B2B Content Marketing Benchmark

January 27, 2012 Published by ontarget


This information was gathered by surveying 1092 B2B content marketing representatives in diverse industries and across company sizes.  The survey was conducted in August of 2011.

The following information shows the findings for usage and effectiveness, goals and measurements, budgets and production and best in class best practices.

Major B2B Content Marketing Findings

Usage and Effectiveness:

  1. 1.Nine out of 10 marketers are using B2B content marketing to grow their business.
  2. 2.Confident about the value of content marketing but finding it difficult to demonstrate the effectiveness of each individual distribution channel.
  3. 3.Uptake is high across industries, with no single industry reporting below 70% adoption.

Goals and Measurement:

  1. 1.Marketers are using content marketing to support multiple business goals, brand awareness (69%), customer acquisition (68%), lead generation (67%) and customer retention/loyalty (62%).
  2. 2.Web traffic is the most widely used success metric.

Budgets and Production:

  1. 1.Approximately 26% of their total budget goes towards content marketing.
  2. 2.Sixty percent reported that in 2012 they plan on spending more.
  3. 3.Sixty two percent of B2B companies use outsourcing for content marketing.

Practices of Best in Class

  1. 1.They allocate 31% of their budget to content marketing.
  2. 2.They are 50% more likely to consider the stage in the buying cycle when developing content.
  3. 3.They benefit from substantially more buy-in from senior members of the organization.  Only 8% of the effective marketers complain about lack of buy-in from higher-ups.


Most Popular Content

Most companies are using the same tactics as last year with an average of 8 tactics per company.  Blogs and videos saw the highest increase over last year of 27% more use with white papers increasing by 19%.

The most popular tactics are currently being used by 79% of the B2B companies survey.  However, social media actually declined in 2011 by 8 percent.


Blogs, videos and white papers saw a significant increase over last year while traditional forms of content marketing saw significant decreases.


Social Media Distribution Channels

Even though the data shows that Twitter is the top content marketing distribution channel we don’t believe it’s due to its effectiveness.  We believe it has to do with PR companies trying to re-invent themselves as posting PR content through Twitter.


Content Marketing Effectiveness

It’s clear that marketers are feeling more assured in using content marketing to achieve their goals. Just as important, they’re more confident in how well they are using these tactics — across just about every tactic.

While in-person events and webinars are still seen as the most effective tactics, on average, the following ranked notably higher in perceived effectiveness compared to last year:

  • Blogs:  45% increase
  • Case Studies: 32% increase
  • Videos: 36% increase
  • Webinars/webcasts: 25% increase

Though social media is still considered the least effective of the top tactics, just as it was in 2010, half of this year’s respondents think it is effective.  And, in fact, 61% more companies perceive social media as effective in 2011 vs. 2010.


Content Marketing Tactic Effectiveness Ratings: High & Low

Among those who use a particular content marketing tactic, what percentage of marketers believe that tactic is either “very effective” or “effective”?


Content Marketing Goals

Brand awareness and customer acquisition rise to the top of the B2B content marketing goals for businesses.  The top two metrics that are used to measure the effectiveness of content marketing are web traffic and sales leads.  More marketers are using content marketing for customer acquisition, lead generation, website traffic, thought leadership and lead management/nurturing.
Content Marketing Spend is Increasing

Rising confidence in the effectiveness of content marketing seems to be spurring marketers to dedicate more budget to this strategy. On average, 60% of respondents indicate that they plan to increase their content marketing budgets over the next 12 months.


While, like last year, B2B marketers, on average, spend 26% of their budgets on content marketing activities, this varies by company size.


Practices of Best in Class

A subset of respondents to our survey (40%) identified their own content marketing as “effective” or “very effective” (defined as an answer of 4 or 5 on a scale of 1 to 5) compared to that of their competitors. We were interested in finding out whether this self- selected group differed in any meaningful way from their peers.

  • Best-in-class marketers invest 31% of their budgets in content marketing, compared to the least effective marketers, who only allocate 18%.
  • They are also more likely to segment their content based on the buying cycle (45% of best in class versus 39% of industry average and 29% of laggards).

They are less likely to lack executive buy-in for content marketing (8% of best in class versus 12% of industry average versus 17% of laggards).


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