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B2B Content Marketing Trends and Spends

Marketing Profs and Junta 42 haven’t half been busy lately. They’ve produced a report into content marketing, surveying skills, resources, and trends. It’s the biggest and most comprehensive report of its kind, surveying 1100 American marketers in May 2010. These are some of the highlights.

All in all it’s a bit of mixed bag: content marketing is widespread, and companies are spending increasing amount on it. But people aren’t particularly confident about it, and there’s a real need for education. In particular they need help to produce relevant and engaging content. Content marketing is here to stay, but marketers have to get used to it.

Nine out of 10 B2B marketers are using content marketing to grow their businesses. Popular tactics include:

  • Social media (excluding blogs): 79%
  • Articles: 78%
  • In-person events: 62%
  • eNewsletters: 61%

Most use a mixture of around 8 content marketing methods.

Enthusiasm for content marketing is high; however, marketers are still unsure about the effectiveness and impact of individual tactics, distribution channels, and measurement techniques. For example, among those who use content marketing, 79% have adopted social media tactics (excluding blogs), but only 31% of those who use social media rate the tactic as effective in their marketing.

We’re particularly unsure about Twitter: it seems like a lot of the tweets disappear into a black hole. On the other hand, our B2B Marketing Manifesto has had quite a lot of Twitter attention, so the jury’s out here.

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Content marketing adoption is high across the board, regardless of industry, although the computing/software industry reported the highest level of adoption. Maybe not that surprising given how quickly the technology sector changes (change makes buyers information hungry) and how readily techies (and tech marketers) use the web.

Marketers report that content marketing supports multiple business goals:

  • Brand awareness: 78%
  • Customer retention/loyalty: 69%
  • Lead generation: 63%

The least widely employed goal for content marketing is lead management/ nurturing.

We expect this number to grow with lead nurturing adoption. Content is the fuel of the lead nurturing engine.

The best marketers allocate a much larger percentage of their marketing budget to content marketing, around 30%. Less effective marketers allocate only 18%. So it does seem you get what you pay for, to a certain extent. But we’ve found that low budget content marketing can be enormously effective, so throwing money at the problem isn’t necessarily the answer.

In general, it seems that marketers are still struggling to become more effective: 36% of respondents said that their biggest challenge was ‘producing the kind of content that engages prospects and customers’. And there’s still some difficulty measuring the effectiveness of social media and tailoring campaigns to fit the most useful channels.

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There’s a leap in uptake of content marketing, but confidence that we’re doing it right is lagging. This will partly change naturally, as time goes on and people settle into it. But it will also take effort. And there are other reasons to try harder too.

If everyone’s getting in on content marketing, then the question becomes how the savvy B2B marketer can find a niche to exploit. The obvious answer is to be really, really good at it. That means producing content that matters to people, has real passion, is well-written, well-argued, and well-researched.

Upping your game will raise the standard of content marketing across the board, as everyone competes. In the future, marketers will drive the whole of their business, by generating leads and moving them further down into the sales funnel. For more on our ideal image of the future, read our B2B Marketing Manifesto.

Get the whole report here.

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