What is the status quo in content marketing and what innovations will there be? Many studies deal with this every year. We have collected the most important findings in B2B for you in this article.
Delivering the right content to potential customers at the right time via the right channel – that’s the job of content managers. But that’s not so easy anymore. Keeping track of the many channels and formats poses great challenges for many marketers. This is exactly why we are summarizing current studies on content marketing in this article in order to give you an overview – in the truest sense of the word.
The importance of content marketing strategy
Content strategies are becoming increasingly important. The year 2020 was a major upheaval for many B2B companies because the pandemic meant that many had to significantly adapt their content marketing strategies. However, this has also meant that many companies have now been able to develop a proper strategy in the first place, according to the result of the “12th Annual B2B Content Marketing – Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: Insights for 2022”. Important here: Brands must become more empathetic and approachable. Personalization is the keyword here.
The Content Marketing Study 2021 by Semrush comes to a similar conclusion. Here, 84 percent of the companies surveyed state that they have a content marketing strategy. However, this is usually still in its “infancy” – i.e. not very complex. Also, many companies adjusted their strategy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 94 percent of content managers have changed their strategy, modified their message, and adjusted the editorial calendar. However, companies have to think a lot further here: Strategies have to evolve over the long term so that they always fit changing needs at all times.
Content Marketing Goals
But what specific goals do marketers pursue with content marketing? Here, too, some studies agree.
The main objectives are mainly:
- lead generation
- traffic generation
- Improving brand reputation
- Strengthen customer activation and retention
In short: branding and lead generation. However, more and more goals are slowly being added, such as the major topic of recruiting employees. Statista’s “Content Marketing Trend Study 2021” shows, for example, that 19 percent of the companies surveyed also use content marketing for the HR area to advance their employer branding.
In order to achieve these goals, different content must be provided for the different phases of the marketing funnel (ToFu). According to Semrush, for example, instructions, infographics, or checklists are very suitable at the top level. It enables companies to build relationships with potential customers. Traffic, on the other hand, can be generated primarily through search engine optimization. Organic traffic is particularly valuable and inexpensive. However, you have to continuously track and develop this.
This is precisely where the biggest challenges lie. The Content Marketing Study 2021 by Semrush shows this.
Content managers named their biggest difficulties here:
- Create content that generates quality leads (54 percent)
- Create content that generates more traffic (52 percent)
- Demonstrate ROI of content (44 percent)
- Create appealing and tailor-made content for the target group (43 percent)
- Improve SEO performance (42 percent)
Content formats and platforms
But which channels do content managers use? In principle, the website primarily serves as a content hub, as stated by 95 percent in Statista’s “Content Marketing Trend Study 2021”. Social media channels (59 percent) and the corporate blog (also 59 percent) are also important. The e-mail newsletter should not be underestimated either. This can also achieve a large range.
Social media in B2B
But what is best in the field of social media marketing? Here again, the studies agree. LinkedIn is the undisputed number one here. LinkedIn is the organic social media platform that B2B marketers use the most and the one that produces the best results. This is what 93 percent of those surveyed in the “12th Annual B2B Content Marketing – Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: Insights for 2022” say. This is followed by Facebook (80 percent), then Twitter (71 percent), and YouTube (60 percent). Only the Statista study adds the career network Xing with 66 percent.
Content formats in B2B
But which content formats are B2B marketers now using? Basically, there is a lot of variety. Whether text, images, videos, infographics, webinars, or white papers – a healthy mix makes it more exciting for users. But marketers prefer to rely on blog articles. These are not only good for generating traffic, but they often also serve as an entry point into the content marketing funnel, since users are still researching here first. Infographics or social media posts, for example, are also well suited there. In the further course, detailed content must be delivered, such as e-books or white papers.
The white paper is currently the most popular gated content format, according to Statista’s “Content Marketing Trend Study 2021”. However, more and more users are annoyed by having to provide their contact details. That is why new formats and alternatives have to be found, especially in B2B.
But what will grow is the video and audio sector. Videos in B2B are no longer new. But especially in times of the pandemic, many companies were forced to expand their activities to the online area. This is exactly why webinars have received a real boost. But not every webinar is equally suitable. Rather, it is important to rely on innovative formats that are produced in high quality but at the same time creatively. Boring product presentations in webinars are therefore out. Rather, virtual expert discussions or rounds are more suitable. This also strengthens your credibility. What will continue to prevail are audio formats. So far, only 26 percent – according to the Statista study – rely on audio. But that will change significantly in the coming years. One way to get started here is through the podcast market. Podcasts aren’t new, but it’s still new territory for many B2B companies.
E-mail marketing in B2B
As mentioned above, lead generation is one of the top goals of content marketing. Closely related to this is lead maintenance. A tried and tested means of doing this is e-mail marketing. (Potential) customers are provided with suitable content, usually via marketing automation. Here it is important to produce good content. You can convey credibility and knowledge in e-books, for example. These are also real lead magnets.
Events in B2B
All events were also severely affected by the pandemic. Much could be extended to the online area, but many lack personal contact. This is exactly why just over 50 percent of B2B professionals agree that spending on face-to-face events, in particular, will increase significantly in 2022, according to those surveyed in the “12th Annual B2B Content Marketing – Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: Insights for 2022”, albeit the same hybrid events will continue to play a major role this year. Digital events (virtual events, webinars, online courses, and many more) are also sure to remain in the content marketing mix, as they have been able to bring in the best content marketing results over the past 12 months, according to the study.
Measurement of success in B2B content marketing
In order to check the success of content marketing campaigns, most B2B professionals now also use success measurement. After all, 84 percent of the marketers in Statista’s “Content Marketing Trend Study 2021” measure parts of it. According to some participants, there is simply too much data and too many measurement methods that everything can be measured. They mainly rely on web analysis tools, social media tracking, and user surveys. Relevant KPIs include website access, social media analytics, and email engagement.
Therefore, right at the beginning of your strategy, determine what you want to measure, when, and how. This not only makes planning easier for you, but also gives you an overview of your current campaigns.
Content Marketing Trends
But what about content marketing? Statista also asked B2B marketers about this. Accordingly, direct and referral marketing will become increasingly important. In addition, print media only play a subordinate role in content marketing. Rather, it is a digital customer journey that focuses on personalized content. Marketing automation and dynamic content distribution will reinforce this.
In summary, the following topics are becoming increasingly important in B2B content marketing:
- 1. Webinars
- 2. Personalized Content
- 3. Community building
- 4. Marketing Automation
- 5. Data storytelling
- 6. Live video
- 7. User Generated Content
- 8. Podcast
- 9. Influencer Marketing
- 10. Use of artificial intelligence