B2B Influence Marketing & Content Marketing

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[Estimated read time: 5 minutes]

I recently came across a study from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), a rather famous Organisation that promotes the use of online content in the Marketing Mix of companies (obviously).

You can find the full study here. For those of you who are not willing to look at the 20+ slides detailing the results of the experiment, here is a quick summary.

1. Methodology of the study

The survey was conducted in 450+ companies of various sizes while focusing on B2B enterprises only and specifically in Northern-America.

This benchmark has been produced every year by the CMI since 2010.

The precise methodology of the survey is not perfectly clear, but we can deduce from the answers that the questions focuses mainly on:

  • Global trends regarding Content Marketing budgets.
  • Most used channels.
  • Most efficient channels.
  • Challenges faced by B2B marketers.

2. Results

Out of every fact presented in the report, a few really stand out. For all the online content specialists out there, we created a cheat sheet for you.

Are you ready for the flow of information? Let’s go.

About the spendings:

  • Global increase of 27% in Online Content Marketing spendings in 2013, now representing 33% of the entire B2B marketer’s budget.
  • More than half (54%) of marketers plan to increase this budget next year.

As bit of bonus information (source: Global Entertainment and Media Outlook published by PricewaterhouseCoopers), B2B spendings in the US will reach $94.7B by 2017, which means that Online Content Marketing budgets for B2B in the U.S alone will be over $31B.

Top 10 B2B marketing channels in 2013:

1) 87% use social media (Other than blog) | +13% from 74% in 2012

2) 83% use articles produced on their own websites | +4% from 79% in 2012

3) 78% use eNewsletters | +15% from 63% in 2012

4) 77% use Blogs | +12% from 65% in 2012

5) 71% use Case Studies | +13% from 58% in 2012

6) 70% use Videos | +18% from 52% in 2012

7) 70% use Articles on Other Websites | data not tracked in 2012

8) 69% use in person Events | +13% from 56% in 2012

9) 61% use White Papers | +10% from 51% in 2012

10) 59% use Webinars | +13% from 46% in 2012

What is interesting is the growth of almost every digital media compared to the growth of Print Magazines (0%), books and other types of physical channels. As with every other industry, the shift from printed to digital is occurring at an extremely fast pace.

We can note the exception of tradeshows (in person events) showing a +13% growth bringing it to the 8th spot of favourite B2B marketing channels.

Top 10 most effective B2B marketing channels 2013:

1) 67% believe in-person Events are effective

2) 64% believe Case Studies are effective

3) 61% believe Webinars are effective

4) 59% believe Blogs are effective

5) 58% believe Videos are effective

6) 58% believe eNewsletters are effective

7) 57% believe Research Reports are effective

8) 57% believe White papers are effective

9) 55% believe eBooks are effective

10) 53% believe articles on their websites are effective

Social Media, with 49% of people believing it is effective is not in that top 10. This information is paradoxical since it is also the most used channel in B2B Online Content strategies.

In the end, the channels deemed the most effective by B2B marketers don’t seem to be the most used by them, a gap that we can outline by showing the difference between the typical use probability and the satisfaction of B2B marketers.
So finally, the B2B marketing channels with the most potential today are…

(The “gap” below is obtained by subtracting the percentage of satisfied marketers from the percentage of marketers actually using the strategy. The idea is to point out the underused strategies that could generate a high satisfaction on B2B marketing professionals.)

1) eBooks with a gap of +23%

2) Research Reports with a gap of +13%

3) Webinars with a gap of +2%

4) In-person Events with a gap of -2%

5) White papers are effective with a gap of -4%

6) Case Studies with a gap of -7%

7) Videos with a gap of -12%

8) Blogs with a gap of -18%

9) eNewsletters with a gap of -20%

10) articles on their websites with a gap -26%

11) Social media with a gap of -38%

3. What we should keep from all these stats:

The B2B industry is a very interesting case. They have a lot less ways to advertise than traditional B2C companies which leads them to think outside the box and try new things.

Content marketing is slowly spreading to B2C, slowly but surely. Every large company has a blog nowadays; they all release white papers, ebooks, and have massive emailing strategies.

As a marketer, never forget that your ultimate goal can be defined in one sentence:

Optimize the allocation of resources in order to maximize the number of future clients.

This is simple, yet so many companies spend most of their budget in the bottom 50% of the strategies studied above (Social media advertising, Adwords, display, pre-roll…). Yes, online content marketing is hard, it is long, results are never truly foreseeable and calculating ROI is tough, it doesn’t make it any less indispensable.

My advice to B2B Companies:

Focus on producing great, exclusive content: You have this incredible knowledge of your industry and probably some undisclosed facts and statistics. Use it.

My advice to large B2C Companies:

– Use content to stand out of your competition: You are an airplane company? Send a free travel guide of the destination by email when your clients book. You are in fashion? Get bloggers to produce exclusive content for you and invite their readers to your private sales.

My advice to start-ups and SME:

Do what no one else dares to: I recently came upon this online dating site who hired high end statistical PHD do produce a report both insightful and entertaining on dating. Weird facts, weird stats. It drove thousands of new customers to their website. Think outside the box, you are small there is nothing you can’t do.

Please give me your feedback on this post, I’d love to hear fellow marketers give me their opinion.

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