Why 90% of Top-Performing B2B Marketers Use Content Marketing

It’s official: B2B marketers have fully adopted content marketing — the practice of attracting prospects by providing them with helpful information instead of promotional messages.

 

Why? Because it works, according to B2B Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, the ninth annual such report by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs.

The report, available here, is based on a survey and published each fall to guide marketers in planning for the coming year.

Here are the highlights, as reported by Lisa Murton Beets for CMI:

Building Trust

What’s happens when you help someone by providing valuable information? The research indicates you’re creating a bond: 96% of the most successful content marketers say their audience views their organization as a credible and trusted resource.

To earn trust, your content must have four traits, according to CMI Chief Strategy Advisor Robert Rose. It must be:

  • Risk appropriate (avoid asking for something before proving the value)

  • Consistent (deliver reliable content regularly over time)

  • Personal (based on reliable information the visitor has willingly given)

  • Cumulative (building on what came before)

Using Personas

In efforts to create content that meets the needs and preferences of prospects, 73% of content marketers use or plan to use buyer personas: fictional people who represent composite customers. Effective personas are based on market research, analytics or other data about real people.

Actual customers can tell you directly about their needs and preferences, yet only 42% of B2B marketers responding to the survey said they were having conversations with customers as part of their audience research. The most popular research techniques were:

  • 74% Sales Team Feedback

  • 73% Website Analytics

  • 65% Keyword Research

  • 53% Secondary Research

  • 50% Primary Research

  • 50% Social Media Listening

  • 45% Database Analysis

  • 42% Customer Conversations/Panels

  • 8% Other

CMI recommends that B2B marketers look for ways to make customer conversations a more dominant part of the mix. Suggested ways to do that are: accompany sales reps on their calls, arrange phone calls with prospects and customers, and attend in-person events that audience members attend and to talk to them there.

Nurturing Leads

In the same study, 58% of respondents say they’ve used content marketing successfully to nurture subscribers, audience or leads in the last 12 months. The top two methods are email (87%) and educational content (77%).

Only 23% of respondents indicate their organization is working to build community among their audience or inviting audiences to participate in discussions.

Here are the content marketing methods successful B2B marketers are using, according to the report:

  • 87% Email/Email Campaigns

  • 77% Educational Content

  • 62% Clear Calls to Action for Next Steps

  • 61% In-person Events

  • 45% Storytelling/Relating to the Audience

  • 27% Offers/Incentives

  • 23% Community Building/Audience Participation

  • 6% Membership Perks

  • 5% Predictive Technology

  • 2% Other