Every year the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs team up to produce a study of how B2B companies are using content marketing to grow the business. Its latest study was released October 2016. If you’re a marketing leader at your firm, you’ll appreciate the insights this year’s B2B content marketing study reveals.
To be sure, there’s a lot of great stuff here to digest. But since we’re all pressed for time, I’m going to give you the executive summary version. I also provided a link to the full report on Slideshare, below.
The survey’s findings are based on 1,102 respondents from a range of industries: technology, manufacturing, consulting, banking/financial, engineering and more. Company size ranged from fewer than 10 employees to more than a thousand.
The business goals that drive B2B content marketing initiatives
Most B2B companies are using content marketing to drive several business goals. The top three goals according to surveyed leaders are lead nurturing (80%), brand awareness (79%), and engagement (71%).
A content marketing strategy is essential
Of the companies surveyed, 78 percent are using a content marketing strategy—documented or undocumented—to drive the process. Seventy-three percent of those respondents see CM as an ongoing business process, not just a campaign.
Other key findings:
- 59 percent have a content mission and communicate a unique value proposition to prospects
- 57 percent have a deep understanding of audience personas
- 55 percent align CM activity with other marketing and sales functions
I think one takeaway here is every B2B company should have a value proposition that clearly sets your business’s offerings apart from your competitors. These results also underscore how important persona-focused messages are to all your marketing communications, not just your content marketing. Tailored messages to all audience segments (personas) helps build affinity, which translates into better results and improved conversions.
Marketers use an average of 8 content marketing tactics
As usual, marketers cited several tactics they employ to communicate with prospects. No surprise that social media content tops the list at 83 percent of respondents followed closely by blogs at 80 percent. Email newsletters also continue to rank high with 77 percent of respondents employing the tactic.
When marketers were asked the question which tactics will be most critical to overall content marketing success in 2017, blogs came out on top at 52 percent. Email newsletters and social media content tied for second with 40 percent.
Metrics continue to be critical for measuring success
Marketers are using a range of metrics to gauge the effectiveness of content marketing programs. The top metric continues to be website traffic at 78 percent of respondents. Here are the top nine metrics:
- Website traffic (78%)
- Sales lead quality (57%)
- Social media sharing (57%)
- Time spent on website (54%)
- Higher conversion rates (51%)
- SEO ranking (51%)
- Sales (50%)
- Sales lead quality (47%)
- Subscriber/community growth (40%)