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Leveraging B2B Marketing Trends in 2012

By John McTigueJan 14, 2012

MarketingProfs and the B2B Content Marketing Institute just published their second annual survey of B2B marketers, B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends. It looks like 2012 will continue the steady rise in importance of content marketing in the overall B2B Marketing mix. More companies across the spectrum of sizes and industry verticals are embracing inbound marketing, especially the content side, compared to previous years. Budgets for content marketing are going up, and spending on traditional push marketing tactics continue to wane. Here are some of the highlights of the survey and my comments on strategies for inbound marketing agencies like ours.

90% of B2B Marketers Use Content Marketing to Grow Their Businesses

The overall adoption rate is about the same as last year, but the mix of different content marketing tactics is changing. Blogging is up substantially over last year (65% vs 51%) as well as Video Production (52% vs 41%) and White Paper Creation (51% vs 43%). Traditional print media continues to slide, with Magazines and Newsletters now around 30% and 20% respectively. B2B Marketers are focusing their attention on new, fresh, entertaining content that's easily digested by daily subscribers and mobile users as opposed to more formal, corporate publications. Consumers want to know what you are thinking now, not what your marketing team put together as an online brochure. While larger companies lead the way in overall adoption of content marketing, smaller companies are driving the trend towards blogging, webinars and videos and away from formal white papers and case studies. Interestingly, although use of the major social networks to distribute content is up across the board, marketers consider social media marketing as a whole less effective than other content marketing tactics such as blogging, videos and webinars.

content marketing trends for 2012 via marketing profs

60% of B2B Marketers Plan to Increase Their Content Marketing Budgets This Year

Last year only 51% were looking at budget increases for content. I think this reflects two important trends:

  • The overall impact of content marketing has been well documented in recent years. Studies like this year's survey from Marketing Profs show a clear relationship between content quality and quantity and the standard online marketing metrics, traffic, lead conversion and customer conversion rates. Perhaps more important is the impact on building customer relationships and lifetime value, as described by C. C. Chapman in this content marketing interview. No other inbound marketing tactic provides as much bang for the buck.
  • Increasingly, it looks like content marketing is being acknowledged as the biggest driver of search engine traffic and leads, as detailed by our Chad Pollitt in a series of blog posts and an upcoming webinar.

The Biggest Challenge for B2B Marketers Continues to Be Sourcing

A majority of marketers continue to cite lack of content producing resources as their single biggest challenge. Finding talented in-house bloggers and getting buy-in from Management to dedicate these resources to regular blogging and other content creation tasks can be a daunting task. As a result, over half of those surveyed (62%) report that they use at least some outsourcing for content creation, a 10% increase over last year's survey. We can certainly back this number up - most of our clients have little or no dedicated resources for content marketing. They look to us for that.

What's The Marketing Takeaway for Inbound Marketing Agencies?

Well, obviously the overall outlook is bright for inbound marketing, especially content marketing. More and more B2B companies recognize its potential for generating sales leads and revenues, but they have limited ability to create the volume and quality of content needed to move the needle. We've known this for several years, but what is different this year is the emphasis on content. In previous years we thought that a balanced mix between content, social media engagement and SEO analytics would give our clients a leg-up on their competitors. Now it's clear that content drives everything. You must put together a really effective, popular blog first and foremost that's relevant to your business (and so takes care of search engine optimization) and focused on the interests and needs of your clients (as opposed to your company's news and activities). More advanced lead generating content such as white papers, videos and webinars is also extremely important and should be created on a regular schedule or marketing calendar. Social media is still important, but not so much as a publication channel - more as a support network and purveyor of relevant content (not necessarily yours).

If you're interested in specific verticals that are ripe for business, the Survey ranks the highest adoption rates for content marketing:

  • Professional Services - 94%
  • Computing/Software - 93%
  • Advertising/Marketing - 89%
  • Healthcare - 89%
  • Business Services - 84%
  • Manufacturing/Processing - 83%

I hope you enjoy the Marketing Profs data as I have. Here's the download link. Let's discuss how we leverage these trends going forward.

Image courtesy of MarketingProfs and the B2B Content Marketing Institute.



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The Author

John McTigue

With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.
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