The Most Important B2B Content Marketing Trends 2018

Its hard to know what B2B content marketing trends are most important to your bottom line.

So:

We’ve have compiled a list of the most crucial!

Stay on top, toss aside the tried and tired, and let us guide you on how to make your B2B marketing message stand out from the rest.

Increasing your traffic and leads! 🙂

1) Content Marketing spend is set to increase

Content remains king:

And, on average, B2B marketing departments focus 28% of their total budget on creating content primed to sell and inform.

However:

The latest B2B trends suggest that this is set to rise – and for good reason.

In a continuously evolving marketplace, it’s important to understand what methods are proving successful, and which methods are failing to provide a decent ROI.

91% of B2B organisations are employing content marketing strategies – it was 89% in 2017.

This demonstrates a trend in companies who are committing to develop their CM strategies.

According to the CMI and MarketingProf research.

The majority of the companies who are currently using content marketing techniques.

Are:

Committed to developing and growing their CM strategies and investing in building their departments:

  • 20% are extremely committed
  • 36% are very committed
  • 26% are somewhat committed
  • 6% are not very committed
  • 1% is not at all committed

The same report confirmed:

That 53% operate small or one-person CM teams who serve the entire organisation.

38% of B2B marketing departments are increasing their budgets for 2018 – just 3% are decreasing them.

So:

The clear B2B trend is to allocate larger budgets to CM teams.

The report discovered a clear connection between successful CM campaigns and an increased budget:

The most successful campaigns were run by departments that had access to 40% of the organisation’s total marketing budget.

Just to drill the point:

The least successful campaigns were developed by CM departments who had access to just 14% of the overall marketing budget.

It was discovered that CM departments adopt more sophisticated tactics as they become more experienced, and that mature departments are allocated larger budgets.

New departments are given 19% of the total spend, while departments in their “adolescent” phase spend 25%.

Mature phase departments, on average, are given 33% of the total budget.

Claiming success is key to justifying larger budget shares in boardrooms.

But:

It seems that a reasonable means of documenting success and failure is severely lacking in many of the organisations examined.

Clearly documented CM strategy that tracks its goals and successes is the route to gleaning higher budgets – leading us to –

2) Documented CM strategy         

The Content Marketing Institute observed:

That CM departments who have a documented CM strategy are more likely to be successful in meeting goals and objectives than those who don’t.

They discovered that 62% of the B2B marketing departments who document and plan their CM strategies far outperform the 16% of those who don’t.

The report highlighted the need to document a strategy plan.

Indeed;

75% of the CM teams with no formally documented CM strategy are planning to forge one within the following 12 months.

There was a small percentage (6%) of the teams questioned who aren’t planning to develop a documented CM plan.

The most common reasons were that they were operating small teams, with a distinct lack of time –

  • Small team – 67%
  • Time poverty – 44%
  • Not important – 11%
  • Not needed – 4%
  • Other – 27%

The content marketing trend, here, is very much in favour of developing a documented strategy.

3) Tactics and Technologies

Those who innovate tend to succeed.

Seeking out and developing new tactics is the key to maintaining successful engagement and interaction between businesses in a market-savvy environment.

Content management systems that enable the flow and monitoring of project activity throughout a campaign can be the making or breaking of a brand’s reputation.

So maybe surprisingly:

Only 36% of the CMs questioned rated the flow of their content creation projects as very good or excellent, 31% rated it as good, while 32% as fair or poor.

Meaning?

The creators that have robust processes in place achieve the most efficient and effective marketing, and they use the following means to operate and monitor their projects.

  • Analytics tools – 87%
  • Content Management Systems – 63%
  • Email marketing technologies – 70%
  • Marketing Automation Software – 55%
  • Webinar / Web-based presentation platforms – 43%

content marketing technology

Other technologies incorporated into CM projects included:

Video Tools / Platforms (24%), Content Collaboration / Workflow Software (22%), Content Optimisation Software (8%).

The vast majority of content marketers (94%)

Judge the credibility of their content as their highest priority – ensuring that facts and details are accurate and verified.

72% consider customer experience as a prime concern (feeding into search engine credibility), and 70% consider quality to be more important than quantity in terms of content volume.

The principle tactics employed by B2B content marketing departments during 2018 are:

  • Social media posting (excluding video) – 94%
  • Case studies – 73%
  • Pre-produced and brand-specific video – 72%
  • Ebooks / White Papers – 71%
  • Infographics – 72%
  • Illustrations – 56%

content marketing tactics

However:

This doesn’t entirely reflect outcomes.

Ebooks and White Papers were deemed to be the most effective method of CM communications (62%);

while Case Studies (47%) and Social Media Posting (43%) were the next most effective.

So, here’s the deal:

There’s a lack of harmony here between the tactics that are most employed and those deemed to be most successful.

Our prediction, therefore?

Is that the heavy reliance on social media may wane slightly in future, in favour of other deliverable’s.

Indeed, the report discovered that the Content Marketers deemed to be the most successful used these formats to circulate their content –

  • Email – 79%
  • Blogs – 60%
  • Social Media Platforms – 41%

It’s interesting and maybe no surprise;

That email is still relied upon as the most popular method of Content Marketing distribution.

Considered by some to be last century marketing, email (according to Direct Marketing Association) provides a 4300% ROI if used correctly.

In terms of social media platforms?

B2B trends suggest that LinkedIn is considered the most effective B2B platform (82%);

Twitter is some way behind at 67%;

with Facebook trailing at 48%.

4) Measuring ROI

Measurement of ROI is the most substantial challenge for the majority of B2B content marketing teams.

The report unearthed some significantly worrying trends:

Identifying that only 35% of content marketing departments have the processes in place to accurately measure their ROI.

Worryingly:

47% of the B2B marketers have no established means to measure their ROI at all, with 18% unsure of the required processes.

However:

If your department is to demand higher budgets, then developing processes that help measure milestones and ROI are essential.

We predict that the trend towards developing effective measurement systems will grow over the next couple of years.

The principal reasons given for those unable to measure their ROI were –

  • No formal justification needed – 38%
  • An easier method required – 38%
  • We don’t know how to do this – 27%
  • Too time-consuming – 21%
  • Other – 23%
  • Unsure – 3%

Regardless of these stats, 70% of the companies questioned felt equipped to assess and recognise metrics that demonstrate how CM has boosted engagement and sales leads.

However:

They found that actual sales were more difficult to credit to CM activity, with just 51% having processes in place to establish success through sales, and just 25% claiming that CM distribution helped to reduce the costs associated with customer acquisition.

5) Outsourcing

The research revealed that most companies consider content marketing to be a skills-driven activity:

56% outsource at least one of their CM processes, with 44% keeping their content marketing activity in-house.

Companies are employing freelancers and dedicated agencies in the following disciplines –

  • Content Creation – 47%
  • Content promotion / distribution – 23%
  • Content marketing measurement – 11%
  • Content marketing strategy – 9%
  • Other – 4%

6) Individualisation

The average business person is faced with approximately 600 marketing messages every day, so the B2B trend of tailoring content to the individual has emerged, and continues to grow in favour.

According to Accenture:

70% of customers preferred content that appeared custom-made for them, while Monetate claim that 94% of marketers working in the digital domain consider that content individualisation is preferable.

Services such as Leadfeeder provide analytics that allow companies to gather information from visitors to their website that informs them how to best follow up sales leads.

It’s not just demography information – companies can see which organisation a site visitor works for, and the content pages they spent most time viewing.

If organisations can approach potential customers from an informed position, they’re more likely to provide content that will appeal to those prospects; with a better chance of conversion.

The trend towards tailoring CM is on the up and is likely to increase.

7) Long-form content

Shorter blog posts or articles can attract subscribers.

However:

B2B buyers are more inclined to value long-form content.

Content full of relevant information is more likely to convince a potential business customer to convert.

Shorter posts are likely to generate traffic, but they have a shorter lifespan.

Long-form content has recently been proven to be more effective in gathering long-term, sustainable customer engagement.

Orbit Media found that the average length of an article in 2014 was around 800 words, while it was 1100 words in 2017.

The percentage of bloggers writing short posts (as opposed to long posts) had dropped from around 21% in 2014 to under 10% in 2017.

During the same period, bloggers posting articles of more than 2000 words was around 2% in 2014, and approximately 8% in 2017.

So, while short-form content is still popular and effective in gathering traffic, B2B buyers are more likely to see your content as authority if it’s long-form.

Indeed, Orbit Media claim that success increases with word count –

  • Fewer than 500 words – 20.1%
  • 500-1000 words – 19.9%
  • 1000-1500 words – 35.4%
  • 1500-2000 words – 42.9%
  • More than 2000 words – 56.3%

Now of course:

This doesn’t necessarily imply that longer is better – quality is king if your content is to be considered an authoritative source – and a reliable source is more likely to attract conversion.

However, it does appear that delving deeper into your subject matter is a winning formula.

8) Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has become a mainstay of CM in the past few years – and it’s been proven to work.

According to Nielson, an amazing 92% of people trust a company that has been endorsed – even if they don’t know the person endorsing that company.

Endorsement from popular figures on social media, as well as industry- and thought-leaders is, therefore, proven to reinforce content marketing activity.

9) Video Marketing

Video maintains its position as the most dominant tool in content marketing.

Cisco discovered that video content attracted more site traffic by both consumers and B2B buyers.

Every single minute, 48 hours of video footage is uploaded to YouTube. Recode predict that video will attract 82% of all internet traffic by 2021.

The same report identified an 80% increase in conversion after adding video to a landing page, as well as the fact that 100 Million users watch online video each day.

Video has become the most shared media type on social networks and the favoured means of delivering a message in CM.

Video content trends in 2018 appear to be in the form of product demos, customer testimonials, and tutorials.

Conclusion

Content marketing initiatives are maturing in B2B companies.

Some organisations are clearly struggling to document and quantify their CM strategies, but around 20% of all companies are outsourcing measurement and strategy planning to specific experts in the field.

Companies that have effective content marketing processes that are documented and quantifiable are 70% more likely to succeed in their planned objectives.

So:

If you’re looking to improve your CM strategy in 2018, then planning, monitoring, and claiming higher budgets seem to be the main trends employed by the most successful CM departments.

Higher budgets come with proof of success, so setting up systems to monitor and improve are the way ahead.

Have have these B2B content marketing trends and tips revealed any opportunities to help your strategy?

Hit me up in the comments! 🙂

Matt Cayless is the Director of SEO at Bubblegum Search. He is an expert in Search Engine Optimisation having worked on campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands and has a passion for helping businesses grow online. When he’s not chasing the Google algorithm he can be found training for his next marathon. Follow him on Twitter 

Rise Above The Competition

To help us understand which search engine optimisation strategy best suits your business, we need a few more details.

Prefer to chat? Drop us a line:

0208 191 7373
contact@bubblegumsearch.com
Simple Share ButtonsKeeping sharing simple...
Simple Share Buttons