Ladies and gentleman, it’s that time of year again.
The leaves are turning, temperatures are cooling, the pumpkin spice latte is back—and the Content Marketing Institute just published its B2B Content Marketing—2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report offering new research into the state of content marketing.
Here are our top three takeaways:
1. Only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, down 38% from last year.
“To be more effective at content marketing, you have to know what success looks like, but that’s only the starting place.” —Joe Pulizzi and Ann Hadley
Why has this statistic fallen? To put it simply: 55% of B2B marketers don’t know what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like.
While creating marketing content has overwhelmingly become a top priority for B2B marketers over the past few years—taking up more time, resources, and budget—many B2B marketers have left out an important step: establishing—and tracking—clearly defined content goals to measure content effectiveness.
Not surprisingly, 79% of the most effective marketers have clarity on their content goals, while 77% of least effective content marketers do not. Here are what effective content marketers do differently:
- Set clearly defined content goals. Content marketers knows they need to create content. What they don’t always know is why. Before you start creating content campaigns, establish—and write down—which business objectives you are trying to achieve, set benchmarks, and track your progress.
- Document their content marketing strategy. Research consistently shows that those with a documented strategy outperform those who don’t. A documented content strategy keeps you and your teams on track, and gives you the framework for testing and iteration.
- Communicate frequently with their team. Marketing content doesn’t live in a silo. It supports every function of marketing. Whether it’s weekly or monthly meeting, or a dynamic, centralized calendar, make sure you have processes in place that make coordination and collaboration easy.
2. Producing engaging content is both a top challenge and top priority for B2B content marketers in 2016.
With more and more B2B businesses racing to create more marketing content—76% say they will produce more in 2016 over 2015—the real challenge will be creating more engaging and targeted content.
By now we know the “create more, faster” mantra doesn’t work in B2B. For content to be effective, it should be targeted, strategic, and value-focused. While social media content, case studies, and blog posts are still valuable and the most used tactics, B2B marketers will shift to create more personalized experiences, and visually engaging content in 2016.
Here are the top five marketing tactics B2B marketers find most effective:
- In-person events
- Case studies
- White papers
3. Content marketing budgets are growing—and with it, accountability.
While average spend—28% of overall marketing budget—has stayed constant since last year, CMI’s report found that there is correlation between content effectiveness and size of budget.
The most effective B2B marketers allocate an average of 42% of their overall marketing budget towards content (up from 37% last year), whereas the least effective content marketers allocate only 15%, and 51% of B2B marketers say they plan to increase their content marketing budgets even more in 2016.
With more money being allocated towards content, B2B marketers are also starting to let go of vanity metrics in favor of revenue-focused metrics. Lead generation and sales were cited the most important goals for B2B content marketers; the most important metrics B2B marketers track are sales lead quality, and sales.
B2B marketers have big goals for 2016. From measuring content effectiveness and impact on revenue, to creating more engaging and targeted content, to bigger budgets—content marketers are gaining experience, sophistication, and impact.