Content Marketing Getting More Attention; B2B Sees Lead Gen Potential

Content marketing is becoming increasingly popular among B2B and B2C marketers, finds a pair of studies released in October. 84% of B2B marketers are planning to increase their content marketing over the next 12 months, reports Optify [download page], while 9 in 10 B2C and B2B marketers and agencies say they believe content marketing will become more important in the next year, according to Econsultancy. Both studies find that lead generation is a primary objective of content marketing activity for B2B marketers.

Yet despite the importance attributed to content marketing and near-universal use (91% of Econsultancy respondents), just 38% of in-house marketer respondents (both B2C and B2B) said they had a defined content marketing strategy, and only 13% of agencies said their clients had one.

B2B Marketers Agree: Content Works For Lead Gen

A separate report released in September by Optify found that the most successful lead generation marketers are highly focused on content creation. The latest Optify survey results show that, indeed, lead generation is the most-cited top-3 goal for content marketing, at 68% of respondents (up from 62% in 2011). Thought leadership and market education (50%; up from 37%) is next, followed by brand awareness (39%; up from 34%).

B2B respondents to the Econsultancy survey have a slightly different view, but still emphasize the importance of lead generation. Asked the 3 most important business objectives for their content marketing activity, 44% of in-house marketers chose lead generation, second only to increased engagement from prospects and customers (52%). Thought leadership (30%) and raising brand awareness (30%) were near the top of the list, though both trailed increased site traffic (34%) as goals.

Interestingly, though, B2B agencies responding to the Econsultancy survey see different priorities for their clients. Asked their clients’ top-3 most important content marketing objectives, these agencies chose increasing site traffic (40%) first, followed by increased sales (36%), improved SEO (link-building – 35%), raising brand awareness (33%), and then lead generation (32%). Just 21% cited thought leadership.

B2B, B2C Differ on Goals, Tactics

Further details from Econsultancy’s “Content Marketing Survey Report 2012,” produced in association with Outbrain, show that B2B and B2C marketers have different goals for their content marketing activities. For example, while lead gen is a top-3 goal for 44% of in-house B2B marketers, it’s only a top-3 objectives for 18% of B2C marketers. Instead, B2C in-house marketers are more focused on objectives such as raising brand awareness and increasing sales, a pattern also found among B2C agencies.

The different goals held by B2C and B2B marketers might help explain a discrepancy in results between the Optify survey, which was limited to B2B respondents, and the Econsultancy survey, which polled both B2C and B2B marketers. In the Optify survey, case studies (68%), white papers/e-books (61%), and press releases (58%) ranked as the most widespread forms of content marketing, ahead of press releases, with social content in the middle of the pack. In the Econsultancy survey, though, social posts and updates (83%), email newsletters (78%), and news/feature articles on websites (67%) ranked as most popular, ahead of press releases (64%), with white papers (23%) and e-books (12%) far less popular.

Those differences translated to measures of effectiveness, too: B2B marketers in the Optify study were most likely to say case studies (78%), white papers (73%), and in-person events (72%) are most effective, while B2B and B2C in-house marketers responding to the Econsultancy survey most often chose email newsletters (50%), social posts and updates (46%), and blog posts (36%) as their top-3 most effective types of content for marketing.

About the Data: The Econsultancy data is based on a survey of 1,315 in-house marketers, agencies or consultants, and people who described their job roles as “publishers.” 38% described themselves as mainly B2C, 39% as mainly B2B, and the remainder as equally focused on both. Respondents were from around the world, though the large majority (65%) are based in the UK.

Optify conducted a survey with the 30,000 + member B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn, receiving over 740 responses in less than 3 weeks.