The 2014 B2B Content Marketing Report is Here! Today! Plus an Infographic!

b2b-content-marketing-usage-2014It is that time once again and the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs have released the 2014 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends–North America Report. This is the 4th annual version of this B2B content marketing report, based on surveys of 1,217 North American B2B marketers across many industries from companies of all sizes. This is the gold standard report and you will be seeing it in presentations about content marketing for the next year. Grab some data for yourself today.

There is so much data in the report, and it always begins with the stat of how many B2B marketers are using content marketing. Again this number is up from 91% to:

93% of B2B Marketers using content marketing

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Most Effective B2B Content Marketers

One of the highlights of the report is what the most effective B2B content marketers are doing differently than their peers. And maybe that includes you. This is a great yardstick for your efforts. 42% of those surveyed rated their content marketing as a 4 or a 5 on a five-point scale with 5 being very effective. And this is up from 36% last year. And what are these most effective marketers doing?

66% of them have a documented content strategy

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86% of them have someone overseeing content marketing

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80% of them cite lead generation as a goal

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They use an average of 15 different tactics

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They use an average of 7 social media platforms

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39% of the marketing budget is spent on content marketing

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Only 35% are challenged with producing engaging content

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The top metrics have not changed for the last three years and the number of B2B marketers citing them as their content marketing goals have gone up. This means that content marketing with solid goals are growing. And this report helps reinforce that. In a marketing space without clear standards of measurement, the answers of your peers in this report really are the benchmarks for how you need to approach content marketing.

63% use web traffic to measure content marketing success

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54% use sales lead quality to measure content marketing succes

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And finally, the content marketing challenges for B2B marketers have been pretty consistent from year to year, however, this year the stats are split out by large companies and small companies. This helps add some context to the challenges reported. I have had this very discussion about last year’s report, so I am happy to see this breakout.

16% of large B2B companies cite their biggest content marketing challenge is producing content that engages

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34% of small B2B companies cite their biggest content marketing challenge is a lack of time

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Make sure you view the full 2014 B2B Content Marketing Benchmark Report embedded below to find that nugget of data to convince your boss that now is the time for content marketing.

B2B Content Marketing Benchmark Report Infographic

Click the infographic to view it larger and explore the awesome visual data from the report.

21 Unbelievable B2B Content Marketing Statistics

21-B2B-content-marketing-statisticsB2B companies continue to be interested in content marketing as a means to connect with their prospects and customers, as a first step to generate leads with content and social media. While last year’s B2B Benchmark study has not yet been updated, here’s a recent grassroots study from the 50,000 member strong B2B Technology Marketing community on LinkedIn. Here are some key statistics from the study. If you are interested in the breakdown of the 815 respondents, or any other details of the study, I have embedded the slideshare presentation below.

Do these statistics seem to reflect the content marketing activities at your B2B company or clients? All these sorts of studies seem to be a little high compared to what I see in the wild. Active LinkedIn members would be more likely to work for company who understand the value of content marketing. If you have thoughts, or disagreements with these stats, please let others know in the comments below.

  1. 71% of B2B Marketers use content marketing for lead generation
  2. 50% of B2B Marketers use content marketing for thought leadership and education
  3. Only 25% of B2B Marketers use content marketing for customer retention
  4. 89% of B2B Marketers cite customer testimonials as the most effective content marketing
  5. 88% of B2B Marketers cite case studies as the most effective content marketing
  6. Less than 40% of B2B Marketers indicate ebooks as effective content marketing
  7. 71% of B2B Marketers say audience relevance is the most important element of content marketing
  8. 85% of B2B Marketers say LinkedIn is the most effective social network in delivering content
  9. 73% of B2B Marketers say YouTube is an effective social network in delivering content
  10. Only 39% of B2B Marketers say Facebook is an effective social network in delivering content
  11. 93% of B2B Marketers create content from scratch
  12. Web traffic and views or downloads tied at 63% as key metrics to determine content success
  13. 5% of B2B Marketers have no metrics to determine content marketing success
  14. 56% of B2B content is created by corporate marketing
  15. 47% of B2B content is created by product marketing
  16. 82% of B2B Marketers are increasing content production in the next 12 months
  17. 55% of B2B Marketers say their biggest challenge is having the time or bandwidth to create content
  18. 30% of B2B Marketers do not categorize their content by buying stage
  19. 37% of B2B Marketers use marketing automation for lead generation
  20. 36% of B2B Marketers use marketing automation for lead nurturing
  21. 39% of B2B Marketers don’t use marketing automation at all

Photo credit: Flickr

Daily Social Media Usage Includes B2B Customers and Prospects

Many B2B companies complain that their customers and prospects don’t use social media. According to the growing stats, 40% of the world uses a social media site every day. And your B2B customers and prospects are likely among them.

Our friends at Saxum created this infographic for social media day (It was Sunday, June 30 if you missed it). It shows activity on major social platforms every day. While not all B2B social media activity takes place on major platforms, this provides good justification for exploring social media platforms further. The complete infographic is below.

Once you begin to identify where your customers and prospects are on social networks, the next step is to determine what kind of useful content you need to create to connect with them.

Here are some of the relavent stats to B2B marketers:

  • 1 out of every 7 minutes spent online is spent on Facebook.
  • 23% of Facebook users check their newsfeed more than 5 times per day.
  • 2.1 billion search queries are conducted on Twitter every day. That’s almost half as many as performed on Google.
  • 1,370 company pages are added to LinkedIn every day.
  • Facebook and Twitter traffic peaks in the afternoon.
  • LinkedIn traffic peaks in the morning.
  • 200 million hours of video are watched on YouTube every day.
  • 10 million presentations have been uploaded to Slideshare.

What have you discovered about your B2B customers’ or prospects’ social media habits that have justified your activities? Let others know in the comments below.

Click the infographic to view a larger image.

B2B Social Media Success Starts with Measurable Objectives

B2B Marketers are always comparing their company social media efforts to other B2B companies. What are other companies trying to achieve? What is working? What are their biggest challenges? In a recent survey Ascend2 asked 687 business leaders, marketing executives and practitioners from around the world just those questions. And good for us they separated out the answers for B2B companies.

Some of these results were featured on eMarketer, but you can download the full Social Media Marketing Strategy Report for free from Ascend2 (registration required). Below are a selection of the results.

B2B Social Media Marketing Objectives

Top objectives for B2B marketers were improving customer engagement, increasing web site traffic and increasing their content reach. While the first could be a high level goal, if other parts of the business are focused on that objective, the other top objectives are more tactical. While they can certainly be measured, they are really a means to an end. And lead generation is not a large priority of B2B marketers using social media. But it probably is a priority objective of other marketing efforts. This is one reason B2B marketers are still failing with social media.

  • 43% of B2B Marketers say improve customer engagement is their most important objective
  • 37% of B2B Marketers say increase web site traffic is their most important objective
  • 34% of B2B Marketers say increase content reach is their most important objective
  • 29% of B2B Marketers say increase lead quality is their most important objective
  • 27% of B2B Marketers say increase lead quantity is their most important objective

B2B Social Media Marketing Tactics

Creating content are the top activities for social media marketing for those surveyed. Content is what drives lead generation and other top of the funnel activities, so these tactics are on track. But if lead generation is not a stated goal (above), it means that B2B marketers are not capitalizing on these tactics and including calls to action with every piece of content.

  • 40% of B2B Marketers say creating articles/blog post content is their most effective tactic
  • 32% of B2B Marketers say creating research/whitepapers is their most effective tactic
  • 29% of B2B Marketers say creating audio/video content is their most effective tactic

B2B Social Media Marketing Execution

While those B2B marketers surveyed indicated that various content types were their top activities in social media marketing, it turns out those same activities are the most challenging for them to complete. It is a different mindset to create content at the top of the funnel, or even to serve customers, that solves prospects’ and customers’ problems, rather than promoting the features and benefits of your products and services. Here are some B2B blogging ideas to help you to execute these activities.

  • 32% of B2B Marketers say creating audio/video content is the most difficult to execute
  • 32% of B2B Marketers say creating research/whitepapers is the most difficult to execute
  • 31% of B2B Marketers say creating articles/blog post content is the most difficult to execute

B2B Social Media Marketing Obstacles

And finally here are the main obstacles to success for B2B social media marketing. These are common problems at B2B companies. Who is going to do it? How do we measure the value and does the rest of the organization understand what you are doing with social media?

  • 37% of B2B Marketers say staff limitations is the biggest obstacle to achieving objectives
  • 36% of B2B Marketers say inability to measure social ROI is the biggest obstacle to achieving objectives
  • 27% of B2B Marketers say lack of organizational committment is the biggest obstacle to achieving objectives

Do these survey results match what you see in your B2B company or those you work with? What are some of the ways you have dealt with some of these challenges and obstacles?

Use Social Media Statistics to Find Your B2B Audience

B2B marketers often use statistics for their social media presentations. Whether these are educational decks for internal or external audiences, or slides to prove the need for an investment in social media, this is a very limited use for all the statistics that are available online. Why not use these stats to understand more about our target audiences and gain some insight into their online behaviors. The Pew Internet and American Life Project has conducted an ongoing series of surveys about social media adoption of US internet users. The latest version of the survey was just released, so let’s look at some other ways to use this survey.

We have a tendency to focus only on B2B related surveys, but a general audience survey can be helpful in providing guidance and discovering your audience on social media channels. To paraphrase a line from the funny Tim Washer, all B2B prospects and customers are people, so their general internet usage is something to consider.

Let’s look at some of the survey results with a bit of thought around each stat and how it applies to a B2B audience.

67% of US Internet users use social networking sites

That’s two-thirds of all internet users, so when someone says that your prospects and customers are not on social networks, they are wrong. They probably are. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are looking for business-related information on social networks, but if you can connect with them and provide value (through content), you can build and nurture these relationships.

71% of women surveyed use social networking sites

If your target personas are women, or even skew more towards woman, take another look at how you are using social media to drive lead generation. Women are more likely to use social networking sites than men, so a better understanding of how they use it and the kinds of content that appeals to women will attract more prospects. I don’t mean make all your ebooks pink, but think about the differences in the way women and men solve problems, gather information and share information on social networks when developing your content strategy.

83% of 18-29 year olds use social networking

We all know that a greater percentage of younger people use social networking sites than older people, but the next age group of 30-49 is still at 77% usage. It slides all the way down to 32% when you get over 65. If your goal is to reach older executives on social networking sites, that will be a challenge. They are just not there yet. But as prospects are researching online for business solutions, social networking can play a part for anyone. If an intern or a junior employee is the one who seeks out information about your products, or fills out lead forms, what kinds of things are they searching for? These would be less technical results than what an engineer would look for.

16% of US Internet users use Twitter

With the overemphasis on Twitter in marketing and media, it is hard to accept that only 16% of US internet users are on Twitter. And the demographic data shows that is skews younger and more urban, so that does not necessarily provide much guidance for finding and reaching a B2B audience. Many B2B companies start with Twitter because they think it is easy to tweet, but they quickly run out of things to tweet without a plan. Twitter’s best use is to help amplify your own short and long-form content. It is also worthwhile to ask your customers if they are using Twitter, and what value they get from it. This can help guide you in connecting with prospects on the social network.

20% of US Internet users use LinkedIn

While the study mentioned above did not report LinkedIn usage, a previous Pew study did. And I can’t write a B2B article without talking about LinkedIn. This is a surprising result in certain business circles. It seems that every business person is on LinkedIn. Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are on LinkedIn. But with usage at only 20%, there are certainly B2B prospects are not on it. Use this information to dig more into your customers’ behavior to understand how to maximize your LinkedIn efforts.

67% of US Internet users use Facebook

The percentage of Facebook users matches the overall social networking usage numbers. While it is not an exact one for one match, you can interpret this to mean that your audience is on Facebook. It is possible to use Facebook grow your audience, build connections and drive leads, but it requires content creation, compelling images and sponsored posts to increase the reach of those posts. It is work, and it takes times, but you can get results from Facebook.

How else would you look at these statistics to find your B2B audience on social media sites?

Photo credit: Flickr

A Baker’s Dozen of B2B Social Media Statistics for 2013

One of the challenges for any B2B company that adopts social media is to benchmark their success against other B2B companies. Statistics, like those collected below, are one way to spot trends in overall activity and spending. When you look at all the stats below in aggregate, you see that B2B companies are spending more on digital marketing and social media, they are dedicating resources to content marketing, but they are not driving traffic to their websites with social media.

If your first tendency is to shout that they are doing it wrong, you are not alone. But we don’t know what specific tactics these companies are using and what their goals are. If they are not creating compelling content or they’re not driving prospects back to their websites, then social media traffic will be small. If they are focused on lead generation, and the social traffic converts at a higher level than general traffic, they might be fine with how much traffic social drives. Start with trends that you may find in these statistics, but make sure you review your own social media metrics against your goals and other tactics.

Changes in Spending

49% of B2B marketers plan to increase their marketing budget in 2013. (Source)

9.5% of B2B marketers plan to decrease their marketing budget in 2013. (Source)

67% of B2B marketers plan to increase their digital marketing budget in 2013. (Source)

70% of B2B marketers plan to increase their spending on website development in 2013. (Source)

56% of B2B marketers plan to increase their spending on social media in 2013. (Source)

Content Marketing

93% of B2B marketers using content marketing use their website. (Source)

65% of B2B marketers using content marketing use social media. (Source)

58% of B2B marketers create their content internally. (Source)

35% of B2B marketers use personas to guide their content creation. (Source)

A B2B buyer will find three pieces of content about a vendor for every one that the company provides. (Source)

Traffic Sources

41% of B2B website traffic is driven by organic search. (Source)

40% of B2B website traffic is direct. (Source)

Only 2% of B2B website traffic is driven by social media. (Source)

Photo Credit: flickr

43% of B2B CEOs of Never Consider Social Media in Decisions

As social media becomes an important part of business culture, considering the social media impact of decisions has to be part of the process for B2B companies. According to a recent study by the Zeno Group, CEO of all companies, but especially B2B companies, are not taking social media and its impact on their reputation online into account when making decisions. This has potential impact on attracting prospects and retaining customers, as social media sites and other online sources continue to be business people’s first stop when searching for information about companies.

Here are some highlights:

  • 43% of B2B CEOs never consider social media reputation in decision making
  • Only 45% of B2B Executives believe their company can respond to a negative online post within 24 hours
  • 13% of B2B companies would not engage an audience online at all to defend their reputation

What are you seeing in your B2B company? Is social media consideration part of your decision process?

18 Growing B2B Content Marketing Trends to Share

b2b-trends-up-and-rightEvery year the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs collaborate on a content marketing survey of B2B marketers. This year’s results are based on responses from 1,416 North American B2B marketers from all industries and all size companies. And just like last year, the adoption of content marketing and the sharing of it using social media continues to grow. We have selected some key data points from the survey and listed them for you below, complete with buttons to share on Twitter and LinkedIn. The complete study is embedded at the end of this post.

1. 91% of B2B Marketers use content marketing

2. 87% of B2B Marketers use social media to distribute their content

3. 77% of B2B Marketers use blogs as part of their content marketing

4. 55% of B2B Marketers believe ebooks are an effective marketing tactic

5. 83% of B2B Marketers use LinkedIn to distribute their content

6. 80% of B2B Marketers use Twitter to distribute their content

7. 80% of B2B Marketers use Facebook to distribute their content

8. 39% of B2B Marketers use Google+ to distribute their content

9. 23% of B2B Marketers use Slideshare to distribute their content

10. 79% of B2B Marketers use content marketing for brand awareness

11. 71% of B2B Marketers use content marketing for lead generation

12. 54% of B2B Marketers plan to increase spending on content marketing

13. 33% of B2B Marketing budgets are dedicated to content marketing

14. 44% of B2B Marketers outsource their content marketing

15. 59% of B2B Marketers tailor content to the profile of the decision maker

16. 64% of B2B Marketers are challenged to produce enough content

17. 52% of B2B Marketers are challenged to produce content that engages

18. Only 36% of B2B Marketers believe their content marketing is effective

Are there any trends that surprise you, either too high or too low? Share your comments below or in your tweets or updates with the data points.

Photo Credit: Flickr

3 Ways B2B Companies Can Manage Big Data

A recent emarketer article highlights the data overload that B2B marketers are currently experiencing. The study by econsultancy focused on web analytics data, which has been available for quite some time, and did not even address the volume of social media data that is available. A majority of the marketers surveyed indicated that less than half of the data collected is useful for making business decisions.

This type of response is more common than people realize as we all wade through too much data. If we are able to collect data, often we do before determining its business value. And B2B marketers who have wrangled their data into manageable reports just don’t understand how difficult this is for others. The same is true on the other side, where those who can’t figure this out do not see an easy path to enlightenment. With this in mind, here are 3 ways to better understand your data, whether from web analytics or social media or even from across your whole marketing mix, to make better business decisions.

1. Focus on business objectives

Even though it is easier to track followers, likes, clicks and page views, it is unlikely that any of those measurements relate to your B2B companies business objectives. Those are likely to be things like generate leads, acquire new customers, retain existing customers and improve customer satisfaction. You can certainly track the softer things mentioned above, because these tactics behind them drive your real metrics. You need to know how much traffic you are driving to a landing page and what sources those come to optimize all steps in the process, but this is not where your reporting should end. Followers are not leads. Page views are not leads. Facebook likes are not new customers. Report on the end goals, not the tactics to get there.

2. Get everyone to agree

If you are trying to make sense of big data and developing reports that track your success metrics, make sure everyone agrees with the reporting structure and how the numbers are being reported. They also need to agree on what success looks like. One place to start, if you looking for quick executive buy-in, is with your traditional reporting and metrics for other marketing efforts and campaigns. Sharing web numbers or social media numbers alongside numbers that people are used to seeing, and in the same format will help them understand what they are looking at. This will also give you an agreed upon starting point for the numbers to use.

3. Don’t set it and forget it

Once you start distributing reports, others will comment on what you are reporting and may ask you to change what you are looking. This happens even after everyone agrees, as stated above. But the bigger issue is that once you start measuring and reporting, you may need to refine what you are tracking. You may find that your metrics don’t mean what you think they mean. Or maybe it turns out that you can’t have any effect on the metrics, so it is informational, not actionable. You might still want to include it, but the focus on these kinds of numbers change.

How have you managed to report your success as the volume of data has increased for B2B companies?

Facebook and Pinterest Lead Top B2B Social Media Posts in 2012

It is halfway through 2012 and it is always interesting to see what B2B social media posts generated the most interest from our readers. This list was compiled based on page views in Google Analytics.

It is no real surprise that the top posts relate to Facebook’s Timeline, current statistics, Pinterest, LinkedIn, generating leads and measurement. These are things that are most on B2B marketers’ minds. It is also notable that 9 of the 10 posts feature a number in the headline. In both of these cases, content and numbered headlines, this may be more about what we write about and how we structure posts, than about popularity of certain kinds of posts.

If you missed any of these posts, this is a great chance to read them and share them. Are there any other posts that resonated with you that would be in your top ten? Let us know in the comments below.

1. 10 of the Best B2B Facebook Timeline Cover Photos

2. 12 Revealing Stats About B2B Social Media Marketing

3. 5 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Facebook Timeline

4. 4 Reasons For B2B Marketers To Explore Pinterest

5. 5 Ridiculous B2B Social Media Marketing Myths

6. 4 Ways to Use Storytelling for B2B Social Media

7. 5 Ways to Generate Leads from a LinkedIn B2B Company Page

8. 12 Compelling B2B Social Media Slideshare Presentations

9. Generate More Leads with B2B Social Media [Infographic]

10. 5 Ways to Measure Results of B2B Social Media

Photo: Flickr