2019 B2B Content Marketing Research: It Pays to Put Audience First

2019 B2B Content Marketing Research: It Pays to Put Audience First

Content marketers are successfully building trust When you put your audience’s needs first – and create your content based on THOSE needs – what are you really trying to do? You want the right people to find value in your content and subscribe to it. Our research indicates you’re creating a bond: 96% of the most successful content marketers agree their audience views their organization as a credible and trusted resource. It must be: Risk appropriate (avoid asking for something before proving the value) Consistent (deliver reliable content regularly over time) Personal (based on reliable information the visitor has willingly given) Cumulative (building on what came before) In short, if you want your brand to be well-regarded by your audience, give it something valuable. But relatively few B2B content marketers research their audience by talking to their customers. Only 42% say they have conversations with customers as part of their audience research. If your team isn’t talking with customers, look for ways to make this happen. Email campaigns and educational content reign Fifty-eight percent of respondents say they’ve used content marketing successfully to nurture subscribers, audience, or leads in the last 12 months. As shown in the chart, more than 50% of respondents increased their use compared with a year ago in three content buckets: How you can use this insight Which content types will generate the best results for your organization depends on many factors – the nature of your business, the demographics and preferences of your audience, your goals, etc. How you can use this insight Keeping up with changing social and search algorithms can feel like a never-ending battle.

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You’ve come a long way, content marketers. Today, nearly all top-performing B2B content marketers – 90% – put their audience’s informational needs ahead of their company’s sales/promotional message.

Ten years ago, when CMI founder Joe Pulizzi cowrote Get Content Get Customers, content marketing was a novel concept for many traditional marketers. That it’s a common practice now shows how much marketers have adjusted their thinking.

How content marketers reach those audiences, where they’re investing to do it, and what they’re most concerned about are a few of the new findings presented in CMI and MarketingProfs’ ninth annual B2B Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report, sponsored by Conductor. We present the research every fall to help content marketers plan for the coming year.

This year, we made a significant change in the methodology. We limited the survey to respondents whose organizations have used content marketing for at least one year. In addition, we qualified the respondents by asking them to confirm they are a content marketer, someone who is involved with content marketing, or someone to whom content marketing staff reports. This gave us a more experienced pool of practicing content marketers and, we feel, more robust insights.

Here are some highlights from the 2019 report.

Content marketers are successfully building trust

When you put your audience’s needs first – and create your content based on THOSE needs – what are you really trying to do? Of course, you want your content to get found, consumed, discussed, and/or shared, to generate action by your audience. You want the right people to find value in your content and subscribe to it.

But what’s happening on a deeper level when you help someone by providing valuable information? Our research indicates you’re creating a bond: 96% of the most successful content marketers agree their audience views their organization as a credible and trusted resource.

Success in creating this bond isn’t limited to the most successful content marketers: 68% of all B2B marketers say they’ve used content marketing successfully to build credibility with their audience.

How you can use this insight

CMI Chief Strategy Advisor Robert Rose recently described the importance of earning not only our audience’s attention, but also its trust: “Every digital experience we create should not only reflect our focus on winning a moment of truth – where the customer is paying attention – but in deepening the trust gained (or regained) in every step that precedes or follows it.”

Earning that trust requires your content to have four essential traits, Robert writes. It must be:

  • Risk appropriate (avoid asking for something before proving the value)
  • Consistent (deliver reliable content regularly over time)
  • Personal (based on reliable information the visitor has willingly given)
  • Cumulative (building on what came before)

In short, if you want your brand to be well-regarded by your audience, give it something valuable. Be consistent. Be easy to find. Give your audience members content they want and need – when and where they’re looking for it. And make it about them, not you.

Less than half of content marketers talk to customers

About three out of four B2B content marketers seek feedback from sales and use website analytics to research their audience, while 65% use keyword research.

That’s a pleasant surprise considering how often we hear that marketing and sales teams need to do a better job of communicating.

But relatively few B2B content marketers research their audience by talking to their customers. Only 42% say they have conversations…

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