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Top B2B Content Marketing Trends in 2013

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The popularity of whitepapers as a B2B content marketing format is declining in relation to more interactive, easily digestible formats such as video, according to a recent survey of the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn.

Overall, B2B content marketing is seen as an increasingly effective strategy: More than 82% of survey respondents are planning to increase their content production over the next 12 months.

Other key findings from the annual report:

  • YouTube is gaining popularity as a social media platform to reach and engage B2B audiences. Facebook is losing ground. 
  • 61% of marketers use marketing automation platforms, up from 43% last year. 
  • The vast majority (93%) of B2B marketers are creating content from scratch.
  • Only 34% are syndicating/curating content, and just 30% are encouraging user-generated content. 

Below, additional insights from the B2B Content Marketing Report, which was authored by Holger Schulze, the manager of the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn.

The Most Effective Tactics

  • Customer testimonials and case studies are considered the most effective B2B content tactics by survey respondents.
  • Whitepapers suffered the biggest drop in perceived effectiveness from last year's survey—moving down from second place to sixth.
  • Videos are now viewed as the fifth most effective content type to reach B2B audiences.
  • The three least popular content formats are online games, printed books, and podcasts.

Top Goals of Content Marketing

Survey respondents listed lead generation (71%), thought leadership/market education (50%), and customer acquisition (45%) as their top content marketing goals.

Social Media Effectiveness

  • 85% of respondents consider LinkedIn an effective social media network for reaching and engaging B2B audiences. (However, consider that respondents were LinkedIn group members.)
  • 73% of respondents view YouTube as an effective platform, up from 53% last year. 
  • 65% say Twitter is effective, down from 70% last year. 
  • Only 39% say Facebook is an effective platform for delivering B2B content, down from 54% last year.

Top Challenges Facing B2B Content Marketers 

  • 55% of respondents say their top challenge is finding enough time and bandwidth to create content.
  • The next biggest challenge is producing engaging content (49%), followed by producing enough content variety to serve the needs of marketing programs (39%). 

Marketing Automation 

  • 37% of marketers use marketing automation to generate leads; 36% use it for lead nurturing. 
  • 39% of B2B marketers don't use marketing automation at all—significantly down from 57% last year.

About the research: The report was based on a June 2013 survey of 815 members of the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn. The community has 35,000+ members from a broad range of countries, industries, and employers.

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Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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  • by Randy Milanovic Mon Aug 12, 2013 via iphone

    Bite-size pieces has been best practice for a couple years.

  • by @jdiconsultants Tue Aug 13, 2013 via web

    ...this creates a need to check our direction .... the future is moving towards interactive content and videos

  • by olivier Tue Aug 13, 2013 via web

    Great research... but I would love to get the definition of 'effective content'? The effectiveness of content should relate to the audience and each sub-set of the B2B audience... some content may be effective for sales people, some for buyers, technical etc... that said

  • by Auri Biswas Tue Aug 13, 2013 via web

    Thanks for the summary. It's a good list of the various options - providing a glance at overall trends.

    Though, I'd add, effectiveness also depends on choosing the right tool for the specific product, target audience, and customer or customer segment combination. And of course, choosing a smaller set of well executed options is better than a large stable of average / below-average materials.

    [Tip: A simple green up arrow / red down arrow to the right of each bar showing the year-to-year trend - with the percentage or rank improvement - would make it a bit more informative / helpful!]

    Auri Biswas

  • by Robin Chance Wed Aug 14, 2013 via web

    Good data! One of the big surprises for me was that only 34% are syndicating/curating content. It is relatively easy to convert one piece of content into dozens of others by repurposing it for different audiences and channels.

  • by Gracious Store Wed Aug 14, 2013 via web

    Marketers are seizing every opportunity to increase their visibility using every possible media.

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