If you’re handling the digital marketing at a B2B financial services, healthcare, technology or professional services company and you don’t have much of a content marketing program, heads up—your competition likely does, and there’s a great chance they are outpacing you at gathering new, high-quality leads.

Demandwave’s 2017 State of B2B Digital Marketing report was just released, and the survey found, once again, that content is one huge factor in how effective a B2B company’s digital marketing efforts are.

Here are three big takeaways from the report.

1. The focus continues to shift from quantity of leads to quality of leads.


In the early days of online lead generation, it was fun to create a landing page and a whitepaper and just see what happens! But as B2B content has flooded organic search results and social platforms, it’s become increasingly important to drive not just traffic and leads, but the right kind of high-quality traffic and leads in your content marketing program. So it makes sense that the number one goal (and the number one challenge) for digital marketers in 2017 is to drive quality leads over quantity of leads. In other words, ranking in organic search for a particular keyword doesn’t matter if it’s not driving the right people to your website.

In our view, the best way to drive high-quality leads to your site is by understanding your audience and creating quality content that’s tailored specifically to them. “What kind of content?” you ask…

2. Whitepapers drive the most leads and revenue.


Though the B2B digital marketing report shows that marketing leaders write and publish more blogs than whitepapers, the whitepapers are driving more leads and revenue than any other type of content. This should help you focus your content marketing efforts for the coming year if you haven’t already.

We’ve found there’s an awful lot of confusion around what a whitepaper is and what it isn’t. It’s important for you and your team to be on the same page about what you’re creating before you create it. Here’s how we explain the difference between a whitepaper, eBook, sell sheet and case study.

3. Email is the most effective channel for driving leads. It’s tied with organic search for driving revenue.


If you’ve created a series of whitepapers for your content marketing program, you’ve got to find a way to promote them. According to the B2B digital marketing report, email is the preferred channel for driving leads for most companies, followed closely by organic search and social media. As far as driving revenue is concerned, email and organic search are tied. B2B marketers are seeing success with email—which means they’ve also successfully built a good subscriber list. There are a number of ways to do this, but we’d recommend creating content to attract the right audience.