What will top B2B content marketers be doing in 2018?

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) has just released its new report, revealing insights Top B2B content marketersinto the work of the top B2B content marketers in North America.

These marketers might be across the pond, but we think we could all pick up some tips from this piece of research.

Together we’ll explore how the top B2B content marketers are creating their success, so that you can replicate it. Sound good? Great! Let’s get going:

More about the study

The B2B Content Marketing 2018: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America report is a big deal for content marketers.

This report is an annual ‘event’ that we go weak at the knees for, because it provides real insight into the B2B content marketing community. And, it offers some great ideas on how to improve our strategies.

A total of 2,190 recipients from around the globe responded to a survey, representing a range of industries and a variety of company sizes. The report was created based on the 870 respondents who stated their company was:

  • For-profit
  • Based in North America
  • Primarily focused on B2B

So, let’s have a look at what it revealed:

1) How is content marketing used and organised by top B2B content marketers?

91% of B2B respondents use content marketing – which is good, otherwise it would make for a pretty short survey!

Of the 9% of respondents that don’t, a whopping 54% said they plan to launch content marketing efforts within 12 months.

These figures have grown slightly over the past year; 89% of respondents used content marketing in 2017.

This steady growth is a strong indicator that you should be using content marketing. If you haven’t done so already, start persuading your boss that it’s a good idea!

This year saw a significant change in marketers’ perceptions of their work. More marketers than ever before stated that their content marketing efforts were ‘sophisticated’ and ‘mature’. This suggests a greater understanding of the concept and techniques of content marketing, as well as increased confidence and improved success rates.

We found it particularly interesting that 53% of respondents have a small (or one-person) marketing/content marketing team that serves their entire organisation.

This can create a lot of pressure, and requires excellent time-management and organisational skills to pull off (not to mention creativity and marketing flair).

So, it’s no surprise that over half of respondents (56%) outsource at least one of their content marketing activities to free up some time and lighten the load. This approach can also be worth considering if you’re a growing business.

2) Successful B2B marketers commit

The amount of commitment and overall success are pretty much the same as last year:

  • 20% said they were extremely committed to content marketing, and 36% said they were very committed
  • 63% said their overall content marketing success had increased in the past year
  • 53% said their efforts were moderately successful

So, it looks like commitment can reap rewards, but if you want to replicate the top B2B content marketers’ success, you need to know what contributed to it. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Higher quality content and more efficient content creation
  • Developing or adjusting content strategy
  • Better targeting and identification of what works for content distribution

Marketers should also focus on building an audience through content marketing; 80% of respondents agree it’s a top priority. That’s an 18% increase on last year (68%)! Pay attention to this if you want to be among the top B2B content marketers next year!

3) Top B2B content marketers document their strategy

Like last year and the year before it, respondents who document their content marketing strategy (37%) reported higher levels of success. So, it’s super-important to get those ideas down on paper, as soon as possible!

When CMI asked those who didn’t have a content plan why this was, the qualitative data indicated “no buy in from executives” or a “lack of cohesion among departments” as the reasons. The quantitative data showed that 67% blamed having a small team (so no need to document strategy), and 44% lacked time.

These reasons may be genuine enough, but when content marketing success is on the line, it’s always best to make time to create and document your content strategy.

4) Creation and distribution of content by top B2B content marketers

The top B2B content marketers aren’t afraid to admit they use tech and tools to support their output. In fact, they’re proud of it and claim it contributes greatly to their success.

A huge 87% use analytics tools to pinpoint issues, identify successes and measure goals. 70% use email marketing tech to send out personalised, highly-targeted content, and 63% use a content management system (CMS) to streamline the whole operation.

This shows that you shouldn’t be afraid to embrace these technologies. They’ll help you stay on top of your content marketing efforts and generate more high-quality content.

In the age of fake news, sneaky politicians and suspicious sources, it’s great to see that top B2B content marketers prioritise fact-based, credible content.

94% say this is a priority during content creation, so you should be thinking about this too! Pepper your content with links to verified sources, statistics and research and you’ll prove yourself an authoritative and credible source of information.

So, what types of credible content should you be creating? Well, here are what the top B2B content marketers are focusing on:

  1. Social media posts (94%)
  2. Case studies (73%)
  3. Videos (72%)
  4. Infographics (65%)

This shows that the top dogs are branching out from familiar blogs and embracing new types of content. Could you do the same?

Don’t forget to share your content either! The top B2B content marketers think that email, social media and blogs are the top methods for this, so give them a shot!

5) Most content marketers don’t analyse ROI!

It turns out that the majority (47%) of B2B content marketers do not measure ROI.

This was a shock to us too! The metrics involved here are key to analysing your success and identifying areas for improvement, so should be a core part of your strategy.

Luckily, CMI asked respondents why they didn’t include ROI in their analysis. Respondents came back with these three answers:

  1. We don’t need any formal justification (38%)
  2. We need an easier way to do this (38%)
  3. We don’t know how to do it (27%)

Apart from the first group, it seems clear that respondents find the analytics aspect of content marketing a little tricky.

However, we can guarantee you that the top B2B content marketers track ROI and other key metrics. It’s a skill worth learning, so take the time and get to grips with it.

6) Can you put a price on content marketing?

We know you can carry out content marketing on a budget, but what do the most successful content marketers put into the pot (compared to the average)?

Well, the top dogs say content marketing accounts for 40% of their total marketing budget. The average marketer says it accounts for 26%.

So, if you can, it may be worth injecting a little more cash into your content marketing budget to give business a boost.

So, that’s it: a super-speedy round-up of CMI’s B2B content marketing benchmark report. Use it to help develop your strategies for the year ahead – good luck!