By Joe Pulizzi published October 1, 2014

New B2B Content Marketing Research: Focus on Documenting Your Strategy

b2b content marketing-cmi Today, we release the findings from our fifth annual content marketing survey — and it’s our biggest and best year yet.

For this year’s survey, we decided to ask some new questions, and change how we approached some of our regular questions, in order to provide fresher, more insightful findings. Thus, B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America, produced by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs and sponsored by Brightcove, reflects the progress our industry is making in exciting new ways.

But despite the changes we’ve made on our survey, the key takeaway of our B2B content marketing research this year is something we’ve been continuously stressing at CMI for a while now: Marketers who take the time to document their content marketing strategy are more effective than those who don’t.

This might sound similar to last year’s theme, and it is — but with one important difference: This year we found that a large percentage of marketers are operating under a “verbal strategy.” That’s a great starting point, but taking the time to document the strategy you’ve created is a critical next step.

Most B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy — but only 35 percent have documented it

In last year’s survey, we asked for the first time whether marketers had a documented content marketing strategy. Forty-nine percent said “no,” which left us wondering whether a lot of those marketers did indeed have a strategy, but had just not documented it. Sure enough, we found that many do have a strategy (83 percent), but only 35 percent have documented it.

2015-b2b-research-content-marketing-strategy

Click to tweet: 83% of marketers have a #contentmarketing strategy, but only 35% have documented it.

B2B marketers with a documented strategy are more effective than those without one

B2B marketers who have a documented strategy are more effective and less challenged with every aspect of content marketing when compared with their peers who only have a verbal strategy or no strategy at all.

Of those who have a documented strategy, 60 percent consider their organization to be effective. In contrast, only 32 percent of those who have a verbal strategy say they are effective. To take it a step further, 62 percent of the most effective marketers also say they follow the strategy “very closely.” The lesson is clear: If you want to be more effective at content marketing, take the time to record your strategy and follow it closely.

Want to learn how to document your content marketing strategy? Download The Essentials of a Documented Content Marketing Strategy: 36 Questions to Answer.

2015-b2b-documented-vs-verbal

Click to tweet: 60% of B2B marketers with a documented #contentmarketing strategy say they are effective vs. 32% of those with a verbal strategy. 

Marketers are churning out more content than ever before

In many cases, we found that content production continues to increase, no matter how effective organizations feel they are at content marketing — or whether or not they have a documented strategy. In fact, 70 percent say they are creating more content than they did one year ago.

2015-b2b-change-content-creation

Click to tweet: 70% of B2B marketers are producing more #contentmarketing this year than last year.

This year, we also asked, “How frequently do you publish new content?” Forty-two percent said daily or several times per week. Of those who have a documented content marketing strategy, 23 percent said they publish new content daily.

201-b2b-Publish-new-Content

Only 21 percent are successful at tracking ROI

Measurement continues to be a hot topic among content marketers, so this year we asked how successful they are at tracking ROI on their content marketing programs. Only 21 percent said they are successful; however, the number goes up to 35 percent for marketers who have a documented strategy.

Similarly, when looking at challenges, almost half of B2B marketers cited measuring content marketing effectiveness as a challenge — a number that has gone up from 33 percent last year.

2015_Chart9_ROI

Click to tweet: Only 21% of#B2B marketers are successful at measuring content marketing ROI.

92 percent use social media content as a tactic

B2B marketers use an average of 13 content marketing tactics — same as what was reported last year. Of these tactics, 92 percent cite social media content (other than blogs) as the most used, followed by eNewsletters (83 percent), and articles on their website (81 percent). Infographics as a tactic saw the biggest rise in usage (from 51 percent last year to 62 percent this year). Illustrations/photos was a new option this year.

2015-b2b-content-tactics

Click to tweet: B2B marketers use an average of 13 content marketing tactics; social media content tops the list. #ContentMarketing

Search engine marketing tops the list of paid distribution methods

For the first time, we asked marketers which paid advertising methods they use to promote/distribute content — and of those, which they consider to be most effective. On average, B2B marketers are using three paid advertising methods, with 80 percent using at least one. Search engine marketing (SEM) tops the list as the most used (and most effective).

While the adoption rates for the “newer” paid methods of native advertising and content discovery tools isn’t very high yet, 36 percent of those who use them say they are effective (giving them a higher confidence rating than marketers give for the more established paid methods of “print or other offline promotion” and “traditional online banner ads”).

2015-b2b-paid-ad-use

Click to tweet: Search engine marketing is the paid method B2B marketers use most often to distribute content #contentmarketing

B2B marketers are working on an average of 13 content marketing initiatives

New for this year, we presented marketers with a list of 28 content marketing initiatives and asked them to indicate which ones they are “working on now,” “plan to begin working on in 12 months,” or are currently “not a priority.” Marketers reported that they are working on an average of 13 initiatives now — and are planning to begin work on an average of eight more initiatives. Sixty-nine percent of marketers said they are working on “creating more engaging content” now, and 36 percent will begin working on “measuring content ROI” within the next 12 months, making these two areas the most often cited in those two categories.

Click to tweet: B2B marketers are working on an average of 13 #contentmarketing initiatives: 69% are working on creating more engaging content.

Click to tweet: 36% of B2B marketers will begin working on measuring content ROI initiative within next 12 months.

Read the entire report to get more detail on these findings — and many more, including:

  • How much of their total budget B2B marketers are allocating to content marketing
  • What their primary goals and metrics are
  • What the top differences are between B2B marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy compared with those who do not
  • Key areas where B2B and B2C marketers differ

Note: If you would like to download the PDF, select Save via the SlideShare link

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

If you are interested in research, we have many more new findings coming your way, as well as explanations of the “whys” and the “what nexts.” Subscribe to our email so you don’t miss anything.

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, including best-selling Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill) and the new book, Content Inc. Check out Joe's two podcasts. 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.

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  • http://robertgibb.me Robert Gibb

    First and foremoest, I’m a writer. But I also believe in ROI. Not just because it’s good for the company or clients, but because good ROI means the content I’m creating is valuable to the reader. At the end of the day, that means the most to me.

    I have tried (somewhat) using Google Analytics to track ROI for new content, but I haven’t really succeeded. There are too many parts of the buyer’s jounrey and I never really know which piece of content finally pushed the reader to say “Okay, I’ll buy this.” And what about the pieces of content they consumed before reading that piece of content that made them say yes. Those matter too.

    It’s easy enough to track conversions on a service/product page or landing page, even homepage. But what prompted them to say yes to the offer onthat page? I doubt it’s always the page itself. As one of today’s buyers who like to research more than ever before they buy, a piece of content probably helped them click that “Buy” or “Schedule” or “Contact Us” button. The copy on the page playted a big role, but not the only role.

    When a piece of software arrives that lays out a company’s buyer’s journey on a platter, I’ll be the first to buy it and recommend it. Only this will help us really see what content is working and what isn’t.

    Or maybe there’s already a piece of software or system. Care to share?

    Thanks for the insight Joe!

    • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Robert…thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, the buyer’s journey is not linear and cannot be predicted. Taking a content marketing approach centers around giving your audience (subscribers) compelling content on a regular basis so that when they are ready to buy, they are more likely to buy from you. I would recommend, based on your note, that you focus on building your subscribers and then begin to do an analysis (over time) of how your subscribers are different. Do they buy more? Do they stay longer?

      For example, we at CMI know that if one of our readers engages with four different types of content, they are exponentially more likely to come to Content Marketing World each year. Now that’s powerful stuff. You just need to find your “holy grail” metric, depending on what your business objectives are. I hope this helps, and thanks for reading and sharing.

      BTW, I am simplifying the process a bit here. You can fill the gaps in the journey for sure. I wrote Epic Content Marketing to answer such questions. Not sure if you’ve checked it out our not.

      • http://robertgibb.me Robert Gibb

        Thanks for the feedback Joe. What you’re saying makes a lot of sense, so much that I just got your book on Audible. I’m looking forward to learning from it.

      • http://www.mcgrawmarketing.com/ patmcgraw

        Joe, do you do any data analysis in order to get some insight into demographics/firmagraphics, psychographics, geographic factors?

        Sounds like you have touched on some of the behavioral factors but are your ‘best buyers’ [ex] 25 to 35 years of age, college educated, married with 2 kids…holding a job title of “marketing director” or “marketing manager” for businesses with 50-99 employees and less than $100M revenue working in the manufacturing sector….

        Just wondering if that might help identify opportunities for targeting new subscribers. And also wondering what other factors might be shared amongst those that attend CMW…that might identify opportunities to increase attendance.

        • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

          Thanks Pat…we didn’t get into that amount of detail on this study, but we do work on that for CMI. Appreciate the feedback.

          • http://www.mcgrawmarketing.com/ patmcgraw

            Thanks Joe – my questions were more focused on CMI practices vs. the study itself.

    • http://raventools.com/ Nicolette Beard

      Robert,

      You can tag every content object with custom Campaign Variables and identify traffic/conversions through Google Analytics. Here’s a easy-to-use tool: http://gaconfig.com/google-analytics-url-builder/

      Also, in Google Analytics, but a little hard to find, is their Assisted Conversions. Scroll down to Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions. You’ll need to set up Goals first (http://raven.im/1vxjc8c), but there is a way to track every action along the buyer’s journey.

      • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

        Thanks Nicolette. Great stuff!

        • http://raventools.com/ Nicolette Beard

          My pleasure!

      • http://robertgibb.me Robert Gibb

        Thank you so much!

  • http://www.irissignals.com/ Kostas Chiotis

    Some very interesting data here Joe – thank you for sharing it along with your insights.

  • http://Likeableprices.me johnster0777

    Great info for both experienced and newbies to content marketing.

  • https://www.rebelmouse.com/dmurrow/ Dave Murrow

    Great points in the webinar today from this research. Helped to hear more behind the numbers.

    • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks for attending Dave!

  • Sourabh

    Thank you for sharing it. I really like this.

  • Arlette Measures

    Thanks for the insights. We’ll no doubt be tweeting and commenting on these findings for weeks to come!

  • Andrea Balducci

    Thank you for the advices and insight Joe.

    Currently we focus on getting more engagement and measuring efficiently the ROIs of our campaigns.

  • http://www.amplify-interactive.com/ Ben Lloyd

    Easier said than done! Part of the process of course is to set goals (KPI’s) for your efforts of course. I think B2B marketers tend to (are forced to) focus on conversion/ROI as a metric for content. Which seems wrong to me. I included a link to this post in mine “Why You’ll Never Succeed at B2B Content Marketing” http://www.add3.com/insights/youll-never-succeed-b2b-content-marketing/

  • KeithBresee

    Hey Joe!

    Awesome and helpful insight!

    Thank you!

    Keith

  • Jennifer Smith

    Joe, your researches are always so interesting, thoughtful and engaging! I always show the ones I like the most to our team of marketers at assignmentjedii.co.uk . Thank you for your posts!