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Key trends in content marketing

Recently, the Content Marketing Institute joined forces with MarketingProfs for their fourth annual report B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, which tracks and quantifies content marketing key trends for the next year.

When it comes to public relations, good, marketable content has always been important.  Content is not new to PR, we’ve been immersed in it throughout our careers – for thought leadership campaigns, media storytelling and many other PR services.

However, the way in which content has evolved, and the methods through which it’s shared and leveraged have changed.  This is why we took note of this study, and in particular, the following findings:

  • Infographics are here to stay

According to this study, B2B marketers use an average of 13 content marketing tactics to reach their audiences. Social media is the most popular tactic, used by 87% of those marketers. That’s followed by articles on a company website (81%) and e-newsletters (80%).

Another noteworthy fact is that B2B content marketers use on average six social media platforms, up from five last year, indicating they are opting to expand, rather than replace, their pool of social media platforms. The report finds that using additional tactics and social media channels translates into more success. Furthermore, more aggressive B2B companies use on average 15 tactics and publish in seven social media channels.

Also, as we’ve stated in some of our previous articles, visual content is the future, and dynamic visuals are a great way to break through the noise and engage your audience, which is why more marketers are turning toward infographics to share information. In fact, the study found that marketers used them more than ever this year. In 2012, only 38% of B2B marketers were using infographics to showcase content. This year, that percentage rose to 51%.

  • Brand awareness is still the top goal

Brand awareness continues to be the top organizational goal for B2B content marketing (79%), as it’s been for the last four years. Also, 80% of the most effective B2B content marketers mention lead generation as a goal, compared with 64% of their less successful peers. Thought leadership ranks fourth at 68%.

When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of content marketing, B2B marketers have cited Web traffic and sales lead quality as their top content marketing metrics for the last three years. However, it’s important to observe that over the last four years, direct sales have consistently gone down in importance as a form of measurement.

  • Segmentation is a must

Another interesting fact uncovered by the study is that the vast majority of B2B marketers are segmenting their content (95%), which is a huge step, and highly effective, for content marketers across all industries. While B2B marketers are most frequently tailoring their content to reflect industry trends, around half are segmenting in response to profiles of decision makers, company characteristics, and each prospect’s stage in the buying cycle.

  • What are the challenges for content marketing?

The primary challenges B2B marketers face are lack of time (69%) and producing enough content (55%). Lack of budget is among the four top challenges mentioned in the report, despite the fact that content marketers have higher budgets in 2013 than in 2012, and over half of the companies surveyed plan to increase their content spend going forward.

What are your thoughts on the topic? Do these results match your experiences? What are some of the key stats that stood out to you from the report?