When it comes to marketing strategies, content marketing has just been crowned king, far surpassing search engine marketing, public relations and even print, television and radio advertising as the preferred marketing tool for today's business-to-business entrepreneur.
Late this summer, HiveFire, a Cambridge, Mass.-based internet marketing software solutions company, surveyed nearly 400 marketing professionals about the state of the business-to-business, or B2B, market, and discovered that marketers are retreating from traditional marketing tactics such as search marketing and have made content marketing the most-used tactic in their brand-enhancing tool box. Fact is, according to HiveFire's B2B Marketing Trends Survey Report, twice as many B2B marketers now employ content marketing as they do print, TV and radio advertising, according to the survey.
So what exactly is content marketing? It's the creation and publication of original content -- including blog posts, case studies, white papers, videos and photos -- for the purpose of generating leads, enhancing a brand's visibility, and putting the company's subject matter expertise on display. HiveFire's researchers found that an impressive 82 percent of B2B marketers now employ content marketing as a strategy in their marketing programs. Coming in at a distant second place is search engine marketing at 70 percent, followed by events at 68 percent, public relations at 64 percent and print/TV/radio advertising at 32 percent.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents said driving sales and leads was the top marketing goal of their organization, followed by boosting brand awareness and establishing or maintaining thought leadership (both at 35 percent). Another 28 percent said their primary goal was to increase web traffic and 24 percent said it was to improve search results.
Part of the popularity of content marketing is its ability to generate qualified leads while engaging prospects in a branded environment without busting the budget. Nearly half of the content marketers interviewed said they dedicate less than a third of their budgets to such marketing expenditures. In addition to frugality, B2B marketers also believe most of their customers and prospects are online, which is why they're focusing their marketing efforts on the Internet.
Finally, the survey shows that "content curation" -- which is defined as the process of finding, organizing and sharing content -- continues to gain strength as a top marketing strategy, up 17 percent from six months ago. Seen as a way for marketers to fuel their marketing programs, content curation does have its problems. Nearly 70 percent of content curators say lack of time hinders their efforts, with 66 percent saying a lack of original and quality content is a major drawback. Another 38 percent say difficulty in measuring results is the stumbling block and 37 percent say lack of staff to do the work is the hindrance.
Despite these issues, the survey makes clear that content marketing is only going to become more important going forward, whether you market to other businesses or to the public at large.
How have you used content marketing to enhance your brand? Leave a comment and let us know.
Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. For more information, visit MikalBelicove.com.