B2B Content Marketing in the UK: how are we doing?

B2B content marketing report 2013 – UK edition

The Content Marketing Institute's yearly benchmark reports are one of the major sources for learning how marketers are using content, what's working and how much they're investing. Up to now, the CMI has created a single worldwide report, so it's been difficult to judge to what degree content marketing is simply a North American thing. This year, however, they're splitting the reports by region/country and the UK version has just been published.

Standout statistics for content marketing in 2013

The report covers both B2C and B2B content marketing but, as is our focus, we'll mainly look at the B2B results:

  • 95% of B2B marketers are using content marketing in the UK (more than in the US, less than Australia)
  • B2B content marketers use an average of 12 different tactics across the mix
  • The most effective tactic within B2B is the case study (BTW – check out our recent article on making case studies work even harder)
  • The top goal for content marketers is brand awareness followed by customer acquisition, engagement and customer loyalty
  • 62% of content marketers use website traffic as their main measurement criteria
  • But only 47% track sales lead quality and just 40% measure the quantity of sales leads
  • Overall, 29% of B2B marketing budgets are devoted to content and 72% of marketers are planning to increase their spend on content in the next year

Quantity vs quality in B2B content marketing

One of the factors in every study I've seen (and I've seen pretty much all of them to date) is the on-going challenge for B2B marketers of producing a) enough content and b) the kind of content that engages. The CMI study has quantity in top spot (a challenge for 57% of respondents) with quality second (49%).

We would argue that this should be the other way around. Yes, quantity will help with your search rankings (as long as it's not keyword-stuffed rubbish). But quality engages customers, better positions your brand and helps sales have more profitable conversations with prospects.

With a limited budget, do less but do it better.

What makes for effective content marketing?

Some 41% of UK B2B content marketers believe what they're doing is effective – so obviously there's room for improvement. So what separates the overachievers from the also-rans?

  • They spend more – 41% vs just 18% for the least effective
  • They use more tactics – 14 vs 9 for the least effective
  • And they tailor content to the profile of their target decision makers – 63% vs 57%

With content marketing becoming mainstream (and being done so badly by so many) it's down to all of us to focus religiously on clearly demonstrating the effectiveness of everything we create. Being smart about what we spend, where we spend it and putting the customer front and centre is crucial.

What we'd like to see next year

This is a great report. These benchmarks help show that content marketing is an effective option (when done right). There are, however, three things I'd love to see next time round:

  1. There is an implicit assumption that content marketing = inbound marketing. Sometimes it is, sometimes it's not. I'd like to see more about how companies are getting their content into the hands of customers that goes beyond simply which social networks they're using.
  2. There is a large proportion of advertising and marketing agencies among the respondents. As an industry, we have a pretty poor reputation for drinking the Kool Aid on new approaches and techniques. I'd love to see what happens when they are removed (it'll keep us all honest).
  3. More respondents please.

Overall, however, the report very much reflects the situation we're seeing among our clients and partners, and shows an industry in rude health.