By Joe Pulizzi published October 24, 2012

2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends [Research Report]

It’s that time of year! The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs are excited to publish our third annual research results: The 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America, sponsored by Brightcove. (See the results from last year and 2010).

Just as we have seen in the previous two years, content marketing remains a top priority for marketers going into 2013: 9 out of 10 marketers are using content marketing. In many respects, content marketers are doing more, but uncertainty still exists. Here are some of the key findings from this year’s report.

Content marketers are using more tactics

This year, on average, B2B content marketers are using 12 tactics — a significant increase over the average number of tactics used in each of the past two years (8 tactics). Unlike last year, where articles reigned supreme, social media (excluding blogs) was reported to be the most popular content marketing tactic, with an adoption rate of 87 percent.

The use of all tactics has risen across the board, with one exception — print magazines have stayed the same, at 31 percent. Research reports, videos, mobile content, and virtual conferences are some of the tactics that have seen the biggest increases in adoption rates.

The 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America: CMI/MarketingProfs: tactics

Content marketers continue to be uncertain about tactics

Even though marketers are using more tactics, they are still unclear about how effective they are — a trend that is similar to what we saw last year. As you can see in the chart below, marketers continue to consider in-person events to be the most effective tactic (at 67 percent).

The 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America: CMI/MarketingProfs: usage

(click for full-sized view)

Distribution with social media has increased

This year, 87 percent of marketers are using social media to distribute content, as compared to the rate of 74 percent that was reported last year. Unlike last year, however, LinkedIn is the channel that now has the highest adoption rate, beating out last year’s leader, Twitter.

We also surveyed marketers about some additional/new channels, including Pinterest, which is currently used by 25 percent of our respondents.

The 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America: CMI/MarketingProfs: social media

(click for full-sized view)

Content marketers are spending more

On average, B2B marketers are spending 33 percent of their marketing budgets on content marketing, which is up from 26 percent last year. Moreover, the majority (54 percent) say they will increase their content marketing spending in the next 12 months.

The 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America: CMI/MarketingProfs: spending

Fewer marketers are outsourcing content

This year we are seeing a shift in B2B marketers’ use of in-house teams for content creation, with only 44 percent of companies reporting that they outsource these efforts.

The 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America: CMI/MarketingProfs: outsource

Producing enough content is the biggest challenge

This year, we asked marketers to indicate any challenges they had with content marketing, and then select one as their greatest challenge. As you will see, producing enough content is now the biggest challenge across B2B marketers, at 64 percent, as compared to producing the kind of content that engages, which was the top challenge reported in last year’s study.

Read the entire report to see the profile of a best-in-class B2B content marketer and learn more about what goals and measurements they are using.

What do you think of these findings? Do you agree with them? Do you see anything surprising? Let us know in the comments!

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, Managing Content Marketing and Get Content Get Customers. Joe's latest book is Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill). If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

  • Chris Adams

    Joe,
    Excellent stats. It is thrilling to find out that the entire industry in moving towards content marketing in a more aggressive way. Recently we started investing heavily in content marketing rather than the traditional link building activities. This article has once again reiterated that content marketing is the future of link building.
    Are marketers using tools to distribute content through various social media sites? Some times it is challenging to manage several social media sites without a consolidated platform.
    Thank you
    Chris

    • http://blog.junta42.com/ Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Chris…it is interesting that B2B marketers “average” five social distribution channels. I think it’s a definite reason why more brands are hiring storytellers, journalists and producers as part of their marketing teams.

      • Chris Adams

        Joe,
        That makes sense. We are trying to focus on 5 social media channels as of now. Based on the feedback we might pursue additional social media channels.
        Thank you
        Chris

      • Erik

        This makes sense Joe and I am seeing this as well is selling our email marketing platform to clients (www.realmagnet.com). The trend that prospective clients we talk to now is to automate how their content is grabbed from their CMS, blog, etc. (where it is created) and placed into a pre-fabbed template for deployment using our platform. This is easily done and provides two main benefits…1) the content producer never has to go into our system and struggle/tweak their content within our editor and 2) the organization is provided back analytics they wouldn’t ordinarily get from their CMS in regard to engagement. This is a fairly new enhancement we have introduced and one that is garnering a ton of interest.

  • http://twitter.com/newedgeweb NewEdgeDesign

    As a B2B content marketer, I found these stats really interesting and encouraging.
    It would be interesting to dig a little deeper and find out which of these channels are producing results for business.
    Thanks Joe.

  • Anand Radhakrishnan

    Excellent statistics and numbers. As much as it is a great time for B2B Marketers, we at @VALVESOLUTIONS find many tech savvy companies and customers still cannot tell the difference between SEO, SEM, PPC etc and Contentmarketing. A lot of educating still needs to be done. This i believe is the number one reason for a slower take off.

  • tomdebaere

    Joe, I noticed that the respondents are fairly small B2B companies. Would you consider the results representative for larger companies?

    If was also a bit expecting to see a bit more stats on wha

    • http://blog.junta42.com/ Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Tom…we had hundreds of larger-company marketers take the survey as well…there is not as much of a difference. Larger companies spend less as a % overall and outsource their content more.

  • Justin Faull

    Interesting
    that so many marketers use Facebook as a B2B marketing tool. A large percentage of the professionals they
    are marketing towards either cannot access a social media site at work (it’s
    blocked) or are just not using Facebook.
    Plus, most use Facebook as a social outlet in their personal time. How many folks are “liking” or following say an
    industrial company manufacturing in their spare time or other services that
    they only deal with during the workday?
    Sorry to burst so many bubbles…

    • Jeff Price

      Here, here! All of these are just tools – each company should use the right tool for the job, I constantly preach, but few listen because their rose colored glasses are strapped on tight!

      • http://twitter.com/TextBroker Textbroker

        We use Facebook for marketing – to our authors. These are folks who work from home, so their personal and business lives merge quite easily. I include our client-focused posts on there as well, but the thrust of it is for writers. Our Twitter feed and LinkedIn content are almost exclusively business-focused. It’s all about knowing where your audience is and adapting your content appropriately.

  • http://www.facebook.com/futuretechcom Futuro Enrique

    Hi,

    Very Interesting…

    am impressed & Inspired ur research method and output also. Actually few month ago 1ly i know about content marketing. still am researching and learning about content marketing. Thanks you for this gud report.

    It’s understanding about present content marketing going on and then B2B Companies using Content Marketing present.

    Most part of Social Media for CM. Compare with last year (74%) it’s still raising 87%. Am expecting next year surely 92 – 96% increase. It’s my prediction 1ly…

    Thanks You,
    Futuro Enrique

  • Kris

    We need more tools to integrate content marketing efforts.. As of now the market is so naive and lot of effort on educating people about content marketing is needed… Tools like Kapost, Voraka, hootsuite are some in the industry and it helps us a lot in going forward to achieve content marketing success..

  • Elizabeth

    I find it surprising that Foursquare outbeat Instagram!

    • http://www.copperwebs.com/ CopperWebs

      Pretty sure foursquare has been around a LOT longer. its not that surprising when you consider they didn’t beat instagram by all that much. Another year and I’d wager that instagram is on top.

  • Amity Dharia

    These are really encouraging stats – I’ll be interested to see how Pinterest plays amongst B2B marketers in 2013.
    http://amitydharia.com

  • http://www.SquirrelSocial.com/ Jared Lamorte

    Awesome insights! I’m not surprised that Linkedin has beat Twitter this year, for the best site to share organic content. I’ve noticed when I share an article on Linkedin the response is much greater than when I share it on Twitter. It could be because Twitter is overflowing with marketers and spammers, whereas Linkedin is mostly “real” people.

    • Tema Frank

      Actually, LinkedIn (especially in the groups) is also full of spammers. But what makes it better, I believe, is the possibility of having real discussions. You can’t do that effectively in <140 characters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/start.easy Helen Nesterenko

    Personally for me – it would be interesting to figure out why companies tend to outsource content creation less as compared with the previous years. Because of tools that allow it to manage effectively in house?

    • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Helen…first off, outsourcing won’t ever go away. It will always be needed. That said, I believe that more companies are seeing content creation as core to the marketing function, hence bringing those skills in house. In the future, the marketing department will look very similar to a publishing department.

      • http://www.facebook.com/start.easy Helen Nesterenko

        Now the greatest challenge for marketers is produce enough content – and still fewer tend to outsource content creation. Seems a bit controversial. Is this because it’s difficult to scale content creation when outsourcing and still get the result in-house marketing department wants?

        • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

          Hi Helen…honestly, I’m not sure the data tells us either way. I think that as more companies use buyer personas, they need more customized content for those particular buyers. This also means that the content creator needs to really have a firm hand on each buyer persona. So, yes, this is tough to scale on an outsourcing standpoint (but not impossible).

          • http://www.facebook.com/start.easy Helen Nesterenko

            Thank you for your insight, Joe. Very helpful.

          • http://twitter.com/TextBroker Textbroker

            I agree with your idea here, Joe – the content that we see is shifting from mass posts to in-depth, focused pieces. As you said, it’s not impossible to outsource that – it simply means giving the vendor the same information you give your in-house staff. We’re already seeing more clients stuck between the rock of high expectations for insight in posts and the hard place of limited internal resources. Interesting stats to say the least.

          • ScottOHandy

            In addition to customization, the growth in the number of outlets that enterprises are using to distribute content demands an increase in the volume of said content. It’s not enough to push the same content through multiple channels. The content must be tailored for each channel. Thus, as the X axis (number of channels) gets longer, the Y axis (volume of content) must keep pace.

          • Tema Frank

            The question then becomes how the heck do you stand out? If everyone is producing more and more content, it becomes increasingly difficult to say something unique that will attract new prospects. So does content marketing become primarily a took for deepening relationships that already exist rather than for prospecting?

          • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

            Hi Tema…content marketing historically has been used for retention/loyalty purposes. Only until recently has it shifted more to demand generation and top of the funnel activity. From the data, the key differentiator for success is to actually HAVE a strategy. The majority of companies do not. Those that have a content marketing strategy are much more successful than those that don’t. Once we all get a strategy (not sure when that will happen), it will get to the point of who executes the best. Same thing happens in the publishing arena. 10-15 publishers start covering a specific niche, but then in 10 years only about 3-5 are left doing it well. Hope that helps.

          • temafrank

            That makes sense, Joe. Did you see this article:

            Reverse Network Effects: Poor Curation Leads to Greater Noise Which Makes Platforms Less Useful http://bit.ly/1d8NOQx

          • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

            Love this article. Thanks!

          • Tema Frank

            My pleasure, Joe. Always happy to share interesting content!

  • Steve Smith

    Very useful article about B2C and B2B Content marketing. Tahnks for sharing…

    Custom Web Design in Orange County

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  • Vivek Kerketta

    Joe,
    I must thank you for your insights and knowledge. I have recently started working on Content Marketing and your work has been very helpful to me.
    I needed a favor from you, I was working on a research project to measure the effectiveness of content marketing in India. For this research I need the survey data and questionnaire of “2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” research report for reference.
    I would be grateful if you could help me.
    Thanking you.

    Regards
    Vivek Kerketta
    360 Degree Technosoft
    vivek.k@360technosoft.com

  • Brian Crouch

    Hi Mr. Pulizzi,
    Could you help clarify what survey respondents meant when they cited “Social media, other than blogs” as a content *tactic*? As you point out, the effective content marketers are using as many as 6-7 social media channels for distribution and amplification of their content (which might be tactics such as whitepapers, videos, etc). Thus it seems that social media shouldn’t then be viewed as a distinct content tactic, unless something is meant other than channel distribution.

    • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Brian…it’s a great question, and one where there is no clear cut answer. Some brands use social media just for distribution, like posting their blog post on their Facebook page. Other brands use social media channels as the creation source AND distribution…like only posting content to Facebook or developing a Tumblr page. You could argue that social media is a content tactic, or not. We decided to list it as a tactic since most marketers we’ve talked to think of it as one. Hope that helps. Let me know.

      • Brian Crouch

        Thanks for the reply. It is hard to characterize an original post within a Facebook Wall (such as a discussion question) or a Quora post without simply calling it “Social media,” so that makes sense. Perhaps a new category/tactic for content such as “digital conversation” could fit, to signify a distinction between amplification methods for owned channel content efforts and those that are uniquely crafted for a social channel as a creative outlet?

        • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

          Correct..it is a bit of a gray area, but content production for social media channels still require content planning, scheduling, etc. We are always reviewing this and will continue to do so for next year. Thanks for bringing this up.

  • LMR

    Hello, Great information. I was wondering if there was any further information on the “in person events”, was it events that they sponsored themselves or ones they attended, spoke at, etc. I ask because we really struggle with getting attendees to our events.

    • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

      Hi there…the in-person events are company-owned and produced events (not sponsored – like customer events). Hope that helps.

  • http://www.online-phd-uk.co.uk/ OnlinePhDUK

    great article….although it is for 2013…I think you have included all related points here…

  • temafrank

    Great study! I’d be interested in knowing what the data looks like if you exclude people working in the advertising/marketing industry (27% of your sample).

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      We don’t have the data broken out this way, but is there a specific question on which you would like to see this breakout? We will be publishing a few additional reports that look at the data based on a few verticals and company size if helpful. (Granted, the reports based on company size will include all verticals.)

      • Tema Frank

        The reason I suggest breaking those out is that I suspect that quite a few people in the industry fill out such surveys because they want early access to the results. That skews the result with companies that are not typical.

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