If you’re a B2B marketer and aren’t utilizing content marketing as part of your arsenal, you’re part of a diminishing minority.
Curata’s latest “B2B Marketing Trends 2012 Report” surveyed 465 marketing professionals and found that nearly 9 in 10 B2B marketers are using content marketing as part of their programs. Meanwhile, 57 percent of marketers are currently using content curation.
Content marketing grows in prominence
According to Curata, 82 percent of respondents say driving sales and/or leads is the most important marketing objective for their organization, up from 78 percent last year. This is followed by establishing/maintaining thought leadership with 42 percent (up from 35 percent), boosting brand awareness with 40 percent (up from 35 percent), increasing Web traffic with 32 percent (up from 28 percent), improving search results with 27 percent (up from 24 percent) and decreasing the cost of acquisition for new business with 13 percent (down from 21 percent).
To achieve those goals, content marketing appears to be a go-to weapon for a lot of marketers. Curata finds that 87 percent of B2B marketers are currently using content marketing in their marketing programs, up from 82 percent last year. This is followed by search marketing (SEO/SEM) with 67 percent, events with 62 percent, public relations with 56 percent and print/TV/radio advertising with 26 percent. Of all these strategies, content marketing is the only one to see increases usage compared with last year.
The survey finds that 81 percent of marketers who use content marketing programs say their main objective is to engage customers/prospects, down from 82 percent last year. Meanwhile, 56 percent say they use content marketing to establish thought leadership, up from 43 percent last year; 47 percent say they use it to drive sales, down from 55 percent last year; 47 percent say they use it to educate the market, up from 44 percent last year; 27 percent say they use it to increase Web traffic, down from 43 percent last year; 24 percent say they use it for SEO, up from 19 percent last year; and 1 percent say they use it to stay up-to-date with the competition, down from 2 percent last year.
According to Curata, 27 percent of B2B marketers say a limited budget is their biggest marketing challenge, followed by limited staff with a 25 percent response, and generating or creating new content with a 21 percent response.
“As B2B marketers continue to face challenges in the form of limited resources, initiatives that take considerable time and money will continue to decline in popularity,” Curata notes in the report.
Content curation offers a solution for the crunch on resources marketers might be battling. The report finds that 57 percent of respondents are currently using content curation as part of their content marketing strategy. Content curation is “the act of finding, organizing and sharing online content,” according to Curata.
However, content curation is still a relatively new tactic, as 34 percent of B2B marketers say they’ve only been implementing content curation for less than six months. Twenty-four percent say they’ve used content curation for more than two years, while 42 percent say they’ve used the strategy for 6 months to two years.
Creating original content is a big challenge for 69 percent of content curators, followed by 65 percent who point to having the time to do it.
According to Curata, 30 percent of marketers who have implemented content curation programs have an average sales cycle (i.e., time from prospect to close of deal) of 1-3 months, while 21 percent have a cycle of 3-6 months and 19 percent have a cycle of six months to a year.
The key for content curation going forward seems to be measuring results. While 43 percent of marketers using content curation programs say they’ve been successful (29 percent of marketers say they saw inbound leads rise 25 percent due to content marketing), another 43 percent say they don’t measure the success of their programs.
A report from Optify found that 84 percent of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing in the next 12 months. Meanwhile, 9 in 10 B2C and B2B marketers and agencies say content marketing will become more important next year, according to Econsultancy. Both of these studies find that generating leads will be the primary objective of content marketing for B2B marketers.
A presentation from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute found that 91 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing, with 54 percent saying they’ll increase their spending on the strategy during the next 12 months.
By Jason Hahn