Top Trends B2B Content Marketers Should Pay Attention To In 2016

traffic-growth-featured-orange October 5th, 2015 Posted by Marketing No Comment yet

The Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs have released the latest edition of their highly anticipated annual research report which covers the top trends, benchmarks, and budgets B2B marketers will face in 2016.

One of the most interesting findings of this report is that while 55% of B2B marketers were unclear or unsure on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like, 76%-81% plan to increase their content production in 2016.

Expected Change in B2B Content Production - 2016

This is a problem. If the majority of marketers intend to increase their content production in 2016, but only 45% can justify those efforts, we may see a lot of unhappy (or unemployed) marketers come 2017.

To avoid this risk, B2B content marketers should have a clear measurement plan in place in order to justify that increase in budget and effort.  In order to do this however, they first need a strategy.

#1 Thing B2B Marketers Should Do in 2016: Document Your Content Marketing Strategy

Having a well-documented process and strategy can offer enormous value to your marketing team.  A documented strategy aligns team members towards a single goal, acts as a constant reminder as to why you’re developing content in the first place, and helps drive conversations around ways your organization can improve your content marketing efforts.
So why do so many lack a documented process?  To begin, there’s no standard template to use or detailed class on the subject in business schools, and for many, the idea of “content marketing” is still a relatively brand new concept. Many organizations struggle with identifying where content fits within the marketing structure, or even have a single dedicated content marketing role.
By taking the lead and documenting a strategy, you could rise above the crowd and have your content marketing efforts taken more seriously. It might even help you justify an increased budget in 2016 to hire your first content marketer or an experienced agency.
So what are the steps?

Define The Business Case

Ask yourself, “What do we hope to accomplish with our content marketing”?  If you’re in B2B, the most appealing goal would likely be lead generation or increase in sales, but it might be brand recognition. The more closely this aligns to a high-level organizational goal, the more likely your content marketing efforts will be taken seriously.

If you need help defining the why, here’s a few tweetable stats to include in your strategy slides:

  • Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI. (HubSpot State of Inbound, 2014)
  • 82% of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who blog monthly — which, by itself, is still an impressive result. (HubSpot State of Inbound, 2013)
  • Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less. (Demand Metric)

Audit and document your current process

Chances are that if you are thinking about your content strategy in 2016, you’re already producing some kind of content.  Start by simply documenting the individual steps in your current process.  It might be as simple as “Susan submits a draft, Larry edits and then publishes”, or hopefully something far more sophisticated.  Either way, jot it down.
Next, take those steps and bucket them into the following categories:
  1. Plan – Create a worksheet that requires you answer the following questions:
    • What is the purpose of your content?  Is the content being created to convert someone from an unknown visitor to a lead, or is it designed to acquire new links and social shares to boost your organic reach?
    • What format will it take?  e.g. blog post, infographic, or slide deck,
    • Which persona is this being written for, and at what stage of their buying journey? What questions are they asking at that particular point in time, and how will this content help them?  How will this content ultimately lead someone farther along their path to purchase?
  2. Create – Using your planning worksheet, dive in and create. Remember to always to keep it focused on your persona and their needs. Keep it educational and try not to focus too much on your product or solution, at least until your developing content aimed at later stages of the buyer’s journey.
  3. Distribute – Identify your distribution plan. This will most likely incorporate a variety of channels such as social media, email, and CTA’s on your website pages.  When selecting channels, think about where your targeted persona goes to answer their questions throughout various stages of the buying cycle.
  4. Analyze Don’t just measure for the sake of measuring.  Look back at your primary content marketing goals, and then identify which metrics will inform you of your success.  Here’s a few to consider:
    • Number of leads
    • Leads generated
    • Number of subscribers
    • Inbound links
    • Content performance by author, topic, or format

Repeat, Refine and Optimize

As with any process or strategy, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.  Over time you will identify gaps in your process or weaknesses in your content, which you can then use to revise your inbound marketing strategy so that you can constantly improve.
What other trends should you be prepared for in 2016? Read the full report or view the Slideshare below:

Download SMART Marketing Goals Template

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