Opportunities for marketing to small business owners
Just released: the B2B Content Marketing report, from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. It’s their 2018 survey of Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends for North America, and as usual, it provides lots of great insights on strategy, success rates, distribution approaches and more. In this post, I’d like to share my take on the findings that are relevant to enterprise businesses marketing to small business owners. Though only 25% of the 890 respondents are marketers from large companies, there is still plenty of food for thought.
The main takeaway from the report is that content marketing is continuing to evolve. More companies are doing more of it, they’re doing it better, and they’re seeing encouraging results.
“Nearly 3 out of 4 respondents believe their organization’s current content marketing approach is moderately successful or very successful.”
This is great, but whether a company that is killing it with content or whether it is just getting started, no one feels that they have mastered content yet. That’s OK. The point is, wherever you are today with your content marketing efforts, that you continue to make progress by identifying and implementing additional best practices.
Looking at a trend, 63% rate their organization’s content marketing efforts as either somewhat more successful or much more successful than last year, which makes sense as content marketing continues its evolution. While four or so years ago most brands just started to implement content into their overall marketing program, many marketers now know they must take a more strategic approach and deliver measurable results.
What’s the number one factor contributing to increased content marketing success over the last year? Higher-quality content and more efficient content creation. This is part of the evolution of content marketing and likely a result of the number two factor leading to increased success: the development or adjustment of a coherent content strategy.
Still, there’s ample room to improve. A little over one-third of organizations have a documented content marketing strategy, while about the same percentage has a strategy that isn’t documented. This means that another third has no content marketing strategy at all! That doesn’t include your company, does it? If so, watch this space for a future post on how to get started with a content marketing program (or simply give us a shout).
“What’s more, only 35% are measuring content marketing ROI. What are the other 65% measuring?”
Well, it turns out that 38% of those who don’t measure said they aren’t measuring because they don’t have to – no formal justification is required. All I can say is their day of judgement is likely near as the C-suite will be asking for ROI on content initiatives (if they aren’t already). Regardless of whether it’s required or not, monitoring simple metrics like unique users, bounce rates and subscriber counts can begin to show that your content is effective and your content marketing program is working.
Finally, 80% of respondents claim that their organization is focused on building audiences, an 18% increase over the prior year. A primary tactic in building an audience is regular newsletters, but interestingly, only 48% said they are doing them. It seems this number should be higher, because email subscribers are one of the most important measures of audience size. Email is a consistent communication channel that – unlike social media – marketers own, and it remains the number one way of distributing content. Perhaps some companies think they’re doing more to build their audience than they are. Regardless of whether that’s true or not, brands should continually work to grow their audiences, since even active prospect lists become stale and less-responsive over time.
Taken together, these results suggest that content marketing is evolving and marketers are getting better at it, but some key opportunities are still being missed. What are some steps you can take immediately to raise your company’s content marketing game? Here are a few:
- Make sure your content is actionable for your audience. Nearly all respondents said that they always or frequently ensure that their content is fact-based or credible, but when targeting SMBs, this is not enough. The content also must be useful. Actionable “how-to” or “best practice” content should include information the reader hasn’t seen or doesn’t know, derived from expert sources- check out our previous blog on this topic here.
- Check your allocation. The least successful content marketers are spending 14% of their total marketing budget on content while the most successful are spending nearly 3x as much. If you are allocating less of your budget to content marketing than those who are successful with their content and your other marketing initiatives are working, OK. But those who are investing in content are seeing results, and the implication is that with more emphasis on content you could be doing better still. Consider also that success rates of other marketing tactics like advertising are declining. Make sure your spending on content generation reflects the importance of content marketing in your overall marketing mix, and make sure that when attributing ROI to various aspects of your marketing program, you’re looking beyond the “last click”. One more suggestion: consider that online content persists. Unlike most typical advertising-based marketing campaigns, the investments you make in content will produce results for years to come.
Clearly, more marketers are realizing the importance of content marketing, but so are their competitors. Effective content marketing requires a continual process of improvement. No one can afford to stand pat. Whether you need to develop or refine an overarching content marketing strategy, or you’d like help creating compelling content that increases SMB engagement with your brand and ultimately moves the sales needle, we can help. Get in touch with us!