**This article was first posted on Social Media Examiner on December 27th, 2012
Are you wondering if content marketing can help your business?
If so, look no further.
In this article, I examine a recent study involving 1,416 B2B marketers from North America from theÂ Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.
Youâ€™llÂ discover how B2B marketers were leveraging content marketing in 2012 and where their focus will be next year.
#1: Producing Enough Content Is Top Challenge
In years past, the biggest challenge for content marketers has beenÂ creating engaging content. But this trend changed in 2012 withÂ 64% of marketers saying that producing enough content was their number-one challenge.
Producing enough content is now the top challenge for content marketers.
It is quite conceivable that this challenge will help to create more business and employment opportunities for content developers. In a related conversation,Â Nate Riggs, director of social business at theÂ Karcher Group, put it this way:
â€œThis is great news for displaced journalists and (content) producers looking to reinvent.â€
Key Takeaway: If your plan is to produce more content next year, think of ways to recycle what you already have.
- Spread existing content across different formats; for example, create an FAQ for quick tips or turnÂ popular blog postsÂ into a podcast, infographic or ebook.
- Curate awesome customer letters, testimonials and positive feedbackÂ into a relevant, real-world information packet about â€œWhy customers love our brand.â€
- Go back andÂ see what was popular once-upon-a-timeÂ that is now buried in your online archives.Â Focus onÂ evergreen contentÂ and republish as postsÂ that speak to current problems in your industry.
#2: Marketers Using Average of 12 Content Marketing Tactics
The study revealed thatÂ large organizations (with 10,000+ employees) used 18 content marketing tactics on average, while small companies used 11. Companies of all sizes used an average of 12 content marketing tactics.
Study found that the larger the company, the more the tactics used.
While itâ€™s clear that resources dictate the number of content marketing tactics employed, itâ€™s a good idea for you toÂ evaluate your budgetÂ andÂ figure out how many tactics you can commit toÂ next year. Keep in mind thatÂ the more tactics you use, the greater your chances of amplifying your voice and extending audience reach.
Key Takeaway: As you brainstorm your content delivery strategy, become a â€œreal publisherâ€ and try toÂ move away from web-only tactics. Figure out how you candistribute content through various devices and platformsÂ including print. For example, use printed white papers â€“ and yes, even books â€“ as free giveaways after client meetings, workshops or conferences.
#3: Social Media â€“ Most Popular Promotion Tactic
The study revealed thatÂ 87% of marketers usedÂ social mediaÂ to distribute contentâ€“ more than they used articles, email newsletters, blogs and other tactics.
This makes sense because their audiences (existing and potential customers) typically use social media for personal reasons â€“ a typical case of â€œfishing where the fish are.â€
Social media climbed into first place as the most popular content marketing tactic.
Key Takeaway: As you think about the most effective tactic(s) to use for your content distribution,Â think about where your audience hangs out and focus on those social channels. IfÂ FacebookÂ andÂ PinterestÂ are major distribution channels for your brand,Â remember too that images are eye candyÂ and the time to sharpenÂ your image-based contentÂ campaigns is now.
#4: LinkedIn â€“ Most Popular Social Media Channel
This was a surprising find. It turns out thatÂ LinkedInÂ was the most popular social media channel for content distribution. More marketers (83%) are using it compared toÂ TwitterÂ (80%), Facebook (80%) andÂ YouTubeÂ (61%). Even if the difference in usage between Twitter and LinkedIn is very slim, it still says a lot about a platform that is not considered as sexy as the others.
LinkedIn is now the most popular social media channel for content distribution. Image source: iStockPhoto.
Key Takeaway: Marketers shouldÂ learn how to leverage LinkedInÂ because key decision-makers are more likely to hang out there than on other platforms. One of the best ways to do this is toÂ become more active onÂ LinkedIn groups.
Find discussions that you can contribute toÂ by adding something helpful and valuable. Then once in a while, modestly mention in an â€œoh-and-by-the-wayâ€ fashion that your business solves this or that problem and attach some relevant content to back it up.
#5: Brand Awareness â€“ Top Content Marketing Goal
Another surprise was that increased website traffic was not the top goal for B2B content marketers. The study found thatÂ brand awareness was the number-one priority for 79% of content marketers, followed by customer acquisition (74%) and lead generation (71%).
As far as content marketing goals, brand awareness trumped website traffic by 19 points.
Nevertheless,Â website trafficÂ was found to be the most important measure for content marketing success. This presents an interesting juxtaposition, asÂ content marketing successÂ is typically linked to organizational goals. When it comes to brand awareness, website traffic was seen asÂ theÂ measure of success.
Website traffic was still the most important measure of content marketing success.
Key Takeaway: Businesses looking to increase brand awareness will benefit if theytrack specific website indicatorsÂ such as number of unique visitors, page views, amount of traffic thatâ€™s referred to their sites from search engines and even how much time visitors are spending on their site.Â Google AnalyticsÂ gives you lot of data toanalyze trends and new insights on your website.
#6: Most Content Made In-House
The study showed thatÂ 56% of companies are creating content in-house, while only 1% are relying exclusively on outsourced content. But thereâ€™s a nice balance of 43% who are developing both in-house and outsourced content.
A good number of businesses are relying on both in-house and outsourced content production. Image source: iStockPhoto.
Key Takeaway: This trend reflects the reality that outsourcing vs. hiring decisions are tough when it comes to content marketing. Content marketing is something that has to be nurtured on a regular basis. If your organization has the resources toÂ produce enough content in-house, then outsourcing may not be needed unless a particular skill set is lacking internally.
#7: Content Marketing Budgets to Increase in 2013
More thanÂ half of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budgets for 2013.
Notice that only 2% of B2B marketers will decrease their content marketing budget in 2013.
While the report was not specific about in what areas of content marketing budgets would increase, we learned that currently, the average amount of budget spent on content marketing is 33%, which is up from 26% in 2011. This is yet another indicator that the future of B2BÂ content marketingÂ is bright.
#8: Most and Least Effective B2B Content Marketers Compared
The study also found that theÂ most effective B2B marketers spend a higher percentage of their marketing budget on content marketingÂ than the least effective B2B marketers.
There is a direct correlation between content marketing spend and efficiency. However, least effective marketers plan to increase their budgets almost as much as most effective marketers.
Most effective content marketers also:
- Use more tactics
- Tailor content to specific customer profilesÂ (or personas)
- Are far less challenged in terms of producing engaging content
- Are less challenged by lack of buy-in from top management
Key Takeaway: This is an eye-opener for those who are still on the fence about content marketing. Just as â€œpractice makes perfectâ€ says, we see here that the most successful marketers are those who invested the most resources on trying new tactics to produce compelling content.
The state of content marketing is bright andÂ B2B marketers are looking forward to doing more with contentÂ in the coming year.Â Content budgets are also set to increaseÂ andÂ B2B organizations will be using both in-house and external sourcesÂ to increase content production.
Over to you. What are your content marketing plans for next year?Â Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.