There's a lot to love in the findings from our newest B2B content marketing research.

An audience-first mindset. Focus on trust. Storytelling as a nurturing tool.

Let's dig in to the just-released B2B Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends—North America report, produced by MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute, starting with the stat that stood out the most for me:

Among top-performing B2B content marketers, 90% say they put their audience's informational needs ahead of their company's sales/promotional message, compared with just 56% who say so among least successful content marketers.

This is the ninth (!) year we've conducted this B2B research, which is among the most cited on the topic of B2B content. And the 2019 report is both bigger and packed with more data than ever.

This year's report, sponsored by Conductor, provides a ton of insights into how organizations can vastly improve their B2B content marketing. We've also made an important change to our methodology* to give us a more experienced sample of practicing content marketers.

To nurture their audiences, B2B content marketers are using primarily email (87%) and providing educational content (77%) to the audience. And 45% are relying "storytelling/relating to the audience" to nurture that audience.


That last finding is key. Because nurturing an audience requires us to dig deep to understand who they really are—to be truly curious about them.

And, along those lines, many of us are missing out on other opportunities to engage. Just 23% of us are using community building/audience participation to bring more/new voices to the table. But doing that is also key.

I speak to this all the time on stage and in my own work. Here's the deal: When we speak with our customers with empathy, as their peers, we develop not just camaraderie but actual insight. They are no longer just "target markets," "personas," or "segments." They become real to us, and we understand their problems better—and that can help us to better engage with and nurture our audiences.

Let's look at some more numbers. These are just a few selected stats from B2B Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends—North America:

  • Changes to SEO/search algorithms is the top content marketing issue of importance to organizations (61%), followed by changes in social media algorithms (45%), and content marketing as a revenue center (41%).
  • 96% of the most successful content marketers agree that their organizations have built credibility and trust with their audience.
  • Well-researched personas can help teams create successful content; however, only 42% of content marketers are actually talking with customers to understand their needs.
  • Content creation is the area of content marketing where there has been the most reported increase in spending over the last 12 months (56%).

And here are some additional highlights and charts from this year's B2B content marketing report.

Commitment to Content Marketing

The annual content marketing research consistently finds that a strong commitment to content marketing often yields a higher level of content marketing success. This year is no different: 93% of the most successful B2B content marketers say their organization is extremely or very committed to content marketing.


Content Marketing Strategy

The most successful content marketers are far more likely than their less successful peers to have a documented content marketing strategy: 65% vs. 14%. And that's understandable, considering the many benefits of a documented strategy:


Content Marketing Technologies

The Top 3 technologies B2B marketers use to assist with managing their content marketing efforts are social media publishing/analytics, email marketing software, and analytics tools:


Audience Research

Sales team feedback, website analytics, and keyword research are the top three techniques B2B content marketers use to research their audience:


Content Creation Best-Practices

How the most successful B2B content marketers approach content creation is telling. They are tantamount to best-practices; at their core, they are audience-centric:


Content Marketing Budgets and Spending

In the previous 12 months, B2B content marketers increased spending on content creation more so than on other areas, including staffing and content distribution:


Content Marketing Metrics: Return on Investment

Fully 72% of the most successful B2B content marketers report their organization measures content marketing ROI:


Check Out the Full Report:

2019 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends - North America
from MarketingProfs

*This year, we asked respondents to confirm that their organization has been using content marketing for at least one year. We also qualified respondents based on whether they are a content marketer, someone involved with content marketing, or someone to whom content marketing staff reports. The result was a more relevant sample of practicing content marketers—and more robust insights.

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2019 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: A First Look at New Research

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image of Ann Handley

Ann Handley is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author who recently published Everybody Writes 2. She speaks worldwide about how businesses can escape marketing mediocrity to ignite tangible results. IBM named her one of the 7 people shaping modern marketing. Ann is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, a LinkedIn Influencer, a keynote speaker, mom, dog person, and writer.