62% of B2B marketers say their organization’s content marketing efforts are much more or somewhat more successful compared to a year ago. This was just one of the key findings from the seventh annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends research from Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs released last month.
This year’s study paints a more positive picture of content marketing compared to last year’s results, suggesting that content marketing is more than just a passing fad, but a growing field that is gaining more momentum and commitment from brands and marketers as we speak.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the research findings that you’ll want to keep in mind as you start planning for your 2017 content marketing strategy and program:
Factors Contributing To Greater B2B Content Marketing Success
Marketers cited higher quality, more efficient content creation (85%), strategy development or adjustment (72%) and greater commitment to content marketing (53%) as the top three reasons that contributed to increased content marketing success.
When asked about the key factors that B2B marketers would attribute to their organization’s stagnancy in content marketing success, the top three reasons were lack of time dedicated to content marketing (52%), content creation challenges (49%) and strategy issues (49%), including a lack of strategy development or adjustment.
What Marketers Include In Their B2B Content Marketing Strategy
37% of marketers surveyed reported to having a documented content marketing strategy, which is a 5% increase from last year at 32%.
Top elements marketers include in their strategy include a plan to execute content marketing as an ongoing activity and not simply as a marketing campaign (73%), a content marketing editorial mission and a unique story/value to deliver (59%), and a deep understanding of their audience personas (57%).
Rounding out the top five elements are a process to align with sales, customer success and other marketing efforts (55%) and well-defined business objectives for content (54%).
What B2B Content Marketing Tactics And Channels Marketers Are Using
When asked about which content marketing tactics their organizations use, marketers reported social media content (83%), blogs (80%), email newsletters (77%), in-person events (68%), and eBooks and whitepapers (65%), followed by video (60%), infographics (58%) and webinars (58%).
Marketers believe that blogs (52%), email newsletters (40%) and social media content (40%) are the top three most important tactics to the content marketing success of their organizations, which they will use in 2017.
The top five channels marketers reported that their organizations are currently using to distribute content are email (93%), LinkedIn (89%), Twitter (77%), Facebook (76%) and YouTube (59%).
Marketers rated that email (91%), LinkedIn (71%), print (58%), YouTube (56%) and Twitter (55%) as the top five most important channels to their organization’s content marketing success.
B2B Content Marketing Priorities And Success Metrics
The top three content marketing goals that marketers say their organizations will focus on in the next twelve months are lead generation (80%), brand awareness (79%) and audience engagement (71%). Rounding out the top five content marketing goals are lead nurturing (66%) and sales (62%).
And according to the marketers surveyed, the top five metrics their organizations are using to evaluate their content marketing performance are website traffic (78%), sales lead quality (57%), social media sharing (57%), time spent on website (54%) and higher conversion rates (51%).
The metrics that marketers believe that their organization uses which truly provides measurable results of their content marketing efforts are slightly different though. The top five metrics identified by marketers were website traffic (42%), sales lead quality (30%), sales (30%), higher conversion rates (27%) and SEO ranking (25%).
What Successful B2B Content Marketers Do Differently
CMI and MarketingProfs also researched marketers who have identified their organization’s overall content marketing approach as extremely or very successful, to find out what they were doing differently than their peers that contributed to their effectiveness.
Documented Content Marketing Strategy
Like last year’s study, the most successful marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. They also have clarity on what content marketing success looks like. You need clear, quantifiable metrics that you can track and measure, otherwise it will be extremely difficult to evaluate whether or not your content marketing efforts are delivering on your marketing goals and contributing to the company’s bottom line.
Top performers also seek to create differentiated content to better engage their target audience and stand out from the crowd. They develop and document their content marketing editorial mission statement, which clearly states who the target audience is, the types of content the intended audience can expect to be delivered to them, and lastly what the expected outcome and benefit they can gain from consuming the content.
Commitment To Content Marketing
What differentiates successful marketers from the rest of their peers is also their level of commitment to content marketing: 91% of top performers are extremely or very committed to their content marketing efforts, compared to 63% of their average peers and only 35% of the least successful.
91% of the most successful marketers also state that their organization is realistic about what content marketing can achieve and that it isn’t a silver bullet to all their marketing challenges.
They also understand that content marketing is a long-term investment, and so they don’t expect to see results overnight. 77% of top performers also state that their leadership understands this and gives them ample time to deliver content marketing results.
Publishing Content Consistently
85% of the most successful marketers publish content consistently. Every company will have a different publishing schedule due to factors like resources. But according to the research, your ultimate goal should be delivering as little content as you can while still achieving the impact you want through your content, and doing so consistently.
Today’s consumers are bombarded with so much new content every day, so you want to focus on delivering content that adds value to your target audience, not noise. This is particularly important as 70% of marketers surveyed say they expect their organizations to produce more content in 2017.
Focusing on delivering quality content consistently is much more effective at engaging and converting your target customers than overwhelming them with a large quantity of content that adds no value.
Measuring Content Marketing ROI
88% of top performers regularly measure their content marketing progress and ROI, compared to only 56% of their least successful peers.
Measurement is key to content marketing success because it helps you identify what is working (and not working), so you can focus on activities that are delivering real value to the business. Communicating your progress and results to the leadership team is also critical to gaining and maintaining their commitment and support for your content marketing efforts.
Want to learn more about the study? You can read the complete report below.
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