While some brands are off to an explosive start in 2015, small business B2B marketers have so far had a hard time with their content marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s new study, “B2B Small Business Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America,” these marketers are feeling more challenged, more overwhelmed, and less effective than they were in 2014.
That’s disappointing news, but there is hope. There’s one takeaway from this report that B2B small business marketers can learn from: If you want to have effective content, you’re going to need to have a documented content strategy.
According to the report, 39 percent of companies who have a documented strategy are “more effective in nearly all aspects of content marketing than their peers who either have a verbal-only strategy or no strategy at all.” Additionally, 60 percent of those with a documented content marketing strategy believe their organization is effective at content marketing. Meanwhile, only 33 percent of those with just a verbal strategy say the same.
Perhaps most importantly, companies with a written strategy are much more likely to be successful at measuring their ROI than those who just have a verbal strategy. Only 25 percent of respondents say they are successful at charting ROI, but 38 percent of those with a documented strategy say they are successful.
Yet, amazingly, only 39 percent of B2B small business marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. That leaves over 60 percent of small business marketers who still need to get on board with clearly outlining their plans for B2B content outreach.
As Copyblogger’s Jerod Morris points out, if there’s one thing marketers should take away from this comprehensive study, it’s these three magic words: Write. It. Down. Since marketers with a documented content strategy seem to be having the most success, let’s look at some other methods they’re using in order to help other small business B2B marketers who might be struggling with their content operations.
They have a group of people devoted to content marketing
As the report states, 69 percent of the most effective small business marketers have a dedicated content marketing group, and 69 percent of those who have a documented content strategy have a group devoted to content marketing.
One of the biggest industry trends for 2015 is developing a company-wide culture of content. This involves establishing a unified vision for a cohesive team of content marketers while spreading awareness throughout the company. But marketers will have a hard time evangelizing the importance of content marketing if they don’t have a set team devoted to knowing the ins and outs of their production and distribution.
For B2B small business marketers, your content team might just start out with an part-time editor and a freelance writer. But if you give those people the freedom to establish a solid vision and system of values for your content mix, you can then expand by hiring new creators or even tapping other company members to contribute to your blog or social media channels.
They allocate more of their marketing budget for content
Only 29 percent of respondents’ marketing budgets are spent on content marketing. However, for those that document their strategy, that number increases to 39 percent.
Obviously if you have more money to burn, there are more projects you can spend it on. But the lesson here isn’t just about raking in more dollars: It’s about knowing how to garner support from higher-ups. You have to able to convince them of the importance of content marketing, which all goes back to fostering that culture of content.
So, what are marketers spending their time and money on? The biggest responses were social media (93 percent), blogs (87 percent), and e-newsletters (83 percent). However, there’s a disconnect here. Sixty-five percent of marketers said e-books and webinars are the most effective, but only 40 percent are using their money on e-books and only 59 percent are doing the same with webinars.
For B2B marketers still figuring out the content mix that works best for them—and also looking to garner support from execs for big campaigns—it can be smart to test out small paid campaigns on distribution platforms in order to gauge what your audience responds to, and then report back to those who need proof of content marketing’s effectiveness.
They publish content consistently
It can be difficult for content creators to carve out the time to publish every day, but devising a consistent content calendar you can stick to is crucial for marketers looking to organically build a loyal audience.
According to CMI’s study, 58 percent of respondents with a documented content strategy publish content daily or at least multiple times a week. Meanwhile, only 38 percent of those with a verbal strategy report the same.
In fact, the top challenges for marketers are producing engaging content (58 percent) and publishing content consistently (53 precent). Perhaps the number of marketers who are overwhelmed by those obstacles would decrease if more B2B brands outlined concrete strategies for their content operations. Having a documented calendar can improve your ability to churn out content and, in turn, help you build that base of loyal readers and consumers.
In the content marketing world, 2015 won’t just belong to big brands. With more platforms and programs than ever before for marketers to launch content campaigns, small businesses should be ready to start getting their messages out there. As evidenced by CMI’s report, now is the time to shake off the trials and tribulations of 2014, and start reaching new audiences with exciting content.
But before you do anything, don’t forget those three magic words. Write. It. Down.