2019 B2B Benchmarking Report: 3 Key Takeaways for Content Leaders

If your content strategy is putting the brand’s promotional message ahead of your audience’s needs, it’s destined to fail.

This is one of the clearest takeaways from the brand-new 2019 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends research, via Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, which hit the web last week. The full report is worth your time, but we’ve pulled what we believe to be the most salient data points for today’s content marketing managers and you’ll find them analyzed below.

Zeroing in on 3 Critical B2B Content Marketing Management Trends

Even those in the B2C space can benefit from these three key insights. Let’s break ‘em down.

#1: We Must Put Our Audiences Before Ourselves

The end goal of content marketing is of course to drive business results. But we’ve gotta be careful to avoid making that our sole focus. Whether in B2B or B2C, we need to deliver value to the audience and earn their trust before we can expect them to internalize our sales message.

Take this statistic for instance: 90% of the most successful B2B content marketers are prioritizing their audience’s informational needs over their sales/promotional message, compared to just 56% of the least successful.

Most of us recognize this foundational tenet of content marketing, but we can still fall into the trap of disguising thinly veiled product plugs as useful content, or failing to connect what we produce with what our customers (and potential customers) actually want and need.

One helpful way to overcome these pitfalls this is through audience personas — the benchmarking report shows that 77% of the most successful B2B marketers use them, compared to 36% of the least successful.

We should also take whatever steps possible to understand the pains of our audience from their own perspectives. This can involve gathering feedback directly from the sales team, which 74% report doing (good!), and engaging in conversations with actual customers, which only 42% report doing (not so good).

In the first episode of our BIG Simple webinar series, Tamsen Webster detailed her Red Thread method, which lays out a great framework for building genuine connections through content that drive action.

#2: Maturity Goes Hand-in-Hand with Successful Results

As a general trend, this isn’t all that surprising, but the starkness comes as a bit of a stunner. The same number of overall survey respondents rated their organization’s content marketing as “adolescent” and “mature” (31% each), but within those samples, 49% of mature content teams fall into the “Most Successful” category compared to just 13% of adolescent content teams.

Here’s how these two levels of maturity are defined in the report:

Adolescent: Have developed a business case, seeing early success, becoming more sophisticated with measurement and scaling.

Mature: Finding success, yet challenged with integration across the organization.

Clearly, this represents a crucial step forward. If an honest assessment shows that your team is still in the “adolescent” category, or even in “young” or “first steps” (where only 4% of the most successful content marketers fall), how can you move up the scale to “mature” — or better yet “sophisticated,” where successful results are almost universal?

#3: The Right Tools Make a Big Difference

The survey asked B2B content marketers which technologies they use to assist with management of their efforts. When breaking down the biggest difference-makers in terms of success, these three types of tools rose to the top:

  • Analytics Tools (88% most successful vs. 64% least successful)
  • Marketing Automation System (63% vs. 39%)
  • Workflow/Project Management/Editorial Calendaring (62% vs. 37%)

Now, I realize that highlighting this insight may come off as self-serving, since DivvyHQ is a platform built primarily for workflow/project management/editorial calendaring, and also includes robust content analytics and automation functionality, but I heartily believe this is pivotal information for content marketing managers of all stripes.

Equipping your team with the right tools and tech is proving to be a major differentiator — and essential to climbing that maturity scale.

Keeping It Simple in 2019

Big thanks to Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs for putting together this outstanding research each year. Make sure you dig into the new report for a full view of where content marketing stands heading into 2019.

But before you do so, please scroll down just a bit further and subscribe to our newsletter so you never miss a beat in this fast-changing world of content marketing and management.