5 Actionable Insights from the 2017 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Report


2017-b2b-content-marketing-report If you’re a B2B content marketer, you likely remember where you were when the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs released last year’s B2B Content Marketing report. The same way different generations will always remember hearing about Elvis, Kurt Cobain, or Prince, that dark day is seared into our industry’s memory. Last year’s report showed a decrease in documented content marketing strategy—even though a documented strategy was proven to be a vital part of success. It showed that fewer content marketers rated their efforts as effective than the previous year. At Content Marketing World, Joe Pulizzi somberly declared content marketing had reached the “trough of disillusionment,” out of which we would have to climb. Secluded in her tiny writing house, Ann Handley paused for a moment to wipe tears from her trademark glasses. It was no fun. Fortunately, this year’s report—The 2017 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends—shows that by and large, we’re moving onward and forward to content marketing success. Sixty-two percent of respondents report they are much more or somewhat more successful with their content marketing now than a year ago. It’s good to know that, as an industry, we’re not letting Joe and Ann down anymore. And, of course, good to know we are on the way to better results and more effective content. However, to me one of the most useful parts of this massive report is right up front. It’s a chart called This Year’s Top B2B Content Marketing Performers at a Glance. It collects the responses of just those marketers who rated their organization’s approach extremely or very successful, and compares them with the rest: chart The rest of the report has valuable insight for everything from content creation to amplification channels. But this chart by itself is a blueprint to making your organization a content marketing champion. Let’s take a look at these characteristics of top performing B2B content marketers and the practical steps you can take to go forth and do likewise.

#1: Know What Success Looks Like

81% of top performers say their organization is clear on what an effective content marketing program looks like, compared to only 41% of all respondents, and 14% of the least successful. It makes sense that such clarity would lead to better performance. How can you pursue success if you don’t know what it looks like? clarity Another important aspect of knowing what success looks like is having a realistic outlook on what is possible. 91% of top performers say they are realistic about what content marketing can achieve, compared to less than half of the least successful respondents. How to Do It: See what content marketing can do by exploring industry success stories. See how the top performers are achieving their goals. From there, you can see how to adapt what works to your specific industry and audience. Then channel that overall picture of success into a specific plan with reasonable goals and metrics to measure.

#2: Commit to Content Marketing

At Content Marketing World this year, Joe said it was time for organizations to go “all in” on content marketing. This stat supports his plea: 91% of the most successful are extremely or very committed, compared to 63% overall and only 35% of the least successful. commitment The commitment aspect is important because content marketing works far better as a marathon, not a sprint. It’s an ongoing process that takes time to build a critical mass. If you shutter your content marketing initiative a few months in, you may be missing out on the chance for amazing success. Seventy-seven percent of top performers agree that leadership gives ample time to produce results, while only 26% of least successful performers agree. Those who are committed enough to take time and see it through are the ones reaping the benefits. Commitment also requires dedicating enough resources to content marketing. Top performers spend 10% more on content marketing than the general population, and nearly 20% more than the least effective. percentage How to Do It: If you want to truly succeed with content marketing, make it the focus of all your efforts. Integrate SEO into content. Use your paid channels to promote your top performing content. Use content at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Commit to the budget you need to create and amplify content. And most importantly, commit to giving your efforts enough time to show results.

#3: Document the Strategy

This is one of the key elements of success, and the one that has the lowest level of adoption. Only 61% of top performers have it. Still, that’s nearly double the average of all responses. Most tellingly, 13% of the least successful have a documented strategy. strategy Without a document to use as a guide, it’s nigh impossible to know what success looks like, make a commitment, and optimize over time. It’s like turning off your GPS while navigating in a strange city—you may eventually get to your destination, but not likely on purpose, and you may drive past it several times before you realize you’ve arrived. How to Do It: Get your team together and create a documented content marketing strategy. Spell out your goals and objectives. Identify your audience and brand voice. Plan your content types, topics, and channels of distribution. Build in measurement as well. You will likely change and optimize this plan over time—in fact, 87% of top performers say they can quickly adjust their strategy—but it’s crucial to have a documented starting point to unify and inform your efforts.

#4: Deliver Content Consistently

When we interviewed Joe Pulizzi about his book, Content Inc., he impressed on us the importance of consistent publishing. It’s one of the key features of the Content Inc. model, based on the success of the Content Marketing Institute itself. The survey found that 85% of top performers publish content consistently, while only 58% of all respondents and 32% of the least effective did so. consistency How to Do It: Your audience must know they will get fresh content at set intervals—that’s what compels them to keep coming back. Keep fulfilling that promise to your audience, and you can turn viewers into subscribers into customers. Note that the frequency of publication can vary depending on the audience—it could be daily, weekly, even biweekly—as long as it’s a consistent schedule.

#5: Measure ROI

The final characteristic that sets top performers apart is the ability to quantify the success of their marketing in concrete terms. 88% of top performers can measure ROI, while only 56% of the least effective can. It’s easier to measure ROI in the upper funnel, where most marketers are more comfortable. The percentage of marketers who measure ROI in each stage is a funnel itself, big at the top and small at the bottom: roi Marketers must get better at proving ROI, in order to speak the language of the C-suite, justify budgets, and demonstrate our value is anything but ephemeral and unquantifiable. How to Do It: Proving ROI is easier when you have a documented strategy in place with goals and metrics built in. With a little research, you can start assigning dollar values to marketing’s role in conversions. For example, if your average lead reads 4 pieces of content before converting, and the average sale is X dollars, the value of each piece of content could be seen as a percentage of X, after accounting for sales’ efforts. With proper attribution and the ability to see things from a dollars-and-cents mindset, we can prove the effectiveness of marketing to drive business.

Take Your First Steps toward Content Marketing Greatness

If your organization’s content marketing habits are closer to the “least effective” category than the “top performers,” it’s time to step up your game. As Joe says, it’s time to go “all in.” Make a commitment, draft a strategy, deliver consistently and properly attribute your actions. If you can do all of these things, your organization could be the object of envy in next year’s report. Hungry for more marketing stats? Check out our recap of HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016.

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Facebook’s F8 2017 conference outgrows SF, hits San Jose April 18th-19th

f8-press-asset-1200x6302x Facebook couldn’t fit all the developers for its F8 conference into San Francisco’s Fort Mason any more, so F8 will take place at San Jose’s McEnery Convention Center on April 18th and 19th, 2017. Registration hasn’t started yet but will follow the same rules as last year, which you’ll want to follow if you’re trying to get a seat as it always sells out quickly. Read More
Social – TechCrunch

9 Social Media Marketing Trends That Could Make or Break Your Business in 2017

Social Media Marketing Trends

Social media is always evolving, so what’s next?

That’s the question I was asked in an interview recently. This kind of question can be really easy since there are so many easy candidates – IoT, VR, and just about anything to do with Facebook.

But if you don’t want to rely on the cliches of future social technology, it can be a challenge to pick out what will matter and why. I suppose this post is somewhere in the middle and I hope it helps you think about where the substance breaks away from the shiny social media objects.

The most important thing about social media marketing isn’t always the tech. It’s the people.

A lot of what draws marketers’ attention to social media is technology: new apps, networks and the latest features on major platforms. But the most important thing about social media marketing isn’t always the technology. It’s the people and how they use that technology to create, publish, share, interact and transact.

Social media is a dynamic of consumer behaviors driving new social technology development while at the same time, new technologies that affect consumer behaviors. It’s important for brands looking at what’s next in social media to understand this dynamic amongst their own customers and broader community.

With that dynamic cycle of people and technology in mind, here are a few directions for social media evolution I think are worth paying attention to:

Facebook Internet
1. The Facebook Internet

Facebook is dominating social media usage, video and advertising and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Along with WhatsApp messaging and predictions that Instagram will soon become the second biggest social network, many Facebook users don’t really need to leave, do they?

Converged Social Media
2. Converged Social

The combination of Microsoft and LinkedIn will create innovations that will benefit marketers in some interesting ways, especially if professional social profiles become accessible and integrated within Microsoft 365 apps. There’s more convergence to come and guesses are hot as to whether Facebook, Google or Apple will buy Twitter or if Twitter will go the way of Friendster and MySpace.

Social Video
3. Hot Video

Real-time video is the hot shot on the block right now with Snapchat, Facebook Live and Periscope leading the way towards social engagement with customers in ways many brands haven’t explored before. Facebook’s own Nicola Mendelsohn says in five years, Facebook will “probably” be “all video”.

Like live TV, live video presents brands some opportunities for things to go differently than planned, like Mark Zuckerberg’s inevitably comedic Q/A with Jerry Seinfeld on Facebook live that has reached over 9 million views. On the other hand, who wouldn’t trade some awkward for the reach and exposure (159m views) of a Chewbacca Mom event?

Pay to Play Social Media
4. Paying to Play Social

Social Advertising will continue to rise with even more options for advertisers. Social media advertising is projected to generate $ 11 billion in revenue by 2017, up from just $ 6.1 billion in 2013. More social networks and apps will expand their advertising offerings, just look at Snapchat now inserting ads in between users’ “Stories” and Snapchat Partners, API access that will provide access to creating custom buying and management tools.

Dark social
5. Dark Social

With 84% of global social shares dark to social media analytics, there’s a growing importance, but brands are challenged to measure its effectiveness in ways that synch with other social media measurement. There’s no shortage of recommendations on how to  measure dark social, but we all need more concrete direction on this and collaboration between apps, networks and platforms to make it meaningful.

Social Chat Bots
6. Social Chat Bots.
Again, Facebook has opened doors for a new kind of engagement and with customers’ expectation of real-time engagement, bots may be able to satisfy basic customer service and information needs for brands. Will bots be a service or communications solution for your brand? Maybe. At a minimum, brands will need to invest in more interactive social experiences for their community and what better what to that than an neural network and some AI?

Mobile Social Media
7. Mobile First

Mobile traffic now exceeds desktop traffic and 2 billion consumers worldwide are expected to own a smartphone in 2016. There’s nothing new about the importance of mobile friendliness or having apps, but the cost of ignoring mobile social media experiences for brands dragging their feet will rise dramatically.

Social Media Automation
8. Social Media Automation

“Martech Shock” extends to social media as brands look to automate and scale. The use of social media automation tools and platform features will grow to help brands with prospecting, delivering content to the right customers at the right time and engagement – all integrated with a marketing dashboard for end to end reporting of the impact social media has across the customer journey.

Social Media Participation
9. Social Content Participation

People are empowered and motivated more than ever to co-create social content with brands. If a brand makes that possible, I think consumers will be incredibly interested in co-creating content that serves mutual interests.

In a way, this kind of consumer and brand collaboration is tapping into the whole user-generated content phenomenon. There are so many ways to do it, especially because of mobile devices allowing people to participate at all times with brands on topics they’re passionate about. Content can easily become an outcome of this type of participation, whether it’s a video, image or even text.

Activating passionate people within a social network environment where they can co-create and participate is an exciting opportunity to scale reach, especially on platforms like Facebook that continue to penalize brand and publisher organic visibility in favor of content from individuals (and ads).

Here’s the thing: Sometimes social media marketing often seems doomed to become nothing more than another advertising channel, with artificial automation schemes for brands to scale the illusion of customer engagement.

While that seems a bit cynical, I also think the collective power of individuals on social networks has never been greater – for content, engagement and influence. When brands and marketers can marry the wisdom and action of the crowd with technology that actually solves a real problem, I think the future of social media is brighter than ever.

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®