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Content marketing is now a well-established, core marketing strategy in the B2B marketplace, with B2B marketers considering content integral to their marketing mix: fully 9 in 10 organizations say they market with content, according to a new study from MarketingProfs and Junta42 titled B2B Content Marketing: 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.

B2B marketers are committing time, resources, and budget to the discipline of content marketing, the study finds:

  • They employ eight tactics, on average, to achieve their content marketing goals.
  • 51% report that they plan to increase their spend on content marketing over the next 12 months.
  • They spend, on average, more than a quarter of their marketing budget on content marketing.

"We have known for some time that marketers can no longer get the attention of customers by merely touting the features and benefits of their companies' products and services," says MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer Ann Handley. "Marketers now recognize that to be trusted they must regularly offer educational or entertaining information to customers," adds the co-author of the upcoming book, Content Rules.

"Even though the practice has been around for over 100 years, most marketers are brand new to content marketing," says Joe Pulizzi, founder of Junta42 and the Content Marketing Institute and co-author of Get Content Get Customers. "Marketers have transformed themselves into authors and publishers, and in doing so have ventured into areas where they must develop new key competencies to be effective," he adds.

Below, additional findings from B2B Content Marketing: 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends, which provides a detailed look at content marketing tactics, social media, goals, measurements, budgets, outsourcing, and challenges; it also highlights the practices of self-described best-in-class content marketers.

Usage and Effectiveness

The most popular tactics among the 90% of B2B marketers using content marketing to grow their businesses are social media (excluding blogs), 79%; articles, 78%; in-person events, 62%; and e-newsletters, 61%.

On average, marketers use eight content marketing tactics to achieve their marketing goals. Nevertheless, marketers are still unsure about the effectiveness and impact of individual tactics, distribution channels, and measurement techniques.

For example, among those who use content marketing, 79% have adopted social media tactics (excluding blogs), but only 31% of those who use social media rate the tactic as effective in their marketing.

 

Content marketing adoption levels are high across industries, with no single industry reporting an adoption rate below 78%.

There are, however, marked differences among the various industries in the use of content marketing tactics, with the computing/software industry reporting the highest level of content marketing overall.

Goals and Measurement

Marketers report that content marketing supports multiple business goals, led by brand awareness (78%), customer retention/loyalty (69%), and lead generation (63%). The goal cited least is lead management/nurturing (37%).

Web traffic is the most widely used success metric (56%), followed by direct sales (49%).

Budgets and Production

B2B marketers allocate, on average, approximately 26% of their total budgets to content marketing initiatives. The smaller the company (in terms of number of employees), the larger the percentage of budget it spends on content marketing.

Most marketers (51%) report they plan to spend more money on content marketing in 2011.

More than half (55%) of B2B marketers outsource content marketing.

Challenges

Among businesses that have content marketing strategies in place, the greatest challenge is "producing the kind of content that engages prospects and customers" (36% of respondents), followed by "producing enough content" (21%) and "budget to produce content" (19%).

Practices of Best-in-Class Companies

Four in ten marketers (41%) classify themselves as more effective in content marketing than their competitors. The marketers in this best-in-class group spend more and are more strategic in their approach:

  • They allocate a much larger percentage of their marketing budget to content marketing: On average, 30% of their marketing budgets are allocated to content marketing, compared with the average of 18% among less effective marketers.
  • They consider the stage in the buying cycle when they develop content.
  • They benefit from substantially more buy-in from senior members of the organization: Only 7% of these effective content marketers complain about lack of buy-in from higher-ups, compared with 23% of those who rate themselves as less effective.

About the study: MarketingProfs and Junta42|Content Marketing Institute conducted the study, with support from American Business Media and the Business Marketing Association. Readex Research provided assistance in the development and execution of the survey.

The survey was mailed electronically to a sample of B2B marketers from among members and subscribers of MarketingProfs, Junta42, ABM and BMA. A total of 1,124 responded in North America in May 2010, representing a full range of industries, functional areas, and company size.

To capture an accurate picture of the extent of the practice of content marketing, respondents were not informed of the survey's focus beforehand.

The survey defined "content marketing" as follows: "Content marketing/custom media (sometimes called custom publishing, custom content or branded content) is the creation and distribution of educational and/or compelling content in multiple formats to attract and/or retain customers."

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