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Content marketing is gaining in popularity: 83.5% of B2B marketers surveyed say they are stepping up their content marketing production over the next 12 months, up from the 71% who said so a year earlier, according to a report by Holger Schulze for Optify.

Some 15.0% of surveyed B2B marketers expect content volume to stay flat in 2012, and only 1.5% are expecting a decrease.

Below, additional findings from the 2012 B2B Content Marketing Trends Survey, based on a poll of 740 members of the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn. Almost one-half of respondents work for high-tech (24%) or software (22%) companies, and more than one-half of those surveyed are from companies with fewer than 100 employees.

Content Marketing Goals

B2B marketers use content marketing to achieve a variety of marketing goals and cite the following as their top 3:

  1. Lead generation: 68%
  2. Thought leadership/market education: 50%
  3. Brand awareness: 39%

Top Content Tactics

B2B marketers also use a wide variety of content marketing tactics to achieve their goals.

The most popular content tactics are case studies (62%), whitepapers and e-books (61%), press releases (58%), newsletters (55%), and blogging (51%).

By contrast, fewer B2B marketers are using tactics such as advertorials (11%), community threading (12%), and virtual events (18%).

Effectiveness of Content Tactics

Case studies, in addition to being the most popular content tactic, seem the most effective (78%). Whitepapers rank second in effectiveness (73%), followed by in-person events (72%).

The least effective content formats are advertorials (18%), community threading (20%), and virtual events (31%).

Graphics are gaining in effectiveness: 43% of B2B marketers cite graphic content as the most effective content format, up from 28% in 2011.

Ingredients of Great Content

Among B2B marketers, successful content starts with engaging and compelling storytelling (81.5%), originality (52.6%), and customized content (49.2%), followed by well-edited copy (38.5%) and professional writing (38.3%):

Social Channels

Not surprisingly, LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform among B2B marketers, at 85%, followed by Twitter (70%), Facebook (54%), and YouTube (53%). (The LinkedIn number is likely skewed considering the majority of survey respondents came from the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn).

Other key findings:

  • 56% of B2B marketers cite "time and bandwidth" as their biggest challenge to creating content, and 53% cite producing truly engaging content.
  • 94% of B2B marketers create new content from scratch, 39% curate third-party content, 32% reuse existing content, and just 30% encourage user-generated content.
  • Top performance metrics for content marketers include Web traffic (64%), content views and downloads (59%), lead quantity (52%), and lead quality (52%).
  • Only 26% of B2B marketers are actively creating content to feed their marketing automation campaign; 56% do not use marketing automation at all.

About the data: Findings from the 2012 B2B Content Marketing Trends Survey is based on a poll of 740 members of the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn. The report was authored by Holger Schulze for Optify. Almost one-half of respondents work for high-tech (24%) or software (22%) companies, and the remaining work in other B2B companies. Most respondents hold senior-level marketing positions, and more than one-half are from companies with fewer than 100 employees. Other report sponsors were IDG Enterprise, NetProspex, Maximizer Software, and Solution Publishing.

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