketers in 2011 and 2012 were judged by a different set of criteria compared to this year.
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It could be that the question was not asked or maybe the industry was still too young to have such high expectations. Either way, a documented strategy was not considered until now.
This means that the bar is getting higher for those who want to call themselves content marketers. As the industry matures, new standards and best practices are going to be set. Be sure to keep up.
Increase your knowledge of the industry by reading expert blogs and books, attending educational events and sharing experiences with other B2B content marketers.
Key Takeaway B: There's no content marketing success without a strategy.
If you've been operating without a documented content strategy, it's time to stop gambling. Most likely, any success you've achieved up to this point has been sheer luck.
Figure out what you want content marketing to do for you. Write down your goals, your plan to achieve those goals and what indicators you'll use to prove your success. Make sure everyone who's involved in content production is on board with this document.
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#3: Use More Tactics
The most effective B2B marketers use an average of 15 tactics compared to the least effective marketers who use only 10. Interestingly, the use of infographics has increased significantly with 38% of marketers using this tactic last year compared to 51% this year (Figure 5).
In this age of multimedia consumption, competition for customer attention is fierce. Marketers are required to create content that captures interest and engagement. As if that's not challenging enough, they also have to figure out which tactics generate the best return.
The most effective marketers understand that they have to keep up with consumers. That's why they cast a wider net and invest in more tactics (e.g., text, images, apps, video, audio, etc.). Of course the size of your budget also dictates what you can or can't do.
If you have a small business, why not start out with the most cost-effective tactics such as social media, e-newsletters, articles and blogs and then gradually add other tactics as your budget allows? Always be expanding your content menu; don't be satisfied with the handful of tactics you were using last year.
#4: Use Social Media More Frequently
B2B content marketers use an average of 6 social media platforms, up from 5 last year. In addition, they're using all social media platforms to distribute content.
As expected, LinkedIn is the top social media site used by B2B marketers, while Facebook is 10 points behind. The social sites that have experienced the biggest increase in use are SlideShare (23% last year to 40% this year), Google+ (39% to 55%) and Instagram (7% to 22%) (Figure 6).
No content marketing initiative is complete without social media. That's because social drives awareness of your content, which in turn impacts lead generation.
In fact, a different report from Brafton stated that 70% of consumers click through to a brand's blog content after reading stories shared on their social networks. Once they get there, they're more likely to download more content or fill out a form.
As a B2B marketer, you should try to repurpose your content specifically for each social channel (particularly LinkedIn) in order to capture interest and engagement. Keep in mind too that social signals (likes, retweets, +1's, comments, shares, mentions, etc.) influence Google, thus maximizing your brand's online exposure.
#5: Produce More Content
On average, 73% of B2B marketers are producing more content than they did last year. Of the best-in-class (most effective) marketers, 78% are creating more content compared to 57% of their least effective peers (Figure 7).
B2B marketers are increasing their investment in content creation. Why? Because the ultimate purpose of content is to attract new customers and retain existing ones. Your content has to answer all of your prospects' product-related questions in order to drive those purchasing decisions. That means you have to be a content machine without sacrificing quality. If you're not convinced that more content is better, here's some food for thought:
At Content Marketing World 2013, a panel of experts was asked whether producing more content is better than producing less. The most compelling answers came from:
Joe Chernov: “Quantity. You can create something awesome, then it takes 3 months to create your next great thing. What happens in the meantime?”
Marcus Sheridan: “Quantity is intimidating for people who are too afraid to create content, because they think it must be epic. Let quantity lead to quality. Content marketing is not launching a rocket. Just do it.”
Over to You
What do you think about these findings? Do you agree with them? Does anything surprise you? Share your comments in the box below.
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