Just like business to consumer marketers, business to business marketers are using content marketing to successfully find leads and grow their business. And just like other kinds of marketers, B2B marketers are using a variety of content types and distribution methods to accomplish this goal. A new study from the Content Marketing Institute shows that LinkedIn is by far the most popular and effective channel for B2B content creation and distribution.
The 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends for North America study is a collaboration from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute who have released this annual report for five years. When researching the data they collected on B2B content distribution, the study found that 94 percent of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute their content.
LinkedIn has 250 million active users who are mostly business professionals isn’t an audience B2B marketers can ignore. Besides the size and demographic of LinkedIn’s users, B2B marketers benefit from the effectiveness of the platform. Among the B2B marketers surveyed for the study, 63 percent rated LinkedIn’s effectiveness as “Effective” or “Very Effective”.
This primacy of LinkedIn for B2B doesn’t mean that other platforms aren’t used as well. Facebook was used by 87 percent of B2B marketers and Twitter was used by 84 percent. Even though LinkedIn is the social platform specifically geared toward professional connections and business marketing, it doesn’t change the fact the many business owners are already on Facebook as they try to reach new customers. On the other hand, B2B marketers aren’t using every available platform. The study found that fewer than 20 percent marketers used platforms like Flickr, StumbleUpon, Vine or Tumblr.
The study also provides a lot of insight into what marketers hope to accomplish through content marketing. Brand Awareness, Lead Generation, Engagement, and Sales were the most often listed goals, with between 75 and 85 percent of respondents mentioning each of those goals. Other popular goals included lead nurturing, customer retention/loyalty, customer evangelism, and upsell/cross-sell opportunities. With so many potential benefits from content marketing, its little wonder why B2B marketers are producing more content than ever.
“In many cases, we found that content production continues to increase, no matter how effective organizations feel they are at content marketing — or whether or not they have a documented strategy. In fact, 70 percent say they are creating more content than they did one year ago.” wrote Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute in a blog post describing the research.
A key takeaway from this study is the value of a consistent and planned content marketing strategy. Simply posting whatever the marketer can find that is vaguely related to a their business is a waste of opportunity. The study found that 35 percent of B2B marketers say they have a documented content marketing strategy and 48 percent say they have a content marketing strategy, but it is not documented. It’s good to have a strategy but it’s better to write it down. The report states that 60 percent of those who have a documented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of content marketing effectiveness, compared with 32 percent of those who have a verbal strategy.
The 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends for North America has a lot of valuable information that can help marketers see how their competitors are best able to reach customers with their content. The full report can be found at the link in the beginning of this article or it can be viewed on SlideShare (which ironically is one of the platforms that is seeing less use by B2B marketers).
This study is another piece of evidence is the growing body of data that shows content marketing is valuable, if not essential for all organization types. Content marketing is being used by so many of a business’s competitors and so often, that to not produce content to grow one’s brand is a slow form of suicide for a business. Don’t forget, besides all of the marketing benefits of producing good content, there’s also an SEO benefit.
For more data on the value of LinkedIn for marketing, read this article with the most recent statistics on the platform. Also, check out this article with more B2B internet marketing tips and seven tips to improve your LinkedIn publishing.