Monday, January 2, 2012

More Work is Needed to Maximize the Potential of Content Marketing

Last month, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs published B2B Content Marketing:  2012 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends. This report is based on an August 2011 survey of almost 1,100 marketers, and it provides a great snapshot of the current state of B2B content marketing. CMI and MarketingProfs performed a similar survey in 2010, so some year-to-year comparisons can be made.

In many ways, this survey confirms what we already knew - that content marketing is now a core component of an effective B2B marketing program. Consider just a few of the major survey findings:
  • Nine out of ten B2B marketers are using some form of content marketing.
  • The top content marketing tactics (by usage) are articles (79% of respondents), social media other than blogs (74%), blogs (65%), eNewsletters (63%), and case studies (58%).
  • Comparing 2011 to 2010, the use of blogs and videos both increased by 27% and the use of white papers grew by 19%.
  • Companies are spending about 26% of their marketing budgets on content marketing efforts, and 60% of respondents said they will increase spending on content marketing in 2012.
Overall, the survey results show just how vital content marketing has become for B2B companies. But some of the survey findings also reveal that B2B marketers still have work to do to realize content marketing's full potential.

For example, when survey participants were asked to identify their business goals for content marketing, 68% cited both brand awareness and customer acquisition, and 66% selected lead generation. Only 39% of survey respondents identified lead management and lead nurturing as a primary content marketing goal. In fact, lead management/nurturing was the lowest ranking goal identified by respondents. This result may be due in part to the characteristics of the survey respondents, but I suspect it is primarily due to the fact that many companies have not implemented lead nurturing programs. Therefore, many marketers don't fully appreciate the essential role that content plays in effective lead nurturing.

The CMI/MarketingProfs survey also reveals that more work is needed to make marketing content relevant to potential buyers. When asked about how they segment or tailor their content, 57% of respondents said they use profiles (job titles, personas, etc.) of decision makers, and 51% said they use company characteristics (size, industry, etc.). However, only 39% of respondents said they tailor content for specific stages of the buying process, and 12% of respondents do not tailor their content in any way.

For content to be truly compelling, it must answer the questions that are most important to buyers at a specific point in the decision-making process. And, those questions change as buyers move through the buying process. So, the most compelling content is designed for specific buying stages.

The use of stage-specific content is one defining characteristic of an effective content marketing program. The CMI/MarketingProfs survey asked participants to rate the effectiveness of their content marketing efforts on a scale of 1 to 5. Forty-five percent of those respondents who rated their efforts as "effective" or "very effective" (4 or 5) said they tailor content for specific buying stages. Only 29% of the respondents who rated their efforts as ineffective (1 or 2) said they use stage-specific content.

If you're thinking about beginning a content marketing program, this survey is a great resource for learning about what is working. If you're already using content marketing, this is a great tool for benchmarking your efforts.

1 comment:

  1. This information will definitely help with my research. Thanks.