Content Marketing Continues Upswing

B2B marketers are relying more on content marketing to build brand awareness, attract sales leads, retain customers and demonstrate thought leadership.Business-to-business content marketing continues on the upswing, with more than 90 percent of marketers saying they rely on content marketing and spend a third of their budgets on it.

LinkedIn has eclipsed Twitter as the most popular distribution channel for marketing-related content, but B2B marketers are using all distribution channels — from events to videos — more than ever. Tactics with the sharpest gain in usage are research reports, videos and mobile content.

These are some of the recent findings from a survey of B2B marketers by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

Social media tops the list of content marketing distribution, followed closely by posting articles on your own website, e-letters and blogs. The tactic with the best confidence ratings was in-person events. Two-thirds of B2B marketers express confidence in events, with just slightly less confidence in case studies and webinars. Even though social media is the most used tactic in content marketing, only half of B2B marketer respondents expressed confidence in its ability to deliver.

Confidence or not, social media distribution of content grew to 87 percent in 2012 from 74 percent in 2011. LinkedIn was used by 83 percent of B2B marketers, up from just 71 percent in 2011. Twitter was used by 80 percent of B2B marketers, which marked growth over 74 percent in 2011. Eighty percent of B2B marketers used Facebook, up from 70 percent in 2011. YouTube usage in 2012 was 61 percent, a gain over 56 percent in 2011. Pinterest was used by 26 percent of B2B marketers and wasn't even on the radar screen the year before.

Brand awareness is the top reason given by B2B marketers for using content marketing strategies. Other top objectives are customer acquisition, lead generation, customer retention, thought leadership and engagement.

Web traffic is the most commonly used measurement for content marketing success. Other key criteria include sales lead quality, social media sharing, sales lead quantity, direct sales, qualitative feedback from customers, SEO ranking and time spent on a website.

Smaller companies are pound for pound the biggest users of content marketing, allocating 42 percent of their marketing budgets for this form of outreach. Large firms dedicate 24 percent of their marketing budgets to content marketing. The budgets of both rose from the year before.

Outsourcing content remains common, but appears to be declining as more companies, both big and small, give that assignment to in-house resources to create. In 2012, only 44 percent of content creation was outsourced, compared to 58 percent in 2011.

More than 70 percent of the most effective B2B marketing efforts are tailored to the profile of customer personas. Around 40 percent of the least effective B2B marketing efforts tailor content to customer personas.

Almost 65 percent of B2B content marketers say their number one problem is producing enough content. Not far behind are concerns about producing engaging content (52 percent) and a variety of content (45 percent).

If you wondered whether content marketing is for you, stop wondering. Start producing content aimed at and designed for your customers.