It was a busy year for everyone involved in content marketing, but the results have been promising. Here’s an overview of how B2B marketing has grown in 2016.
Spiceworks  conducted a survey from May to July this year along with the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn. The results offer us an interesting overview of the latest content marketing trends, from the most popular tactics during 2016, to the new strategies we need to apply in 2017.
Most popular goals for content marketing
There has been observed a 16% boost in the number of companies crafting a content marketing strategy, which proves the need to set the right goals before its implementation.
The three most popular goals among marketers are lead generation, brand awareness, and customer acquisition.
Lead generation seems to be the first choice and it’s no surprise, as it’s a clear way to track the effectiveness of a strategy. It’s common for a business to invest in content marketing while seeking for set ROI and lead generation seems an obvious goal.
Moreover, it’s not just about acquiring or maintaining customers, as brand awareness can also be useful as the first step of the customer journey.
Measuring the content’s effectiveness
Despite the increased interest in content marketing during 2016, there is still a struggle in measuring its effectiveness, with only 16% of marketers considering their program as very effective.
According to marketers, the content’s effectiveness depends on the audience, the level of engagement, the ability to trigger a response, and the success of delivering a message.
The majority agreed that the content has to be relevant for the target audience, offering engaging and compelling storytelling, along with triggering a reaction. If all of them can be combined, then there are increased chances of content marketing success.
Case studies, best practices and how-to guides seem to be the most popular choices among B2B subjects, as they all offer practical tips and value for the target audience.
How to promote the content
82% of the B2B marketers pick social media as their first choice for the content’s promotion. The company’s website and email newsletters come next, while SEO and paid advertising follow.
This order doesn’t always reflect the effectiveness of the distribution, but it gives us an indication of the various ways your piece of content can be promoted. Even if the majority of marketers pick social media as their first option, you may find bigger success with email marketing. This reminds us that experimentation is crucial and it depends on the industry, the audience, or the goals.
There’s always a controversy regarding the effectiveness of each social network, with the B2B industry widely agreeing that LinkedIn is the best choice. 80% of marketers consider it as their most effective platform, with Youtube and Twitter following it, while Facebook comes fourth.
It’s interesting to notice that Facebook comes first as an ineffective choice for B2B marketers (26%), which may provide further thinking for anyone interesting to use it for B2B promotion. Although it’s still the most popular social network, is it the right platform to promote your business?
The challenges of content marketing
A content marketing strategy comes with several challenges and the most popular ones seem to be:
- lack of time to create content
- inability to measure the content’s effectiveness
- lack of engagement
- difficulty in keeping up with the need of new content
- reaching the right audience
- lack of budget
Quantity, quality, measurement and budget seem to be common challenges and as the need for more content grows, these issues will be more frequent. These challenges tend to occur when a content marketing strategy does not take into consideration the business and its audience. The inability to think of the right context leads to consequent problems, from the difficulty of measuring effectiveness, the lack of engagement or even the impression that you can’t create the right content.
Right at the end of 2016, it’s useful to evaluate your existing content marketing strategy and find the ways to make it more effective.
- Does your content meet the set goals?
- Does the quality match the quantity?
- Should you increase the frequency of your content?
- Should you examine new content types?
- Last but not least, do you know how to measure the ROI of your efforts?
One question at a time may offer useful improvements to your content marketing plan, getting your business ready for an even more productive 2017.
It’s time to plan the year ahead, so how about starting with a look at the content marketing trends that will make 2017 easier and more effective?