Content marketing in 2015 – more growth but challenges ahead

October 8, 2014 11:50 am

B2B marketers plan to spend more on content marketing and produce more content over the next 12 months but they also face significant challenges in tracking and measuring its effectiveness. Those are just some of the findings of the eagerly awaited annual B2B content marketing benchmarks, budgets and trends report by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), published this week.

You can check out the CMI’s presentation of the results on the slide deck below:

2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs from Content Marketing Institute

The headline findings probably won’t surprise many. Some 70 per cent of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago and 55 per cent say they will increase spending on content marketing over next 12 months.

Favoured types of content used by marketers
For content marketing tactics – or content types – social media (other than blogs) remains top at 92 per cent, followed by e-newsletters (83 per cent), articles on the company website (81 per cent), blogs (80 per cent) and in-person events (77 per cent).

The results haven’t changed much from last year and again infographic use shows the biggest jump from 51 per cent in 2013 to 62 per cent. It’s also interesting to note tactics that significant numbers of B2B marketers (fewer than 40 per cent) don’t use – print and digital magazines, mobile apps, virtual conferences and e-books.

Effectiveness of content
As content producers, it is interesting for us to note the difference between the most common content types and tactics used and the ones that B2B marketers say are actually the most effective. The latter list reads very much like a tick list of old school marketing tactics – for the fifth consecutive year in-person events tops the list (69 per cent), followed by webinars/webcasts (64 per cent), videos (60 per cent), blogs (60 per cent), case studies (58 per cent), white papers (58 per cent) and research reports (58 per cent).

Social media
LinkedIn is still the most used – and most effective – social media platform, used by 94 per cent of B2B marketers to distribute content. We have talked here on this blog in the past about the growing influence of Google+ so it is Interesting to note the biggest rise in social media usage by B2B marketers has been in Google+, up 9 percentage points from last year. But after sizeable jumps last year, SlideShare, Pinterest, Instagram and Vimeo have all levelled off. Vine’s novelty seems to have worn off, dropping 9 per cent.

Goals
Brand awareness remains top at 84 per cent, as it has done the past five years. Close behind, however, is lead generation at 83 per cent. As content marketing matures we would hope and expect that the lead generation goal drops in favour of things such as engagement, awareness and thought leadership. For sure, content marketing has a role to play in the whole sales cycle but the ‘sell’ bit should come much further down the funnel.

Challenges ahead
In addition to the issues around tracking and measuring ROI and effectiveness of content marketing, there are likely to be challenges around sourcing the talent to plan and deliver these programmes. While B2B marketers are planning to spend more and produce more content, almost a third (32 per cent) also say they are challenged with finding trained content marketing professionals, up significantly from just 10 per cent last year.

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