B2B content marketers are quite confident that they differentiate their content from the competition, with 64% saying they do so always (23%) or frequently (41%). That’s according to the 13th Annual B2B Content Marketing report [pdf] from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, sponsored by ON24.
With the vast majority of B2B buyers saying that vendor content impacts the purchase decision, it’s important to see how these content marketers go about differentiating their efforts from their competitors’. The most common way is by producing better quality content, as cited by 83% of the group of respondents who frequently or always differentiates their content. Of course, everyone wants to produce better content, but having the right people on board to do so helps. In fact, almost half (47%) of B2B content marketers overall said that they believe their B2B organization will hire or contract content producers (writers, designers, photographers, videographers) in 2023. No other content role came close: the next-most cited for hiring or contracting next year was the content marketer (to create and manage content marketing programs to attract an audience), by one-quarter (25%) of respondents.
Besides simply producing better quality content, another way to stand out is to cover unique stories. Almost three-quarters (72%) of content marketers who say they at least frequently differentiate their content said that one way to do this is by covering topics/stories that their competitors aren’t covering.
Meanwhile, one potentially overlooked way to differentiate content? Half (50%) said to actively promote the content they publish, beyond publishing/distributing it.
Promotion appears to be a more sound bet than just doing a better job of distributing content (33%), according to the respondents. However, there are signs that B2B content marketers may not be distributing content to the best extent possible. This year just two-thirds (67%) of B2B marketers say their organization uses one or more paid content distribution channels for content marketing, down from 81% last year. That doesn’t appear to be due to lack of budget: the share of marketing budget going towards content marketing is about the same as it was the previous year. Moreover, separate research indicates that content is the top area bookmarked for B2B budget increases next year, so presumably the funds will be available for both distribution and promotion.
Which Types of Content Are B2B Marketers Leveraging?
The most widely-used content assets that B2B marketers created in the past year were short articles and posts (of fewer than 1,500 words), as cited by almost 9 in 10 (89% of) respondents. Three-quarters (75%) created videos, while two-thirds used case studies, which tend to be most effective at the bottom of the funnel.
Other assets that a majority of B2B content marketers used over the past year include virtual events/webinars/online courses (62%), infographics/charts/data viz/3D models (61%), long articles/posts (61%); and e-books/white papers (59%).
About half (49%) used in-person events, up from just 19% the previous year. Along with that increase in usage, about half (48%) who used in-person events called them the asset that produced the best result, the highest for any on the list. Close behind were virtual events/webinars/online courses (indicated to be effective by 47% of users) and research reports (by 46% of users). Research and data are indeed shown to be key for shareability and memorability.
Looking ahead to 2023, almost 8 in 10 (78%) will invest in video, while a growing number (69%) plan to invest in owned-media assets. Highlighting growth areas, the report mentions social media/community building, which 57% expect they’ll invest in for 2023, compared to just 39% saying that the prior year.
Other Quick Hits
- 75% of the most successful B2B content marketers use one or more paid channels for content distribution, compared to 57% of the least successful content marketers.
- 86% of content marketers overall agree that their organization values creativity and craft in content creation and production.
- Websites, blogs, and email newsletters are the most common owned-media platforms used to distribute content.
- Virtually all (95%) use social media platforms organically to distribute content, while almost two-thirds are speaking and presenting at events.
- One in 10 monetize their content, most commonly through sponsorships/advertising or paid or premium content.
About the Data: Based on a July survey of 925 content marketers at for-profit B2B or B2B+B2C companies.