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Nearly half (47%) of the content created by B2B marketers in 2018 was created for the early stage of the buyer’s journey, according to a recent study [PDF] from the Content Marketing Institute.

Creating content targeted at the top of the funnel aligns with the reasons given by survey respondents as to why they use content marketing. Generating leads or potential customers was the most commonly cited reason (87%) among respondents. By contrast, a significantly lower proportion (60%) use content to persuade leads or potential customers at the bottom of the funnel.

Financial-Based Metrics Aren’t the Most Common

Findings from this recent survey indicate that the most common metric used to measure content marketing impact is website traffic (67%), followed by audience engagement (58%) and quantity of leads (57%).

Financial performance metrics, however, are less likely to be cited. In fact, metrics such as cost per lead (39%), revenue growth (38%) and pipeline growth (37%) were used considerably less.

The fact that fewer marketers focus on these bottom-line metrics aligns with previous studies showing that marketers are struggling to measure ROI. The reasons given range from lack of formal justification required to needing an easier way to do it and not knowing how to measure it.

Content Types Vary Across Buying Journey

The survey illustrates that marketers tend to see particular content types as best suited for different stages of the buying journey.

As the most popular content type for the beginning of the buying journey, 73% stated that blog posts were most effective during the early stage, versus 21% stating they are most effective at the middle stage and 6% at late stage. At the other end of the spectrum, case studies had the highest percentage saying they were most effective at the late stage (40%). Previous research has likewise found that case studies are the most effective type for helping convert and accelerate leads at the middle and late stages of the funnel.

The only format that appeared to be evenly split was in-person events, with around a third of respondents citing it as most effective for each stage – early (35%), middle (33%) and late (32%).

The Majority (Still) Report Moderate Content Marketing Success

Another benchmark study from the Content Marketing Institute in 2017 revealed that 53% of B2B marketers rated their overall success with content marketing as moderately successful [pdf]. While only 3% of the respondents to that survey their content marketing was extremely successful, the same percentage felt it was not at all successful.

This more current study reflects similar findings with just under two-thirds (58%) of organizations saying they feel their overall content marketing approach is moderately successful. But 6% of respondents felt their approach was not at all successful, twice the amount who reported it to be extremely successful (3%).

As such, it appears that perceived content marketing success may be plateauing as a whole. However, whether this is as a result of increasing expectations, or an increasingly competitive environment is not answered. What has been clear since 2016 is that those consuming content have been struggling to keep up with the volume out there.

To read more about this study, you can download it here.

About the data: The data from this study was gathered from a survey of 192 respondents representing 25 countries. The respondents were from B2B (70%), B2C (9%) and both B2B/B2C (21%) organizations.

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