In-Person Events Rated Most Effective By B2B Content Marketers

B2B marketers are almost universally using social media to distribute content, but less than half rate it as effective, according to [download page] a new study from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs. Instead, good old face-to-face contact still does the trick, with two-thirds of respondents rating in-person events as either effective or very effective. That puts those events above other tactics such as case studies (64%), webinars and webcasts (61%), blogs (59%), and videos (58%). Overall, 12 tactics got at least 50% of the vote for their efficacy, with social media narrowly missing the cut, at 49%.

A study released in September by Optify found similar results, with B2B marketers rating case studies (78%), white papers (73%), and in-person events (72%) as their most effective content marketing tactics.

Respondents to the CMI survey are using an average of 12 content marketing tactics, with larger companies generally using more (up to 18 for companies with 10,000 or more employees).

Traffic, Leads Top of Mind When Measuring Success

But how are these marketers actually measuring their success? Web traffic is the most popular method, used by 60%. Others look at sales lead quality (51%) and quantity (43%), as well as direct sales (41%). Debuting on the list of metrics this year is social media sharing, which 45% are paying attention to.

Effectiveness ratings and success metrics depend in part, of course, on organizational goals. Brand awareness (79%) is the most common of these, followed by customer acquisition (74%), and lead generation (71%). Only 43% say that sales is a content marketing goal, which explains why a minority are measuring direct sales.

Social Media The Most Popular Tactic

Further details from CMI’s “B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America” reveal that while social media doesn’t rate among the most effective tactics, it’s the most ubiquitous. 87% say they’re using social media, up from 74% last year, and pushing it ahead of articles on websites (83%), which occupied the top spot last year.

Other popular tactics include eNewsletters (78%), blogs (77%), case studies (71%), articles on other websites (70%), and in-person events (69%). On the other side of the spectrum, there’s not much take-up for digital magazines (25%), print newsletters (24%), annual reports (20%), and games (20%).

Still, of the 26 tactics identified, all saw an increase in usage this year, save for print magazines, which stayed steady at 31%. The tactics seeing the biggest increases in adoption on a percentage point basis were research reports (44% vs. 25%), videos (70% vs. 52%), mobile content (33% vs. 15%), and virtual conferences (28% vs. 10%).

Move Aside Twitter. LinkedIn Is The New Darling

With more B2B marketers turning to social media to distribute content, it’s no surprise that individual sites have seen an uptick in usage. This year, LinkedIn surges to the top spot, used by 83% of B2B marketers, up from 71% last year. LinkedIn overtook Twitter, which nonetheless saw an increase in adoption, from 74% to 80%. More B2B marketers are also using Facebook (up from 70% to 80%) and YouTube (up 5% points to 61%), though Google+ outstrips them both in its rise, jumping from 13% in 2011 to 39%.

New on the list this year are Pinterest (26%), Vimeo (12%), StumbleUpon (10%), Foursquare (8%), Instagram (7%), Tumblr (7%), and Quora (6%).

On average, B2B marketers are using 5 social media sites to distribute their content.

About the Data: “B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America” was produced by MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute, and sponsored by Brightcove. A survey was mailed electronically to a sample of B2B marketers from among members and subscribers of MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute. A total of 1,416 responded, in August 2012, from North American companies, representing a full range of industries, functional areas, and company sizes.