What A Difference A Year Makes. The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs just posted their 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends for North America Survey results. In its fifth year, the survey takes a close look at the content marketing discipline in B2B organizations and how organizations rank themselves.
In reading through the study and then comparing this survey to last years, the hard truth is marketers are not getting any better. In fact, in some of the most important areas marketers are getting worse when it comes to content marketing.
The most glaring item that jumped out when doing the comparison was the following:
– When asked to “Rank their effectiveness with content marketing”, this years 2015 study showed 38% said they were effective (8% very effective) and last years 2014 study showed 42% stated they were effective (9% very effective).
How is it that marketers are actually declining in content effectiveness performance? I believe the answer lies in the key theme called in the beginning of the study and that is the lack of a documented strategy by our peers that is causing this decline.
When asked if they have a “Documented Content Strategy”, last year showed that 44% said yes. This year saw a 9% decline with only 35% saying yes. Only 48% of this years respondents said they have a strategy but it is not documented – this is not a strategy.
The lack of strategy has not only shown itself in the lack of effectiveness, but in how B2B marketers are measuring their performance. When asked the “Organizational Goals for their Content Marketing” Brand – 84% and Lead Generation – 83% were the top two. However, when you look at the “Metrics for B2B Content Success” 63% measure web visits and only 49% measure Sales Lead Quality and only 48% measure Conversion Rates. So B2B marketers are not aligning their measurements to that of the goals for their content and as a result have truly no vision into the effectiveness of their content. How is this strategy?
In order to be successful with content, marketers need to truly begin applying strategic thinking to their disciplines and using it as a guide. In this year’s study only 42% of respondents said “their content marketing strategy guides their content marketing efforts.” If this is the case, why even devote time and effort to the development of the strategy when it won’t be used the majority of the time?
This is madness and has to stop if marketing is going to become the strategic leaders that our businesses are expecting. Marketers have to develop or in some cases acquire the talent needed to think strategically. This means:
- Understanding how content needs to be integrated across multiple channels to reach our buyers
- Developing perpetual demand generation campaigns that align to that of the buyer(s) and how they purchase
- Taking an operational approach to our organizations so they are aligned to perform at optimal levels
- Using business intelligence to guide and optimize our content and programs
- Understanding that technology is simply an enabler and not the solution to our problems.
Today’s organizations are so tactically focused and organized to their own detriment. CMOs and marketing leaders need to be willing to take the necessary and sometimes hard steps forward to transform their marketing roles and departments and be bold in doing so.
As the study shows, the performance of marketing over the last year is in a decline. Until true strategic thinking and process is applied to this overarching problem, it will most likely continue, no matter how much we focus on content marketing. Without the strategy component – we are just creating more noise for our buyers.