Designing and executing a successful B2B content marketing strategy gets more difficult each year. As marketers figure out what works for specific sectors and on different platforms, changes to SEO and social media algorithms and increasingly time-constrained and sophisticated audiences mean new rules need to constantly be learned.
Thankfully, there are enough surveys and data out there to help the B2B marketer see what their peers are doing and what is working for them.
This infographic and accompanying text highlights some of the more important findings from 4 large-scale surveys that will help make sure your B2B content marketing strategy and tactics are relevant in 2022.
B2B content marketing strategies and tactics in 2022 [Infographic]
B2B Content Marketing Objectives
Priming the sales funnel / pipeline is the single most important objective for B2B content marketers. According to Parse.ly’s 2022 Content Matters report, 91% of respondents listed creating and raising brand awareness as their primary objective. Driving this interest further through the pipeline via generating leads was the second most important aim followed by building credibility and trust.
B2B Content Marketing Tactics and Metrics
In their 2022 State of Content Marketing survey, SEMrush list “improving the quality of content” as the most important tactic for success deployed by marketers. Standing out in the ever-increasing sea of content gets more difficult each year and differentiating through quality is an obvious, if not easy, way to do this. SEO and creating more video and visual content follow closely behind as ways to drive content marketing success.
The same survey shows measuring organic traffic as the most important metric to track followed by search ranking and number of leads. Building the tracking of key metrics into an iterative process of content creation and improvement is critical.
Social Media and B2B Marketing
In terms of amplifying content marketing initiatives, social media remains the most popular technology. SEMrush found that 51% of respondents listed this as the most important tool for leveraging content marketing efforts followed by web analytics tools and email marketing software.
Not surprisingly, LinkedIn contimues to reign as the single most popular social platform for B2B content marketers. LinkedIn’s ongoing dominance in this area (chosen by 77% of respondents compared to second place Facebook’s 37%) makes it hard to see how any new B2B social platform could make significant headway. However, I’ve recently thought that a more curated platform that focuses on delivering information of real value to businesses could be a winner. LinkedIn is a necessary place to be for many businesses but it is too often not sufficient as a tool for finding relevant information. Saying all that, network effects and the entrenched position of LinkedIn would present signficant challenges to any newcomer.
Despite the hype in recent years about the potential for AI to transform content marketing, only 7% of respondents listed this as the most important technology for leveraging content marketing outputs. I would expect this to change signifcantly over the next couple of years as AI and machine learning (ML) tools proliferate and improve.
Feeding the B2B Sales Funnel
BuzzSumo’s analysis of 63 different content types across a range of B2B websites offers useful insights into what actually drives engagement and moves prospects into and through the sales funnel.
What I found most enlightening was the importance of ebooks as driving interest in a product or service. The average number of engagements from an ebook was 365, 8 times the number of engagements from the second most effective form of content in this category.
This fits with the importance of raising the quality of content identified in the SEMrush survey. A well-researched and written ebook that offers detailed insights to readers helps build credibility in the market and also presents an opportunity to collect prospect details such as name, email address and company.
Creating a useful ebook takes a signficant investment in time and resources but, in my view, the payoff is worth the trouble if it offers real value to prospects.
B2B Content Marketing in 2023
The above gives a useful snapshot of the state of B2B content marketing in 2022. What might change in 2023?
The Content Marketing Institute asked their respondents what content marketing-related areas will be most important to them over the coming 12 months. Concerns about changes to search engine algorithms came first with 62% choosing it. 42% listed changes to social media algorithms as their most important concern for the future.
This highlights the influence of Google, LinkedIn and Facebook over content marketing strategies and the types of content that are produced. The danger of the tail wagging the dog has never been greater. B2B content needs to be designed to meet the needs of prospects, not tailored to suit ever-changing and increasingly gamed platforms. Those 3 companies would claim they favour content that offers value to their users and to an extent this is true. However, we still see too much me-too content that is churned out at scale. Whether AI and ML will curtail or exacerbate this problem will be interesting to see. I think, in the short term, it will make the problem worse but as the software improves and marketers find ways to work with these new tools, we’ll see a revolution in both B2C and B2B content marketing.