The 2011 B2B Content Marketing report from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute shows that content marketing is on the rise for businesses of all sizes. Budgets are increasing, the amount of time spent on content marketing is increasing, and the amount of content published is increasing. As a result, companies are finding better ways to leverage the power of content to grow.

The 2012 study highlights a number of significant findings related to how business-to-business companies are using content marketing and how they’re tracking their success against their goals.

90% of survey respondents indicated that they’re using content marketing, which is the same percentage found in last year’s survey. B2B companies are using an average of eight content marketing tactics to reach their goals. The top eight most commonly used tactics are:

  1. Articles = 79%
  2. Social Media (other than blogs) = 74%
  3. Blogs = 65%
  4. eNewsletters = 63%
  5. Case Studies = 58%
  6. In-Person Events = 56%
  7. Videos = 52%
  8. White Papers = 51%

The biggest increases were reported in the use of blogs (up 27% from 2011), videos (up 27%), and white papers (up 19%).

In terms of content distribution, all social media channels are seeing increases from B2B marketers. The biggest increases in 2012 were seen in distribution on YouTube (47% increase), LinkedIn (39% increase), Twitter (35% increase), and Facebook (30% increase). The most effective content marketers, use all of the social media sites included in the survey to distribute content. The most popular distribution channels among surveyed B2B marketers in 2011 are:

  1. Twitter = 74%
  2. LinkedIn = 71%
  3. Facebook = 70%
  4. YouTube = 56%
  5. Slideshare = 20%
  6. Google+ = 13%
  7. Flickr = 10%
  8. None = 9%

The majority of survey respondents indicated that their companies focused on using content marketing to achieve goals related to brand awareness (69%), customer acquisition (68%), lead generation (67%), and customer retention/loyalty (62%). The most frequently used metric to track content marketing success is web traffic (58%) followed by sales lead quality (49%).

In 2011, 26% of B2B marketing budgets were dedicated to content marketing, which is the same as the prior year. However, smaller companies are starting to allocate larger budget percentages to content marketing initiatives than larger companies. 60% of respondents plan to spend more on content marketing in 2012.

Interestingly, 62% of B2B marketers surveyed are outsourcing content creation and other content marketing efforts, which is up from 55% in 2011. With the top challenge reported as producing the type of content that customers and prospects find engaging, it makes sense that marketers are tapping professional writers and niche experts to help with various content marketing functions.

The B2B Content Marketing study also provides examples of best practices that the most effective B2B marketers are using in their content marketing initiatives:

  • They allocate a larger percentage of their budgets to content marketing (31% of the budget vs. 18% of the budget).
  • They are more likely to consider the “stage in the buying cycle” when they develop content (50% more likely).
  • They have greater executive buy-in (92% vs. 83%).

Content marketing is a powerful way to grow a brand and a business and the results of the 2011 B2B Content Marketing study put its importance into perspective. B2B marketers who aren’t using content marketing are in the minority and need to catch up before it’s too late.

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