Marketers who take the time to document their content marketing strategy are more effective than those who don’t.

That’s the key takeaway from the fifth annual B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, a joint effort by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs that surveys marketers on how they use content as part of the marketing mix.

More than 5,000 B2B marketers participated in this year’s survey; they spanned 25 industries, 109 countries, and both for-profit and non-profit organizations.

According to CMI founder, Joe Pulizzi (who wrote a great blog post on the results), “This year we found that a large percentage of marketers are operating under a “verbal strategy.” That’s a great starting point, but taking the time to document the strategy you’ve created is a critical next step.”

Here’s the data he’s referring to:

Most B2B marketers have a content strategy, but only 35% have documented it

For comparison, when asked the same question last year (i.e., whether marketers had a documented content marketing strategy), a whopping 49% said no. Pulizzi says it was a high percentage that left them wondering whether it was really true, or whether some had a strategy but had simply not taken the time to document it. By asking the question more pointedly this year, more light was shed on the situation.

The good news is that 83% of marketers embrace the importance of a content marketing strategy, compared with just 44% last year. But as this year’s research shows, formally documenting this strategy is essential. The reason: The 35% who have documented their strategy are more effective in all aspects of content marketing than those who have not.

Take a look:

Here are a few more interesting results.

Marketers are churning out a LOT of content … often

A full 43% say they’re creating “significantly more” content than they did one year ago. This is 11 points higher than last year’s survey in which 32% said they were creating “significantly more.”

Even more interesting (and somewhat disconcerting) is the frequency of publication. Since this is the first year the question has been asked, there’s no comparative data. However, 42% publish at least several times per week. And as Joe points out, of those who have a documented content marketing strategy, nearly a quarter (23%) publish content daily.

The most effective marketers spend more money on content marketing

Here’s the question: Approximately what percentage of your organization’s total marketing budget (not including staff) is spent on content marketing?

The average is 28%. However, the most effective marketers allocate 37%, whereas the least effective allocate 16%. According to the report, “There is a correlation between effectiveness and the amount of budget allocated to content marketing.”

Producing engaging content is a persistent challenge

This comes as no surprise, but it’s worthy of mention if only to remind us that we’re not alone in fighting the good fight. For the 5th consecutive year, “producing engaging content” tops the list with 54% of marketers citing it as their Number One hurdle, compared with 47% last year.

There were two big jumps this year: “measuring content effectiveness” went from 33% last year to 49% this year, and “finding trained content marketing professionals” went from 10% to 32%.

Measuring ROI remains elusive

Given the sheer volume of content being produced at breakneck speed, it’s somewhat deflating that only 21% of marketers say they’re successful at tracking the ROI of their content marketing program.

On the plus side, having a documented content marketing strategy helps: among the 35% who have documented their strategy, over a third (35%) say they’re successful in tracking ROI.

The Lesson is Clear

Says Pulizzi, “If you want to be more effective at content marketing, take the time to record your strategy and follow it closely.”

I encourage you to read his post and download the report for more details and findings. You won’t be disappointed.

Learn More

If you’re interested in creating a content marketing program that shines, download our free Content Marketing Superstar toolkit.