Business-to-business marketers may not be taking the world by storm with their content marketing just yet, but research shows they continue to make significant strides in leveraging this effective outreach tool.
A report issued in October from the Content Marketing Institute found that after increasing spending on content campaigns last year, 42% of surveyed B2B marketers said they have an effective content marketing strategy in place, up from 36% in the year before. That’s better than their counterparts in the B2C space, where barely a a third of marketers have solid confidence in the effectiveness of their content marketing. But with 93% of B2B marketers using branded content to advance their campaign goals, it’s pretty clear that the learning curve remains steep.
According to the report “B2B Content Marketing 2014, which surveys more than 1,200 North American business-to-business marketers, 78% of the most effective marketers are producing more content in 2014 than they did last year.
Social media, websites, e-newsletters and blogs remain the most popular platforms for distributing branded content. But infographics saw the largest year-over-year increase in usage, with 51% of respondents saying they use visually engaging data to distribute marketing messaging, compared to 38% last year.
We can expect to see a redoubling of efforts on this front in the coming months. A recent Econsultancy report found that nearly three-quarters of all marketers plan to increase spending on content marketing this year, which should lead to better outcomes.
But beyond the obvious factors of adequate budgetary resources and the ability to design engaging content, the Content Marketing Institute identifies three other factors that contribute to successful content marketing:
- A documented strategy: Simply winging it is not a good tactic for developing strong content marketing. The most effective campaigns are deliberate and focused, and consider demographic characteristics of the target audience to determine the appropriate message, platform and avenue of delivery.
- Leadership oversight: The CMI found that the majority of the most effective B2B marketers (86%) have someone who oversees content marketing strategy, while only 46% of less effective marketers do. Winning campaigns will benefit from the guiding hand of a competent professional.
- Diverse use of social media: According to the SMI’s data, the most effective content marketers rely on an average of seven different social media channels compared to just four used by the least effective campaigners. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube remain the most popular channels, but the social media platforms that had the biggest increase in use from last year to this year were SlideShare, Google+, and Instagram.
According to Demand Metric, 78% of CMOs see custom content as “the future of marketing.” Given the cost benefit (data shows that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads) it’s hard to ignore the power of engaging content to increase brand awareness, boost credibility and educate consumers.
What other factors have you seen that have proven successful in your content marketing strategy? Share on Twitter @annalect #ContentMarketingStrategy