By Joe Pulizzi published January 28, 2015

B2B Small-Business Marketers: Increased Focus on Leads and Conversion [New Research]

2015_B2B_SmallBiz_Cover Since October, we’ve been sharing the results of our annual content marketing research, and today we focus on B2B small-business marketers (10-99 employees) based in North America.

B2B Small Business Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America, sponsored by Rainmaker Platform by Copyblogger Media, shows how small-business marketers have changed their content marketing practices over the last year. It also contains new insights based on questions added to the survey this year.

Let’s look at some of the findings.

Many are focused on improving website conversions

Nine out of 10 B2B small-business marketers are focused on doing a better job of converting visitors to their websites. This is a higher percentage than we found with larger-sized companies (e.g., 84% of enterprise marketers say they will work on conversion over the next 12 months). This positive trend aligns with another finding: Small-business marketers are increasingly focused on lead generation. (Lead generation surpassed brand awareness this year as the most cited goal.)

2015_B2B_26_1 Conversion Image 1

2015_B2B_10_1 Goals Chart Image 2

The use of social media, blogs, and infographics is increasing

More B2B small-business marketers are using social media content other than blogs as a content marketing tactic. Even though social media was the tactic used most often last year, the percentage using it this year grew even more (88% last year vs. 93% this year). The other two areas where we saw the biggest usage increases are:

  • Blogs – 77% last year vs. 87% this year
  • Infographics – 48% last year vs. 60% this year

2015_B2B_15_1 Tactics Image 3

More than half of small-business marketers are increasing their spending

Fifty-five percent of B2B small-business marketers say they will spend more on their content marketing over the next 12 months, including 53% of that group who say they are least effective at content marketing.

2015_B2B_23_1 Spending Image 4

B2B small-business marketers are feeling more challenged in ALL areas

While many marketers are feeling more challenged with certain aspects of content marketing this year, B2B small-business marketers are feeling more challenged in every single area. The challenge of finding trained content marketing professionals saw the largest percentage of growth (11% said it was a challenge last year vs. 31% this year). If you are facing difficulties in this area, read some suggestions from the CMI community.

2015_B2B_24_1 Challenges Image 5

Where should B2B small businesses go from here?

No one can do everything well at the same time. While this applies to any kind of business, it’s especially true for small businesses. Every business is different, but for many it’s key to focus on four initiatives:

  • Understand your audience.
  • Develop a documented content marketing strategy.
  • Create a subscription model.
  • Understand what is effective.

Read the entire report to learn the answers to these questions and more:

  • Which metrics do B2B small-business marketers use to measure content marketing success?
  • What are the most effective social media platforms they use?
  • How often do they publish new content?
  • What paid methods do they use to distribute content?

What do you think of this year’s findings? Let us know in the comments. See all of our annual research published thus far and subscribe to our email to get notified of new research and understand the “whys” and the “what’s next” from the research.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/CMI

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

  • Loz James

    Thanks Joe

    These hard numbers based on real, meaningful research are always an eye-opener.

    As small businesses are my main target audience, some of these findings are gold dust – especially the increase in spending, which means content marketing is still a growth industry.

    The focus on creating a subscription based business model is also key here in terms of enhancing cash flow – which can be a big problem for many small firms. The need for small business content marketing skills/training is also crucial in this context.

    Anyway, I appreciate your taking the time to put all these excellent and helpful stats together.



    • Clifton Lobo

      Very true! These findings are gold dust.

  • Riyad

    Great Article

  • Leah Hackleman-Good

    You say, “The challenge of finding trained content marketing professionals saw the largest percentage of growth (11% said it was a challenge last year vs. 31% this year).” Since it’s such a new field, what do you mean by “trained”? I’m curious about how good information designers can find all these businesses who are looking for us!

  • Kaitlyn Reeves

    Am I the only one having trouble viewing the Slideshare deck embedded at the end of the post?

    • Cathy McPhillips

      Hi Kaitlyn,

      Sorry you’re having trouble. We’ve tried on our end and can’t replicate the trouble you’re having. If you click on the title of the presentation underneath the embed, that will take you right to SlideShare where you can also view there. If you don’t mind, shoot me an email with your browser info and the trouble you’re seeing, and I’ll connect with SlideShare’s tech team. Thanks! I can be reached at If you need anything else, please let me know!

      • Kaitlyn Reeves

        The embedded presentation is working now — thanks! I tried going directly to Slideshare, but it says it’s marked private.

        • Cathy McPhillips

          Try now – I’m sorry for this!

          • Kaitlyn Reeves

            No worries! It works wonderfully now, thank you! 🙂

  • Ahmad Munawar

    Great findings.

    Question about demographics: is professional services a subset of consulting?

    In previous years I recall professional services had its own vertical. Not so anymore?

  • Nick Assafiri

    Thanks Joe Pulizzi for this great writeup. I would like to say that basing on my years of working with small businesses, they are not fully aware of the cycle of lead generation and conversion, but inadvertently, they are engaging on it based on their prospect and negotiations for acquisition on certain goods and services. These concepts of focusing on nurturing leads and how to optimise conversion will help small business owners realize the benefits of aligning them for their unique goals.

  • Clifton Lobo

    Nice post! There are so many tools online these days to increase online conversions. I’d like to highlight the use of pop-ups and live chat services like that provide video and voice communications through the website. Popups are very effective, although I fear that they will become too common that the audience will begin to ignore them.