The industry of Business-to-Business is just starting to adopt content and social media strategies to communicate with their audiences, jumping into the bandwagon a few years later than Business-to-Consumer strategists.
As of the beginning of this year, 93% of B2B marketers said they use content marketing, growing 2% from last year’s 91%. However, as the industry is still in its early adoption phase, only 42% of marketers rate their strategies as effective (up from 36% in 2013). This clearly indicates the need to establish best practices and uncover the most effective channels. We can start making an example out of the marketing professionals who rated their strategies as effective; these content marketers have:
- A documented content strategy
- Someone who oversees content marketing strategy
- Use an average of 15 tactics
- Use 7 social media platforms in average
- Allocate about 39% of the marketing budget on content marketing
- A third of them is continuously challenged with producing engaging content
- Three quarters of B2B content marketers are producing more content than they did one year ago
The most used B2B marketing tactics are depicted below; the usage of these tactics has been constant over the last two years, with exception of use of infographics, which has increased 13% from last year.
The delayed growth of content and social media marketing in B2B may be closely associated to the relational approach the industry has had in the past. B2B marketers still rate in-person event as the most effective tactic in their toolbox. Formal reports in the shape of case studies, webinars, or white papers, among others, are starting to gain the confidence of B2B professionals: best-in-class B2B marketers are starting to rate blogs the most effective tactics, surpassing how they rate in-person events.
Social Media Sites are also proving to be efficient vehicles to distribute content; B2B marketers’ preferred sites are LinkedIn (91%), Twitter (85%), Facebook (81%), and YouTube (73%). The social media platforms that registered the biggest increase in use from last year are SlideShare, Google+, and Instagram. Even tough the adoption rates for social media are increasing, B2B marketers are still unsure of its effectiveness: Only 62% believe LinkedIn is effective, and this is the platform they trust the most.
- B2B Content Marketing is currently serving the following organizational goals:
- Brand Awareness
- Lead Generation
- Customer Acquisition
- Thought Leadership
- Customer Retention/Loyalty
- Website Traffic
- Lead Management/Nurturing
As with every social platform, it is difficult to measure a precise ROI. The most common measures of success include:
- - Web Traffic
- - Sales Lead Quality
- - Social Media Sharing
- - Sales Lead Quantity
- - SEO Ranking
- - Time Spent on Website
As social and content B2B marketing grows, it faces specific challenges. The lack of time, and the urgency of producing enough and engaging content are the professionals’ main problems. I think that as the adoption stabilizes across the sector and more companies apply this form of communication, organizations will have to create more positions to cater to the growing content demand and allocate more budget to this marketing function.
Source: Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, "B2B Content Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends - North America", 2014, Retrieved from http://www.iab.net/media/file/B2BResearch2014.pdf