The new dynamics of business-to-business (B2B) marketing have fundamentally changed the way brands engage with customers. Relevant, timely, and value-added content is the currency for capturing mindshare from overwhelmed and fatigued prospects and customers. Indeed, 57% of mid-to-large B2B companies are currently invested in content marketing efforts, and 67% ranked content marketing as a top 3 priority for marketing in 2015.
Gleanster Research surveyed 3,408 B2B companies with over 250 employees to understand exactly how the most effective B2B companies manage content marketing – and, more importantly, how they capitalize on superior results. The findings, compliments of Kapost (eBook: The $958M Marketing Problem: Quantifying the cost of inefficiency in your content production processes) , revealed that B2B firms in the US alone spend over $5.2B a year on content creation efforts; this accounts for quantifiable content marketing investments in internal resources, agencies, technology platforms, and production processes. On average B2B organizations with >250 employees (and currently invested in content marketing tactics) estimate approximately 55% of the annual marketing budget is allocated to content production and creation – that’s excluding promotion investments. It, therefore, stands to reason that optimization of these processes is critical to stretching finite marketing budget to maximize return on investment and simultaneously optimize profitability.
Poorly managed and cumbersome content management processes bloat bottom line costs, leading to an estimated $958M each year in inefficient and ineffective content marketing spend for mid-to-large B2B organizations. Yes, your organization is probably contributing to a fraction of that estimate. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult for marketing leaders to quantify these inefficiencies and justify optimization of content production processes – until now.
Today the average mid-to-large B2B company spends a superfluous $120,000 per year on headcount to produce the same volume of content as a firm that has invested in content operations optimization (via workflow standardization, centralized collaboration and content marketing operations technology). For the average organization that translates to marketing cycle times that are on average 240% slower than companies that invested in content operations optimization. In addition, average firms produce 300% less content than companies that achieved the highest revenue growth in 2014 – higher volumes of quality content do in fact deliver a competitive advantage for Top Performing firms. But Top Performers did not set the bar on efficiency warranting a need to uncover a different benchmark from the data that we classified as “Efficiency Experts.” In highly efficient content production environments, a single marketing resource can produce the same volume of content as two resources at an average B2B firm simply because they spend less time immersed in inefficient processes. Talk about doing more with less in marketing!
How do you quantify inefficiency in marketing operations?
There were two significant challenges with putting a dollar figure on inefficiency in content marketing efforts:
- A diverse variety of investments support content marketing efforts and the volume of money invested shifts dramatically by company size and business model; technologies, internal resources, external resources, agencies, etc. We can solve this by asking marketers to make reasonable estimates and use aggregate data to analyze the results.
- How do you identify a benchmark for success in operational efficiency? Depending on the nature of the content, comparing whitepaper production time or resources invested may not be an apples-to-apples comparison. We can solve this by layering marketing sentiment into the variables that define a “highly efficient” content production process. Basically, ask marketers if they believe content marketing is valuable to their strategic goals and how effective / efficient they “think” their organization is at it. Marketers are actually quite honest when it comes to providing anonymous feedback because they know the aggregate analysis will provide a great benchmark for them to understand how well they do relative to peers. There’s literally no reason to lie or embellish if the data is anonymous and the analysis is aggregated.
On the onset, we knew that millions of dollars and tens of thousands of resources are devoted to content marketing efforts each year globally. It’s big money, and for all the budget spent on emerging technologies like marketing automation, email, custom blogs, social media monitoring, resource management, etc. companies also need to devote budget to creating and promoting content for these technologies. You have to feed the beast so to speak. Perhaps the most significant challenge is the fact that most marketers don’t actually measure efficiency in content production. So, here are the variables we used to estimate some of the statistics that came out of the research:
- Business-to-Business firms only – they have a propensity for investing in content marketing
- Firms that say they are “currently investing in content marketing.
- Companies with over 500 employees – when you get to that size content marketing starts to become chaotic and therefore inefficiency could actually be costing the organization well over hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars each year.
- Sentiment from the marketers – do they believe their content production processes are efficient? Or effective?
- The type of long-form content produced: whitepapers, case studies, eBooks, and Blogs. There are a series of workflows and tasks that must happen every time one of these documents is produced.
- The estimated volume each type of content produced.
- The estimated time it takes to produce each type of content
- The number of internal resources dedicated to content production efforts – you then apply an average annual salary to each resource to estimate a dollar figure.
- The number of hours external resources like agencies and marketing service providers spend on content production.
- The average cost per hour of external resources. We did actually find that on average more successful companies will spend more on external content resources suggesting they produce a higher quality of content which may play a role in superior revenue growth
- The overall year-over-year growth in revenue. If the company was successful over the last year, what types of things did they do differently with respect to content marketing? Yes, that means we are ignoring companies that are really good at content marketing and didn’t do so well in revenue.
These are the variables, but then you have to create a model that weights these appropriately. To do this we bifurcated the survey population into three categories of companies:
- Top Performing B2B Firms: This category measures effectiveness because it’s based on companies that achieve the highest growth in revenue. Do the strategies these firms deploy result in revenue growth? Are they investing in content marketing? Are their processes efficient and how much content do they produce? One interesting caveat here, a company could be growing in revenue and very inefficient in content marketing efforts. We couldn’t assume that just because they perform well they are efficient.
- Average B2B Firms: All respondents not including Top Performers – hence companies with flat or decreasing year-over-year revenue performance. Currently invested in content marketing and producing long-form content repeatedly over the year.
- Efficiently Experts: In order to explore efficiency we have isolated companies that have strategically invested in process optimization by operationalizing day-to-day content marketing workflow with technology and actively publish whitepapers, ebooks, and blogs. So we looked at companies that invested in operational technology like workflow and collaboration tools. The thought being, if they invested in these tools they should also have a propensity to optimize operational processes – at least more so than Average firms.
The killer findings, in a nutshell
There’s a lot of stats in the report, which can be downloaded here. But the most notable include the following:
- B2B firms in the US alone spend over $5.2B a year on content creation efforts.
- Sixty-seven percent (67%) of all respondents indicated they believe there was room for improvement in current content creation processes.
- For the average B2B firm that has invested in content marketing tactics, content marketing production consumes almost two-thirds of internal marketing resources’ day-to-day duties.
- $.25 of every dollar spent on content marketing in the average mid-to-large B2B firm is wasted on inefficient content operations.
- Top Performing firms (beating revenue targets from 2014 by over 20%) produce 3x more content per year than the average B2B firm, but they aren’t necessarily more efficient. Even Top Performers can benefit substantially from investments in content marketing efficiency.
- Efficiency Experts produce 2x more content that the average organization and they do it 163% faster with the same average volume of resources contributing to content production.
- For Efficiency Experts a single marketing resource can produce the same volume of content as 2 resources at an average B2B firm simply because they spend less time immersed in inefficient processes.
- Efficiency Experts are 7x more likely to invest in technology that supports standardized tasks/workflows and a centralized content production calendar.
- The average mid-size B2B company spends an extra $120,000 per year on headcount to produce the same volume of content as a firm that has invested in content operations optimization (via process re-engineering and content marketing operations technology).
What these findings mean for you
The B2B companies that are the most successful with content marketing produce 2-3x more content than the average firm. But they do it with the same or fewer resources. That means technology plays a very important role in managing content marketing. In fact, respondents indicated “meeting task deadlines” is likely the most inefficient part of their production efforts –followed by redundant content creation. Chaos in your workflow and approval processes has a price-tag.
- If you regularly produce long-form content like whitepapers, case studies, eBooks, or blogs you should create standardized templates for managing the workflow of these assets. There are a series of steps every document goes through before its production ready. Distil it down to the major milestones or approvers and you can isolate the bottlenecks in your process.
- The bigger your organization, the more money you are likely wasting on inefficiency. Seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of enterprise CMOs don’t value content marketing operations technology because they think it’s not an issue for their organization. You’re spending money on inefficiency that could otherwise be allocated to promotion. After all, you have to get eyeballs on all that content you produce.
- The quality of content matters, but so does the volume of content. We used to recommend marketers focus on quality over quantity in content marketing efforts. It turns out both matter. So plan on spending more to have experts contribute to your content production efforts. You are not saving a buck to hire junior resources or interns to manage your content marketing efforts.
To download the full findings report, compliments of Kapost, visit (eBook: The $958M Marketing Problem: Quantifying the cost of inefficiency in your content production processes)