Content Marketing goes Mainstream in 2013
New survey on B2B content marketing shows it’s increasingly being used to engage buyers
The report: B2B Content Marketing Trends Survey has found that marketers are using content marketing more and more to generate leads and enable thought leadership. The survey found that a huge 82% of marketers said that they will be increasing content production in the next 12 months.
However, white papers are fading as one of the most popular formats and marketing professionals are increasingly turning to interactive and more easily digested formats, such as video.
61% of marketers also said that they now use automation platforms, up 43% on 2012.
“B2B buyer behaviour (sic) has been changing dramatically over the last few years as buyers become more sophisticated, find new ways to gather information online and via social media. 90% of business buyers say when they’re ready to buy, they’ll find you,” said DemandGen Report.
How it’s being used
According to the survey, 71% of those asked said their primary reason for using content marketing was for lead generation. Following that, it was used mostly for:
• Thought leadership/market education – 49.9%
• Customer acquisition – 45%
• Brand awareness – 41%
• Lead nurturing – 35.4%
• Traffic generation – 27.8%
• Customer loyalty and retention – 24.8%
• Social media engagement – 13.1%
Marketers said that the most effective form of content marketing when it comes to businesses are customer testimonials, with the least effective being games. Case studies also scored highly on the list, whilst printed books have declined steadily.
The most important aspect to content marketing was found to be relevance, with “compelling storytelling” also coming out on the top of the pile. Least important was found to be the cost of content production.
When it comes to social, 85% of marketers agreed that LinkedIn is the most effective social network for B2B, followed by YouTube, Twitter, SlideShare and Facebook. Many also said that they use customised communities that have been developed for their industry.
This was further confirmed by another DemandGen Report paper, which looked in more depth at the type of content that B2B buyers want. The Content Preferences Survey also pointed out that whilst “content is king, search still holds the crown”, and went on to say that SEO is an important factor when it comes to content marketing. If fact, the study said that SEO could make or break a campaign’s effectiveness.
Whilst the surveys are interesting, there are no real surprises in there for marketing professionals, except perhaps for the decline in white paper popularity. However, with video rising sharply this was bound to happen at some point, especially since Instagram Video was announced.
A huge 98.8% of B2B buyers said that they now place a “higher emphasis on the trustworthiness” of content, with many expressing the opinion that vendors can be trusted in general.
However, more than half of them said that vendors should make content easier to digest, by not using content that’s text heavy and includes small print. They also said that contact forms sometimes make it too difficult to access content such as downloadable reports by being too long.
Again, this is no real surprise, as a marketer how many times have you abandoned a download due to complex forms that often don’t work correctly. Further to this only 5% of buyers said that content suppliers were doing an excellent job of organising and presenting well on their websites.
Clearly this is an area that could really be improved upon then, from a presentation and technical standpoint.
With regard to titles, it was found that the vast majority of B2B buyers enjoy ‘how to’ or ‘tips and tricks’ pieces, whilst hardly any of them liked conversational pieces, such as executive Q&As.
All-in-all, both studied flag up a few things that the modern buyer wants and whether content marketers are supplying them. A lot of choice is wanted when it comes to formats and text heavy whitepapers and reports are declining in popularity, as interest in more engaging content rises.
It’s also important to the buyer that marketers spend time developing content that can be trusted and stay away from overt sales messages. This is something that the most successful content marketers have taken on board, and according to the second survey, will enable them to gain an edge in a competitive marketplace.
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