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2016 has been an amazing year for content marketers. In fact, recent studies indicate that companies have been able to generate higher number of leads in terms of quality and quantity by leveraging content marketing. Moreover, about 41 percent of businesses that leverage content marketing agreed that their brand awareness improved significantly.
However, things seem a bit different for B2B companies. According to the 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report by Content Marketing Institute for North American B2B content marketers indicates that 30 percent define themselves as “effective,” down from 38 percent last year. This means 70 percent of them see themselves as ineffective.
Track Maven found that content production has increased by 78 percent from 2013 – 2014, but engagement fell 60 percent during the same time period. Moreover, according to the Spencer Stuart survey that examined 150 marketing leaders, just 17 percent marketers felt confident about digital marketing skills.
This means that B2B companies must look for ways to leverage content marketing in a manner that generates better results. Therefore, B2B content marketers must keep an eye on the following content marketing trends:
1. Video to Lead the Way
Videos have gained popularity over the last few years and are expected to become bigger in 2017. According to a study by Firebrand Group, about 85 percent marketers have seen positive ROI by leveraging videos. Moreover, visual content offers higher-quality engagement, which is another reason it drives higher ROI. According to a study by HubSpot, videos are the most thoroughly consumed piece of content by customers and prospects.
As technology advances, videos have been enhanced to take on new formats such as webinars, testimonials, ads, and so on.
Major social platforms are allowing people/businesses to stream live videos to attract further attention and gain competitive advantage. For instance, major media companies are using live video streaming to cover key sporting events such as the Olympics, RNC and DNC, etc. Various brands like Nissan and Chevrolet are also using videos to introduce new products.
Live videos appeal to prospects as they offer an unedited and unfiltered look that enhances the integrity of products/services. Moreover, live videos are, at present, the most cost-effective method of promoting products and services, with most platforms offering free streaming. Therefore, B2B companies that want to improve ROI and increase sales must focus on streaming live videos.
2. Social Media Marketing is Here to Stay
Did you think social media is overused? You couldn’t be more wrong for there numerous ways B2B companies can leverage the different social media platforms to drive sales and ROI. A study by Direct Marketing Association shows social media is still in its ‘infancy.’ The study also reveals that social media budgets for companies will increase by 24 percent within the next five years.
Moreover, according to a report by eMarketer, advertisers have already spent $23.68 billion on paid social media advertising, and by 2017 this number is expected to reach $35.98 billion, i.e. an increase of 33.5 percent. This means paid social media advertising will become main stream.
Even though the scenario seems ripe with opportunities, 70 percent of companies still don’t collect data from the social channels (according to DMA). This is a big mistake. Marketers who track social media metrics at least three times a week are likely to achieve higher ROI.
So, be prepared to create larger amounts of valuable content, share it across the various social platforms and make data-driven marketing decisions that take your business to the next level.
3. Have a Strategy in Place
We all know how useful content marketing can be for both, B2B and B2C companies; but, what makes some companies fair better than others? The only reason for success is a well-planned strategy. According to the above-mentioned 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report by Content Marketing Institute, fewer number of marketers have invested the time to write strategies in 2015 than in 2014.
For instance, user-generated content is crucial to improve the credibility of a brand (as it is more authentic, trustworthy, and engaging); but if you don’t have a strategy in place you will never know which way to go. A great strategy will help impress influencers, encourage your readers to contribute and hold contests, and more.
The good news is that almost 42 percent companies already have a dedicated executive position for content marketing (according to Curata) and this number is expected to go up by 50 percent in 2017. This means there will be better strategies and smoother implementation of the various content marketing techniques.
2017 is just a couple of weeks away and marketers will do well to keep up with the latest content marketing trends to achieve business goals quickly and drive higher ROI. However, the key to success still remains in the quality and value you offer to your customers. So, do keep creating high-quality and valuable content for them.
Pratik Dholakiya is a Digital Marketing Consultant specializing in building a strong brand presence and achieving sustainable business growth.