The 2014 Benchmark Report on B2B Content Marketing and Lead Generation reveals various insights into how B2B companies are creating, licensing and utilizing content assets to demonstrate thought leadership, raise brand visibility – and, perhaps most importantly, generate qualified leads. Some of the insights are obvious; others are not.
The research was conducted in Q2 2014 by Starfleet Media; 261 B2B marketing and sales professionals participated. The final report can be accessed here.
Following are 7 key takeaways for B2B marketers to consider:
1. The top 5 objectives for investing in content marketing are: to raise brand visibility, generate more leads, generate better leads, increase website traffic and improve search engine rankings. However, not all B2B companies are succeeding in their efforts.
- Less than one-eighth of survey respondents report that they have been “very successful” in achieving their primary objectives for content marketing
- Less than one-thirdof survey respondents report that they have been “successful” in achieving their primary objectives for content marketing.
- More than one-third (35%)of survey respondents report that they have “not been successful” in achieving their primary objectives for content marketing.
2. The content assets that B2B companies are using most frequently aren’t necessarily the same ones that are creating the most value.
- Client case studies are the most frequently used content assets, followed by company-branded white papers, webinars, eBooks and infographics.
- Companies across all industries report that they produced or licensed an average of 4.5 new content assets over the past 12 months.
- Cross-industry software providers produced or licensed an average of 7.5 new content assets over the past 12 months while industry-specific software providers produced or licensed an average of 5 new assets during this same period.
- Non-software providers produced or licensed an average of only 3.5 new assets
- Survey respondents ranked company-branded eBooks, case studies and third-party research reports as having created the most value for their companies.
3. Content assets need to be gated to generate leads (but not to be valuable).
- Infographics are rarely gated but nonetheless rated valuable by 92% of marketers for their ability to drive website traffic and create brand awareness.
- Case studies are also rarely gated but rated valuable by 90% of marketers for their ability to substantiate benefits and results via client testimonials.
- Some content assets, such as recorded webinars, may be ungated on some platforms (e.g., YouTube) and gated on others (e.g., the company website).
4. Outsourcing of certain functions related to B2B content marketing is on the rise across companies of all sizes, and that’s probably a good thing.
- Most marketers report that their plans to outsource over the next 12 months will increase slightly in the areas of demand generation and content marketing strategy.
- Most marketers report that their plans to outsource over the next 12 months will remain roughly the same in all other areas.
- Very large and large companies are nearly as likely to outsource content development and design functions as midsize and small companies that may lack in-house resources.
5. “Let me send you follow-up materials” is the top distribution tactic B2B companies are using to get their content assets in the hands of target prospects.
- 96% of companies rely most heavily on sales and account management team outreach for content distribution, followed by tweets, blogging and Facebook posts.
- Social media sites account for half of the top ten content distribution tactics. In fact, B2B marketers use social media far more extensively than paid search to help generate leads. They employ an average of 3.5 social media platforms to promote their content assets.
- Nine of the top 10 content distribution tactics are essentially free vehicles; only press releases can be said to fall into the “paid promotion” category.
6. Spending on content marketing will increase for most B2B companies — some by a lot.
- Almost two-thirds of marketers plan to allocate a greater portion of their marketing budgets to content marketing over the next 12 months.
- Almost one-quarter of companies plan to more than double their spending on content marketing over the next 12 months.
- None of the survey respondents indicated that their companies plan to reduce their spending on content marketing over the next 12 months.
7. When it comes to B2B lead generation, content is king.
- While resource constraints are more likely to be an issue for large and very large companies than for small and very small companies, companies of all sizes and across nearly all industries struggle almost the same when it comes to creating compelling content.
- According to survey respondents, the ability to generate high-quality leads, as well as sufficient numbers of leads, is almost always a function of having compelling content.