Trying to get a read on just where content marketing is at this moment and in what direction content marketers are headed is like looking out across the ocean and trying to see everything all at once. A futile, frustrating endeavor. The goings on in the content marketing space are numerous - and are going on - all at once: content strategy, goals and metrics, content creation and distribution, budgets and spending and so many more dynamics, it could make you dizzy trying to wrap your head around just one piece of the content marketing puzzle.
“The” Report to Set Your Content Marketing Compass By
But B2B content voyagers, take heart. Year five of the Content Marketing Institute’s comprehensive study on the state of B2B Content Marketing is all you need to either chart your 2016 content marketing course or redirect efforts already in play depending on which way the the winds are blowing. It’s a 40-page read, but like all things CMI, content digestion preferences have already been accounted for. The piece is appealing to the eyes and the mind with plenty of white space and a format that includes standalone stats and content chunks for both the visual and spatial learners among us. Whether you want to power through it cover to cover or want to take it in one section at a time (a morning bagel browse, perhaps, of the most frequently used marketing tactics--or a coffee break that covers just the key takeaways) it’s designed with every marketer in mind.
There’s no way to illuminate all of its thoroughly-researched B2B content marketing bases in under 1000 words (the wordcount for the report itself is well over 5K), so we’ll give you a quick summary of what’s new in the report this year, some facts we find pretty important and points of interest most frequently circled on the content marketing map as things marketers want and/or need to delve deeper into in 2015.
What’s new in year 5 that wasn’t present in years 1-4?
A new definition. Last year, CMI defined content marketing as the “creation and distribution of educational and/or compelling content in multiple media formats to attract and/or retain customers.” This year, content marketing has become “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” (p. 8)
Seems like content marketers are thinking more strategically about content and getting closer and closer to the sweet spot that drives profitability. Increasingly sophisticated analytics and the ever-rising tide of big data certainly has something to do with that (but we can save that discussion for another day).
An added organizational goal. Of the now nine organizational goals for B2B content marketing including brand awareness, lead generation and engagement, customer evangelism is the newest (p. 14), while brand awareness has been cited by B2B marketers as their top goal five years running.
A new metric to measure success by (p. 15) and, a new challenge (p. 30). Higher conversion rates are an added metric in this year’s report—on a page that asks “which metrics does your organization use to assess content marketing success?” Still, the metric B2B marketers look to most often to cite success? 63% say “website traffic.” And the new challenge added to this report that B2B marketers now say they face: those related to technology.
Facts we find important:
You’ve got to document your content strategy. Keeping in your head isn’t cutting it.
60% of those who have a documented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of content marketing effectiveness, compared with 32% of those who have a verbal strategy.
Content marketers feel less effective this year than they did last year.
Effectiveness is really where it’s at right? If you aren’t effective you’re wasting a lot of time and effort not to mention cash. 38% of B2B marketers this year rated their organization’s use of content marketing as effective down from 42% last year. Maybe just a margin of error? Or, could it be that we are overwhelmed with data and don’t quite know what to do with it? Either way, it’s worth a watch.
Points of interest most often circled:
Content marketers are still struggling with how to measure content marketing ROI and it’s a concept marketers show a growing interest in learning more about. The numbers show that those with a written content strategy feel they are getting closer to the mark.
Top 3 challenges this year? Producing engaging content, finding trained content marketing professionals and measuring content effectiveness. 70% of companies are creating more content this year over last and 55% say they intend to increase content marketing spend. Marketers are realizing more and more that generating tons of data that nobody notices is content for content’s sake—not a content strategy.
If you haven’t already taken a look, this report is great for helping you set your content marketing compass. Whether you read it cover to cover, take it in piecemeal or skip to profile of a best-in-class B2B content marketer on page 35, you’ll find these insights to be very revealing and helpful.
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