Is Your Content Marketing Program a Success?

Content marketing is one of the most popular strategies deployed by today's B2B marketers to attract and engage prospects, and guide them through the buying process.

But how do marketers measure content marketing success? We asked 20,000 members of the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn what metrics they use to measure the success of their content marketing initiatives. Over 500 people responded - and here is a preview of the results.

Leads, leads, leads 
With 73 percent of all responses, leads are the number one metric used to gauge content marketing success. This is followed by content views and downloads with 53 percent, and inquiries with 52 percent of responses respectively (multiple selections were allowed).

No social metrics
Surprisingly, the lowest responses came in for social media engagement and SEO impact. I assume this is partly due to the difficulty in precisely measuring these metrics and their intermediate rather than direct impact on pipeline results.

Who owns content marketing strategy?
Another question we asked is looking to identify ownership of content marketing strategy within the organization. No surprises here: 67 percent of content marketing strategies are owned by corporate marketing, followed at a distant 41 percent for product marketing, and 20 percent for field marketing. Very few respondents rely on product management (16 percent) or external agencies (8 percent) for content strategy.

This wraps up our content marketing survey preview for today. Stay tuned for more survey results! What metrics do you use in your content marketing initiative?

Related Resources:

Most popular B2B content marketing formats & channels

Why care about content marketing?

Top-3 B2B Content Marketing Formats & Channels

In our last post we reviewed the key objectives of B2B content marketing initiatives as indicated by our 20,000 member survey.

Now, let's take a look at popular content formats and delivery channels. How well are they performing for B2B marketers?

What Content Formats Are Most Effective?

The chart below shows a blended ranking of the most popular content formats (BTW, not only the "effective" but also the "neutral" ratings influence the overall blended ranking).

Leading the ranking are case studies, live presentations (one could argue this is a content format as well as a channel), white papers, and online articles - these formats are most effective in engaging prospects (all other things being equal).

In contrast, the survey respondents consider podcasts, print articles, and infographics the least effective content formats.

What Content Delivery Channels Are Most Effective?

Now, let's take a look at the perceived effectiveness of delivery channels used by B2B marketers to get content in front of the target audience (either outbound or inbound). Again, this chart shows a blended ranking of the most effective content delivery channels.

The highest rated channels are website, live in-person event, and email. Newer channels such as social media and blogs are considered only moderately effective in comparison. At the bottom of the list we find online directories, online ads, and paid search. Not surprising as the effectiveness of these channels has been declining steadily over the last few years.

Do these findings reflect what you see in your marketing role? Looking forward to hear from you.

Now that we better understand what B2B marketers expect to get out of content marketing, and what formats and channels perform well, our next post will take a closer look at survey results regarding content performance metrics and key challenges - so stay tuned.

Related content:

Why care about B2B Content Marketing?

Take the 2011 B2B Content Marketing Survey

5 Steps to B2B Marketing Success

Why care about B2B Content Marketing?

Our B2B content marketing survey is the most popular survey we have produced to date. We asked over 20,000 B2B marketing professionals to share their collective insight on B2B content marketing issues, trends, and preferences.

After the first couple of hundred responses, patterns and trends have stabilized - a clear sign that we are getting close to a representative sample size. Time to share some preliminary survey results!

The first survey question is designed to better understand the motivation of organizations engaging in content marketing as a B2B marketing strategy. In short: why do we care about content marketing? What are the main objectives? Let's take a look at the chart below.

Leads, leads, leads ...
By far the most mentioned objective for content marketing is lead generation (62 percent), followed by lead nurturing (39 percent). This finding doesn't come as a surprise considering that content marketing has emerged as a B2B strategy primarily to drive inbound lead generation (in response to outbound B2B tactics becoming increasingly ineffective). Lead generation and nurturing is the promise of content marketing, in conjunction with marketing automation tools to deliver compelling content in a targeted fashion, and to move buyers though their buying stages and to influence their decisions (our next sneak preview will explore the reality of content marketing in terms of outcomes and results.)

The next highest ranked objectives are thought leadership and brand awareness with 37 percent and 34 percent of responses, respectively. This is also consistent with the promise of content marketing as a strategy to educate and influence buyer behavior in the vendor's favor.

Content not critical for social media engagement?
The survey result I found most surprising, however, is how low (only 13 percent) social media engagement ranks as a main objective for content marketing. I believe content marketing is an ideal strategy to attract and engage audiences on social media platforms. It is also ideal for spreading your message by having great content shared across multiple social vectors. Perhaps in this context, our survey participants don't consider social media engagement a primary objective but a means to an end, i.e. lead generation/nurturing, thought leadership, and brand awareness - our top ranked objectives. I am curious to learn what you think about the results (especially if you participated in the survey).

Our next sneak preview will look at the effectiveness of content marketing - so stay tuned. The 2011 B2B content marketing survey is still open - take the survey and be among the first to receive a copy of the results!

Take the 2011 B2B Content Marketing Survey

B2B buyer behavior has been changing dramatically over the last few years as buyers increasingly refuse to be interrupted by outbound marketing tactics. Content marketing has emerged as a highly effective strategy to engage the reluctant B2B buyer who is actively searching for guidance and information online before making a complex purchase decision.

The purpose of content marketing is to engage B2B buyers with compelling content (in the form of webcasts, videos, eBooks, white papers, blog posts, etc) to educate, inform, entertain, and guide them through each step in the buying cycle. And while you want to help buyers make pragmatic, informed decisions, your ultimate goal is to persuade buyers to select your solution over competing alternatives.

Take the 2011 B2B Content Marketing Survey

It may sound easy to create crisp definitions of market segments, buyer personas, and buying stages, and then to build compelling content for each relevant intersection of these three (or more) dimensions. However, the reality of implementing content marketing initiatives is a bit more complicated.

The 20,000 member B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn is conducting the 2011 B2B Content Marketing Survey to better understand the current state of content marketing in the B2B space, and to identify key challenges as well as best practices.

All survey participants will receive an exclusive, free copy of the survey results before they are published to a broader audience. I will also share sneak previews of the survey results on this blog.

The 2011 B2B Content Marketing Survey takes less than 5 minutes to complete - take it now.

Thank you!

Holger Schulze