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Technology Marketers Hold Steady With Content Marketing [Exclusive Research]

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

Technology marketers are an interesting group. They report the highest adoption rate of content marketing among all groups of marketers we survey: 95%. However, they face a host of unique content marketing challenges:

  • They are tasked with creating many types of content for numerous points along a complicated, multi-layered buyer’s journey.
  • They operate in an industry where buying cycles often are long.
  • They usually require a lot of time to develop an in-depth understanding of the products and services their company offers to be able to craft content that’s easy for their audiences to grasp.

That’s why I was encouraged to see that our latest research shows technology marketers holding steady with content marketing: They’re allocating more of their total marketing budget to content marketing, and they’re using a good mix of tactics, social media platforms, and paid methods to get their content out there.

You can find the results in B2B Technology Content Marketing 2016: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America sponsored by International Data Group.

Like other groups of marketers we’ve studied over the last six months, technology marketers reported lower overall content marketing effectiveness this year compared with last (more on that soon). On the other hand, technology marketers rated nearly all of the tactics and paid methods they use as more effective this year. This tells me they’re making progress in identifying what works.

Tech marketers rated nearly all tactics & paid methods they use as more effective this year via @cmicontent Click To Tweet

Technology marketers are facing a similar issue we saw when we analyzed how Australian marketers are using content marketing: They are doing it right, and wrong, at the same time. On the positive side, when comparing last year to this year:

  • More technology marketers have a documented content marketing strategy (36% this year vs. 33% last year), which our research consistently shows is a tool that improves effectiveness.
  • Respondents report improved effectiveness for every content tactic they are using (except research reports).
  • Effectiveness of the three primary social media channels they use (LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube) has increased.
  • All of the paid promotion tactics they use have increased in effectiveness (except for native advertising, which stayed the same).
  • There has been an increase in the average percentage of total marketing budget spent on content marketing (29% vs. 25% last year).

On the downside, technology marketers are feeling less effective overall than they were a year ago (30% feel effective compared with 34% last year).


Why is this?

As we detailed for the Australia report, there could be several reasons (of course, there may be additional reasons unique to technology marketers):

  • They aren’t giving themselves enough time.

Seventy-one percent of the most effective technology marketers (those who rated their organizations most highly in terms of content marketing effectiveness) said their organization is in the sophisticated/mature phase of content marketing.

Time to see content marketing effectiveness is especially important in the technology industry as it often has long sales cycles. You not only need to account for the time it takes to get your content marketing off the ground (18 months), but also the time it takes for someone to learn about your brand to purchase your product.

Different people are responsible for making the buying decision – so it might take time for multiple people on the buying team to get up to speed on the offering before a purchase is approved.

You can see the breakdown of which stages technology marketers are in, regardless of effectiveness:

  • They are product-focused, not audience-focused.

In many technology organizations we’ve found that even a robust content marketing strategy often takes orders from product marketing. While this is not necessarily wrong, that relationship often results in a content focus that is more about the products and services, and not necessarily on positive outcomes for the audience.

  • The story is not different.

While any brand can fall into the trap of sounding like every other brand, this issue is particularly rampant in the technology space. What is often missing is the brand’s unique perspective or content tilt.

In the technology space, what is often missing is the brand’s unique perspective, via @cmicontent #research Click To Tweet

Yes, it’s absolutely possible to break through the clutter in the technology space and build a loyal audience … but not if the content is no different than anything else out there. We advise technology marketers to narrow their audience and content focus to find an area where they can be the leading experts and can become thought leaders around a particular issue, instead of just putting lipstick on the same old content pig.

  • Too much organizational change happens.

Consider this response we received from a technology marketer survey respondent when we asked, “In your organization, is it clear what an effective or successful content marketing program looks like?”:

Our efforts have gone backward in the past year because of various organizational issues. So, while we know what ‘success’ looks like from past efforts, we’ve lost some capability as we plow through our merger/reorganization/reset efforts.

In the past, we were able to draw lines from specific content efforts to MQLs/SQLs and then to revenue; we were, therefore, able to quantify what worked and what needed tuning, both from a content perspective and channel/syndication/SSEO perspective (internal and external). I am hopeful we will regain our ability to do so next year.”

This marketer’s challenge isn’t uncommon. That’s why it’s so important to have designated content marketing champions in place within the enterprise.

For more insights into how technology marketers approach content marketing, download the entire report. You’ll learn about their goals for content marketing over the next 12 months, the metrics they use to measure success, their top priorities for internal content creators, and more.

If you’re a technology marketer, do your experiences align with the research findings? Are you facing organizational issues that are impacting your content marketing? How are you dealing with them?

Join us at Content Marketing World 2016 for a one-day industry lab dedicated to technology marketing.

Cover image by Lisa Lehman/Content Marketing Institute