What the Most Important Content Marketing Benchmarks Can Tell You About Your Content Marketing

by Emily E. Steck

What the Most Important Content Marketing Benchmarks Can Tell You About Your Content Marketing

We all have suspicions and instincts about what is working in our content marketing and what isn’t, but isn’t it comforting to know that there is data to back up our intuition? That somebody asked a bunch of content marketers their hopes, dreams, fears, challenges and more? Well, get ready to be comforted. We reviewed some of the main research findings and benchmarks of the past year so that you don’t feel so alone. Here’s what our curated list of content marketing benchmarks can tell you about your content marketing efforts.

Goals and Metrics

Unsurprisingly, lead generation and sales are the two most important content marketing goals for B2B marketers. According to CMI’s B2B and B2C report, 85% of B2B marketers cite lead generation as the most important goal. Which makes sense—B2B marketing traditionally aims to increase brand awareness, generate leads and boost engagement whereas B2C marketing traditionally wants to create excitement around the brand and products/services. (See: this venn diagram.) Which metric they use to measure those goals is wildly different. Nearly a third of respondents say that sales lead quality is the most important metric, followed by sales and higher conversion rates.

B2C marketers worry less about lead generation than they do about sales. Roughly 83% of respondents say sales is their most important goal, followed closely by customer retention/loyalty, engagement and brand awareness. Yet the most effective B2C marketers—in fact, 91% of them—value brand awareness, customer retention/loyalty and engagement more than sales. Another shortcoming for sales: 86% of the most effective B2C marketers rate traffic as more important than sales. They also understand the value of customer renewal rates more than less effective marketers: 84% of effective B2C marketers find customer renewal rates to be valuable.

Defining “Effectiveness” and Success

The B2B and B2C report from CMI and Marketing Profs defines effectiveness as “accomplishing your overall objectives.” On a scale of “Not at All Effective” (1) to “Very Effective” (5), respondents from B2B and B2C organizations were split on whether their organization knows what success looks like in the content marketing sphere.

Only 44% of B2B marketers and 43% of B2C marketers say their organization is clear about what content marketing success looks like. This appears to be something that improves with age. Respondents who identify their content marketing as mature or sophisticated are more likely to say they are effective at content marketing. Approximately 70% of respondents in the sophisticated/mature phase say they are effective at content marketing while only 18% in the adolescent phase say they are effective (on the B2C side). It appears to be that the more experience a brand or marketer has in the field, the more confident they are in saying what works and what doesn’t. So, practice makes perfect after all.

The report also found that 57% of B2B marketers and 50% of B2C marketers said measuring content effectiveness were among their top challenges.

Additionally, the B2B study found that effectiveness levels increased with:

  • Experience. Approximately one-third of respondents is in the early stages, one-third is in the adolescent stage and one-third is in the sophisticated/mature stage. While 64% of B2B respondents in the sophisticated/mature stage said they were effective at content marketing, only 6% of those in the early stages said so.
  • A documented content marketing strategy. More than 70% of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy and 37% of content marketers never complete a content audit!
  • Clarity of expectations for success. How the organization views content marketing success and how that trickles down to its marketers matters. As previously mentioned, only 44% of B2B marketers and 43% of B2C marketers say their organization is clear about what content marketing success looks like
  • Frequent content marketing meetings, either daily or weekly. You probably don’t need this data to know that meetings are helpful, but here you go: 61% of the most effective B2B marketers meet daily or weekly.

So for success to happen, it needs to be verbally and textually communicated from the bottom up and the top down. But really, “effectiveness” is a benchmark to see how brands are measuring the performance of their content. Notice that with more experience, documentation and clarity of vision do brands and marketers better understand where to look to see if their content marketing is successful.

Budgets Will Continue to Increase

Budgets will continue to increase in the foreseeable future. According to a 2016 staffing and tactics study from Curata, 75% of companies are increasing their content marketing investments this year, with 43% increasing staff levels.

But what’s that golden number? The perfect allocation of content marketing in your budget? According to the B2B study from CMI and Marketing Profs, the average proportion of total marketing budget allocated to content marketing is 28% for B2B brands. The study also found that the least effective allocate 15% while the most effective allocate 42% of their total marketing budget, regardless of sophistication or nascency. On the consumer side, B2C marketers are allocating 32% of their total marketing budget to content marketing this year; the most effective allocate 38% of their total marketing budget to content marketing. And approximately 50% of B2B and B2C respondents in the surveys plan to increase their content marketing next year.

Content marketing benchmarks like these are crucial for brands to understand how their content efforts measure up to others. Of course, they should be taken with a grain of salt because what works for the industry might not always align with what works for your brand. Perhaps your main metric focuses on brand engagement instead of traffic or sales. Or perhaps allocating more than a third of your marketing budget to content marketing is necessary for your big picture plan to start a branded publication.

Regardless, content marketing benchmarks are meant to start the conversation of what you are doing and what (and how) you can be doing better. If you really want to have a great convo, get in touch with Quietly today to discuss the future of your content marketing.

Image: ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

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