Content Must be Engaging and Compelling to be Successful, Say B2B Marketers

Effective content doesn’t depend on SEO friendliness or quality of editing, say B2B marketers responding to an Optify survey [download page] released this month. Instead, it’s all about engaging and compelling storytelling. Asked the 3 most important elements of successful content, survey respondents resoundingly chose this element (81.5%), far ahead of others such as originality (52.6%) and custom content (49.2%).

This focus on storytelling may be why these marketers tend to see longer content formats and personal contact as more effective. Almost 8 in 10 consider case studies to be effective in engaging prospects and delivering message, with white papers (73%) and in-person events (72%) following. By contrast, formats such as advertorials (18%) and community threading (20%) are seen as effective by only a minority of respondents, presumably as they don’t allow for the same level of engagement.

Content Marketing Key to Customer Engagement

The reason compelling content is so valued is because content marketing is seen as a critical way to create emotional connections with customers. According to an Econsultancy survey [download page] also released this month, in association with Outbrain, 84% of B2B and B2C in-house marketers agree that content marketing is key to creating an emotional connection with customers, and 74% agree that content marketing is more effective than advertising for customer engagement. Agencies have similar views: 83% see content marketing as key to emotional connections with customers, and 69% see it as more effective than advertising for this goal.

Compelling Content Not So Easy to Produce

But while creating compelling content might be key, it’s not necessarily easy. 53% of the B2B respondents to the Optify survey said that producing truly engaging content is a big content marketing challenge, second only to having the time and bandwidth to create content (56%). Marketers may be getting more confident, though – last year, producing compelling content was in the top spot.

Indeed, last year, in December, a study from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute found 41% of B2B marketers saying that producing the kind of content that engages prospects and customers was their biggest content marketing challenge, far ahead of other challenges such as producing enough content (20%) and having the necessary budget (18%).

Other Findings:

  • More than 8 in 10 respondents to the Optify survey say they will increase (53%) or significantly increase (30.5%) their content production volume over the next 12 months.
  • Trade shows and in-person events get the largest portions of respondent budgets, followed by websites and email marketing.
  • Nearly all respondents (92.5%) create content from scratch, while 4 in 10 curate 3rd party content.
  • The most commonly outsourced content types are videos (33%) and white papers/e-books (32%), followed by case studies (26%).

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

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.