The 1 Key To Success In Content Marketing (And Life)

Michael Brenner on Oct 1, 2014 in Content Marketing

Recently Joe Pulizzi shared his secret to content marketing (and life) success: write down your goals. And then review them every day.

Just a few weeks ago, Ryan Allis, CEO and founder of iContact, shared his secret to success in life, entrepreneurship and the world in  1.285 slides just ahead of his 30th birthday. Let me save you 1,285 clicks. His main point: document your goals.

Last week I published the 3 factors to content marketing success. Where I also mentioned the number one factor for content marketing success: It all starts with having a documented content strategy that starts with the why, and then works through the who, the what, the how, and the when of the brands content marketing efforts.

I mentioned that this key factor has been validated by lots of research. And sure enough, here comes the 5th annual B2B Content Marketing report by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs.

The report provides Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends for content marketing in 2015. And my good friend Joe Pulizzi calls out the biggest insight:

“There are two critical factors that differentiate effective content marketers over the rest of the pack – having a documented content marketing strategy and following it very closely. Those two things make all the difference.”

Top Content Marketing Challenges

The biggest challenges faced by content marketers include producing engaging content, producing it consistently and measuring results.

Quality and quantity go hand in hand. This mirrors previous years that showed there is no debate on this topic. You need both quality content and you need to produce it consistently.

Measuring content effectiveness comes in at a close 3rd place as the biggest challenge. This is no surprise.

I have talked a lot about how to measure the volume and the value of content marketing, following on the need to define your goals up front.

Surprisingly budget shows up as the fifth biggest challenge behind the need to produce variety in content marketing.

I believe that effective content marketing produces value, volume and variety. I know that search engines reward this. And I know that as a content consumer, I am attracted to the publishers that deliver this. (more on this next week).

How Well Do B2B Marketers Measure ROI?

Regarding measurement, only 5% consider themselves effective at measuring content effectiveness at all.

2 times more B2B marketers consider themselves not successful at all and 3 times that many don’t even bother to track ROI.

Content marketing has a measurement problem. It isn’t because the ideas, methods or tools aren’t available.

I think the majority of this problem goes back to the issue that most content marketing programs have no documented strategy, goals or objectives.

How does this happen? This happens because too many B2B marketers are just taking orders from the top. They get asked to do something. And success is that they do it.

This kind of “checklist marketing” has deep historical roots in many organizations. I have long believed that change is coming to marketing. In order to succeed, marketers need to have the courage (and the metrics) to define the business case and to defend a new approach.

B2B Content Marketing Spending

54% of B2B content marketers plan to increase their spending in the next year and nearly one-third plan to keep it the same.

Only 2% plan to decrease their content budgets. Search engines get the bulk of B2B marketers paid budgets.

And print is not dead in B2B with 52% reporting that they use this channel for paid promotion.

Banner ads are a close third with 49% and recent reports suggest this may continue to increase as marketers follow the shift to more digital approaches.

Social ads are also used by nearly half (48%) of B2B Marketers, promoted posts by 42% and 34% report spending on native ads.

Which Social Platforms Do B2B Marketers Use?

LinkedIn is used by almost all (94%) of B2B Marketers, followed by Twitter (88%), Facebook (84%), YouTube (72%), Google+ (64%) and Slideshare at 41%.

I continue to believe Slideshare is the greatest opportunity in B2B Content Marketing, followed by YouTube and any other visual platform such as Pinterest (used by 33%) and Instagram (24%).

Some other interesting stats from the report:

  • 70% of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago
  • Once again, infographics was the tactic that had the greatest increase in usage (from 51% last year to 62% this year)
  • Search engine marketing is the most-used paid promotion tactic and B2B Marketers report it is also the most effective paid method they use to promote/distribute content.
  • More B2B marketers say they are challenged with finding trained content marketing professionals this year (32%) than last year (10%).

According to Joe Pulizzi:

“Now in our 5th year, the research is incredibly important so that savvy marketers can benchmark their content marketing strategy, processes and budgets against their peer group. As an old, but immature industry, content marketing needs as much reference information as possible so that the industry can continue to grow.”

Here is the presentation below.

2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs from Content Marketing Institute

Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.
Showing 2 comments
  • Rodney Robinson

    Thanks for the post, Michael. About documenting goals: most marketers are discouraged to do this because they cannot objectively measure what they are looking to accomplish: engagement, return on investment, etc. But documenting goals forces the strategist to plan and measure results. Something we should all be doing more. I have recently made this high priority in my strategy. Thanks, Michael.

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Rodney, someone asked me that exact question on Twitter: why don’t more marketers document and track their goals? The answer is simply “because it’s hard!” It’s much easier to be an order-taker. But that means working on the things that maybe don’t make an impact. Document your goals, measure success and quantify the impact. Sounds easy. It’s not. But certainly better than the alternative.