How do the best B2B content marketers hit home runs? What can other companies learn from them that will make them more competitive?
Content Marketing Institute (CMI) surveys B2B companies annually to gain insight into the state of content marketing and trends. The latest CMI report shines a light on three characteristics that distinguish the most successful content marketers:
- They operate from a cohesive content strategy.
- They invest in content specialists.
- They customize their messages for each step in the customer buying journey.
Create a content marketing strategy
Without a content marketing strategy, any plan to reach an intended audience is incomplete. Successful marketers understand that sporadic, inconsistent content doesn’t cut it, either. “Our annual research consistently shows that a documented strategy is often a key indicator of content marketing success,” concludes the CMI report authors. Last year, 65 percent of the most successful B2B marketers used content marketing strategically, compared to 14 percent of the least successful — a stark difference.
The top three tools marketers in the study say they use to evaluate the success of their strategy and keep it on track are web analytics and dashboards, email marketing software, and social media publishing analytics. These tools, of course, require someone who can “speak analytics” and translate the data into action.
“Nearly three out of four of large companies say they use external specialists, compared to 37 percent of smaller companies. Marketing content creation is by far the most common aspect companies say they outsource.”
Hire content specialists
Large companies who are top B2B marketing performers combine centralized content marketing with individual teams throughout the organization. Corporate message consistency requires central planning and oversight. Smaller teams or individuals are assigned to specific product lines or campaigns.
Compare this to small organizations with less than 100 employees, 70 percent of whom have only one content marketing person who does it all. Taking all survey respondents together, 32 percent said they do not have even one full-time employee dedicated to content marketing.
Half of all the companies included in the research outsource at least some content marketing activities. Nearly three out of four of the large companies say they use external specialists, compared to 37 percent of the smaller companies. Marketing content creation is by far the most common aspect companies say they outsource.
CMI’s advice to companies that want more successful marketing is this: “Find content creators who understand what’s unique about your company, know how to rise above the mediocre, and amaze your audience with their writing, researching, video, or audio skills.”
Customize your content
All companies, regardless of size, reported that at least half of their content is best suited to build brand awareness. But except for the most successful companies, which are more intentional about content at other parts of the sales process, “they are missing out on opportunities deeper in the funnel,” says Stephanie Stahl of CMI.