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New study digs into B2B content marketing

By ZoomInsights staff

Content marketing is now main stream. That’s the word from MarketingProfs, which recently conducted a new study with the Content Marketing Institute.

If you’re among the nine out of 10 B2B organizations that market with content, you’re probably not surprised by that assessment. But the study also turned up interesting information about social media channels preferred, segmenting tactics used and budgets allocated.

And the preferred social media channel is …
An average B2B company uses 12 content marketing tactics, with social media (excluding blogs) being the most popular, at 87 percent. Articles on the companies’ own websites came in second, at 83 percent, followed by electronic newsletters and blogs. Researchers reported that over the three years they’ve conducted the study, this is the first year in which social media out-ranked website articles.

And guess what? Twitter is not the most-used social media channel. While it has been in the past, this year’s study showed that marketers are now choosing LinkedIn more often (83 percent) to distribute content. Twitter and Facebook tied for second at 80 percent, followed by YouTube at 61 percent. Pinterest is gaining ground among B2B marketers, with more than a quarter of those surveyed using the visual social medium. It turns out that on average, marketers use at least five social media channels to distribute their content.

Casting a narrower net
Marketers are not creating “one-size-fits-all” content. Instead, 91 percent of B2B marketers tailor their content to specific audience segments. Typically, marketers create those segments based on details in decision makers’ profiles, followed by company characteristics. And segmenting by stage in the buying cycle comes in as the third-most-common way to segment.

Budgets are high, but measurement? Not so much
“It’s amazing how much more content marketing B2B marketers are producing this year compared to last year,” said Joe Pulizzi, executive director of the Content Marketing Institute. “You can see marketers’ commitments by the increase in budget they are spending. On average, B2B marketers are spending 33 percent of the marketing budgets on content marketing, which is up from 26 percent last year. And, 54 percent plan on increasing content marketing spending next year.”

Despite the budget increases, the survey shows that only 36 percent of B2B marketers rate the effectiveness of their company’s content marketing as either “effective” or “very effective.” In the previous year’s survey, 40 percent rated their programs in one of those two ways.

Ann Handley, MarketingProfs’ chief content officer, thinks the issue isn’t so much about how well content marketing works. “Even though more B2B marketers are leveraging content marketing, the majority are still struggling with measuring the effectiveness of their content marketing programs,” Handley said.

The point of content marketing and the challenges
So exactly why are marketers using content marketing? Researchers found that top B2B content marketing goals are brand awareness, customer acquisition and lead generation, in that order. The most common metrics marketers use to evaluate their content marketing success are Web traffic, sales lead quality and social media sharing.
Keeping B2B content marketers up at night is producing enough content, the study found. The second and third biggest challenges are producing engaging content and a variety of content, respectively.

Learn from the best
Want to improve the effectiveness of your own content marketing? The study compared the organizations who described their campaigns as most effective with those who described their content marketing as less effective. Here are the traits of the most effective campaigns:
  • At least 46 percent of marketing budget allocated to content marketing
  • At least 14 tactics used
  • An average of six social platforms used

You can learn more from the “B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” report. In its third consecutive year, the survey included 1,400 B2B marketers in North America from diverse industries and a wide range of company sizes.

Want to improve your ability to segment content based on extremely granular details in decision-maker and company profiles? Tap into ZoomInfo’s profiles. Target exactly who you need from our just-verified profiles of 65 million businesspeople and 6 million companies. Learn more.