Content marketing continues to be a popular and successful B2B strategy. Now that 2015 is half over, industry analysts have detected a few trends for the year.
Over the last year, the amount of B2B marketing content being published has increased substantially. According to the B2B Marketing Content Benchmarking Report 2015, 83 percent of marketers who responded to the survey stated they had increased their content output from 2014 to 2015 and 82 percent of respondents said they planned on growing their content generation even more by 2016 (1).
This has led companies to devote more time and resources to content creation. In 2013, the report found 37 percent of marketing department time was spent on generating content. Now, creating materials to publish accounts for 45 percent of a company's marketing schedule and the strategy utilizes 31 percent of the department's annual budget.
Companies are often told the more content they distribute, the easier it is for potential clients to find them. In order to optimize searches and encourage sharing, a B2B marketer will flood channels with content in hopes that something will stand out.
It's not just about quantity, however. To stay competitive in the current market, a company has to make sure they are producing quality content.
The B2B Marketing report concluded 31 percent of companies begin generating content with no formalized plan in place. Other businesses might have a verbal strategy but nothing to report to the higher-ups or strictly monitor. The survey discovered respondents who created written plans with formal checkpoints achieved the greatest satisfaction through their content marketing.
Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi, said a modern B2B strategy should be documented and reviewed (2). It is essential plans are spoken out loud and written down so they can be referenced by people in the department and approved by managers. Having a documented plan means a marketer is checking progress against projections.
Each week should have a content plan in place. A company needs to set short-term goals for what is to be created and what must be achieved. Speaking with a marketing specialist can help businesses find realistic standards for success.
The three most popular social media sites for B2B marketers continue to be LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, Business2Community reported (3). Twitter and Facebook are used socially. They are utilized by a variety of individuals and are an excellent source of personalized, human marketing messages. LinkedIn is the most popular site, as it has proven to be the best online tool in connecting professionals and fostering business relationships.
Business2Community suggested companies shouldn't try to be on every social media network; it could overextend resources and lead to lower quality content. Aside from the top three social media sites, a company should invest in a platform for sharing video content to diversify materials and Google+ to help with search engine optimization.
Another trend gaining traction is storytelling. The ability to share different kinds of content across multiple channels has forced companies to look at how all of their various materials are working together to create a coherent message.
This goes back to the strategy formulation stage. A company should plan for what overall impression content leaves on a potential client. Forbes indicated successful marketing uses storytelling to turn the company into a narrative the audience can relate to (4). Casual readers of content must root for the success of a company, the same way they would for a character in a story. It's a great way to get people invested in a business.
If the content is designed to create lasting business partnerships, the message should be honest and personal. A business is advised to use its actual goals and values in its media materials. Customers aware of the actual people who will benefit from a company's success are able to see a partner rather than an organization.
Another study performed by ON24, a virtual service provider for companies, indicated analytics would be the biggest B2B marketing trend in 2015 (5).
Big data is a huge force in the marketplace. As customers visit social media pages, click on website links and contact companies, they are creating a data trail the marketing department can take advantage of. The ON24 study found 87 percent of companies were going to invest money into marketing analytics. Of the businesses that were currently utilizing analytic tools, 97 percent saw success from the strategy.
If companies want to learn more about consumers using information collected by their content, digital marketing professionals can help create materials based on data patterns. The results of analytics should then help generate more effective marketing content in the future.
(1) Content Marketing Benchmarking Report 2015
(2) 10 Habits of Highly Effective B2B Content Marketers
(3) The 3 Social Media Networks That Are Best For B2B Marketing
(4) 5 secrets to using storytelling for brand marketing success
(5) ON24 Survey Finds B2B Marketers Plan to Double Down on Analytics in 2015