B2B marketers value content marketing – this tactic ranked third to in-person events and digital as the most popular line item in Forrester’s 2014 budget survey. On average, B2B marketers say they spend 12% of their budget on content marketing. (subscription required)
But popularity doesn’t necessarily correlate to effectiveness.
Upcoming Free Webinar: Four Ways To Improve Your Content Marketing Maturity
Earlier this year, Forrester teamed up with the Online Marketing Institute and the Business Marketing Association to determine whether content marketing practices are moving from traditional, product-focused to delivering customer value that builds lasting relationships. We found that B2B marketer confidence outpaces their actual capabilities. Our survey of 113 B2B marketing professionals found:
- Only 51% of respondents rate their content marketing practices as “very mature” when compared to peers. This number should be higher except 62% admit that much of their content gets produced primarily to support campaigns and 72% say less than half their staff plays an active role in content production.
- As a result, most find creating content a challenge: 87% said they struggle to produce content that truly engages buyers.
- Most have a hard time connecting content to results: only 14% gave their content practices high marks for delivering value back to the business.
The bottomline? B2B content marketing maturity is low: just 4% of those surveyed scored sufficient points on our 27-criteria assessment to be considered “Content Masters”. The majority 52% lag behind. These Aspiring Editors are in the early stages of assembling a content strategy and executing against it. Their practices are often inconsistent or not fully embraced across the organization.
So, should it come as a surprise that 62% of business decision-makers agreed that the much of the content they see from suppliers is useless? Unfortunately not.
Related Class: B2B Content Marketing Strategy
With this nascent state of content marketing practices revealed, the question marketing leaders need to ask is “what can we do to improve this?” Looking at what separates Content Masters from the rest, we found that top content marketers:
- Distribute content responsibilities broadly among team members. Among firms where 25% of staff or more plays a primary role in content marketing, almost half rank in the upper two maturity levels.
- Leverage technology to produce content effectively. In particular, they arm regional, field, or industry teams with tools to aid in the customization and multi-channel distribution of local content.
- Consistently incorporate customer feedback into editorial processes. Top marketers produce content buyers want because they regularly solicit feedback on their ideas and messages.
- Use editorial oversight and documented guidelines to help all producers stay on track. Their editorial boards include cross-functional representation and set content priorities based on what everyone sees as key market drivers and customer issues.
- Measure how content drives ROI, sales processes, and business goals. Content Masters are adept at applying action-based metrics to content marketing activity and determining the impact content has on business goals like pipeline growth, retention, and account expansion as well as reach and consideration.
If you’d like to hear more about the results of this benchmark study, please join Forrester VP and Principal Analyst, Laura Ramos, as she shares the results on the September 15th webinar, “Four Ways To Improve Your Content Marketing Maturity”, brought to you by the Online Marketing Institute.
For more on this study and other content marketing best practices, visit Laura’s blog at http://blogs.forrester.com/laura_ramos.