5 essential stats from CMI’s 2016 B2B content marketing report

Five problems. Five fixes. Find out what you need to be doing to ensure your B2B content marketing strategy is pulling its weight.


The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs last week released B2B Content Marketing: 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America.

The new report highlights some of the issues B2B marketers have in making content marketing work.  Below, we outline the main obstacles to success and suggest some tools to help you overcome them.

5. Content marketing is now used by 88% of B2B organisations

It’s great that content marketing has been adapted by so many B2B brands. Of course this now means that the shock and awe advantage of doing something that isn’t broadcast marketing has simmered down.

You can’t just do content marketing for the sake of doing content marketing. It needs to be strategic, useful, authentic and good. Ideally, as Jay Baer explained at Content Marketing World, it’s made with passion.

So yes, have that editorial calendar and content publishing schedule, but don’t publish for the sake of having content. Publish because you have something that your audience wants.

4. There’s been an 8% drop in the number of marketers with a documented content strategy

In the previous report, 35% of B2B marketers responding said they had a documented content strategy, but this year it had slipped back to 32%. It’s perplexing that the figure hasn’t remained the same or increased, because having a documented strategy is one of the key ways to ensure effectiveness..

Don’t have one? Velocity Partners’ Big Fat B2B Content Marketing Strategy Checklist is a great tool to help you pull together your own strategy, and one that we’ve used time and again.

It helps you to consider what goals you want to achieve with your organisation’s content; the personas you’re tailoring content to; an editorial calendar and more.

3. Only 30% of B2B marketers believe their organisations are effective at content marketing

This is in comparison to 38% in the 2015 report. The drop is worrying, but when considered in the context of fewer brands having a written content strategy, it unfortunately makes sense.

Having a strategy, according to CMI and MarketingProfs, isn’t the only way you can ensure being effective at content marketing. Other ways to increase effectiveness include:

  • Gaining experience from doing content marketing
  • Having a written “editorial mission statement”
  • Understanding within the org of what successful content marketing looks like
  • Regular content marketing meetings (either daily or weekly)

Don’t have an editorial mission statement (often referred to as a content marketing mission statement)? There’s a good description of how they work in the August 2014 issue of Chief Content Officer.

This statement needs to help frame a brand’s “approach to content and industry”, clarify who the content is for and explain how the content will fulfil readers’ needs. It’s also possible that you’ll need more than one statement to serve the differing “informational needs” of different types of buyers.

2. Case studies are now being used by 82% of B2B brands

That’s a 6% increase in use. What’s even more interesting is the jump in how much marketers rate case studies as an effective content tactic: it’s gone up by 12% in the past year, with only infographics seeing a bigger gain in perceived effectiveness.

This places case studies in the top three effective B2B tactics used by marketers, alongside webinars/webcasts and in-person events (the most effective tactic six years running). It’s possible that B2B marketers have realised the need for this bottom of the funnel content as content programmes mature.

Unsure how to create engaging case studies? Check out Hubspot’s How to Create a Compelling Business Case Study: The Ultimate Guide & Template. And remember: a good case study makes the customer the hero of the story and not your product.

1. Producing engaging content is the top challenge for 60% of B2B content marketers

Creating engaging content has been the top priority and number one challenge for B2B content marketers for the past two years, but remains  a bigger priority for brands in the earlier stages of their content marketing programme.

It can be tough to produce content that your audience may want to act upon, but it’s not impossible. Kissmetrics’ The Nine Ingredients That Make Great Content offers actionable advice on how to start creating engaging content for your website and blog after you’ve got your strategy and statement together.

A hallmark of engaging content is that it won’t sound or read like a sales pitch. It’ll give the audience something they need and will want to act upon.

Further reading/listening

It’s possible to read the current and previous annual B2B content marketing reports from CMI and MarketingProfs here on Slideshare.

Brafton: 10 Can’t-miss stats from CMI’s 2016 State of B2B Content Marketing report

Radix: Editorial Calendars: why you need one and how to make one in Trello

Doug Kessler: Content Marketing Slides into the Trough of Disillusionment

Radix: Podcast: How to fire up your writers to create brilliant copy

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