Why care about B2B Content Marketing?

Our B2B content marketing survey is the most popular survey we have produced to date. We asked over 20,000 B2B marketing professionals to share their collective insight on B2B content marketing issues, trends, and preferences.

After the first couple of hundred responses, patterns and trends have stabilized - a clear sign that we are getting close to a representative sample size. Time to share some preliminary survey results!

The first survey question is designed to better understand the motivation of organizations engaging in content marketing as a B2B marketing strategy. In short: why do we care about content marketing? What are the main objectives? Let's take a look at the chart below.

Leads, leads, leads ...
By far the most mentioned objective for content marketing is lead generation (62 percent), followed by lead nurturing (39 percent). This finding doesn't come as a surprise considering that content marketing has emerged as a B2B strategy primarily to drive inbound lead generation (in response to outbound B2B tactics becoming increasingly ineffective). Lead generation and nurturing is the promise of content marketing, in conjunction with marketing automation tools to deliver compelling content in a targeted fashion, and to move buyers though their buying stages and to influence their decisions (our next sneak preview will explore the reality of content marketing in terms of outcomes and results.)

The next highest ranked objectives are thought leadership and brand awareness with 37 percent and 34 percent of responses, respectively. This is also consistent with the promise of content marketing as a strategy to educate and influence buyer behavior in the vendor's favor.

Content not critical for social media engagement?
The survey result I found most surprising, however, is how low (only 13 percent) social media engagement ranks as a main objective for content marketing. I believe content marketing is an ideal strategy to attract and engage audiences on social media platforms. It is also ideal for spreading your message by having great content shared across multiple social vectors. Perhaps in this context, our survey participants don't consider social media engagement a primary objective but a means to an end, i.e. lead generation/nurturing, thought leadership, and brand awareness - our top ranked objectives. I am curious to learn what you think about the results (especially if you participated in the survey).

Our next sneak preview will look at the effectiveness of content marketing - so stay tuned. The 2011 B2B content marketing survey is still open - take the survey and be among the first to receive a copy of the results!

1 comment:

Jim Novy said...

Holger, great post! Regarding social media engagement scoring low as an objective for content marketing, I am NOT surprised this number is so low. Without a profit motive (leads), B2B "social" engagement is nothing more than a professional development pursuit or the modern iteration of professional networking. As you know, it takes a tremendous amount of time to build relationships, a reputation and a "following" by actively participating in blog comments, group discussions, Tweets, etc., etc.

But marketers are so busy doing multiple jobs in order to keep their jobs, few make time for social engagement. Three types of people who have the time and inclination: a) unemployed job-seekers, b) industry gurus with an established audience, plenty of time and financial security, and c) the rare, impressive uber-passionate professionals who pursue business-oriented social engagement as a "hobby" (for example, AMA chapter presidents and ubiquitous LinkedIn Group owners like you-know-who). Everyone should make time for social engagement, but like Twitter, only 2% are active users while the rest are well-meaning bystanders.

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