Statistics! Factoids! In the B2B content marketing blogoverse, they're as nourishing and essential as
beer vodka Butterfingers mother's milk.
There's a new report, B2B Content Marketing 2018: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, presented by MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and sponsored by Brightcove, laying out the results of their 8th annual content marketing survey.
(Have we really been doing 'content marketing' for eight years already?)
Their take? That B2B content marketing is maturing, as companies and agencies get more informed, aligned and strategic in how they use it.
The study was conducted in June and July 2017, and included 870 B2B marketers in North America from a broad range of company industries and sizes. Among the big headlines from the report:
- 24% of them said their organization's content marketing was, overall, extremely or very successful. These were considered the "top performers" by MarketingProfs. Not surprisingly, they're all clients of mine.¹
- 63% said their overall content marketing approach was much more or somewhat more successful than one year ago, versus 78% among the top performers.
- 80% of those surveyed agree their organizations were focused on building audiences (i.e., one or more subscriber bases); this was an 18% rise from 2016.
- 92% of the top performers mentioned above said they were focused on building audiences.
- 72% of all respondents said their enterprises valued craft and creativity in content creation and production, a figure that rose to 88% with the top performers.²
- 63% said their organization's overall content marketing approach is much more or somewhat more successful than one year ago; this was indicated by 78% of top performers.
- 37% had a documented content marketing strategy, a number that rose to 62% among top performers.
- 36% ranked the project management flow during the content-creation process as excellent/very good; among top performers, that number hit 70%.
- 19% considered their enterprises' alignment of metrics and content marketing goals to be excellent/very good. That paled beside the 54% of top performers who claimed excellent/very good alignment.
But there are continuing pressures, too:
- 44% of respondents felt it was harder to grab audience attention than it had been the year before.
- Only 59% said management gave them ample enough time to produce content marketing results.
What's it all mean?
B2B content marketing is riding an impressive wave of adoption by companies and agencies, and it's a tide that'll carry them forward for years to come. The viability of content marketing has never been the issue; it's the strategic vision, basic blocking-and-tackling and best practices that have been either missing or, as in other channels that grew through their own pimply and uncertain adolescence, needed to be learned on the run.
Content marketing will get more efficient, targeted and innovative, even as the need for surprise-and-delight and personalization will become more critical in engaging B2B buyers.
So it'll be fun to see how these survey results escalate (or, God forbid, deflate) in the next year or three!
¹ This is unverified and possibly intended as humor.
² These are also the same marketers that we, as content creators, would love to take to lunch. Butterfingers, anyone?