Skip to content

What Effective B2B Content Marketing Looks Like [New Research]

Editor’s note: We’ve updated our annual B2B research study for 2024.

It’s that time of year again when we release the findings of our annual content marketing survey. Over the years, we’ve talked a lot about effectiveness. But this year, while our team was discussing new questions for the survey, we stepped back and wondered – how many companies even know what effectiveness looks like?

The answer may (or may not) surprise you. Get this: 55% of business-to-business (B2B) marketers said that it is unclear within their organization what an effective or successful content marketing program looks like.

Regardless, what’s great about the research is that we can examine how the most-effective marketers are going about their business so we can learn from them.

Let’s take a look at some of the key findings from the report, B2B Content Marketing 2016: Benchmarks, Budgets, and TrendsNorth America, produced by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, and sponsored by Brightcove.

Effectiveness increases when the team understands what success looks like


Last year, 38% of B2B marketers said they were effective at content marketing vs. 30% this year. While perhaps the industry is approaching a trough of disillusionment (which isn’t necessarily a surprising or bad thing – and was something I mentioned in my opening address at Content Marketing World 2015), companies that report being clear on what success or effectiveness looks like also show a higher effectiveness rate (55%).

32% of B2B marketers are sophisticated/mature with content marketing


Learn more about what success looks like in today’s organizations in our B2B research roundtable discussion on the topic.

Effectiveness also increases as the organization’s content marketing grows in maturity. Sixty-four percent in the sophisticated/mature phase say they are effective at content marketing, 23% in the adolescent phase say they are effective at content marketing, and 6% in the young/first-steps phase say they are effective at content marketing. Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts so you can understand what more-experienced content marketers are doing.

Communication is key


Obviously, knowing what content marketing success looks like to the organization is beneficial, but the most-effective marketers do even more. (Note: Most-effective marketers are defined as those who rate their organization’s content marketing effectiveness with a 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale.)

The most-effective marketers are more likely than less-effective marketers to document their content marketing strategy, have a documented editorial mission statement, and hold regular meetings. In fact, 61% of the most-effective B2B marketers meet daily or weekly with their content marketing team either virtually or in person. Furthermore, those who meet daily or weekly find the meetings to be more valuable (70%) than those who meet biweekly or monthly (49%).

Work still needs to be done on documenting strategies and missions


For the last two years we’ve shown the positive impact that documenting the content marketing strategy has on a marketer’s overall effectiveness. But B2B marketers have made less progress in this area over the last year. As our fifth annual study (B2B Content Marketing 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America) revealed, 35% of B2B marketers had a documented content marketing strategy, compared with 32% this year.

Download our 16-page guide to learn how to document your content marketing strategy.

New this year, we asked if content marketers are documenting their editorial missions: 28% are, but that percentage increases with effectiveness — 48% of the most-effective have a documented editorial mission statement. (For more insights about creating your editorial mission statement, check out our B2B research roundtable discussion on the topic.)

Read the entire report for more details on these and many more findings, including:

  • Which tactics, social media platforms, and paid methods of content promotion are marketers using? Which are the most effective?
  • What is the most important metric for measuring content marketing success?
  • How much budget do they allocate to content marketing?
  • Which content offers are they asking people to subscribe to?
  • Which goals will they be focusing on over the next 12 months?
  • What the top priorities are for B2B content creators in the coming year — and which ones are falling out of favor?

What do you think of the findings? What does effective or successful content marketing look like in your organization? Let us know in the comments.

Over the coming weeks, CMI will be discussing these findings in more depth. To keep up to date, subscribe to our blog posts.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute