By Joe Pulizzi published April 22, 2015

Do Larger Brands Really Have It Easier With Content Marketing? [New Research]

2015_ER_Cover_1A few weeks ago, an article on our blog generated a small debate in the comments. The article, by Neil Patel, shared eight content marketing innovations from the world’s best brands. Most of the companies featured were large, which led to a conversation about whether big companies have an advantage over small ones because they have bigger content marketing budgets.

However, our most recent research, B2B Enterprise Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, sponsored by Marketo, shows that large companies are often more challenged when it comes to content marketing. This makes perfect sense because the content marketing process is so much more complex for large enterprises with multiple divisions and product lines. Among the findings:

  • Twenty-eight percent of enterprise marketers consider themselves to be effective, compared with 40% of small-business marketers.
  • Fifteen percent say they successfully track ROI, compared with 25% of small-business marketers.
  • Enterprise marketers are more challenged with nearly every aspect of content marketing when compared with B2B marketers overall.

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Read on to discover other key findings from this year’s enterprise research.

Nearly 90% are focused on creating more engaging, higher-quality content

Enterprise marketers create a lot of content: 65% say they are producing more content than they did one year ago, but last year 75% reported they were producing more content than the previous year. How are they spending their time?

The initiative enterprise marketers cite most frequently (89%) is the effort toward creating more engaging, higher-quality content. Other top initiatives include:

  • Organizing website content
  • Developing a better understanding of what content is effective – and what isn’t
  • Creating visual content
  • Repurposing content
  • Measuring content marketing ROI
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: Get tips for every initiative content marketers are working on, including content marketing tactics, strategy, and processes.

 49% have a dedicated content marketing group

Nearly half of enterprise marketers (49%) say their company has a dedicated content marketing group. This percentage increases to 81% if the team has a documented content marketing strategy (which is one of the key factors that differentiates effective content marketers from their less effective peers).

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RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: Executive Research: How Enterprises Structure, Scale, and Spend on Content

Enterprises use more content marketing tactics than smaller companies

Of all the categories of marketers we’ve studied, enterprise marketers use the most content marketing tactics (16 on average). In-person events and videos are the tactics used most often (by 93% each). These are also the two tactics enterprise marketers say are most effective.

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Though cited more frequently, paid promotion methods aren’t always most effective

Enterprise marketers use more paid methods (an average of four) to promote content when compared with B2B marketers overall, who use an average of three paid methods. But while 74% of enterprise marketers use traditional online banner ads and 70% use print or other offline promotion, they report better results with search engine marketing, content discovery tools, promoted posts, social ads, and native advertising.

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Brand awareness continues to be top goal for content marketing

While B2B small-business marketers replaced brand awareness with lead generation as the top goal for content marketing this year, enterprise marketers rank brand awareness as their primary emphasis more frequently: 84% say it is an important goal, followed by engagement (80%), sales (79%), and lead generation (78%).

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Where do you go from here?

Enterprise marketers continue to embrace content marketing and strive to overcome its challenges. Here are a few suggestions on how to get the most from your investment in content marketing:

  • Document your strategy. (HINT: Get started with our 16-page guide on the essential questions to answer.)
  • Identify what metrics are most important across key groups and relentlessly pursue – and report on – those activities. (HINT: Consider having a single version of the truth.)
  • Remember that buy-in is not a single event. Continue to look for opportunities to share results with key decision-makers and other content marketing stakeholders. (HINT: Think about what is most important to them [e.g., number of leads, quality of leads, revenue, happy customers] and highlight those kinds of successes.)

Want to learn more? The CMI enterprise research report answers many other questions, including:

  • How many enterprise marketers have a content marketing strategy?
  • Which metrics do they use to gauge success?
  • How many audiences do they target?
  • How often do they publish new content?

Do you agree with the findings? What challenges do you face as an enterprise marketer? What advantages do you have if you work for a large brand? Let us know in the comments.

Want to follow the success of enterprise marketers who have a written content marketing strategy? Use our 16-page guide to create your documented marketing strategy.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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.

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  • Michael Brenner

    Thanks Joe, this research is so spot on. And I agree it’s a real challenge for large enterprises due to the complexity of the political environment inside large brands and the intense pressure to “always be selling.”

    In every large brand where we’ve looked, the amount of content that never gets used at all is staggering. And behind every piece of unused content is a senior executive who asked for it. Large enterprise marketers have to build the business case, document the plan, measure what’s working, but also have to constantly resist the internal pressure to create stuff no one wants. And that takes courage!

    I realize small businesses have resource constraints and their own special set of challenges. But there are plenty of examples of small business content marketing successes. I’ve got a whole list of “content hack” ideas for the small (and large) business marketer. But the main secret is to think like a publisher and only create content your audience wants.

    Producing content when you have a big budget is easy. Producing the right content for your audience on any budget is the tough part!

    Keep sharing this amazing stuff my friend!

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks for the comments and support my friend!


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  • Allen

    I don’t know if the enterprise CM has a tougher time than a small business CM, but I sure do agree that it is extremely challenging in a multi-brand, large company environment.

    I’ve experienced both sides of the debate. While they both have their issues, I think the larger company is more challenging.

    Yes, larger companies may have larger budgets to draw from, but it’s relative. The expectations are so much higher when there are more dollars/euros at stake.

    Even after the initial buy-in and training, and strategy/execution aside, it’s so difficult to keep multiple brand teams and departments trained and up-to-date on what exactly the content team is up to and why these things are being done – which is essential in creating a comprehensive content strategy and keeping everyone engaged.

    It also seems to be much more difficult to create a CULTURE of content in a larger company and be able to share content effectively throughout the organization. With attrition and turnover, it gets exponentially more difficult as you add more people to the mix.

    All in all, I think both small companies and large ones have their unique challenges. No matter the size though, we all need to continue innovating, driving forward and improving our processes to increase effectiveness and efficiency, and decrease costs and waste. If we can do that, the sky’s the limit.

  • Rhandy Adolphe

    Great article! There’s often a lot of red tape associated with “bigger brands” whereas smaller brands allow room for mistakes which tends to promote more of a creative atmosphere.

  • Peter Jensen

    Dear Joe
    When we talk is about big brands. I remember seeing the videos from Coca-cola on doing content marketing, but I have yet to see something from Coca-cola that I would think is content marketing. Can you name a few examples of epic content marketing done by Coca-cola? Thanks in advance for any help.

  • Chris Miller, MediaProsper

    Great piece! Just finding this today via a FB link. This is my experience, too. On top of the political atmosphere in larger enterprises, if there’s no one at the top who has a vision for what great content marketing can deliver, you’re always behind the 8-ball when it comes to getting things done.

    I’ve also run into managers in larger firms who were convinced that they knew everything they needed to about online content, because they were following their kids on Facebook. There are also those who equate any activity with awareness (and awareness, alone, is a fairly low bar for great content). Seriously, you almost have to charge someone a cluelessness fee when you run into attitudes like that!

    Smaller companies definitely have their challenges, too. However, give me a solo entrepreneur any day who says “I don’t know what I need to be doing, but tell me what we need to do to get results!”