From the Trenches

6 Questions That Belong in the 2014 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks and Trends Report

Mike Sweeney | November 7, 2012
6 Questions That Belong in the 2014 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks and Trends Report

Once again, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and Marketing Profs have outdone themselves with the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America report. Chock full of information on content marketing budgets, tactics, measurement, and challenges, this is by far the most comprehensive research study on B2B content marketing.

When I read the report, my reactions were shaped by the content marketing programs we execute on behalf of dozens of companies, and knowledge of the marketing challenges they (and we) face on a daily basis. I can’t speak on behalf of 1,1416 marketers, but I can speak on behalf of the organizations we work with, and suggest that the following questions might reveal some very interesting trends for the 2014 research study.

1.       Do you have a formal content marketing plan in place?

Within our client base (primarily midsized and small companies), around 30-40% have some type of content marketing plan, and only 20% have a comprehensive content marketing plan in place.

The good news? We’re seeing more and more interest in content marketing strategies and planning. I suspect that by 2014 more than 50% of the surveyed companies will have a comprehensive plan in place.

There are a variety of ways to get started with your 2013 content marketing plan – as a start, ask yourself these 12 questions about your content marketing program.

2.       Who “owns” content marketing inside your organization?

With the companies we deal with, the answers to this question are all over the map, ranging from CEOs to VPs of Marketing to Marketing Managers. But that is changing – my guess is that we’re going to see a lot more Chief Content Officer types hired in 2013. After all, these CCOs may be capable of resurrecting marketing communications.

3.       How are you using marketing automation software to organize and execute your content marketing initiatives?

Marketing automation is hot, and there are good reasons for that, including changing buyer profiles and behaviors, new and transformed marketing channels, and a desire to make the sales process more efficient.

Unfortunately, marketing automation tools are often misused, if they are ever used at all. More often than not, marketing automation efforts stumble out of the gate because organizations buy the tools before identifying the plan and the people who are going to execute it.

That being said, with the right plan and people in place, marketing automation can dramatically change sales and marketing processes and results.

4.       Have you integrated content marketing into corporate functions beyond sales and marketing?

We do call it content marketing for a reason, however, the really smart companies have already realized that content marketing impacts just about every department within a company, ranging from HR to Customer Service. My guess is that only around 10% of companies are doing anything to formally integrate content marketing throughout their organizations, but that percentage will at least double in 2013, and then likely explode in 2014.

For more on this, explore the 7 Not-So-Obvious Benefits of Content Marketing.

5.       Why is producing enough content so challenging?

According to the 2013 report, 64% of B2B content marketers list producing enough content as their #1 challenge.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t dive quite deep enough. Why is producing enough content so challenging? Budget restrictions? Finding reliable internal content producers? Finding reliable external content producers?

For the companies we deal with, it’s not producing enough content that’s hard; it’s producing enough awesome content.

6.       Are you able to identify specific ROI levels associated with your content marketing initiatives?

Based on the 2013 report, we know that more than half of B2B Marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months, but are those increases tied to increased effectiveness? And if they are based on increased effectiveness, are those effectiveness measures tied to leading indicators, or measurement of actual return on investment?

With the right web analytics, CRM and marketing automation tools, along with an engaged and informative sales team, measuring ROI is possible. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, but we know the answers are out there.

For more on measurement, check out Jay Baer’s interview with Pamela Muldoon.

Please take the time to read the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America report – it’s exceptional material. What do you think of the results? Beyond the questions above, what other questions would you like to see included?  Let us know in the comments section.

B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends–North America from Content Marketing Institute

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