Confidence is growing in the field of content marketing. That's validation for companies who are investing more time, people and money into the effort of developing custom content to market their products and services to other businesses. But according to a new report, it's essential to have a solid plan in place in order to be successful.
The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs’ fourth annual B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report was released last week.
Here are some key points:
1. Content Strategy is Essential. 44% of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy, while 49% still don't. Of those who don't, 84% said they are ineffective at content marketing.
If you are one of the 49%, how do you get started on a strategy? It's not as simple as starting a Twitter account and posting a couple of blogs. You have to identify opportunities and determine the right content channels to connect with your audience. Then you can begin creating custom content, always with the goal of generating leads and retaining customers in mind.
2. Content Marketing is Growing. The report shows more people are adopting content marketing and feeling good about their decision. Not only do 93% of marketers use content marketing this year compared to 91% last year, but 42% consider themselves effective at it. That's up from 36% last year.
3. More Tactics are Being Used. Marketers are using more channels to broadcast their message. The report revealed the average number of tactics has risen from 12 to 13. Social media, articles, newsletters and blogs still hold the most popularity, but the biggest standout is the use of infographics which grew from 38% last year to 51% this year.
4. Use of Social Platforms is Expanding. B2B marketers are also expanding the number of social media platforms they are using and how often they are using them. They now use an average of six platforms, versus five last year. Biggest growth over the year was seen with SlideShare (40 percent vs. 23 percent), Google+ (55 percent vs. 39 percent) and Instagram (22 percent vs. 7 percent).
However, the study shows many marketers are not sold on the effectiveness of social media. In fact, LinkedIn is the only platform that the majority of B2B marketers actually consider to be effective.
5. Brand Awareness is the Biggest Goal. Brand awareness continues to be the number one reason marketers believe in content marketing. That's been a consistent goal for the past four years.
Marketers are measuring their success by web traffic and sales lead quality, where using direct sales as a measuring tool has consistently gone down in importance over the years.
6. Time and Quantity top the Challenge List. Challenges have remained fairly consistent year after year this study has been conducted: lack of time and producing enough content continue to top the list.
While the study shows marketers are definitely making strides in their content marketing performance and feeling more confident about it, there's still work to do, especially in the area of strategy development. If you could use help mapping out your plan to improve results and ensure you work smarter, not harder, download our free guide.