As part of my quest to find new ways to support our clients’ content marketing goals and strategies for 2020, I dove into the newly published B2B Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America from Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and spotted some notable takeaways. These insights may help you formulate your own marketing strategies for the new year.
Key Takeaways From CMI
Content marketing is mostly focused on the top of the funnel. Marketers said they successfully used content marketing to achieve early-stage goals like creating brand awareness (86%), educating audiences (79%), and building credibility and trust (75%). What’s curious is that there were notable increases in those who used content marketing to nurture, build loyalty and generate sales/revenue.
This tells me that although marketers are finding the most success at the top of the funnel, they’re trying new things to replicate that kind of success further down the funnel. This will be exciting to watch in 2020.
Small content marketing teams are the norm. Respondents said their internal teams rarely have more than five full-time employees dedicated to content marketing, and this includes large companies. Nearly a third of all respondents (32%) said they have no full-time person. So if you have a small content marketing team, you’re not alone.
Half of B2B marketers outsource at least one content marketing activity. Although large companies are the most likely to outsource, companies of all sizes are interested in outsourcing activity. Marketers are most likely to outsource content creation: A whopping 84% said they do.
This isn’t at all surprising. The content creation process can take a long time, so it makes sense for teams with five or fewer people to outsource the process while they focus on other activities like strategy and editorial planning.
In-person events are the highest performing for securing and converting leads, but short-form content is essential. Marketers said blog posts and short articles perform well when used to build brand awareness and nurture leads. It’s also interesting that although e-books and case studies appear on the list of successful tactics, longer content formats like white papers don’t appear at all.
This supports a big insight from our most recent Content Preferences Survey Report: Buyers really like shorter content formats. They don’t have lots of time for reading and research, so they want something they can consume in a few minutes rather than in a few hours. I’m curious to see how marketers continue using shorter content formats in 2020.
My Additional Takeaways
B2B marketers are trying new ways to use technology for content marketing. Analytics tools, email marketing software and social media publishing/analytics tools round out the top three tools of choice, and this isn’t surprising. Marketers are being asked to show hard numbers of how content performs once it’s published, as well as how people react to it on social media and via email marketing.
The technology I’ll be keeping an eye on next year is marketing automation. I’ve seen lots of marketers make inquiries this year about how automation could potentially fit into their strategies.
Nearly half of B2B marketers say their organizations may prioritize improving the quality and conversion of audiences. Marketers are realizing that trying to hit as many people as possible with as much content as possible isn’t a good strategy. I see this in the top three goals marketers named.
Buyers want to find the what they want when they want it. Marketers can address this need by creating content specifically targeted to the audiences they want to reach, and that means knowing who they’re creating content for as well as making sure that content is readily available and easy to find. By focusing on the quality of audiences, content distribution and the content itself, marketers are setting themselves up for greater success in 2020.
For insights on what the report means about marketing throughout the buyer’s journey, visit our blog on Friday for Brenda Caine’s advice about ToFu content.
Interested in learning how you can make sure your content marketing strategy is ready for 2020? Contact Content4Demand to set up a 2020 planning call.