It’s that time of year again! That’s right—Content Marketing Institute (CMI) has once again released its annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends—North America report. Over the last few years, this trusted report has been chock-full of interesting tidbits and surprising stats, and 2018’s edition is no different.
The report, which is in its eighth year and was sponsored by Brightcove, was generated from responses provided by a total of 2,190 recipients from a full range of industries, functional areas, and company sizes around the world. Their answers provided valuable insight and set the benchmark once again for content marketing’s maturity, budgeting, processes, efficacy, and more.
Want a TL;DR version of the report? Here it is: Almost everyone (literally) is doing content marketing, it’s not a shiny new practice anymore, and everyone’s now focused on digging in to see what’s really working.
Want more in-depth details? Grab your pumpkin spice latte—because it is fall, after all—get cozy, and read on for our take on this year’s highlights and lowlights.
Highlight: Almost Everyone Is Doing Content Marketing
An amazing 91 percent of respondents said they were using content marketing, which means almost everyone now is doing content marketing in some way, shape, or form. While this number has grown steadily over the years, this year’s response saw a huge jump—18 percent, to be exact—from the 2017 B2B Content Marketing survey. As Lisa Murton Beets and Ann Handley, the report’s coauthors, reveal in their introduction, this huge leap now shows that “content marketing is no longer the shiny new object.” Instead, it’s now officially a fully established practice that is widely recognized and adopted.
Lowlight: Most Content Marketers Are Still Flying Solo
53 percent of respondents said that their entire organization’s content marketing efforts rest solely on a small or one-person team. While it’s nice to be seen as the content marketing superhero (or superheroes) of the organization, small or one-person teams can also lead to overworked employees that lack the resources and budget to really plan, execute, and measure efforts properly. It can also lead to higher outsourcing expenses. Just ask the 56 percent of respondents who said they outsource at least one content marketing activity, which is most likely to be content creation and content promotion.
Highlight: Content Quality Wins Over Quantity
70 percent of respondents said they always or frequently prioritize delivering content quality over content quantity. In addition, 72 percent said they always or frequently consider how content will impact the overall experience a person has with their organization. For far too long, the industry has been chanting, “Don’t create content for the sake of creating content,” and it looks like everyone is finally on board with that mantra.
We saw the same focus on audiences and content quality in several sessions during this year’s Content Marketing World conference. While “quality over quantity” certainly isn’t a new concept, it’s refreshing to see the industry shift its focus back to audiences and high-quality content.
Lowlight: Strategy Is Still Lacking for More Than Half of Marketers
60 percent of respondents are still missing the essential component to doing content marketing well: a documented content marketing strategy. That percent also includes those who said they have a content marketing strategy, but it’s just not documented. For real?
Let’s be honest: Not having a documented content marketing strategy is the same thing as not having a strategy at all. Unfortunately, this is a trend we see year in and year out. It’s gotten to the point that even Ann Handley issued a stern tweet for content marketers everywhere last year: “Slow the *&%^$ down and do your content marketing right—or don’t do it at all.” Sounds like that message hasn’t been heard loud and clear just yet, but I suppose there’s always next year.Not having a documented content marketing strategy is the same as not having a strategy at all. Click To Tweet
Highlight: LinkedIn Is the Social Network of Choice
97 percent of respondents said they use LinkedIn as part of their content marketing efforts, which probably isn’t all that shocking, since it is pretty much the only dedicated B2B-focused social platform around. However, with LinkedIn’s huge strides and massive user experience improvements over last year, it looks like their growth and momentum will be that much stronger in 2018.
Lowlight: No One Agrees on What Content Works Best
The most successful content types? Ebooks/whitepapers, case studies, and social media posts. The least successful content types? Ebooks/whitepapers, case studies, and social media posts. Yes, you read that correctly: All three were ranked as both the most successful and least successful by respondents. This just goes to show that there’s no “one right mix” of content or tactics for anyone.
Highlight: Content Measurement, FTW!
70 percent of respondents agreed they could use metrics to show how content marketing has increased engagement and the number of leads generated, which makes this highlight one big bright spot in the report. This number is actually huge, especially when you consider that previous reports showed that measuring content effectiveness and efficacy were marketers’ top problems and priorities. Interestingly, while only 35 percent actually measure their ROI, the majority of respondents are able to use metrics to make a case for content, if they need to.
While some trends may stay the same from year to year, it’s refreshing to see so much progress made where it counts, like in quality, measurement, and overall adoption. Thankfully, this year certainly has the most positive results seen yet, and we can’t wait to dig into what next year has in store.
Want even more insights and takeaways? Check out this year’s report for yourself, and see if our highlights and lowlights match yours. Until next year!