Last week, Junta 42 and MarketingProfs launched a new study on B2B Content marketing trends. The results show that the B2B sector has come of age as a publisher of branded content; nine in ten of the 1,100 B2B organizations surveyed use branded content for marketing purposes – regardless of industry or company size. On average, these marketers spend roughly a quarter of their promotional budgets on content marketing. And more than half (51%) report that they plan to increase their spend on content over the next 12 months. Despite the growth in spend, most B2B marketers are unsure of their ROI on content marketing. They are long on commitment, but short on measurement.
Content marketing – defined by the study’s authors as “the creation and distribution of educational and/or compelling content in multiple formats to attract or retain customers” – is also known as custom publishing, custom content or branded content. Of the industries surveyed, computing/software reported the highest level of adoption (94%). Banking and financial services companies (while operating in highly regulated industries) also reported high rates of content marketing adoption (93%). Use of social media, however, was significantly lower in this sector than in other industries (62% adoption versus 79% average).
On the measurement front, marketers across all industries are struggling to identify credible metrics and track effectiveness. Web traffic (56%) is the most popular measure, followed by direct sales (49%), sales lead quality (44%), qualitative customer feedback (44%) and sales lead quantity (36%). Commonly-discussed metrics such as SEO (28%) and inbound links (24%) ranked significantly lower.
If content marketing is going to live up to its promise in the B2B sector, marketing officers need to close the measurement confidence gap. And because metrics are linked to leads and customer feedback, marketers also need to build better bridges between content and sales. B2B marketers and sales managers need to work as a team just as “editorial” and “distribution” are doing in traditional publishing.
We can all identify the companies at the forefront of B2B content marketing today– companies with robust blogs, active microsites and engaged social media communities. The next wave of content marketing leadership is likely to be defined by companies that build integrated marketing/sales capabilities.
In your view, which B2B companies are best-in-class examples of marketing-sales integration?