Content marketing is a central part of running a B2B business, and it’s also an area that’s constantly changing and updating. To deliver the most effective content marketing that engages, delights, and persuades your audience, you need to have a firm understanding of what’s working right now.
This is where research can be helpful. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of 11 B2B content marketing stats for 2020, to help you gain a clearer idea of what’s changing and what to expect. We’ll also explore what we can learn from each stat, and how these trends should impact your content marketing.
36% of B2B marketers say blogging is the most important form of content for their business, with visual images in second (25%) (Source)
This tells us that, if you’re a B2B marketer, your blog is still the centerpiece of your content efforts. Creating valuable, shareworthy blog articles primed to rank high in search engine results and solve your audience’s problems is still the number one thing you can do when it comes to content marketing.
This stat also tells us about the importance of investing in design and images. Infographics, photos, and logos play a key role in content marketing. In fact, when it came to B2C marketers images were considered even more important than blogging.
It’s worth noting that a successful content strategy should make smart use of both text-based and visual material. While B2B marketers disagree slightly over which types of content are most valuable, there’s no doubt that content as a whole is incredibly important — 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing.
Over 64% of marketers actively invest in SEO (Source)
This figure even seems a little low, when you consider just how essential SEO is to the success of your content and overall marketing strategy.
If you aren’t taking SEO seriously, you’re putting your business at a huge disadvantage. Good SEO allows you to stand out from the crowd, grab your audience’s attention, supercharge the traffic to your site, and ensure a steady flow of interested potential customers.
Here are some tips on how to boost your SEO:
- Create valuable, relevant, long-form content that pinpoints your audience’s problems and solves them
- Earn backlinks to your site through guest posting, link-building campaigns, and use of platforms like Quora and Medium
- Use multiple social media channels effectively
- Optimize your content for mobile readers
69% of successful B2B marketers have a documented content strategy (Source)
Having a document content strategy is one of the biggest predictors of B2B marketing success. It’s incredibly important to have a clear plan and vision for your content and to outline this at the outset in a way that makes sense to your team.
It’s not enough to simply publish occasional articles and social media posts and hope to get great — or even average — results. You need to take the time to research what kind of content is working for your audience and in your industry, and make a detailed plan to create your own versions of it regularly.
It’s also important to tie your strategy to SEO and other elements of your marketing. For example, pillar pages (big blog articles that address one key topic and tie all related posts together) are extremely effective at improving SEO and work best when planned in advance.
Here are some tips on creating a great content strategy:
- Be crystal clear on your goals from the beginning
- Carefully decide which KPIs to track
- Find out who you want to target and create buyer personas
- Decide which channels you want to use
- Build a content calendar to schedule your activity
53% of B2B tech buyers think video is the most useful form of content (Source)
Video content is becoming more integral to B2B marketing. It’s a great way to reach a different kind of audience and deliver a more dynamic and accessible style of content. It’s perfectly adapted for demonstrating products in action and addressing your audience in a more personable way.
Video can be shared widely on social media, especially on sites like YouTube, and can be easily optimized for SEO.
Here’s a bonus stat for video content: Cisco predicts over 80% of traffic will consist of video by 2021. The general consensus is that video content is the future, and neglecting this crucial area could be extremely costly.
How to create effective video content:
- Write clear titles that leave no doubt as to what your video is about
- Use interviews with real people to boost interest and provide social proof
- Keep your videos simple and always stay firmly on topic
- Distribute your videos widely across as many channels as possible
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are more common among the top performers than all respondents (83% vs. 65%) (Source)
In 2020 (and beyond), data is of enormous importance to marketing. Defining appropriate KPIs, tracking them accurately, and assessing the performance of your content is a crucial part of effective B2B marketing.
Some useful KPIs for content include:
- Conversion rates
- Email open rates
- Bounce rates
There are many others, but these serve as useful indicators of how well your content is doing. Tracking KPIs allows you to tweak, optimize, scrap what’s not working, and enhance what is. Don’t blindly stumble through your content marketing — use data as much as possible to illuminate the way forward.
37% monitor content every week, 26% every day (Source)
Continuing with the analysis theme, marketers are tracking their content on a regular basis.
If you aren’t monitoring your content daily, you’re already behind more than a quarter of the competition in that area. You’re at risk of falling behind the businesses that are prioritizing monitoring, and missing out on the advantages of being in tune with the results of your marketing.
Tools like Google Analytics and Moz are useful when it comes to tracking your content, providing valuable insights into your performance over time and what might affect it. Just like with KPIs, this allows you to make changes and optimize your content strategy in response to feedback.
32% say confusing content makes buying decisions more difficult (Source)
The message here is clear — keep your content as clear and straightforward as possible or risk confusing and alienating your audience.
Overly complex, unclear content throws obstacles in the path of your customers, creating friction and making them think twice about buying. This is the opposite of what you want to achieve: making their decision as easy as possible.
To solve this problem, make sure your content focuses tightly on relevant problems your audience face. Deliver on what you promised in the headline or subject line, and remain on topic throughout. Have a clear aim with each piece of content you create, and make sure the finished product clearly aligns with that goal.
Things to avoid:
- Industry jargon, heavy use of acronyms, and niche buzzwords
- Content topics that deviate from what your readers have come to expect
- Long, convoluted sentences and dense, academic writing
The top 3 types of content B2B marketers use are social media content (95%), blog posts/short articles (89%), and email newsletters (81%) (Source)
While blog posts appear to be the most effective form of content, social media is the most widely used (with blogs in second). There are several reasons for this.
Social media is easy to use, immediate, and offers a potential audience of billions. No blog in the world has anywhere near as many followers as Facebook.
Combined with the right strategy, social media is a way for businesses to rapidly make an impact on their audience and start ramping up shares and impressions. As leads move down the funnel, other channels become more effective, but social media is perfectly adapted for generating initial engagement with your brand.
Here are some tips on how to use social media effectively:
- Use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn ads
- Join conversations and provide real value in relevant communities
- Use video, images, and other media liberally in your posts
- Post at the right times, based on observation and data
Another takeaway from this stat is that, while social media is the most widely used channel, blog posts and email newsletters are not far behind. This means the most effective content strategies should feature all three approaches.
92% of B2B marketing leaders claim that content plays a critical role in the decision-making process. However, 1 in 2 of these leaders believes that the content they receive is irrelevant to their pain points, challenges, and responsibilities (Source)
This stat makes a really interesting distinction. While B2B marketing leaders acknowledge the value of content, half of them don’t like the content they receive.
What does this tell us? There’s a huge demand here — a gaping chasm between what leaders want and what’s typically offered. For smart B2B marketers, this presents an opportunity.
You can fill this gap by taking the time to find out what is actually relevant to B2B leaders, and what will help them. Then, create content based around those topics, engineered to solve the problems of the marketing leaders in your industry.
By creating content that actually addresses their pain points and provides real value, you’re filling a pressing need in an extremely lucrative market. So how do you do it?
- Interview leaders
- Carry out surveys
- Spend time in relevant online communities
Find out what they do, what they struggle with, what they’d like to read more of, and then turn that knowledge into powerful content that speaks to their pain points and responsibilities.
61% of respondents are now publishing content multiple times per week (Source)
Blogging once a month is no longer enough (if it ever was). Today, the majority of content marketers are publishing several times each week, putting out reams of content in a variety of areas and shared across a range of channels.
And it works. 89% of those that published multiple times per week reported higher quality leads through their content marketing versus other forms of marketing.
It’s all about consistency and reliability. This links to building a solid content strategy and committing to it — without this it can be easy to lose sight of your goals and fall behind on your posting frequency.
When publishing a large volume of content regularly, automation and software can be extremely helpful. Content management systems (CMS) like that of HubSpot are typically packed with tools to streamline the content marketing process, and software like Hootsuite is designed to take the pain out of automating social media posts.
For SEO, the ideal blog post length should be 2,100-2,400 words (Source)
It’s official: long-form blog content is now the undisputed winner. Sticking to short, 600-word posts along is no longer sufficient, and by failing to invest in longer content you’re dooming your strategy to failure.
Why are longer articles so much more successful? They provide more value, target SEO keywords more effectively, and perform better across the board.
Focus on creating in-depth how-to guides, roundups, and pillar pages, oozing with value and packed with actionable detail and tips. Techniques like bullet points, numbered lists, and images help break up longer content so it’s more accessible to readers.
Stay Tuned In
These B2B content marketing stats paint a picture of a content marketing industry that’s continuing to evolve. Some things — like a need to track and monitor content — are just as important as ever, while others — like the growing relevance of video content — look set to play a bigger role in the coming years.
By keeping your finger on the B2B content marketing pulse you can ensure your strategy is as up-to-date and appropriate as possible. The fundamentals stay the same, though — get to know your audience, create genuine value, and solve their problems.
To find out more about how we can help you build a B2B content marketing strategy that’s ready for the new decade, get in touch.