What you’ll learn:

  • What are the content types that are getting the best results in B2B?
  • What are some of the most interesting highlights?
  • How can organizations use these insights?

Those fine folks at Content Marketing Institute and MarketingSherpa are at it again, with help from ON24.  Their “13th Annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: Insights for 2023” report is full of spicy nuggets about what’s working – and what isn’t working – for B2B content marketers.

Some of the more eyebrow-raising takeaways from the research?

  • Only 28% of all B2B content marketers surveyed felt they the technology they needed to succeed.
  • Is it a coincidence that only 29% said their organizations were “very successful” at content marketing?
  • Content technologies came in 10th out of 10 when it came to areas where respondents expected to see investment in 2023.

Some technologies have actually seen a decline in usage YOY:

  • Social media publishing and analytics fell to 71% from 80%
  • The use of email marketing software fell to 68% from 75%
  • Content creation/calendaring/collaboration/workflow tools dropped in use from 65% from 73%

That last bullet is frustrating for those of us who know the value of those tools.  Particularly since the report cites how 76% of those who are most successful in B2B content marketing use such tools – a usage figure that drops off appreciably among organizations that say they’re less successful.

Surprises in performance by type? Not so much

When you look at the results of the survey, the performance of different B2B content marketing asset types shouldn’t really surprise anyone. That’s actually reassuring and validating because it proves what content marketing professionals have already come to expect.

Courtesy of Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs

The “high-touch,” extremely personal forms of engagement – live events and virtual live events – performed best, as you’d expect. Research reports and white papers came in close behind, however, and can usually be more cost-efficient in the long run.

Are long articles or posts of 1500+ words really the relatively poor performers they seem to be here?  Remember that these are often not tracked as scrupulously as white paper/ebooks are, so respondents here may only be thinking in terms of immediate or near-term MQLs.

But as research shows us time and again, they’re the most fruitful among all types of posts. HubSpot maintains, based on their experience with thousands of posts, that the ideal blog post length ought to be 2,100-2,400 words.

Under-the-hood insights about B2B content marketing trends?

Beyond identifying what B2B content marketing assets pulled the most weight over the preceding year, the report has other, more tantalizing insights:

  • 46% said just a single person or group was responsible for all content in their organization, regardless of type — advertising, collaterals, thought leadership, SEO content, and so on.
  • The use of paid content distribution fell to 67% from 81% in 2021.
  • LinkedIn is the most-used organic social media platform by B2B content marketers, and they find it to be the most effective.
  • 78% said their companies will keep investing in video in 2023, up from 69%.
  • The most reliable metrics for content performance?  Conversions (70%), quality of leads (60%), and website engagement (57%)

Another insight that makes content strategies sigh in their beer? Content differentiation isn’t where it could be in the minds of these respondents.  Even though content is one of the most golden opportunities to display thought leadership and brand voice, much of the content being produced is too me-too.

B2B Content Asset Differnetiation

How are these results useful?

For companies that really want to succeed at B2B content marketing, there are nuggets here that they should direct future actions:

  • The technology deficit cited by so many respondents offers a window of opportunity for those organizations that are willing to invest in the applications and platforms that can power a superior digital/content marketing effort.
  • Information and insight still rule the roost; leads are coming from white papers, ebooks, webinars, and other in-depth assets providing a wealth of knowledge and best practices.
  • Stand apart! Differentiate yourself from the pack with quality content relevant to specific targets. Google has made search intent more important than ever, so a reliance on keyword spamming to drive eyeballs can do more harm than good, as we’ve pointed out.  Groping after mere traffic with pure-SEO-play content not only won’t necessarily improve rankings, but those eyeballs that do hit your site may be put off by the type of undifferentiated content it often involves.

The report has far more to it than we’ve covered here. Suffice it to say, B2B content marketers share a lot of thoughts on how their discipline needs to improve.  And on how organizations need to embrace it to the fullest.

To see the entire report, go here.

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