B2B businesses keep the faith in content marketing

The goal is to build engaged audiences, say leading North American marketers.

Asia-Pacific B2B marketers who have embarked on a content marketing strategy can take heart from a major survey of their colleagues from North America.

More than three in five B2B marketers in that region say they are more successful with their content marketing activities now than a year ago, according to the report produced by MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute.

The report, B2B Content Marketing 2018: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America, surveyed 870 B2B marketers from a range of North American companies. It found that 45 per cent thought their content marketing was somewhat more successful than the previous year and another 18 per cent said it was much more successful.

Overall, 91 per cent of respondents said they used content as part of their marketing strategy and 56 per cent said they were either very or extremely committed to the practice. About 79 per cent further described their content marketing as either moderately, very or extremely successful.

One key finding was the percentage of B2B marketers who used content to build audiences, which is now seen as a vital goal of this form of marketing. Four out of five said that building a subscriber base (or many bases) is a focus of their strategy; this was 18 percentage points higher than the previous survey. Of all of the B2B marketers who were deemed by the survey producers to be “top performers”, 92 per cent said they were focused on building audiences.

“A clearly defined audience is one of the foundations of a successful content program,” wrote Ann Handley, chief content officer of MarketingProfs. “Without it, content is merely a tiny voice in the wilderness – shivering, alone, friendless.”

Quality was also deemed to be an important marker of success. The report found that 74 per cent of B2B marketers surveyed agreed that their business values creativity and craft in content creation and production.

In other report findings, 62 per cent of top-performing B2B content marketers say their business has a documented strategy and 70 per cent rate their project management flow during their content-creation process as excellent or very good.

The survey found that the three most effective forms of content marketing were ebooks/white pages, case studies and social media posts. The top distribution channels were email, social media platforms and blogs. The three most effective social media platforms for B2B content marketing were LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Marketers reported that finding adequate ways to monitor the effectiveness of content marketing strategies continues to be a fundamental concern. Less than 20 per cent of B2B marketers rated their organisation's alignment of metrics and content marketing goals as excellent or very good, with 4 per cent were not tracking metrics at all.

Just 35 per cent said they measured content marketing ROI, with most saying there was no reason or no easy way to do it. About seven in 10 agreed that content marketing either increased audience engagement with the business or the number of sales leads.

The report includes many lessons for APAC B2B marketers keen to pursue a content-led approach. They first need to have a documented content strategy, with a major focus on building a subscriber base (not to sell products and services directly). The content they produce needs to be creative and well produced, and be part of an organised project management flow. Most importantly, B2B marketers need to be patient: it can take years to build a successful content marketing strategy.

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