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B2B content marketing trends continually evolve, making it necessary to stay on top of how things develop. MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute recently released the B2B Content Marketing 2020 report. It profiles some of the emerging trends related to B2B marketing, giving insight into how these concepts evolve in the upcoming months.
Here are six B2B content marketing trends to keep an eye on this year:
A Continued Dependence on Social Media and Blogs
A question that B2B marketers may struggle with relates to the best way to distribute the content they make. Some content marketing statistics from the report indicate that companies will most often rely on social media and blogs or short articles to connect with their B2B customers. The research showed that 95% of respondents posted social media content within the last 12 months, and 89% published blogs or short articles over that period.
Marketers’ preference for those outlets did not only begin this year, however. For example, Dropbox Business won a 2018 LinkedIn Marketing Award by moving to an always-on approach featuring targeted content delivered over social media platforms and elsewhere. The brand enjoyed a 29:1 return on investment from that strategy.
Due to results like those, marketing professionals will realize that readily accessible outlets, including social media and blogs, are well worth exploring this year. A goal in content marketing is to reach people where they are, and both approaches help that happen.
A Focus on Factual, Informational Content Over Promotional Messaging
Most B2B content has promotional aspects. The aim is to get people to take desirable actions, and that often means doing business with a company or at least showing a willingness to learn about them. When asked about their priorities, though, the vast majority of the most successful marketers put their energies into fact-checking and delivering highly informative content for their audiences.
The results showed that 95% of the most successful B2B content marketers — and 92% of all respondents — fact-check their content for accuracy before distributing it. Moreover, 88% of the most successful marketers, and 66% of all respondents, said they cater to the audiences’ informational needs more than the company’s promotional message.
The idea is that correct information builds trust. Trusting customers are more likely to support companies than those who lack such confidence and doubt the information they read. Some businesses rightfully understand that it’s nevertheless possible to integrate promotional content into a primarily fact-based piece.
When CipherHeallth recently described how its automated solution helped screen for COVID-19 in incoming hospital patients, it mentioned and linked to guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Additionally, the content specifically mentioned statistics related to a hospital that uses the technology.
Approaches like these help people feel confident in the information they read. Individuals conclude that the publisher cares about giving straightforward facts on a hot topic. Marketers can and should do things similarly to build trust in readers.
Marketers Will Keep Relying on Content for Building Brand Awareness
The research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs also asked study respondents to reveal some of the goals they set over the last 12 months. They also inquired about what goals these marketers met due to successful content marketing for B2B audiences. Brand awareness was a big winner, with 86% of people saying they increased that aspect with their content marketing efforts.
Moreover, 79% of people reported that content marketing helped them educate audiences, and three-quarters of those polled cited that it improved trust and credibility. Blog posts can do all those things and more, especially when marketers take the time to write about relevant subjects that matter to their readers.
For example, the blog maintained by the CAT Rental Store caters to people who need to rent construction equipment. The content there discusses how to choose the right size of construction equipment, how to select a bucket attachment to rent, what considerations to make when renting a generator for an event and more.
That type of highly specialized content helps people learn more about how the CAT Rental Store could help them. It also delivers material the target audience is most likely to want to read, which could increase on-site time and keep visitors eager to discover more during future visits.
LinkedIn Dominates Social Media Choices, but Other Platforms Are Widely Used, Too
Once B2B content marketing professionals decide to use social media to spread their content, the next decision to make involves platform choice. As the graph below shows, LinkedIn was the top selection for both paid and organic marketing efforts.
But, another thing that’s evident from those content marketing statistics is that other platforms are not far behind. What this suggests is that marketers should take the time to research all the social media channels available to them. They may determine that LinkedIn is the most appropriate choice, but not necessarily.
In one instance, CBD’R US, a cannabinoid products brand, found that Instagram was the best B2B channel for the company. That outcome was due to several aspects, including smoke shops and wholesalers operating in the same niche on the platform. Plus, the brand partners with Instagram influencers to expand its reach.
Marketers Will Continue Investing in Metrics-Based Solutions
Metrics platforms show whether or not content marketing for B2B brands has the desired outcome. When it doesn’t, that may tell marketers it’s time to tweak a campaign. Metrics-related investments are relatively new for content marketing in the B2B sector, as the chart below shows. Since 65% of respondents established key performance indicators (KPIs) for content marketing initiatives within the last 12 months, they’re still in the early stages.
Also, whereas 80% of respondents use metrics to gauge content performance, only 43% currently do so to keep tabs on the return on investment (ROI) for content marketing. Metrics-related investments should continue this year and for the foreseeable future. However, more professionals will probably start paying attention to content statistics about ROI. After all, content performance is a smart thing to track, but efforts must pay off for a company’s bottom line.
Marketers Will Consider Outsourcing to Meet Their Content Creation Needs
Companies that want to start focusing on or increase their commitment to B2B content marketing often rely on outside organizations to help with the work. A budget may not currently allow for hiring an in-house team, and the business may want proof that B2B content works for them before they devote the resources needed to build an internal team.
The research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs indicated that 84% of respondents outsource their content marketing creation needs. Content distribution was the next most likely reason that companies depended on outsourcing, but only 31% of people mentioned it.
However, the report also revealed that 50% of people outsourced, and 50% were not doing that yet. The highest percentage of companies that chose to outsource (71%) were large entities with at least 1,000 employees. The report also clarified that the overall success a company experienced with its content marketing had little bearing on whether the enterprise decided to outsource.
As companies make that choice, they must evaluate their in-house resources and figure out if they’re sufficient enough to give the enterprise the positive results it wants, needs and expects. Outsourcing is not the right option in every case. However, it could be instrumental in empowering a company to do more with its content marketing plans if an internal team does not exist, or it is not feasible to create one with the current financial resources available.
If you haven’t already, grab your free copy of the MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute B2B Content Marketing 2020 report today. While today’s environment is constantly shifting, these B2B content trends are very relevant to your success this year.