To summarize our new content marketing research report in four words: Content marketing is maturing.
Almost two-thirds (63%) of North American B2B marketers—and 78% of top performers among them—say they're much more or somewhat more successful with their content marketing now than they were a year ago, according to our just-released B2B content marketing research report.
That's good news—both for B2B organizations and for the discipline of content marketing itself, of course.
The new report, B2B Content Marketing 2018: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, produced by MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and sponsored by Brightcove, presents findings from the 8th annual content marketing survey. (Yes, 8th!)
Some 870 B2B marketers in North America from a wide range of company sizes and industries responded to the survey in June and July 2017.
A quarter (24%) of those surveyed say their organization's overall content marketing approach is extremely or very successful; we consider these respondents B2B content marketing top performers.
In marketing, I value quality over quantity, great writing, building an audience over stuffing a pipeline full of so-called prospects. So here are a few of my favorite takeaways from this year's research:
- 80% of all B2B content marketers surveyed agree their organization is focused on building audiences (i.e., one or more subscriber bases); that's an 18% increase from last year. And nearly all—92%—of the top-performing B2B content marketing programs say they are focused on building audiences.
Takeaway: B2B marketers get it: A clearly defined audience is one of the foundations of a successful content program. Without it, content is merely a tiny voice in the wilderness—shivering, alone, friendless.
- 74% of B2B marketers agree their organization values creativity and craft in content creation and production (compared with 88% of top performers).
Takeaway: Metrics and measurement are important. But the art in marketing is just as important as the science! (Maybe more so.)
- 70% of the top-performing B2B content marketers rate the project management flow during their content-creation process as excellent/very good, compared with just 36% of all those surveyed.
Takeaway: In other words, if you truly want an edge, you need to not only be creative but also have good processes in place. "Process" and "creation" are actually friends, not enemies.
Ann Handley is chief content officer of MarketingProfs, author of Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Ridiculously Good Content, and co-author of the best-selling book on content marketing, Content Rules. Ann co-founded ClickZ.com, one of the first sources of interactive marketing news and commentary.