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How Technology Marketers Lead the Way in AI Experimentation [New Research]

In a 20-minute demo, the sales engineer deftly clicked through the interface, configured a new image set, assigned the metadata, and set the rights-management properties. He logged in as different users to demonstrate a sophisticated workflow. Then, he published an asset and showed how the system presented it in channel-specific formats.

No fewer than five times, he mentioned how “easy” it was for the business user to do what once only experts could do.

I interrupted him. “Here’s the thing,” I said, “That isn’t easy for someone who doesn’t understand what you’re doing.”  

As technology marketers, what you offer to the world seems simple from the outside. You provide a new tool to help your customers do something they couldn’t before acquiring it. But the more amazing the thing they can now do, the more skilled they usually need to be at using it.

Said another way, a chainsaw in the hands of a lumberjack is a simple tool. But in my hands? It’s an ER trip waiting to happen.  

Today, businesses work with some of the most sophisticated digital technology and interfaces in any industry. But that doesn’t make technology easier to market. It still involves a complex and difficult journey made more challenging by how quickly things change.

We looked at the answers of 272 technology marketers who responded to CMI’s July 2023 survey to find out. (For more information about the full study of 1,084 marketers, see B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends.)

One not-too-surprising finding: Tech content marketers outpace their marketing peers in AI use. More than two-thirds (79%) of tech marketers say they use AI compared with 72% of B2B marketers as a whole and only 58% of enterprise marketers. 

What else to expect this year? Technology marketers say they’ll focus on these things in 2024:

  • Increasing traffic, leads, and sales
  • Nurturing existing clients
  • Leveraging AI for content creation while ensuring authentic, quality content
  • Enhancing content creation processes and systems
  • Focusing on thought leadership
  • Measuring content performance and value.

The most common trends mentioned center around:

  • AI proliferation in content creation — with concerns about authenticity and oversaturation.
  • Authenticity and uniqueness — valuing human-created content that stands out from AI-generated noise, prioritizing quality over quantity.
  • AI’s impact on SEO and content ranking — changes in SEO strategies to accommodate AI algorithms, emphasizing FAQ-oriented and thought leadership content.
  • Increased personalization — hyper-personalized content delivery using AI-driven tools to cater to individual personas or niche segments.

Let’s look deeper into the research sponsored by Foundry, an IDG, Inc. company.

Table of contents

AI use

Team structure

Content marketing challenges

Use of content types, distribution channels, and paid channels

Social media use

Content management and operations

Measurement and goals

Success factors

Budgets and spending

Action steps


AI use: 79% of technology marketers use generative tools

Many respondents predicted a rise in the use of AI to generate content. In fact, 79% say they already use AI for content-related tasks. How?

More than half (53%) use generative AI to brainstorm new topics. Around half use the tools to write drafts (48%) and research headlines and keywords (43%). Fewer said they use AI to outline assignments (29%), proofread (19%), generate graphics/images (10%), and create videos (7%) and audio (7%).

Most don’t pay for generative AI tools (yet)

Of those using generative AI tools, 88% use free tools (e.g., ChatGPT). Thirty-seven percent use tools embedded in their content creation/management systems, and 30% pay for tools like Writer and Jasper.

AI in content remains mostly ungoverned

When asked if their organizations have guidelines for using generative AI tools, 26% said yes, 63% said no, and 11% were unsure.

“Change, especially rapid change, is not something most organizations adapt to quickly,” says Yadin Porter de León, global content marketing executive. “The capabilities of generative AI tools currently represent a form of rapid change that very few people can even grasp. So, it’s no surprise that very few companies have created or communicated guidelines for its use … because they don’t know how.” 

Yadin says marketers should:

  • Educate your team members so that they can be, at the very least, AI-literate.
  • Establish an AI council to organize activities across the organization.
  • Establish clear policies and guidelines for using AI.
  • Identify use cases for the business and run pilot projects guided by those principles.

How AI is changing SEO

In the open-ended responses, several respondents predicted AI’s significant impact on SEO. How will AI’s integration in search engines shift technology marketers’ SEO strategy? Here’s what we found:

Twenty-seven percent say they’re not doing any of those things, while 29% say they’re unsure, suggesting that many may be doing little to nothing.

Now is the time to act.

Ryan Brock, chief solution officer at DemandJump, says, “The days of building a keyword list based on metrics like search volume are over … at least for now. Until the dust settles and we collectively figure out what kinds of answers we trust Bard (now known as Gemini) with and which ones will always require a more thoughtful comparison of sources to find, we’ve got to use topical authority as the North Star for our tactical content decisions.”

Ryan thinks of it this way: “I’m still going to be working to answer basic questions as part of my pillar content strategy, but I also acknowledge that answering them works more to build a foundation of topical authority than to drive immediate, convertible traffic.

“Those traffic and conversion-driving queries will become harder to come by than they’ve ever been, so when I find one I need to rank well for, I should be able to do so quickly and efficiently. Competing on a query-by-query level just doesn’t work when every business in a sector sees the same dwindling number of targets.

“Building interconnected, ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ style networks of pillar content is the best way to lay the proper topical authority foundation so you can rank fast when you find a term that’s ripe for true thought leadership.”

Team structure: How does the work get done?

Generative AI isn’t the only issue affecting content marketing these days. We also asked marketers about how they organize their teams.

Among larger technology companies (100-plus employees), more than half (54%) say content requests go through a centralized content team. Others say each department/brand produces its own content (22%), and the departments/brand/products share responsibility (20%). Three percent indicate other, while 1% say they outsource it.

Content strategies integrate with marketing, comms, and sales

Seventy percent say their organizations integrate content strategy into the overall marketing sales/communication/strategy, and 2% say it’s integrated into another strategy. Fourteen percent say content in marketing is a stand-alone strategy, and 4% say it’s a stand-alone strategy for all content produced by the company. Eight percent say they don’t have a content strategy. The remaining 2% say other or are unsure.

Employee churn means new teammates; content teams experience enlightened leadership

Thirty-three percent of technology marketers say team members resigned in the last year, 28% say team members were laid off, and about half (51%) say they had new team members acclimating to their ways of working.

While team members come and go, the understanding of content doesn’t. Fifty percent strongly agree, and 30% somewhat agree that the leader to whom their content team reports understands the work they do. Only 14% disagree. The remaining 6% neither agree nor disagree.

And remote work seems well-tolerated: Only 21% say collaboration is challenging due to remote or hybrid work.

Content marketing challenges: The right content, lack of resources

Most technology marketers (61%) cite creating the right content for their audience as a challenge.

Other content creation challenges include differentiating content (58%), creating content consistently (49%), creating quality content (43%), optimizing for SEO (43%), creating enough content to keep up with internal demand (40%), and creating content that requires technical skills (36%). One in four (25%) say they are challenged to create enough content to keep up with external demand.

Other hurdles

The most frequently cited non-creation challenge, by far, is a lack of resources (66%), followed by aligning content efforts across sales and marketing (52%) and aligning content with the buyer’s journey (52%). Forty-five percent say they have difficulty accessing subject matter experts, and 44% say they are challenged with workflow issues/content approval processes. Only 28% cite keeping up with new technologies as a challenge, 27% pick a lack of strategy, 12% say keeping up with privacy rules, and 13% point to tech integration issues.

Use of content types, distribution channels, and paid channels: Staying at the top

We asked technology marketers about the types of content they produce, their distribution channels, and paid content promotion. We also asked which formats and channels produce the best results.

Popular content types and formats

As in the previous year, the three most popular content types are short articles/posts (96%), case studies/customer stories (93%), and videos (90%). Eighty-two percent use thought leadership e-books/white papers, 81% use long articles/posts, 63% use data visualizations/visual content, 62% use product/technical data sheets, and 56% use research reports. Less than half of technology marketers use brochures (45%), interactive content (35%), livestreaming content (34%), and audio content (31%).

Effective content types and formats

Which formats are most effective?

Fifty-nine percent say case studies/customer stories deliver some of the best results. Almost as many (57%) name thought leadership e-books/white papers. Slightly more than half say research reports (53%) and videos (51%).

Popular content distribution channels

Regarding the channels used to distribute content, 90% use blogs and social media platforms (organic), followed by webinars (79%), email newsletters (78%), and email (74%). Sixty-four percent use in-person events, and 58% use digital events.

Less frequently used channels include:

  • Microsites (40%)
  • Podcasts (30%)
  • Hybrid events (24%)
  • Branded online communities (23%)
  • Digital magazines (21%)
  • Direct mail (19%)
  • Online learning platform (18%)
  • Print magazines (12%)
  • Mobile apps (7%)
  • Separate content brands (3%).

Effective content distribution channels

Which channels perform the best? Most surveyed tech marketers point to webinars (56%) and in-person events (53%). Forty-four percent say blogs, 43% pick email, and 37% say social media platforms (organic).

Popular paid content channels

When technology marketers pay to promote content, which channels do they invest in? Ninety-three percent use paid content distribution channels.

Of those, 77% use social media advertising/promoted posts, 71% use sponsorships, 70% use search engine marketing/pay-per-click, and 66% use digital display advertising. Around one in three use native advertising (38%) and partner emails (33%). Far fewer invest in print display advertising (11%).

Effective paid content channels

Search engine marketing and pay-per-click produce good results, according to 61% of tech marketers. Fifty-three percent say sponsorships deliver good results, followed by social media advertising/promoted posts (43%) and partner emails (34%).

Social media use: One platform rises way above

When asked which organic social media platforms deliver the best value for their organization, technology marketers (92%) pick LinkedIn. Twenty-seven percent cite YouTube as a top performer, 18% say Facebook, and 10% pick Instagram and Twitter. Only 1% cite TikTok.

It makes sense that 73% say they increased their use of LinkedIn over the last 12 months, while only 36% boosted their YouTube presence, 19% increased Instagram use, 15% grew their Facebook presence, 12% increased X use, and 9% increased TikTok use.

Which platforms are marketers giving up? Did you guess X? You’re right — 34% of marketers say they decreased their X use. Twenty-four percent reduced their use of Facebook, with 14% decreasing on Instagram and YouTube, 3% pulling back on TikTok, and only 2% decreasing their use of LinkedIn.

Interestingly, we saw a significant rise in technology marketers who use TikTok: 17% say they use the platform, which is triple from last year (5%).

Content management and operations: The right tech isn’t a guarantee

To explore how teams manage content, we asked tech marketers about their technology use and investments and the challenges they face scaling their content.

Content management technology

Among the technologies used to manage content, technology marketers point to:

  • Analytics tools (82%)
  • Social media publishing/analytics (73%)
  • Email marketing software (71%)
  • Content creation/calendaring/collaboration/workflow (66%)
  • Content management system (58%)
  • Customer relationship management system (57%)
  • Marketing automation system (38%)
  • Sales enablement platform (30%)
  • Digital asset management (DAM) system (24%)

But having technology doesn’t mean it’s the right technology (or its capabilities are used). Only 29% say they have the right tech to manage content across the organization. Thirty-two percent say they have the technology but aren’t using its potential, and 28% say they haven’t acquired the right technology. Eleven percent are unsure.

Even so, 40% of technology marketers say their organization is likely to invest in new technology in 2024; however, another 39% say it’s unlikely. Twenty-one percent say their organization is neither likely nor unlikely to invest.

Scaling content production

This year, we introduced a new question to understand what challenges technology marketers face while scaling content production.

Almost half (49%) say it’s a lack of communication across silos, and the same number say it’s not enough content repurposing. Thirty-one percent say they have no structured content production process, and 29% say they lack an editorial calendar with clear deadlines. Six percent say scaling is not a current focus.

Among the other hurdles are difficulty locating digital content assets (19%), translation/localization issues (17%), technology issues (15%), and no style guide (13%).

Measurement and goals: Generating sales and revenue rises

Almost half (43%) of technology marketers agree their organization measures content performance effectively — but the same amount (43%) disagree. Thirteen percent neither agree nor disagree. Only 1% say they don’t measure content performance.

The four most frequently used metrics to assess content performance are conversions (77%), website traffic (73%), email engagement (72%), and website engagement (70%). Sixty percent say they rely on quality of leads, 58% use social media analytics, 55% rely on search ratings, and 52% say quantity of leads. Less than half use tracking the cost to acquire a lead, subscriber, and/or customer (32%) and email subscribers (31%).

The most common challenge measuring content performance experienced by technology marketers is integrating/correlating data across multiple platforms (88%), followed by extracting insights from data (82%), tying performance data to goals (81%), organizational goal setting (73%), and lack of training (71%).

Among the goals assisted by content marketing, 82% of technology marketers say it created brand awareness in the last 12 months. Eighty percent say it helped generate demands/leads, 71% say it helped nurture subscribers/audiences/leads, and 61% say it helped generate sales revenue (up from 48% the previous year).

Less than half say it helped grow loyalty with existing clients/customers (46%), grow a subscribed audience (42%), and reduce customer support costs (14%).

Success factors: Know your audience

To separate top performers from the pack, we asked technology marketers to assess the success of their content marketing.

Twenty-seven percent rate the organization’s success as extremely or very successful. Another 58% report moderate success, and 15% feel minimally or not at all successful.

The most common factor for successful technology marketers is knowing their audience (81%).

That success factor makes sense because “creating the right content for our audience” is the top challenge. Top-performing content marketers prioritize knowing their audiences to create the right content for those audiences.

Top performers also set goals that align with their organization’s objectives (74%), have a documented strategy (67%), and collaborate with other teams (64%). Thought leadership (62%) and effectively measuring and demonstrating content performance (59%) also help top technology performers reach content marketing success.

Several other dimensions identify the differentiators of top technology performers:

  • 75% of the most successful say they’re backed by leaders who understand their work. In contrast, just 50% of all tech respondents feel their leaders understand.
  • They’re less likely to report a lack of resources (57% of top performers say they lack resources vs. 66% of all tech content marketers).
  • They’re more likely to have the right content management technologies. About half (49%) of the top performers say they have the technology they need, compared with 29% of all tech marketers.
  • Nearly three-fourths (74%) of top performers say they measure content performance effectively, compared with 43% of the whole set of tech marketers.
  • They are more likely to use content marketing successfully to create brand awareness (96% vs. 82%), nurture subscribers/audiences/leads (82% vs. 71%), generate sales/revenue (81% vs. 61%), grow loyalty with existing customers/clients (64% vs. 46%), and grow a subscribed audience (57% vs. 42%).

Little difference exists between top performers and all respondents when it comes to the adoption of generative AI tools and related guidelines.

Budgets and spending: Holding steady

To explore budget plans for 2024, we asked technology marketers about their knowledge of their organization’s budget/budgeting process for content marketing. Of the 53% who have knowledge of their budgets, we followed up to assess the specifics.

Content marketing as a percentage of total marketing spend

Here’s what they say about the total marketing budget (excluding salaries):

  • 18% say content marketing consumes at least one-fourth of the total marketing budget.
  • More than one in three (37%) indicate that 10% to 24% of the marketing budget goes to content marketing.
  • Just under half (45%) say less than 10% of the marketing budget goes to content marketing.

Content marketing budget outlook for 2024

Forty-eight percent think their content marketing budget will increase this year compared with 2023, whereas 39% think it will stay the same. Only 7% think it will decrease, and 6% are unsure.

Where will the budget go?

Next, we asked where respondents plan to increase their spending.

Sixty-nine percent of technology marketers say they would increase their investment in video, followed by in-person events (60%), thought leadership content (54%), webinars (41%), paid advertising (40%), online community building (27%), audio content (22%), digital events (21%), and hybrid events (11%).

Of course, content doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

Kami Buckner, HPC solutions marketing manager at Dell Technologies, notes that content must be integrated into a larger plan and support the customer journey by driving them to other content.

“Videos, in-person events, and thought leadership content may rank similarly in this survey because they are often developed to complement each other,” she says. “Thought leadership content is an important component of any event plan, and videos are an effective peripheral asset that can engage an audience to generate interest in downloading long-form thought leadership pieces, generate excitement before and after events, and be displayed at the event.”

For example, Dell developed a 15-second video to use on social media to drive viewers to a landing page, which hosted the 60-second sizzle reel to promote an upcoming event. We also:

  • Launched thought leadership content around the video and event.
  • Created and displayed another video at the event highlighting key points in the new thought leadership content that could be shared post-event.
  • Developed a virtual reality experience for the event that built credibility for Dell Technologies, both hosting and serving thought leadership content.

Action steps: What tech marketers should do

These results from tech marketers reflect what we find across other B2B organizations. You should know your audience, lean into brand awareness, integrate data across the buyer’s journey, and invest more in thought leadership, events, and video.

But what should you prioritize as a technology marketer? Given where you are in 2024 and your relationship with modern technology, put these three things at the top of your list:

  1. Lean into the brand and develop relationships early and often. Marketing pundits laugh at the idea of technology companies developing “relationships” with audiences and buyers. They cynically surmise, “Nobody wants a relationship with their hydraulic actuator provider.” That may be true, but it doesn’t relieve you from trying.

    Today’s world makes it more imperative that technology companies differentiate, not just by providing the fastest, cheapest, easiest, or most scalable product on the market. You must also differentiate by helping customers be the best versions of themselves. As I used to say to my marketing team, “Our competitive advantage isn’t that we help people become better digital asset managers; it’s that we help digital asset managers become better people.”

    That leads to the second action.

  2. Grow owned media’s importance in your products and services. A differentiating strategy provides a reason for people to engage with you outside the small portion of their lives that goes into their buying journey. Owned media experiences create an ecosystem of value for your customers in the pre- and post-buying journey, foster a competitive advantage, and celebrate the complexity your products inherently induce.

    Yes, your tools are complex and sophisticated and do amazing things. Let you be the source of how to do those things better than anyone else.

  3. Connect first-party data. How you connect your buyers’ digital interactions will be the fabric that develops better relationships with your customers. If you understand their true intentions, needs, and wants, and more importantly, how they evolve, you can optimize every experience that leads and follows a sale.

    Of course, you likely must make big changes to implement any one or all three of these action steps. An audit, where you examine all your customers’ content-driven experiences along their journey, can help you develop a plan for which ones to keep, which should change, and which should be sunset for good.

    Creating this ecosystem gives you the power to transform what is seen as overly complex and hard into a worthwhile evolution and innovation. Your technology is not there to make the customer’s journey “easy” — it’s there to make it “worth it!” 


For the 14th annual content marketing survey, CMI and MarketingProfs surveyed 1,080 recipients around the globe in July 2023, representing a range of industries, functional areas, and company sizes. The survey was emailed to a sample of marketers using lists from CMI and MarketingProfs.

This article presents the findings from the 272 respondents, mostly from North America, who indicated their organization is a technology company and that they are either content marketers or work in marketing, communications, or other roles involving content.

Of this group, 84% represent B2B companies, while 13% work for B2B+B2C brands, and 3% say they work for a tech company of a different nature. Thirty-six percent work at businesses with more than 1,000 employees, 36% work at places with between 100 and 999 employees, 23% work for brands with 10 to 99 employees, and 5% work at tech companies with between one and nine employees.

Thanks to the survey participants who made this research possible and everyone who helped disseminate these findings throughout the content marketing industry.

Interested in sharing the key takeaways from this report with your team or associates? You can download a summary here (registration required).

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

About Content Marketing Institute

Content Marketing Institute (CMI) exists to do one thing: advance the practice of content marketing through online education and in-person and digital events. We create and curate content experiences that teach marketers and creators from enterprise brands, small businesses, and agencies how to attract and retain customers through compelling, multichannel storytelling. Global brands turn to CMI for strategic consultation, training, and research. Organizations from around the world send teams to Content Marketing World, the largest content marketing-focused event, the Marketing Analytics & Data Science (MADS) conference, and CMI virtual events, including ContentTECH Summit. Our community of 215,000+ content marketers shares camaraderie and conversation. CMI is organized by Informa Connect. To learn more, visit

About Foundry, an IDG Inc. company

Foundry helps companies bring their visions to reality through a combination of media, marketing technologies and proprietary data on a global scale. Our intent data and martech platforms are powered by data from an owned and operated ecosystem of global editorial brands, awards, and events, all engineered and integrated to drive marketing campaigns for technology companies. Foundry is dedicated to generating and innovating with data, driving demand for technology marketers with 38 offices in markets around the globe. Foundry is a wholly owned subsidiary of International Data Group, Inc. (IDG), the world’s leading tech media, data, research and marketing services company. To learn more about Foundry, visit