By Joe Pulizzi published December 5, 2011

2012 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends [Research Report]

Last year, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs published a popular study on B2B content marketing and repeated the research survey this year to see how the field is changing.

Here is B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Budgets, Benchmarks and Trends.

It was no surprise to us that content marketing remains a top priority for marketers in 2012. Many of the statistics and results are consistent with what we saw last year:

  • 9 out of 10 organizations market with content marketing.
  • On average, B2B marketers employ eight different content marketing tactics to achieve their goals.
  • Marketers, on average, spend over a quarter of their marketing budget on content marketing (see the full budget breakdowns in the report).

But, we’re seeing a lot of changes as well.

Increased adoption rate for some tactics

Just as we found in last year’s study, article posting and social media (excluding blogs) are the most popular tactics and are currently used by 79% and 74% of B2B marketers, respectively.

B2B Content Marketing Tactics 2012

But, there are a number of tactics that are seeing an increased adoption rate:

  • Blogs (27% increase)
  • White papers (19% increase)
  • Videos (27% increase)

Marketers are using social media more frequently

As we saw last year, Twitter is the most popular social media channel with content marketers. Every social media channel is seeing increased adoption, often by 15-20%:

  • YouTube: 47% increase
  • LinkedIn: 39% increase
  • Twitter: 35% increase
  • Facebook: 30% increase

Content marketers are becoming more effective

Last year, we asked marketers to assess how confident they consider their usage of each tactic to be.  This year it’s clear that marketers are more confident in how well they are using these tactics — around just about every tactic. While in-person events and webinars are still seen as the most effective tactics, on average, the following ranked notably higher in perceived effectiveness compared to our last report:

  • Blogs: 45% increase
  • Case studies: 32% increase
  • Videos: 36% increase
  • Webinars/webcasts: 25% increase

Content marketing spend is increasing

Rising confidence in the effectiveness of content marketing seems to be spurring marketers
 to dedicate more budget to this strategy. On average, 60% of respondents indicate that they plan to increase their content marketing budgets over the next 12 months. This compares to 51% of marketers who were planning to increase their budgets in the previous study.

More marketers are outsourcing 

As content marketing budgets increase, so too does the percentage of companies that outsource. Last year, only 55% of marketers used outsourcing in some capacity. This year, 62% of B2B marketers use a mix of insourced and outsourced content.

Download the full report: B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends.

What findings in the research are most interesting to you? Let us know in the comments!

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

  • Deana Goldasich

    Wow! I’ve only skimmed but plan to delve even deeper at lunch. I was surprised at the jump in Twitter AND LinkedIn usage. LinkedIn always seems to be the “unsexy” network, yet so powerful for B2Bs. Thank you Joe and Ann (and CMI!) for another incredibly useful and relevant report!

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Deana…I agree, some surprising numbers here.  I really feel this report can help a lot of people…thanks for spreading the word.

      • Anonymous

        Use of every social media channel is UP … but 50% of marketers are not confident in the results being generated by social media, compared to other forms of content:( WHY?

        Maybe it’s because social media is still the hardest to MEASURE in relation to the time it takes — no one metric connects the dots between sales and social media, hence the confidence gap.

        What do you think?

        • Deana Goldasich

          Exactly my thought, Rhonda. Measuring Social is tough. But measuring the effectiveness of *content* shared through social is a bit easier. That’s why those engaging in social without a true content strategy struggle more. We’re definitely focusing more on measuring true leads in the end and viewing social as a distribution method first, and as a lead nurturing method second. Sometimes tracing the lead back to a social network can even be challenging. We usually trace leads to a blog post, white paper or case study instead.

  • John sonnhalter

    Joe as usual good stuff. thanks for sharing

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks John!

  • Red Rocket Media

    Really good post Joe – very easy on the eye too. We recently conducted a UK based survey and also found that a large number (41%) plan to increase their social media spend in 2012 so positive signals all round.

    I have become a big fan of LinkedIn myself (not having used it prior to working at Red Rocket Media) – a great tool for B2B.Of course, pleased to hear that outsourcing is on the up :o)Michelle

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Michele…yep, as more companies get involved in content creation, they need a lot of help to make it all happen.  Execution is key!

  • Mike Roberts (MrobertsOnline)

    I love having numbers like these to put in my arsenal to show clients the validity of these strategies. Thank you for sharing and putting this data together Joe!

  • Worob

    These numbers are good, but do you have any examples/info on why these companies are putting more resources into these channels? Also, how can B2B brands measure the effectiveness of a new blog, for example? 

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi there…here is a link to what content marketing is and some rationale for the change…  Regarding effectiveness, as always, it depends on the goal of the blog (retention, lead generation, cross sell, customer service, etc.).  Here is a ROI framework that may help.

      • Worob

        Excellent information on those articles. Appreciate it, Joe

        @Worob:twitter PR at Sunrise 

  • Margaret Molloy

    Joe: Excellent post. Thanks for sharing the data. @MargaretMolloy.  

  • Romero Cavalcanti

    Thanks for sharing such an amazing explanation through nicely built presentation. Greetings from Brazil.

  • Alan Graner

    Rhonda, you hit on a key fact. So much of marketing isn’t measurable, advertising (except dm) and public relations being two examples. Even if sales increase, you can’t state definitely it was the result of blogging/articles/website/advertising/PR etc., that caused the spike. The only real measurement would be to ask customers directly why they bought from you, which often isn’t practical (or affordable).

  • Sean McColgan

    This is awesome data Joe – thanks for putting this all together. 

    A great year ahead for all creative content producers and another great year for the Content Marketing Institute! 

    Notice no data on infographic usage in 2011 – even though a lot of B2B marketers used this as a tactic for brand awareness and traffic generation. Any data to share of B2B adoption in the data viz space?

    Have a great 2012 🙂

  • Diana

    Thank you so much for this info, very interesting. This helps me tremendously with my bending the ears of died in the wool CEO’s who just think it’s all nonsense.


  • Jason

    The research certainly gives a little extra job security for those of us who make our living as content creators/marketers.

    • nadia

      What industry to do specialize in? 

  • Jeff Dennis

    Ahhhh!  Too much great info. Gotta get the book.  Thanks for your information!

  • Tilak Kumar

    Thanks for giving wonderful post

  • Marko Salo

    This is great report,i seen it manage very well,and i agree that content marketing are becoming  more effective which is very cool.

  • Poonam Takte

    Hi All,

    Really agree with.Great report &  manage very well.
    Regards,Poonam Takte

  • Angelesnoel

    Hi Joe,

    This post was really what I needed! great, great, ( i cannot say it enough) great post… 

    I had some questions though: You did this research on how many companies? What kind of companies? Are all these companies established in the States?

    Kindest regards

    It Is Said That A Pen Is Mightier Than A Sword

    Noel Angeles

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Angeles…the survey was completed by approx 1,000 marketers mostly in the US.  The companies were either B2B or B2B/B2C focused from all different industries and sizes.

  • Derek Arcuri

    Hi Joe,

    Excellent report!

    What kind of metrics would one use to track the success of white papers, spec sheets and case studies? Do you have any statistics on hand?

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Derek…good question.  It actually depends on the goal of the white paper or case study.  We like to look at four metrics in every case – consumption metrics (is it being engaged with), sharing metrics, lead metrics and sales metrics.  So, for example, a white paper probably would have consumption, sharing and lead metrics, but not sales metrics.  A case study might have consumption and sales metrics, but not the other two.

      I hope that helps a bit.

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  • John Rugh

    Joe,thanks for posting this. Since I’m a freelance content writer and copywriter, I’m super excited to hear about the increase in outsourcing! By the way, I’ve just recently bought “Epic Content Marketing” for my Kindle. Looking forward to devouring it!

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks so much John…let me know what you think of it!

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