Research: Effective B2B Content Marketing

October 6, 2015

What’s success look like for you?

That’s a critical question, and one that B2B marketers need to ask more often.

It’s a big message that came out of the 2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends that the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs released last week.  In fact, 55% of B2B marketers said that it is unclear within their organization what an effective or successful content marketing program looks like.

2016 Clarity on content marketing success

44% of B2B Marketers say their organization has clarity on what content marketing success looks like. Fifty-five percent don’t have clarity or are unsure.

Only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, down from 38% last year. Effectiveness levels are greater among respondents with documentation, clarity around success, good communication and experience.


Four characteristics of content marketing success.

Effective content marketers do four things differently than their less successful counterparts.


A key theme that came out of this year’s research is that effective B2B content marketers do things differently:

  1. They understand what successful content marketing looks like. 44% of B2B marketers say their organization is clear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like; 55% are unclear or unsure.
  2. They document their content marketing strategy. Fewer B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy compared with last year (32% vs. 35%), even though the research consistently shows that those who document their strategy are more effective in nearly all areas of content marketing.
  3. They document their editorial mission statement. The likelihood of having a documented editorial mission statement increases if the marketer also has a documented content marketing strategy. 56% of those with a documented content marketing strategy also have a documented editorial mission statement. In addition, 48% of the most effective marketers have a documented editorial mission statement.
  4. The communicate frequently with their team. 44% of B2B marketers meet daily or weekly-either in person or virtually-to discuss the progress of their content marketing program; however, the more effective the organization is at content marketing, the more often they meet (61% of the most effective meet daily or weekly).

Interestingly, despite all the discussion around whether or not social media works in the B2B world, that the marketing tactic used most often. Case studies came in second, up four positions and 5% over 2015.

2016 Content marketing tactic usage

On average, B2B marketers use 13 different tactics, with social media being the top choice.

32% of B2B marketers are sophisticated/mature with content marketing

Effectiveness also increases as the organization grows in maturity. 64% in the sophisticated/mature phase say they are effective at content marketing, 23% in the adolescent phase say they are effective at content marketing, and 6% in the young/first steps phase say they are effective at content marketing.

2016 B2B Content Marketing maturity level

The more mature content marketing is within an organization, the more likely it is to be sophisticated.

And then we get to the statistic that lets us know how well we’re actually doing – metrics.

Since the ultimate purpose of content marketing is to drive revenue, I’m pleased to see the top four metrics tied to what drives that – quality leads, sales, conversion rates and lead quantity.

2016 10 most important metrics

The quality of the sales leads that content marketing drives is the number one most important metric to B2B marketers.


What do you think about these B2B research results? How do they compare to your organization? Let me know in the comments.

About Carla Johnson


Carla Johnson is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author.

Over the last two decades, Carla has helped architects and actuaries, executives and volunteers, innovators and visionaries leverage the art of storytelling to inspire action. Her work with Fortune 500 brands has served as the foundation for many of her books.

In her latest project, Fast Forward Files, she contributes to a larger collection of thoughts by some of the world’s greatest minds -  Shazam co-founder Dhiraj Mukherjee, activist and entrepreneur Heather Mills and behavioral designer, technologist and mental-health champion Peter Trainor. Consistently named one of the top influencers in B2B, digital and content marketing, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking. 

Today, she travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.