eMarketer estimates that 87.0% of US B2B companies will use digital content marketing in 2018. Despite already high adoption, the usage rate will grow slightly in 2019, to 87.5%. The growth is small, but each year brings usage closer to a saturation point.
In fact, B2B marketers are driving much of the growth for companies overall. eMarketer also projects 84.0% of total US companies will execute content marketing strategies this year. While this gap is small, it suggests that B2Bs are ahead of the curve and lifting the average for all companies, business-to-consumer (B2C) included.
B2B companies using digital content marketing include those with at least 100 employees that create and distribute nonpromotional content for marketing purposes, including content distributed through owned, earned and paid digital media channels.
The types of content that have seen the most success for B2B marketers for years (think white papers, blogs and research) still work in 2018. In fact, numerous studies find that they are the top performers.
Half of B2B marketers worldwide said research reports were one of the content types that generated leads with the highest customer conversion rate, according to a September 2017 survey from Ascend2 and netFactor. Other well-performing asset types included video/motion graphics (41%), webinars/webcasts (41%) and case studies/white papers (39%).
In a July 2017 survey from Chief Marketer, nearly half of B2B marketers said articles and blog posts were among the most effective types of content for moving prospects through the sales funnel. White papers and video were named by 37% and 36% of respondents, respectively.
For B2B marketers, the promise of high-quality leads is a driving principle behind using content marketing. Indeed, in the Ascend2 and netFactor survey, two in three respondents said content downloads were a type of digital form that generated leads with the highest customer conversion rate.
B2Bs have found success with content marketing because their buyers are becoming more independent, relying less on direct contact with sellers during the decision-making process and doing their own research online.
“Today’s buyers now guide themselves using the content available—doing their own research, on their own time,” said Paige Musto, vice president of corporate marketing at Act-On, a marketing automation software program.
In their search for information when purchasing products and services, 40% of B2B buyers in North America said the source does not matter to them if the information is credible, according to May 2017 research from SmartBrief, sponsored by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). Still, while three in 10 did say they wanted information to come from an unbiased source, about a quarter noted a preference for information to come directly from the vendor they are considering.
For B2B decision-makers, content that demonstrates potential value for their business can sometimes be the difference in selecting one vendor over another. In June 2017, Demand Gen Report (DGR) found that six in 10 US senior-level B2B buyers said they decided to pick a vendor because of content that made it easier to show ROI and/or build a business case for the purchase.
Content provided by eMarketer.