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CMI-Most-Effective-B2B-Content-Marketing-Tactics-Oct2013MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) have released their latest annual study [pdf] of B2B content marketing in North America. The wide-ranging study finds broader use and confidence in this burgeoning area, with 93% of respondents now using content marketing (up from 91% last year) and 42% finding their efforts effective (up from 36%). So which tactics are proving most effective?

For the 4th consecutive year, the study finds that in-person events are B2B content marketers’ most effective tactic, with 70% believing them to be effective, up from 67% last year. (A recent study from Sagefrog Marketing Group also found B2B marketers touting the ROI of trade shows and events.) Case studies (65%) followed in-person events in the effectiveness ratings this year, as they did last year, while videos (63%) moved into a third-place tie with webinars and webcasts.

Notably, while slightly fewer respondents overall rated blogs (62%) as effective, best-in-class B2B marketers rated them as their most effective tactic, exceeding in-person events (79% and 76%, respectively). By contrast, only 29% of the least-effective marketers rated blogs as effective, dragging down the overall average. (“Most effective” marketers are those who rated their organization’s use of content marketing as a 4 or 5 in terms of effectiveness on a 5-point scale. “Least effective” marketers gave scores of 1 or 2 on the same scale.)

Both blogs and in-person events are currently being used by 76% of respondents, making them two of the most leveraged tactics of the 13 currently used, trailing only social media – other than blogs (81%), articles on websites (81%), and e-newsletters (80%).  Compared to last year, more B2B marketers are using infographics, up to 51% from 36% of respondents.

Content Marketers Using More Social Platforms, Prefer LinkedIn

CMI-Most-Effective-Social-Platforms-for-B2B-Content-Marketing-Oct2013This year, respondents report using an average of 6 social media platforms, up from 5 in last year’s survey. Among those using social media sites to distribute content, a leading 91% use LinkedIn, ahead of Twitter (85%), Facebook (81%) and YouTube (73%). Google+ adoption continues to rapidly climb, with 55% now using the platform, up from 39% last year and 13% the year before that.

The study also identifies SlideShare and Instagram as fast-risers, now used by 40% and 22%, respectively.

Among the various platforms, LinkedIn emerges as the one users are most confident in, with 62% believing it to be effective. In fact, LinkedIn was the only platform which a majority of users found effective: Twitter was next, at exactly half of users. Despite increasing adoption, only 22% of Google+ users currently believe it’s effective.

There were some notable discrepancies when sorting by company size, though. Large companies (1,000+ employees) consider YouTube to be their second-most effective platform after LinkedIn, while for small companies, Slideshare and Twitter share that honor.

Content Creation Increases; Time Becomes a Bigger Challenge

Almost three-quarters of B2B marketers are creating significantly more (32%) or more (41%) content than last year, according to the study, with the most-effective marketers more likely to be churning out more content. Alongside increased content creation, 58% of respondents are increasing their content marketing spending, with respondents allocating 30% of their total marketing budgets on average to content marketing.

With all the money and effort being put into content marketing, it’s probably not too surprising that content marketers say their biggest challenge is lack of time (69%). That challenge outweighs prior leading hindrances such as producing enough content (55%) and producing the kind of content that engages (47%), suggesting that content marketers are becoming more confident in the execution and quality of their strategies and now just have to figure out how to optimize their time allocations.

Other Findings:

  • 44% of respondents said they have a documented content strategy, and 73% have someone who oversees their strategy.
  • While brand awareness (82%) remains the top content marketing goal ahead of lead generation (74%), the latter is the top choice among the most-effective B2B content marketers. Indeed, a recent survey from IMN found that content marketing is becoming more focused on lead generation.
  • Web traffic (63%) remains the most common success metric, followed by sales lead quality (54%), social media sharing (50%), sales lead quantity (48%) and SEO ranking (44%).

About the Data: The fourth annual Content Marketing Survey was mailed electronically to a sample of marketers using lists from Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs, Brightcove, Blackbaud, King Content, The Association for Data-driven Marketing & Advertising (ADMA), the Direct Marketing Association UK (DMA), Industry Week, and New Equipment Digest. A total of 4,397 recipients from around the globe””representing a full range of industries, functional areas, and company sizes””responded throughout July and August 2013.

B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends””North America reports on the findings from 1,217 (out of the total 4,397) respondents who identified themselves as B2B marketers in North America.

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