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Make B2B content valuable, not promotional

The latest CMI/MarketingProfs survey highlights the importance of producing informative content for B2B audiences.

Nine in 10 successful B2B content marketers put greater emphasis on producing material that is informative rather than promotional, a major survey has found.

The B2B Content Marketing 2019 report shows that North American marketers have the most success when they create or publish content that aims to assist or inform key audiences. This compares with 56 per cent of the least successful B2B marketers who prioritise informational content.

The survey also found seven in 10 respondents believe their organisation’s content marketing efforts are more successful than they were a year ago. The four top reasons B2Bs use content marketing are to create brand awareness (81 per cent), educate audiences (73 per cent), build credibility/trust (68 per cent) and drive demand/sales (68 per cent).

Almost all (96 per cent) successful content marketers say their audiences view their business as a trusted source.

The annual report, co-produced by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs, is based on responses from 771 B2B marketers in North America.

In a blog outlining the survey results, CMI Research Director Lisa Murton Beets says successful B2Bs produce content their audiences find valuable. “Be consistent. Be easy to find,” she writes. “Give your audience members content they want and need – when and where they’re looking for it. And make it about them, not you.”

Other key survey findings:

* 81 per cent of respondents say a documented strategy aligns the content marketing team around common missions/goals and makes it easier to determine what content types to develop.

* B2B content marketers primarily use email (87 per cent) and educational content (77 per cent) to nurture audiences.

* Content creation (56 per cent) is one area of content marketing where there has been a reported increase in spending over the past 12 months.

* The top content marketing issues are changes to SEO/search algorithms (61 per cent), changes to social media algorithms (45 per cent), and proving content marketing as a revenue centre (41 per cent).

The survey found that relatively few B2B content marketers research their audiences by talking to customers. Only 42 per cent of marketers say they have conversations with customers as part of their audience research. Most say they get their intelligence from sales department feedback or web analytics.

Two in three successful B2B marketers describe their organisations’ content marketing technology proficiency as “expert” or “advanced”. Three in four B2B content marketers say they have used or developed long-form material over the past 12 months.

Another recently released report, the 2019 Chief Marketer B2B Marketing Outlook Survey, shows the pivotal role content plays in attracting customers. The 309 survey respondents say email marketing (62 per cent) and content marketing (60 per cent) are the two most valuable techniques for lead nurturing.

The survey, however, found less than one in four B2B businesses use an in-house editorial team to create their content. About the same percentage say freelancers and third-party providers are commissioned for the purpose. In most cases – 80 per cent – marketers create content themselves.

“That’s a surprising disconnect,” says James Furbush, B2B marketing manager of Lord Hobo Brewing, in Chief Marketer's report. “I’m not surprised marketing teams are creating content, but if you’re going to be that focused on content marketing, having an editorial team is an important investment.”

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Further reading: Three keys to creating compelling content

Photo: Thorn Yang on Unsplash