[Research Round-Up] An Updated Look at B2B Content Marketing by CMI and MarketingProfs

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Source:  Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs

(This month's Research Round-Up reviews some of the major findings from the latest content marketing survey by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. This research has been conducted annually for 13 years, and it provides valuable perspectives on B2B content marketing trends and practices.)

The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs published the findings of their latest B2B content marketing survey a couple of weeks ago. The B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends:  Insights for 2023 report is based on data from 925 survey respondents. All respondents were affiliated with B2B or hybrid B2B/B2C companies, and all were involved in the content marketing efforts of their organization.

Respondents were drawn from a range of industries, company sizes and job roles.* Half of the respondents were concentrated in two industries - technology/IT/software/hardware and agencies (content marketing, advertising, digital, PR, etc.). In terms of company size, nearly half (47%) of the respondents were with companies having fewer than 100 employees. The survey was in the field during July 2022.

Here are some of the important findings from the new survey.

The Growing Importance of Content Marketing

The COVID-19 pandemic drove a step-change in the importance of content marketing at virtually all B2B companies. Throughout most of 2020 and 2021, in-person B2B marketing events were almost nonexistent, and business shutdowns and work from home policies made it impossible for companies to meet face to face with their customers and prospects.

As the pandemic has ebbed, it appears that the importance of content marketing has actually increased. Seventy-one percent of the respondents in the CMI/MarketingProfs survey said content marketing had become more important to their organization over the year preceding the survey.

A High Level of Success with Content Marketing Remains Elusive

Many marketers are still finding it difficult to achieve a high level of success with content marketing. Only 29% of the survey respondents said their content marketing efforts are extremely or very successful. Another 56% rated their content marketing efforts as moderately successful.

Marketers are Optimistic About Future Spending

Half of the respondents in the survey expect their content marketing budget to increase next year, and another 38% expect it to stay the same as in 2022. Fourteen percent expect their budget next year to increase by more than 9%, and 36% expect an increase of 1% to 9%.

These results echo the findings of the September 2022 edition of The CMO Survey. In that research, respondents said they expect their marketing budget to increase 8.8% (on average) over the 12 months following the survey.

Recent actions by the U.S. Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy in an effort to combat decades-high inflation have triggered rising fears that the U.S. economy will fall into a recession later this year or in 2023. Under these circumstances, marketers' expectations for increased budgets next year may be overly optimistic.

Maximizing the Benefits of Marketing Technology is Challenging

Having and using the right technology tools has become vital for effective content marketing, but the CMI/MarketingProfs survey revealed that most marketers have more work to do to maximize the potential benefits of marketing technologies.

Only 28% of the survey respondents said they have the right technology tools in place to effectively manage content marketing in their organization. Thirty percent of the respondents said they haven't acquired the right technology tools, and another 31% said they have the right technology but aren't using it to its full potential.

Recent research by Gartner produced similar results. In Gartner's 2022 Marketing Technology Survey, respondents reported that they are utilizing only 42% of the capabilities of their overall marketing technology "stack." This was down from 58% in the 2020 edition of the survey.

The CMI/MarketingProfs survey report argues that many B2B companies don't have the right marketing technologies - or aren't fully using what they have - because they built their tech stacks without first developing a sound strategy. There's little doubt that this has happened numerous times.

But marketers may also be underutilizing their technology tools because they are changing tools frequently and thus are often in the process of learning new technology applications. In the Martech Replacement Survey 2021 by MarTech, two-thirds (67%) of the survey respondents said they had replaced a marketing technology application in the year preceding the survey.

Most Companies are Measuring Content Performance, but Challenges Still Exist

Eighty-one percent of the respondents in the CMI/MarketingProfs survey said their company measures content performance. That was up from 75% in the 2021 edition of the survey. When asked what metrics they rely on most when evaluating content performance, the top three metrics identified were:

  1. Conversions (70% of respondents)
  2. Quality of leads (60%)
  3. Website engagement (57%)
The survey also asked participants about the challenges they face with measuring content performance. Four challenges were most frequently identified by survey respondents:
  1. Difficulty integrating/correlating data across multiple platforms (48% of respondents)
  2. Lack of organizational goal-setting KPIs to measure against (45%)
  3. Difficulty tying performance back to our goals (43%)
  4. Difficulty extracting insights from data (42%)
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The annual research by CMI and MarketingProfs has provided valuable insights regarding content marketing trends and practices for the past 13 years. I recommend that you take the time to review the full survey report.

*CMI and MarketingProfs do not state that this survey is based on a representative sample of a specified target population (e.g. "B2B content marketers"). Therefore, the survey results may not reflect the views or practices of the overall population. In other words, the survey results can't be "projected" to the larger population.

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