More than 8 in 10 (85%) B2B content marketers claim their organization’s content marketing has been at least moderately successful over the past year, with one-third saying it has been extremely (5%) or very (26%) successful. The majority of B2B content marketers also say that the pandemic has had a major (25%) or moderate (45%) impact on their content marketing strategy this year. This is per the latest annual B2B content marketing benchmark and trends report from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) along with MarketingProfs and ON24.
The value an organization’s content provides is a contributing factor to the success of a content marketing program. This is according to 83% of respondents who claimed their B2B content marketing was extremely or very successful.
Some 6 in 10 also attributed the success of their content marketing in the last 12 months to website changes including new content, while others ascribed success to strategy changes (45%) and search changes (37%).
The Impact of COVID-19
One-quarter of B2B content marketers with extremely or very successful content marketing programs believe that changing buyer behaviors – such as spending more time on the internet – can be attributed to their success in the past year. And, while B2B buyers were already using online sources to research vendors, reliance on digital content has increased since COVID-19.
Fortunately, when the pandemic hit B2B organizations were able to adjust quickly and effectively, with the majority of those surveyed strongly (50%) or somewhat (33%) agreeing that their organization made quick changes due to the pandemic. And, 8 in 10 agreed either strongly (39%) or somewhat (41%) that the changes their organization made were effective.
Some of these changes included changing their targeting/messaging strategy (70%), adjusting editorial calendars (64%), changing content distribution/promotional strategies (53%) and changing their website (40%). Much like many organizations during the pandemic, the respondents report that they put more resources toward social media and online communities (40%).
Notably, 86% agreed that at least some of the changes they made will stay in effect for the foreseeable future.
Virtual Event Usage Grows
While blog posts and short articles remain the most popular form of content used by B2B marketers this year — some 93% of respondents used this type of content in the past 12 months — COVID-19 has influenced the use of other content.
Confirming the reported shift from live events to virtual events, 73% of respondents used in-person events last year as part of their content strategy, but this year only 42% used these events. At the same time, 67% used virtual events/webinars/online courses (versus 57% in 2019). Added to that, those who used live streaming content tripled, from 10% to 29%.
The focus has also been put on using online channels such as social media platforms (89%), email (87%), website/blog (86%) and virtual events (54%) for organic content distribution. Seven in 10 (72%) also used paid content distribution channels in the last 12 months, including social media advertising (83%) and search engine marketing (65%).
Despite the heavy use of online content and channels, only about one-third (32%) say their organization has established an online community, while slightly more than one-quarter say they are likely to establish such a community in the next 12 months.
The full report can be found here.
About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 740 North American B2B marketers representing a full range of industries, functional areas and company sizes. The survey was fielded in July 2020.