9 B2B content marketing stats that prove it pays to put audience first

9-B2B-content-marketing-stats-that-prove-it-pays-to-put-audience-first

We took a look at some of the biggest statistics in content marketing in our recent post, so in this article we’ll be quoting some figures from that post as well as some others. More pertinently though, we’ll be looking at what the research says, and unpick what those statistics, and the research really means for B2B businesses and how their B2B customers can benefit from businesses knowing and applying the research.

The 13 least commonly used blogging tactics are the most effective.

The research:

This research from Orbit Media is really informative for content marketers who are including blogging in their strategy, and will almost certainly be useful for B2B businesses. In a lot of cases, we see B2B businesses that aren’t using many of these strategies at all – even the ones that are easy to implement.

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The above image is credited here.

There is a small methodological point to note about this research – you’ll see that bloggers who responded to this survey said they got ‘strong results’ from the tactic they were being asked about. That’s pretty subjective, and wide open to interpretation – what one blogger defines as a ‘strong result’ may be considered weak by another. Although that’s kind of a flaw in the research, this is still really useful information that can be used by businesses to gain an advantage.

What it means for businesses:

It’s unlikely that most businesses will have the capacity to be able to create more than 20 draft headlines for each article, and publish articles that are more than 2000 words that you’ve spent more than six hours on every single day. However, many of these suggestions are more easily attainable. Let’s consider a few points.

Adding more than 10 images in an article isn’t difficult – especially if you’re documenting processes within the post that you take the images for. Even if you’re looking for stock photos to fill those spots in your post, there are plenty of free stock photography websites that you can make use of without needing to stump up cash from your budget. We love Pixabay and Pexels to get you started, but there are so many others that there really isn’t any reasons to not include 10 or more images in your posts.

Finding key phrases might feel like a bit of a challenge for you – and might also not feel worth it if you’re already an expert in the subject matter. But knowing what key words and phrases are relevant to your post will mean that you can work them in naturally, and will mean that you’re able to get better results in terms of traffic from search engines.

Checking your analytics for each article is a no-brainer – knowing how well your posts are performing can help inform your next lot content plan. If you’ve created a post that out-performs your others, by tracking down exactly why it performed so well can help you replicate the success. And of course, if you have a post that goes nowhere (we’ve all had them!) then you’ll be able to take steps to avoid that happening again.

Working with influencers on every blog post, or conducting original research won’t always be possible either – but where you can implement it, it will almost certainly net you some great returns, if this research is anything to go by.

If you’re creating video as part of your content strategy, then embedding your video in your blog will help encourage website visitors to stay on that page – and as you probably already know, the longer that a website visitor stays on a page, the more likely they are to convert to a paying customer.

How the customer benefits:

Although we’re thinking about blog posts from the point of view of the business here, each of these points add up to the experience of the readers of your blog. If you’re adding these strategies to your blog content creation, you’ll automatically be putting the customer first – which is exactly what you need to do for the most success.

Key insight:

You don’t have to use all of the least commonly used blogging strategies, even if they are amongst the most effective. But knowing the ones that you can make the most of, with only a little extra effort, will help you to maximise the return on your investment, whether you’re creating the content or a member of your team is.

61% of B2B marketers are publishing content multiple times a week.

The research:

Not only are B2B marketers publishing their content multiple times a week, 89% of marketers are getting higher quality leads from their content marketing than through the other tactics they are using.

What it means for businesses:

Businesses that are using outbound marketing such as utilising their email list, cold calling their B2B prospects and buying media advertising are likely to do much better by focusing their efforts on creating content. Spending marketing budgets on creating content will almost certainly provide more benefit more than putting more emphasis on shorter, more focused outbound tactics – although of course, those tactics should not be dismissed altogether. Including content that has been created for the business as part of an email marketing campaign can be incredibly valuable, especially if it speaks to the customer’s pain point. If you need help with transactional email templates this is a great read.

Let’s not forget though, that content doesn’t just refer to blog posts and written pages. Video and podcasts can be an incredible way to provide the content that your B2B customers need, and they are both really valuable ways to display the knowledge and expertise your business has to offer.

Video keeps the attention of a viewer by up to five times longer than just static text, and can be used to entice customers in email marketing. The problem with video? It also needs to be high quality and it needs to be edited, which will take up plenty of time, even if the videographer is a pro.

Podcasts might loosely take the form of a conversation, but again, there needs to be time spent on editing and formatting it, and uploading to the relevant podcasting providers for the audience to be able to access.

In addition to creating all this content, there needs to be time spent on promoting the content, whether that is through social media posts, or via email marketing. Either way, for small businesses, this all takes up even more time.

Although we still maintain that businesses should focus their efforts on quality rather than quantity, if it is possible to do, there is definitely something to be said for being able to post quality more often. If writing more than one long, high quality blog post per week isn’t feasible, then perhaps having one post, a podcast and a video over the course of a week, or a fortnight will suit.

Unfortunately, posting more often – in whichever format is possible – means that the biggest challenge for B2B businesses is having the time to create the sort of quality content that customers want, multiple times per week.

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How the customer benefits:

Customers are looking to find more information from the businesses they deal with. Whether they’re looking for informative articles to share, or they’re assessing businesses to make a decision about spending money, finding content from you more than once a week will help to confirm you’re the right business for them to work with.

Key insight:

The more high quality content that businesses can create, the better the return on their investment – whether that is ‘just’ their time, or they are putting money into their budget to spend with a freelancer or agency to create their content.

Half of all content created by B2B marketers is aimed at potential customers at the top of the funnel.

The research:

86% of B2B marketers are using content marketing to increase brand awareness, but fewer marketers are using content marketing to nurture members of their audience that are further into the funnel. Less than a third of content that is being created for B2B customers was for customers that had already converted.

What it means for businesses:

Although securing new customers is, without a doubt important for all B2B businesses, by neglecting to provide content marketing for your existing customers, you’re potentially missing out on valuable repeat business.

You probably know all about creating content for attracting brand new customers – it’s mostly going to be mainly focused on raising awareness of the business – that is, adverts, landing pages, video and at a glance infographics. You might have a few blog posts in there, but in reality, you’re going to be creating content that is faster to produce, and to pull in customers

Content that is designed for engaging prospects is going to be more detailed – how-to posts and guides, social media, white papers or eBooks, case studies and perhaps, if time allows and there is enough interest, webinars. At this level, you’ll also be creating emails, and customers with the potential to convert are likely to be checking ratings and reviews, which highlights the importance of keeping on top of replying to reviews. When reviews are good, replying with thanks is good manners, but when they’re bad it is essential to reply – even if the customer is being unfair, being level-headed and clear about the action taken will demonstrate to others that you are acting fairly.

Where customers who have already converted, you might think spending time on creating content for them was a waste of time. But when you think about it, if a customer liked your business enough to work with you once, then there’s a good chance they would be prepared to do so again – if only you can keep them engaged. But how do you keep them engaged? Creating surveys, and incentives like special offers and loyalty programmes, emails and social media campaigns are all great ways to keep your existing customer base engaged, and in the forefront of their mind when they need something your business offers (if you’re a B2B company, more tips can be found here).

How the customer benefits:

What it boils down to is that if you’re creating content for your existing customers, you’ll be showing them that you care about them. And if you’re showing them that you care about them, they will come back – and so the cycle continues.

Key insight:

Creating content for new customers will always be valuable, and should never end, but working on content that adds value for your existing customers will help you create enduring relationships that will end up being more valuable for both businesses in the long term.

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It takes 65% more time to write a blog than in 2014.

The research:

The team at Smart Insights have found that it is taking much longer to create blog posts – around 65% longer. In fact, some bloggers – up to 19% were spending more than six hours on each post. That’s because when it comes to blog posts today, it is all about the quality over the quantity.

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Posts are getting longer – the content that gets shared most frequently is over 3,000 words long, and frequently they’re even longer than that. In addition to the length of posts increasing, the quality of the links that we include to show our research is more important than ever, and any video or audio content that is included on the page needs to be high quality and relevant too. It simply has to be in order to stand out in the search engine results pages.

What it means for businesses:

Customers are looking for additional value from the businesses they choose to work with, and they’re looking for proof that your business is worth working with. That means that there really isn’t any room for poor quality blog content – it represents your expertise in your field and shows potential customers the value you can offer them.

Creating blog content is more relevant than ever, but it is only really worth it if you’re able to do it well. Creating one or two high quality posts per month with a decent amount of words, strong links and relevant media embedded means your posts are going to perform better than writing several shorter posts. Posts with images in get 94% more views than those without, and people look at video for up to five times longer than static content, and the longer a potential customer spends viewing your content, the more likely they are to feel an affinity to your brand and convert to a paying customer. That means although your words are important, your images and any video you include is going to turbo boost the effectiveness of your post.

If you’re putting time and effort into creating really great blog content, you need to think about how you can get the most from your investment. How might you be able to repurpose the post? Can you use it across different channels, or can you repurpose sections? Would the blog post work well and translate into a great video with a bit of animation? Can you use quotes from your post on social media graphics that will inspire your followers to click through and read? Is the content ‘evergreen’ – that is, will it be relevant with a quick refresh of links and potentially the latest research in a couple of years?

How the customer benefits:

Those of us that are creating great blog content are doing so because we want to connect with our customers. By spending more time on our blog posts, we’re able to provide higher quality posts that provide more information, that helps customers to find solutions for their pain points.

Key insight:

If you’re going to create blog content, it is essential that it is of the highest quality. Focus on quality over quantity, and if you can’t commit the time you need to create the best content, consider outsourcing your content creation.

69% of the most successful B2B marketers document their content strategies.

The research:

We’ve all heard that if we document our content strategy we’re more likely to succeed – and it seems that the statistics don’t lie, because over two thirds of successful B2B marketers are doing so. Even 16% of the least successful marketers have documented their content marketing strategy, and although the measurement of ‘least successful’ is a bit subjective, it is clear that there is a trend towards doing so.

When you think about it though, it makes sense to document your strategy. It’s the same logic as perfect preparation prevents pretty(!) poor performance; if you’ve got it down on paper (or on your screen – it is the 21st century here!) you can ensure you’re able to hit your targets, and you can track it, measure it, repeat the tactics that work and learn from those that don’t.

What it means for businesses:

It is absolutely essential for businesses to document their content strategy. There are several things that documenting your content strategy can help you to do:

  • Helps to define KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
  • Helps you to create content that helps you hit those KPIs
  • Helps you decide your content topics, and create content with your target audience in mind
  • Helps you to allocate tasks within the team better (e.g. if one team member is a pro at something, they might write a blog post or create a video for your YouTube channel)

Exactly how do you go about documenting your content strategy though? Well, there isn’t a set formula, and it will be different for each business depending on the number of people who are involved in content creation.

To start with, you’ll discuss with your team what you’re hoping to achieve from your content – how many posts you want to post each month, and what is realistic for your team to achieve. You’ll also need to talk about what goals the team have for each month, which will feed into the subjects that you’re going to write about in your blog posts, or talk about in your videos.

Consulting with your SEO expert – whether they are part of your full time team, or you’re working with an agency – can help you to identify what you can do to increase your domain rank, and to help you weave in those requirements with what you’re trying to achieve with your content for your customers.

After that, you’ll need to talk about what social media content you’ll be creating and posting to drive traffic to your shiny new content.

All of this will allow you to create your editorial calendar, which can help you to keep track of what you’re going to post, and when. Once you’ve created an editorial calendar for the month, you can work on getting it in place for the rest of the year, reviewing it periodically so you can react to the current needs of your business and any newsworthy events that you want to comment on.

Periodically, depending on the KPIs that you set, you’ll need to review the effectiveness of your content – and ensure you’re getting the return on the investment that you’re making. Time spent counts as investment, especially if you are diverting team members from their usual tasks to create content. That means when you’re setting your KPIs, be sure to be very clear what you want to achieve from each piece, and note how you are going to measure it.

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How the customer benefits:

It might appear – at first, at least – that by documenting your content marketing strategy, it is only your business that benefits from doing so. But keeping track of your content marketing, ensuring you can hit your KPIs and learning from what works and what doesn’t, means that you will be able to refine your content to suit your customers. The more you refine your strategy, the more your customers will be able to get from it.

Key insight:

Your content strategy is important, because it will help you ensure your business gets great return on investment from your efforts. Documenting it will ensure you stay on track, know what works and what doesn’t, and to prove that your blog posts, videos and other content are bringing value to your business.

80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn.

The research:

LinkedIn took a look at B2B marketing on their platform, and let’s put it this way: if you’re not using LinkedIn to increase your B2B leads, your business is going to be missing out on potential leads and connecting with new customers. Here’s a few other points that they found:

  • There are 9 million content impressions on LinkedIn feeds each week
  • 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to share their business content
  • 46% of social media traffic that lands on B2B company websites is from LinkedIn
  • 79% of B2B marketers say LinkedIn is an effective place to create leads
  • 57% of B2B customers are accessing LinkedIn through a mobile device

What it means for businesses:

In short, it means use LinkedIn, and promote all your content through your LinkedIn page.

When we’re looking at it in more detail, it is essential that you make the most of your LinkedIn business page. There are 19 million company pages on LinkedIn, which means that you need to really polish your business profile.

You can use LinkedIn to create brand awareness and thought leadership as well as lead generation, and LinkedIn helps you to segment and reach the right type of audience.

Since the average decision maker reads more than 10 pieces of content before they make a purchasing decision (and we’ll get to unpacking the implications of that statistic in just a moment!) to not share your content on LinkedIn simply means you’re going to miss out on all kinds of leads.

How the customer benefits:

Customers simply don’t have time to put into searching for the right sort of content, so they’re relying on the social nature of LinkedIn to find the content they want, and ultimately, to find the businesses they want to work with. By sharing your content on LinkedIn, they are likely to find you, and if they like you and your work, they are likely to share your content with their contacts too.

Key insight:

When you’re creating your social media strategy, you need to be using LinkedIn. There’s just no two ways about it. And you’ll need to promote your content on your business profile and have your team share it as much as possible too.

If you’re using other social media channels to promote your content, don’t forget to cross promote your LinkedIn account, so followers on other platforms know to follow you on LinkedIn too.

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The average decision maker reads 10 pieces of content before they finalise their purchase decision.

The research:

We’ve already talked about LinkedIn and what it can do for your B2B content marketing, but this little nugget of wisdom came direct from them too. Supporting this research is the point that 92% of B2B marketing leaders claim that content plays a critical role in the decision-making process.

What it means for businesses:

We think there’s a key word in the statistic, and that word is read. You might be creating some amazing videos and podcast content but if the decision makers are reading, rather than watching or listening, then your efforts might be going unseen.

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In short, it’s going to mean that you need to be creating blog content, and potentially other content like white papers – but you need to create as much as you realistically can on a regular basis, until you’ve been able to build up a decent portfolio of content. But it isn’t as simple as just creating loads of blog posts. It has to be high quality content, and relevant to what your customers want and need.

Quality is imperative then – but unless it is also helping them to resolve their pain points, and illustrates your expertise in your field, it isn’t going to contribute to purchasing decisions being made.

Of course, decision makers aren’t necessarily reading 10 pieces of your content – they may be reading one piece of content from 10 businesses, or two pieces from five businesses before they decide which company to spend the money with. With that in mind, it is worth keeping an eye on the content that your competitors are creating. To win that business, your content has to stand out – so be sure to utilise all the tools in your arsenal, and then some.

Refer back to our first statistic, and the infographic. Are you able to embed one of your videos in your blog posts, and add just a few extra images to really make your content pop? Can you cite some research that supports the point of your blog post, and discuss how it will benefit your customers, thereby taking your post well over 2000 words?

How the customer benefits:

It is pretty simple – the more high quality content you have readily available, and that you’re able to promote on your social media channels, the more easily your potential customers will be able to assess the quality of your work and make a decision about whether you fit the bill for what they are looking for.

Key insight:

If you’re not putting out high quality content for your B2B customers on a regular basis, your customers won’t be able to assess whether you are worth doing business with as easily.

There are five main measurements that B2B marketers use to show the performance of their content.

The research:

The top five metrics that B2B marketers use to measure content performance are email, website traffic, website engagement, social media analytics and conversions.

  • Email engagement – 90%
  • Website traffic – 88%
  • Website engagement – 86%
  • Social media metrics – 83%
  • Conversions – 78%

These aren’t the only measurements marketers are using to evaluate the performance of their content though. Email subscriber numbers, search rankings and marketing qualified lead metrics count too. However, approximately only 35% of B2B marketers are measuring the return on investment from their content marketing – and the rest of those marketers in that research either didn’t measure their content ROI, or they aren’t sure whether they do or not.

What it means for businesses:

Before we get to the metrics – which is the bit that you can put to use in your business, let’s just take a moment to discuss that second statistic. There are just 35% of marketers measuring their ROI from their content. We think that is absolutely bananas! Unless you can measure, and really see the value in your content, why are you bothering? Would you spend funds from your budget on billboard adverts without measuring how much return it provided? Of course you wouldn’t! And you certainly wouldn’t keep putting those funds in, quarter after quarter, without measuring whether those billboards had really increased your customer engagement and your profits. If you’re paying a member of your team to create your content, you’re still allocating funds, so you need to be able to see the value in creating it, whether it is blog content, video or podcast content.

Content marketing might be bigger and more popular with marketers than ever, but without measuring the performance of the content that is being created, businesses cannot know whether what they are creating is worth it. Return on investment is everything in business, so setting your KPIs before you get started is essential.

Setting the aim of your content marketing before you start writing or recording will enable you to be able to create measurable KPIs, and help you to create your content way more effectively. Unless your goal is ‘create content’, then you’ll need to be able to quantify whether your efforts are working for you or not. Depending on your business, you might choose one of those top five metrics, or you might choose a completely different way to measure the success of your content. Don’t worry about what other businesses are using – the metric you choose matters only to your business.

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Once you’ve been through your first content strategy period – however long you decided that was going to be when you set your goals – you will be able to assess the performance of your content, see where the traffic was coming from, and so on. Did you achieve what you wanted to achieve with your content? If not, how near were you? What can you learn from your approach? Do you need to allocate more resource, or to reallocate resource to ensure greater success in your next cycle? Every business is unique, so you will need to work with your team to make these decisions.

From here, you’ll be able to ensure that in your next content cycle, you’re better able to create the content that your potential customers, and your existing customers want to see, and avoid any pitfalls that you have encountered already.

How the customer benefits:

Customers may not directly see the benefit of your measuring how well your content performs, but when you measure what works, you’re also helping yourself to understand what they are looking for – which means you are more able to provide that for them.

Key insight:

When you’re establishing what you’re aiming to achieve from your content marketing, you need to think about what you want to achieve from it way before you start creating your content plan. This will help you choose the metrics that matter the most to you, and in turn will allow you to decide what content you’re going to create.

50% of companies outsource at least one aspect of their content marketing.

The research:

71% of B2B marketers from large companies outsource, while just 37% of small companies (less than 100 employees) are outsourcing any of their content marketing.

What it means for businesses:

Small businesses are likely to need content marketing staff that can provide more than one aspect of content creation. But marketing professionals that can handle all of those tasks are hard to come by – and those who are genuinely talented in different areas will be head hunted and snapped up for well paid roles in bigger companies.

Working with freelancers, or an agency to fulfil the needs of your B2B business can ensure you get the benefit of content marketing done well, rather than relying on your team to create content that might not perform as well as you would like.

Finding a freelance writer or videographer is easier than it has ever been. There are several freelancer ‘marketplaces’ where professionals offer their services to small businesses. (there are also individuals on those marketplaces who are providing services that are not quite so professional, such as fortune telling and ‘being an online friend’!)

Creating a more professional, and longer lasting partnership might mean working with an agency. Although this is likely to cost slightly more, in the long run the potential gains to be had will be more than worth it. Take our fees as an example – you can benefit from 5000 words of content every month for just £600. You might choose for us to create two shorter posts, or one bumper blog post, written by professionals who understand the SEO requirements of your posts, and with suitable links to research included. Just one post per month, every month is infinitely better than no posts – and the additional traffic and sales that your business will benefit from will almost certainly provide the kind of return on your investment that you would be looking to see.

How the customer benefits:

If you’re unable to create your content with the team you have right now, but you have the resources that enable to outsource your content, then do so. Your customers will be able to get the added value that they are looking for from you, which will help them make their decision as to who they want to work with much more efficiently.

Key insight:

If you’re unable to allocate team members, don’t have the talent or your team simply aren’t interested in creating content, you don’t have to miss out on the opportunities that content marketing provides for B2B businesses. Working with a writer, either from a reputable agency, or a freelancer, will lead to more leads and sales conversions.

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Final thoughts

When it comes to marketing statistics, there’s way more to discover than just how impressive the statistic is. By looking behind the statistic, we’re able to identify opportunities to exploit and to grow your business more effectively than ever. Although this post feels a lot more like several mini posts together, there’s a lot to take from it.

Whether you’re about to invest your time, that of your team members or you’re going to work with an agency or freelancer to create your blog posts, videos or podcasts, be sure to set your KPIs and your goals ahead of time – and make sure that you’re not just creating content for the sake of it!

Although your business is almost certain to benefit from content marketing, it will only do so effectively if you’ve planned your strategy in an informed manner, and in a way that allows you to refine your future strategy for the benefit of both your business, and your audience.

Last Updated on August 27, 2020

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