I’ve finally made some time to go deep into the 2014 Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks study (sponsored by Brightcove). After my review, there were a few findings in this content marketing research that just didn’t sit right with me.
Here’s what I found to be most alarming:
1. Less than 10 percent of B2B marketers are truly successful with content marketing: Just nine percent of the 1,217 B2B practitioners who responded feel that their content marketing efforts are “very effective.”
My take: Content marketing obviously has a long way to go, not just in terms of how it’s applied, but also in organizations’ understanding of what a “win” looks like from a content perspective, and how it fits into achieving overall marketing goals.
2. Only 44 percent of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy: Which means 56 percent are flying blind in their content efforts, without having a plan for its execution or success. No wonder there is so much horrible content being distributed by B2B brands.
My take: The other scary part here is that this is likely an inflated number to begin with. Based on my experience in working with B2B businesses, I believe the real number is closer to being below 15 percent. The difference: Most marketers don’t know what a content marketing strategy looks like (yet), let alone how to document it for better use across the enterprise.
3. B2B Marketers with a content marketing strategy are nearly 300 percent more likely to be effective: What’s shocking about this? Maybe it’s the fact that 23 percent of B2B marketers without a strategy still consider their efforts to be effective.
My take: Without a strategy, any success you achieve is more than likely to be dumb luck — and probably short-lived, as well.
4. Small companies are 40 percent more likely to have someone in charge of content marketing than larger enterprises: Take it from me: Implementing content marketing in larger enterprises can be a political nightmare — not to mention the added complications caused by the multiple content creators already operating within almost every silo of the company (PR, search, social, email, corporate communications, HR, etc.).
My take: Content marketing will not work without designating someone to be accountable for the brand story across the entire organization.
5. Two-thirds of B2B Marketers without a content marketing strategy are creating more content now than they did in the previous year.
My take: Good grief! Doesn’t that amount to 66 percent more misguided content marketing being produced this year, rather than strategic, effective content? No wonder those reported success stats are so low.
6. Seven in 10 B2B Marketers do not use print distribution in their content marketing: What if I told you that you could communicate with customers through a channel where they would almost surely see your message — and it’s a space where most of your competitors wouldn’t be? Welcome to the world of print.
My take: This amounts to a big opportunity for marketers who want to test out print as a viable content channel.
7. Only one social channel received a positive approval ranking in terms of effectiveness — LinkedIn (62 percent): Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+ all received approval ratings of 30 percent and under. Yet, the lack of success they are experiencing hasn’t stopped marketers from continuing to distribute content on these channels (and others). In fact, compared to results from our 2013 report, the number of B2B marketers who are using each of these channels has increased.
My take: Most B2B marketers do not have a defined “why” for social media channel use (i.e, “Why are we using Google+ as a channel?”). Determine the value each channel holds for your business before adding it to your list of outlets.
8. The No. 1 metric for content marketing measurement is web traffic: Content marketing, as both a discipline and an approach, will remain in our current early-adoption phase until we start looking at better metrics to gauge the returns on our content marketing investments.
My take: More traffic may not be a positive indicator of more definitive (and essential) metrics, such as subscriber growth, lead quality, or customer retention.
My final thoughts
What are the differences between those who are receiving your content and those who aren’t? Finding the answer to that question should be your first mission as a content marketer.
Although I’m excited that we are seeing overall effectiveness improvement in the B2B content marketing space, we surely have a long way to go.
For more insight on developing a strong plan for content marketing success, read Joe Pulizzi’s latest book, “Epic Content Marketing.”
Cover image via Bigstock