Content continues to dominate media headlines and marketing programs at many startups and small businesses. But is content marketing effective?
There’s very useful insight, especially for B2B (business-to-business) marketers in a recently published 2014 Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks Study. The study surveyed 1,217 marketers around the world in July and August 2013. I’ll share a link to the full study at the end of this post.
For those who don’t have the time to read the entire study, here are five key takeaways:
1. Content marketing is ineffective for many B2B marketers. Fewer than 10 percent of B2B marketers say that content marketing is “very effective” for them.
Strategy Tip: As you’ll see below, many marketers fail with content marketing because they neglect to develop goals and strategies when they launch their content marketing initiatives. Tactics alone are rarely effective. For more insight, read How To Grow Your Business With Content Marketing. Before you give up on content and social media marketing generally, consider making some changes in your strategy.
2. Pick the right social channels for your content strategy. Interestingly, the social channels that many businesses prefer – Facebook and Pinterest, for example, all received low approval ratings for effectiveness from content marketers. In fact, only one social network received positive approval ratings for effectiveness – LinkedIn (62 percent of content marketers found LinkedIn to be effective). Despite these findings, marketers are increasingly using many social channels, including those they are finding to be less effective.
Strategy Tip: Before you invest time developing and sharing content on a social network, consider whether your customers are likely to be using that network. Spreading content to non-customers might make you feel good, but will not help your bottom line.
3. Develop goals and a content marketing strategy. If you have been creating content without any strategy, you’re probably creating a lot of noise and little value,. You are not alone. More than half (56 percent) of B2B marketers have no strategy for their content marketing tactics. Tactics, without a goal and strategy, are futile. In fact, According to the study, B2B marketers with a content marketing strategy are 600 percent more likely to be effective. To put that in perspective, 84 percent of marketers who say they are ineffective at content marketing have no documented strategy.
Strategy Tip: Take some time today to think about your goals and develop a strategy (or strategies) for your content marketing efforts. For example, storytelling is an extremely effective content marketing strategy.
4. Measure the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts. Unfortunately, web traffic continues to be the most used metric for measuring the effectiveness of content marketing. Traffic helps you gauge whether people are responding to your content, but does not tell you whether people are buying your products or services.
Strategy Tip: Make sure that you carefully track conversions. In our own experience, traffic can be very noisy (low quality) and you can easily mistake an increase in traffic for success. For a list of other metrics used by marketers to measure the efficacy of content marketing efforts, see the graph below.
5. Don’t limit your content marketing to one or only a few tactics. B2B content marketers use an average of 13 tactics (up from 12 last year). Infographics, already popular last year, have increased in popularity (from 38 percent to 51 percent). In-person events continue to have the highest effectiveness rating from marketers.
Strategy Tip: Take some time today and list the tactics you’ve used over the past two weeks. Are you focusing on only one or two tactics? If so, it’s time to diversify!
You can download a PDF copy of The 2014 Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks Study here.
What other insights can you add from your own content marketing efforts? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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