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48% B2B marketers admit content is only “somewhat effective” or “ineffective”

Despite bigger proportions of marketing budgets being spent on demand generation, and broad agreement on the importance of content marketing, a sizeable proportion of B2B marketers admit their content is not as effective as it should be, according to a new report from Uberflip and Heinz Marketing.

The report surveys 300 senior B2B marketing leaders and looks at the value and effectiveness of content in B2B across industries – as well as priorities, strategies and challenges.

Here are some key takeaways.

First things first, content is hugely important to B2B marketers in 2019

82% of respondents say content is important in helping them achieve their marketing goals.

‘If you think of your demand generation program as an engine, then your content could be thought of as the gas,’ the report states. ‘Essential to move your initiatives forward.’

But the data also shows it to be valuable in other areas of business too. More than 79% of respondents say content is important elsewhere, with more than 50% using it in much later stages of the funnel such as during event follow-up.

48% of B2B marketers say their content is only ‘somewhat effective’ or ‘ineffective’

There is a clear gap between the perceived importance of content and how effective it is. As the report shows, this can vary quite significantly between industries.

The importance-effectiveness gap is biggest in technology – an industry which is unequivocally fast-moving, to the point where content can be out of date by the time it has been written/produced/published. This certainly chimes with me as someone who covers martech and the digital industries on a daily basis.

Effective content isn’t simply a matter of spending more

The report also finds that money is not the answer when it comes to delivering effective content campaigns.

Responses show that effective content is achievable among marketers who spend even as little as 25% of their budget on generating demand.

And 1 in 5 respondents who say their content is ineffective admit to spending over 75% of their budget on demand gen.

Rather, the data sees content effectiveness as more likely being down to the two following elements:

  • Consistency. ‘Respondents with effective content are nearly 10x more likely than those with ineffective content to ensure that other departments within their organization have content.’
  • Scalability. ‘3 in 4 respondents with effective content also rate their current content marketing program as scalable.’

Personalization is a particular pain point

When analyzing the areas where marketers felt their companies were most deficient, 50% said their content wasn’t personalized. It was also the area most felt they wanted to see improvement.

CMO of Uberflip Randy Frisch reflects on this trend:

“The fact that marketers have a strong desire to improve their content personalization points to their frustration with the current model of constantly creating more content over pointing prospects to the right content at the right time to meet their needs,” he says.

“As marketers head into the busiest time of year for sales, they need to get their demand gen programs in top shape—or risk losing out to competitors.”

So how are B2B marketers looking to improve?

On top of personalization being the area most B2B content marketers wanted to see improved, 30% cited ‘content insights, data and analytics’ as their most desired new capability.

‘Greater data is the most desired capability to add. This enables organizations—not just marketers—to more effectively personalize their content, create new content, and promote that content to their audience in a meaningful, impactful way,’ the report states. ‘Data drives everything.’

Content strategies for 2020

With this, the report looks to be highlighting something of an evolutionary step in B2B content. The success of what works today depends not on the quantity of cash behind its production, nor on how much of it is produced, but rather on how smart that content is.

Content producers who are asking ‘why isn’t this effective?’ are now in a better position than they ever have been to reassess their analytics and data provision. To paraphrase Frisch, they need to do this in order to get to a place where their content is being delivered to the right audience at the right time.

And as this report makes clear, the importance of consistency and scalability in content strategies cannot be understated as we move forward. It will be the B2B marketers who are producing content underpinned by data – and with the clearest picture of the audiences consuming it – that will likely be most effective at distributing content with consistency throughout their organization, as well as having the best grasp at adapting it to scale while their businesses grow on into 2020.

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