It’s official.  Content is king.

The latest B2B Marketing Benchmark report  produced in association with Circle Research reveals that 71% of B2B marketers consider content marketing to be a critical activity.  Last year less than half (43%) held this opinion.

Content marketing in some shape or form now consumes 40% of the average B2B marketing department’s time.  Highest on the ‘to do’ list are three heavily used content formats: blog posts (61% use), case studies (45%) and white papers (44%).  Infographics look set to soon join this top tier.  In 2013 16% used infographics, but in 2014 this has doubled to 30%.

Importantly, these different formats are being used for different purposes.  Blog posts are felt to be the single most effective format to drive web traffic.  White papers excel when it comes to lead generation.  And case studies (along with reports) are best at turning leads into sales.  So it seems that marketers are adapting their approach to content as a prospect moves down the funnel.    That’s smart, but many are missing a trick.  One half (47%) of marketers say that video is effective in engaging their target audience – no other format receives a greater proportion of the vote.  But despite this just 31% actually use video in their activities, which puts it in sixth place based on usage.

Format is important, but a successful content campaign is based on much more.  What’s the secret?  Well, as the content environment matures, it has become crowded.  In this context your peers’ experience suggests that one thing matters far beyond anything else.  If it is to stand out content has to be of genuine commercial value to the target market. 

Is yours? 

Circle recently won two BMA B2 Awards for research-led content marketing.  Read our white paper on research-led content marketing here, or a case study on how Santa Fe used survey based insights to generate 1,000+ leads here.

Read more about our approach to business-to-business (B2B) marcoms and advertising research.

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About Andrew

Andrew has specialised in B2B research for over a decade and co-founded Circle Research in 2006. He is a columnist for B2B Marketing Magazine, a regular contributor to Research Live and frequent speaker at leading events such as the B2B Leaders Forum, Customer Experience Live and the Social Media World Forum. Andrew is a Chartered Member of the MRS, teaches the MRS B2B research course and holds an MA in Psychology from Aberdeen University alongside an MSc in Marketing from Strathclyde University.

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