Eighty three per cent of B2B marketers say the production of content is their top priority, and a nearly a third have driving sales and conversions as their primary goal, according to a study from Walker Sands released Thursday.
Based on a survey of approximately 300 marketers, the report from Chicago-based agency Walker Sands, titled The Future Of B2B Content 2019, also showed an overwhelming 98 per cent of professionals believe the cost of producing assets is justified. Besides the 29 per cent who said boosting sales was driving their efforts, 19 per cent cited “building relationships with new customers.” Thought leadership — where a brand becomes seen as a trusted expert on a given subject — ranked second-last, at only 12 per cent.
“In the not-so-distant past, B2B brands updated the company blog or developed value-rich content assets only when time and budget allowed,” Tim Morral, VP of editorial content at Walker Sands, wrote in the report. “Although brands recognized they should produce content (often because their competitors were doing it), relatively few expected content marketing investments to generate actual business outcome.”
The Walker Sands data also suggested that B2B marketers may be moving away from white papers, eBooks and other assets that offer a deep dive on a given topic. Instead, nearly half of those surveyed, or 48 per cent, said they were focusing on short-form content such as social media posts (72 per cent), versus case studies (38 per cent).
Earlier this month, on the other hand, a report from the Content Marketing Institute based on a survey of a similar sample size showed very different results. Although the research was focused more specifically on B2B tech companies, SEO and search algorithm changes were the primary focus for marketers in 2019, with 62 percent reporting it as their biggest concern, ahead of the ability to demonstrate content marketing as a revenue source, at 48 percent. The focus on social was consistent, however, with 63 per cent saying they have increased its use for content marketing purposes.
Within the next year, 69 per cent of those who responded to the Walker Sands survey cited video as the type of content they believe their audiences will prefer. The report’s author pointed out, however, that written content currently outpaces most of what’s produced in B2B marketing departments.
This disconnect raises a red flag about B2B organizations’ ability to connect with key audiences,” the report said. “Most B2B video/multimedia projects lack sophistication . . .To meet the expectations of today’s buyers, brands need to improve the quality of produced videos and approach all video/ multimedia projects from a more strategic perspective.”