Successful marketers reveal the keys to more effective content marketing.

What differentiates B-to-B companies who carry out successful content marketing initiatives compared to those whose efforts are less impactful?

It isn’t an easy question to answer in a very quantitative way, but the Content Marketing Institute, working in conjunction with MarketingProfs, has reached some conclusions based on a survey it conducted in June and July of 2018 with nearly 800 North American content marketers. (This was the 9th year that the annual survey has been fielded.)

Beginning with a “self-graded” question, respondents were asked to rate the success of their company’s content marketing endeavors. A total of 27% of respondents rated their efforts as either very or extremely successful, compared to 22% who rated their results at the other end of the scale (minimally successful or not successful at all).

The balance of the CMI survey questions focused on this subset of ~380 respondents on both ends of the spectrum, in order to determine how content marketing efforts and results were happening differently between the two groups of marketers.

… And there were some fundamental differences discovered. To begin with, more than 90% of the self-described “successful” group of B-to-B content marketers reported that they prioritize their audience’s informational needs more highly than sales and promotional messaging.

By comparison, just 56% of the other group prioritize in this manner — instead favoring company-focused messaging in greater proportions.

Other disparities determined between the two groups of marketers relate to the extent of activities undertaken in three key analytical areas:

  • The use of primary research
  • The use of customer conversations and panels
  • Database analysis

Also importantly, ~93% of the respondents in the “successful” group described their organization as being “highly committed” to content marketing, compared to just ~35% of the respondents in the second group who feel this way.

Moreover, this disparity extends to self-described skill levels when it comes to implementing content marketing programs.  More than nine in ten of the “successful” CMS group of respondents characterize themselves as “sophisticated” or “mature” in terms of their knowledge level.

For the other group of respondents, it’s just one in ten.

Despite these differences in perceived skills, it turns out that content marketing dissemination practices are pretty uniform across both groups of companies. Tactics used by both include sponsored content on social media platforms, search engine marketing, and web banner advertising.  It’s in the messaging itself — as well as the analysis of performance — where the biggest differences appear to be.

For more information on findings from the 2018 Content Marketing Survey, click here.

The Very Latest Trends in B-to-B Content Creation Activities …

Content Marketing, Content CreationFor anyone who’s paying attention in business, “content marketing” is all the rage right now.  That’s not surprising, considering that “content” is the common link between advertising, promotion, public relations and social media.

Each year, the Content Marketing Institute, working in conjunction with MarketingProfs and Brightcove, conducts research among B-to-B marketers to gauge the type of content marketing that is increasing in popularity.  The CMI’s most recent report, B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America has now been issued.

This report provides results from more than 1,400 surveys collected from North American members and subscribers of MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute.

I think the survey is representative of business as a whole because the respondents include a mix of company sizes – ranging from fewer than 10 employees (~39% of the survey sample) to the very largest firms having more than 1,000 employees (~5% of the sample).

Respondent titles are varied, too – encompassing advertising/MarComm functions (~37%), corporate management (~31%) plus various other functions that handle marketing and communications as part of their responsibilities.

When we compare the results of the new survey to the one that was completed last year (I blogged about that survey here), we find that in nearly every category of B-to-B content creation, there is greater participation now.  (The one exception is the use of print magazines.)

For the record, here is how B-to-B content activity breaks down today, from highest to lowest usage:

  • Social media:  ~87% of respondents are using
  • Website articles (own site):  ~83%
  • e-Newsletters:  ~78%
  • Blogs:  ~77%
  • Case studies:  ~71%
  • Videos:  ~70%
  • Website articles (other sites):  ~70%
  • In-person events:  ~69%
  • White papers:  ~61%
  • Webinars and/or webcasts:  ~59%

A number of other tactics are used by a minority of B-to-B respondents:

  • Research reports:  ~44%
  • Web microsites:  ~40%
  • Infographics:  ~38%
  • Mobile content:  ~33%
  • e-Books:  ~32%
  • Print magazines:  ~31%
  • “Virtual” conferences:  ~28%
  • Podcasts:  ~27%
  • Mobile apps:  ~26%
  • Digital magazines:  ~25%
  • Print newsletters:  ~24%
  • Annual reports:  ~20%
  • Gamification:  ~11%

So it’s clear that “a lot of people” are employing “a lot of tactics” in content creation.  But which ones do they feel are most effective?

An interesting finding of the survey measures the “confidence gap” between respondents who feel that certain content tactics are “more effective” versus “less effective.”  Taking the difference between these two percentages yields a “confidence spread.”

This evaluation shows that B-to-B marketers consider a traditional tactic — in-person events – to be the most effective one:

  • In-person events:  +34 “confidence gap” rating
  • Case studies:  +28
  • Webinars and webcasts:  +22
  • Blogs:  +16
  • e-Newsletters:  +16
  • Videos:  +16
  • Research reports:  +14
  • White papers:  +14
  • e-Books:  +10
  • Website articles (own site):  +6
  • Website articles (other sites):  +0
  • Web microsites:  +0

And where are marketers publishing content?  The survey finds that B-to-B marketers are using an average of five social media sites to distribute content, with the “usual suspects” coming in at the top of the list:

  • LinkedIn:  ~83% of respondents use for distributing content
  • Facebook:  ~80%
  • Twitter:  ~80%
  • YouTube:  ~61%
  • Google+:  ~39%
  • Pinterest:  ~26%
  • SlideShare:  ~23%
  • Vimeo:  ~12%
  • Flickr:  ~10%
  • Foursquare:  ~8%
  • Instagram:  ~7%
  • Tumblr:  ~7%

A number of these social sites didn’t even show up in last year’s results – Pinterest and Vimeo in particular, but also Tumblr, Instagram and Foursquare.

It really underscores how “fresh” things remain in the social sphere – and how marketers can’t afford to take their eye off of the ball even for an instant when it comes to the tactical considerations of content creation.

There are additional findings available from the CMI research report, which you can download here.  And feel free to comment below on any of the results that seem particularly interesting (or surprising) to you.