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Tech Content Marketers Talk Content Creation Challenges, Tools, and Trends [New Research]

Editor’s note: We’ve updated our annual study of content marketing at technology companies for 2024.

Does any industry face a more complex audience journey and marketing/sales process than B2B technology? Consider the number of people who influence a sale, the length of the decision-making cycle, the competing interests of the people who purchase, implement, manage, and use the technology. It’s a lot.

Whether or not they have the most difficult jobs, tech content marketers feel the challenge of that complexity. In CMI’s latest research, 68% of tech content marketers named creating content that appeals to multiple roles as their top challenge.

Top challenge for 68% of #tech content marketers: creating content for multiple roles. @CMIContent #research Share on X

Despite this, many tech marketers think well of their content marketing programs: 75% say their organization’s content marketing is more successful compared with its performance a year ago.

These are a few of the findings in Technology Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends sponsored by IDG Communications, Inc. The new report looks at responses from 364 content marketers at for-profit technology companies who participated in the ninth annual Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs survey conducted in June/July 2018. The respondents include tech marketers at B2B (85%), B2C (3%), and B2B and B2C companies (12%).

Here’s what else they told us about how they use content marketing.

Struggle to create content for multiple roles is real

I mentioned that 68% of tech content marketers overall say they struggle to create content that appeals to multiple roles. And that makes sense, considering the many people in distinct roles who influence a tech purchase.

This finding is one of the few in which the tech content marketers who consider themselves very/extremely successful (labeled top performers in the chart below) struggle almost as much as everyone else (66% vs. 68%).

Only one other finding saw the difference between top performers and the overall respondent set at less than 10 percentage points: 91% of tech content marketers who are top performers say their organization cares about creating content to build customer loyalty as compared to 82% of all tech marketers.

Click to enlarge

Difficulty surfaces at the bottom of the funnel

Only 53% of tech marketers said they used content marketing successfully to build customer loyalty over the previous year. That success is a lot less than their reported success for early funnel goals – creating brand awareness (84%), generating demand/leads (80%), and educating audiences (74%).

Only 53% of tech marketers use #content successfully to build customer loyalty. @CMIContent #research Share on X

Interestingly, 73% of top performers reported success using content marketing at the customer loyalty stage. What’s behind that 20-point disparity between the top performers and all performers?

One possible explanation lies in the area of crafting content for the stages of the buyer journey. While nearly all (90%) of the top performers said they always/frequently do this, fewer tech marketers overall (62%) always/frequently craft content for specific stages. Given how people’s informational needs in the earlier stages differ dramatically from the support needed once they near or make a decision, tailoring content to where your audience is in the process is a smart move.

Tailoring #content to where your audience is in the buying process is a smart move, says @KMoutsos. Share on X

If you’re working to understand what your audience, potential buyers, or customers need, dig into these resources for help:

Most have (literal and proverbial) tools to meet challenges

Yes, tech marketers feel pressure to meet the complex needs of the diverse roles among their audienc­es across their journeys. The good news is they are working with a lot of the tools they need to succeed.

Audience research

Many (65%) said they use personas, and another 20% planned to use them by the end of 2018.

And they use a variety of methods to research their audience needs: 80% use sales team feedback and 71% check website analytics. Just over half (55%) communicate directly with customers through conversations or customer panels.

55% of #tech content marketers research their audience by talking to customers. @CMIContent #research Share on X

Nurture tactics and content

If you’re thinking about joining a tech company’s content marketing team, brush up on your email skills. Nearly every tech marketer (92%) said they use email to nurture their audiences.

Nearly every #tech marketer (92%) said they use #email to nurture audiences, says @KMoutsos. @cmicontent #research Share on X

That’s not all they do, of course: 79% say they create educational content for nurturing and 67% use in-person events.

Email and educational content come in many forms. Not surprisingly, plenty of tech marketers (64%) reported increased use of video compared to the previous year. But nearly as many (63%) said they increased their use of written digital content like articles, blog posts, and e-books. And more than a third (37%) said they increased their use of podcasts and audio books.

Content technology

Marketers in tech companies aren’t lacking for content technology. Most tech marketers (85%) said they use social media publishing and analytics tools and 82% reported using email marketing software. Other technologies widely used by tech marketers include:

But are tech marketers more proficient with content tech than other marketers? Yes, tech marketers have an edge.

Thirty-six percent of tech marketers described their organization’s proficiency with the use of content marketing technology as expert/advanced. Another 39% described their proficiency as intermediate.

Compare that to the enterprise marketer segment we recently explored. Only 24% rated their organization’s proficiency with using content marketing technology as expert or advanced (that’s one-third less than tech marketers), and 38% considered their proficiency to be at the intermediate level.

How does your experience compare?

The marketers in this research seem to have most of what they need to handle the tricky challenges inherent in technology marketing. They’re doing the audience research they need, they’re nurturing those audiences, and they’ve got technologies (and skills) to apply. How does that compare to your experience working at a tech company (or in content marketing in general)?

Download the Technology Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report for more details on:

  • Challenges unique to tech marketing
  • Budget and spending trends
  • Goals and metrics in use

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute