Knowledge is power, and I’m here to arm you with it. Let’s talk about what makes the content marketing industry tick with some solid facts and figures, and consider the implications. Use these facts as a jumping off point to build the best content marketing strategy in your industry, and refer back to it anytime you need a refresher.
1. Fact: For every dollar spent on email marketing, $38 is earned. We have stressed this many times before.
Thoughts: Building and nurturing an email list should be the primary goal of nearly every content marketing strategy, with very few exceptions. I highly recommend reading our guide to subscriber-focused content marketing for this reason.
2. Fact: A B2B decision maker is most likely to give away their email address in exchange for a webinar (79%), white paper (76%), an analytical report (66%), or an e-book (63%).
Thoughts: While things are a bit different in the consumer market, the central takeaway remains the same. If you want people to join your mailing list, you need to offer them something very valuable in exchange.
3. Fact: Emails are 26% more likely to be opened if the recipient’s name is in a personalized subject line.
Thoughts: Virtually every email marketing tool on the market makes this very easy, so there is no excuse not to do it. Include a variable for the recipient’s name in every email you send.
4. Fact: 80% of blogs use an email newsletter to distribute content to their audience.
Thoughts: You will need to decide for yourself how often to update the newsletter. If your blog is updated multiple times per day, it’s generally a bad idea to send an email with every new blog post. Send a regular update listing your latest posts instead.
5. Fact: As early as 2014, 57% of marketers already considered custom content as their top marketing priority.
Thoughts: It’s important to start segmenting your audience early, and to use marketing automation technology to ensure that emails are being sent to the recipients who are most likely to consider them relevant.
6. Fact: Bloggers are 74% more likely to get strong results if they repeatedly update their old blog posts, even though only 55% of bloggers do this. In some cases, updating an old blog post can improve overall traffic by as much as 402%.
Thoughts: A relatively small portion of the content you publish is typically responsible for the majority of traffic you bring in, because content marketing obeys a power law distribution. For that reason, you should dedicate a significant amount of your work to keeping those high performing posts up to date, maximizing their potential.
7. Fact: Investing as little as six hours a week in content marketing was enough for 91% of marketers to claim an increase in web traffic.
Thoughts: The most important factor for success with a content marketing strategy is consistency. If your blog and resources are updated sporadically, you are unlikely to see results, but if you invest a relatively small amount of labor on a regular schedule, you will see results, allowing you to make judgement calls about where to take things next.
8. Fact: Bloggers consider their top priorities to be creating a strategy and measuring the impact of the blog on the business’s overall success.
Thoughts: Take the time to devise a strategy with concrete business goals, putting the focus on how content marketing will contribute to business processes (as opposed to less functional goals such a particular number of visitors). Invest in analytics and determine what is really helping you meet your goals.
9. Fact: Marketers consider their top needs to be audience identification and targeting (67%), analytics (67%), creation (60%), distribution (53%), curation and aggregation (48%).
Thoughts: If you have mastered all of the above, consider yourself ahead of the competition.
10. Fact: The skill sets most often missing from a content marketing effort are content creation, leadership and strategy, promotion, metrics, and subject matter expertise.
Thoughts: In other words, the skill sets that are most vital to building a successful content marketing system. Do not skimp on these if you want to see results.
11. Fact: 82% of marketers see a positive ROI from their blog.
Thoughts: This is a testament to the incredible power of content marketing. Very few things in business can be so readily relied on to produce a profit, and more businesses are waking up to this fact every day.
12. Fact: 68% of consumers have a more positive view of a brand after consuming that brand’s content.
Thoughts: The branding implications are clear. While it can sometimes be difficult (but certainly not impossible) to measure the impact of content marketing efforts on sales, the value of positive brand perception should never be understated.
13. Fact: 93% of B2B marketers are using content marketing according to one study. Another study claims that 89% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers are using content marketing. According to that study, among the marketers who were not using content marketing, 52% in B2B and 51% in B2C were planning to start.
Thoughts: Needless to say, content marketing is now mainstream. Merely taking part in content marketing will not be enough.
14. Fact: 72% of marketers are using content marketing. 30% of them are using a documented strategy, while 42% have an undocumented content marketing strategy. Smaller organizations are doing better at documenting their content strategies, 48% for smaller businesses versus 41% for larger businesses. 60% of the most effective B2C marketers are using a documented strategy.
Thoughts: Invest in a documented content marketing strategy to put yourself ahead of the competition.
15. Fact: 88% of marketers in the North American B2B industry incorporate content marketing into their digital marketing strategy.
Thoughts: It’s simply not the case that content marketing is a niche industry anymore. While many of the players in this industry are relatively new to the game, it is becoming increasingly important to step up your game and deliver content that wows your audience.
16. Fact: The primary goals of companies that use content marketing are lead generation (85%), sales (84%), and lead nurturing (78%).
Thoughts: Central to achieving those goals is the ability to retain your audience. Audience retention isn’t just about creating content that engages. It’s about doing what you can to ensure a direct line to that audience, as opposed to relying on third parties like social networks to reach them. Email marketing and sticky branding are musts for any of this to work.
17. Fact: The most common content marketing tactics are blogging (65%), social media (64%), and case studies (64%).
Thoughts: I will stress here that the tactics themselves are less vital than the way in which they are employed, and the way that they fit together. Lead generation assets shouldn’t be sacrificed for blog posts just because blog posts are the most widely used tactic.
18. Fact: The most effective content marketers in the B2B industry invest 39% of their marketing budget in content marketing, compared to an average of 30%, and 16% for the least effective content marketers.
Thoughts: The fact that a 9% investment is all it takes to go from “average” to “most effective” should be eye opening.
19. Fact: 74% of marketers say that content marketing is increasing both the quality and quantity of their inbound leads.
Thoughts: If you ever catch yourself falling for the idea that content marketing only increases web traffic, without necessarily increasing sales, remind yourself of this statistic. Content marketing absolutely improves your lead pipeline.
20. Fact: 1 out of 6 enterprise level businesses invests at least $10 million in content marketing every year. The median yearly investment in content marketing was $1.75 million in 2015. Content marketing is expected to be a $300 billion industry by 2019.
Thoughts: Those numbers should be alarming if you haven’t been investing in a content marketing strategy and hope to stay competitive for the foreseeable future.
21. Fact: 73% of businesses have a title dedicated to overseeing a content marketing strategy. 86% of highly effective businesses have somebody in that title.
Thoughts: Content marketing requires a unique combination of skills, and should not be relegated to a secondary task that gets taken on by somebody with “more important” things to do, if at all possible.
22. Fact: 60% of marketers produce at least one piece of content every single day.
Thoughts: Publishing every day is not so vital, but this statistic makes it clear how important it is to invest in a regular content schedule. We have found that publishing less often with more impactful pieces of content can often be even more effective than publishing every day, but either approach can work. The central thing is to make sure that content is being worked on and published regularly.
Thoughts: This is a very dramatic shift and one that we as marketers should be paying very close attention to. While not every business necessarily needs to invest in video marketing, it is something every business should consider experimenting with, as internet audiences become more accustomed to video and less satisfied with text.
24. Fact: The average conversion rate is 6 times higher for companies that use content marketing compared to those that do not (2.9% versus 0.5%).
Thoughts: This is just another reminder that content marketing is much more than a way of driving traffic to your site. If you find that your content marketing efforts are increasing traffic without boosting conversion rates, you will need to rethink your strategy.
25. Fact: Roughly 200 million people around the globe had installed ad-blocking software by 2015.
Thoughts: It is becoming more important every day to ensure that audiences want to see your content, instead of paying to insert yourself into an experience that isn’t directly related to your brand, your products, or the topics that revolve around them.
26. Fact: 90% of B2B purchasers say that content has a moderate or major impact on their buying decisions.
Thoughts: Since the B2B industry tends to base decisions far more on rationalism than the B2C industry, this news should be telling. If content has this much of an impact in B2B, the impact is strong anywhere.
27. Fact: 63% of B2B marketers say they are “very” or “extremely” committed to content marketing. 60% of B2C marketers say the same.
Thoughts: Now that the value of content marketing has become clear to mainstream business and marketers, it is more important than ever to stand out with content that is incredibly useful and entertaining.
28. Fact: Approximately 1 in 10 blog posts becomes a source of compounding evergreen traffic, meaning that the amount of traffic they generate continues to grow as more time passes. These evergreen or “compounding” blog posts generate 38% of a blog’s traffic.
Thoughts: We mentioned above that you should continue to invest in these posts by updating them. It’s also important to choose topics that have evergreen potential.
29. Fact: The typical B2B marketer distributes their content through 6 different channels, and the typical B2C marketer uses 7 channels. A typical B2B or B2C marketer will use 3 different paid methods to promote their content. B2B marketers use an average of 13 different content marketing tactics. Social media is the most common distribution channel, employed by 87% of marketers. 91% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for one of their channels, and 73% use YouTube.
Thoughts: A multi-channel approach is a necessity in the modern marketing climate.
30. Fact: 46% of marketers consider photography a critical part of their marketing and storytelling strategies, and tweets containing images receive 150% more retweets. Instagram is expected to grow from 32% to 47% penetration by 2020.
Thoughts: Visual content is a necessity. Stock photos are the bare minimum if you want your content to flourish, and investing in original images is well worth the effort.
31. Fact: 81% of marketers plan to increase the amount of written content they produce.
Thoughts: We can only expect the amount of content being produced to increase for the foreseeable future. Becoming a go-to resource for your target audience is all the more vital.
32. Fact: Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing.
Thoughts: Needless to say, that means you get more for your money with content than you will with traditional marketing dollars.
33. Fact: 48% of marketers use content marketing for between 3 and 5 stages of their sales funnel. 49% are learning to produce content with specific stages of the buyer’s journey in mind. 71% of B2B and B2C marketers are considering how their content will impact a person’s overall experience with their brand.
Thoughts: That last number really should be 100%. A successful content marketing strategy is fully integrated with larger branding efforts, and is built to strengthen your sales funnel as well as customer retention. Every piece of content published should be done so with purpose.
34. Fact: 72% of marketers believe that content marketing that employs branded content is significantly more effective than advertisements in traditional magazines.
Thoughts: They are not wrong. The psychological power of reciprocity makes content marketing an incredibly useful tool for building an audience and customer base.
35. Fact: A typical long-form blog post generates 9 times as many leads as a typical short-form blog post.
Thoughts: Clearly, the idea that nobody has the attention span for a long blog post is a destructive one. While it’s inevitably true that the majority of your visitors will not read your content from start to finish, you are not writing the content for them. You are writing it for the people who have an intense interest in the subject matter, and will become brand advocates if you satiate that interest.
36. Fact: 22% of B2B marketers consider their approach to content marketing to be “very” or “extremely” successful. 25% of B2C marketers feel this way. More optimistically, 62% of B2B marketers and 63% of B2C marketers feel that they are “much” or “somewhat” more successful with content marketing compared to the previous year.
Thoughts: All in all, content marketing is still a relatively new model, at least in the digital realm, and there is a lot of room for experimentation, so take advantage of this.
37. Fact: 90% of marketers say that they use visual content in at least half of the articles that they end up producing.
Thoughts: In other words, including some visual flair is par for the course in a modern content marketing strategy. To stand out, you need original visual content.
38. Fact: 4 times as many customers would rather watch a product video than read about a product.
Thoughts: Just more evidence of the value that comes with investing in video.
39. Fact: Businesses invest between 25 and 43% of their marketing budget into content, but only 23% of CMOs believe with confidence that they know how to produce the right content for the right audience at the right time and in the right format.
Thoughts: This is not an easy skill to hone and it is one that should be highly valued. Investing in talent that has experience accomplishing all 4 of these goals at once is a very good idea.
40. Fact: Interactive content is twice as effective and generating conversions compared to “passive” content.
Thoughts: Interactive content includes polls, quizzes, calculators, assessments, and other forms of content that allow users to be involved with the content. This is in contrast with “passive” content, which includes things like blog posts, images, and PDFs that the user passively consumes. This shouldn’t be surprising, considering that the most linked sites on the web are sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn. The most successful sites are sites that people use, not consume. This is a valuable lesson content marketers should be paying close attention to.
41. Fact: 53% of content marketers are using interactive content.
Thoughts: If you haven’t experimented with interactive content, now is the time. There are a lot of tools available that make this relatively easy. Qzzr makes it simple to produce quizzes. SnapApp simplifies the process of making tools like calculators, surveys, and infographics. Use WIREWAX to make your videos clickable and interactive. Transform whitepapers into interactive guides with Guides.co. Use Infogr.Am to create interactive graphics. Finally, you can use Bubble.is to build web apps without needing to know how to code. The variety of tools available to produce interactive content is incredible and unprecedented, so take advantage of the opportunities and stand out.
42. Fact: 91% of B2B buyers would prefer to “consume” interactive or visual content than consume static content.
43. Fact: 88% of marketers say that interactive content makes it easier for them to stand out against the competition.
44. Fact: 93% of marketers say that interactive content is either “very” or “somewhat” effective at educating buyers, compared to 70% for static content.
45. Fact: Investment in paid content placement and promotion grew by 400% between 2014 and 2017.
Thoughts: We don’t recommend using paid content placement before you’ve become at least adequate at using content marketing to earn attention without paid promotion first. There’s no disputing the value of paid content marketing strategies if you already know what you are doing, but if you don’t know how to make content marketing work without paid placement, you will have difficulty making your money back.
46. Fact: B2B content marketers consider their most valuable success metrics to be sales lead quality (87%), sales (84%), conversion rates (82%), number of sales leads (71%), web traffic (71%), brand lift (69%) and search engine rankings (67%).
Thoughts: While you should select which metrics matter the most for yourself, these can serve as a useful jumping off point.
47. Fact: The highest ranking content in search engines is typically more than 2,400 words in length.
Thoughts: Long content doesn’t always perform better, and content length itself is not a search engine ranking factor, but the users who have the most to gain from reading your content are also the ones who tend to be most pleased with the comprehensive content.
48. Fact: 73% of B2B and 76% of B2C marketers say that their strategy will employ content marketing as an integrated and ongoing part of their business, as opposed to a single content marketing campaign.
Thoughts: Content marketing is not typically compatible with a traditional campaign strategy and it should not be thought of as such.
49. Fact: 69% of marketers currently consider content marketing superior to direct mail and public relations.
50. Fact: 60% of marketers re-purpose their content between 2 and 5 times, meaning that they find a different way to use the same content in different contexts or on different platforms.
Thoughts: Despite the fact that re-purposing is catching on, I still feel that it is underutilized by most businesses, even the ones who have experimented with it.
51. Fact: 78% of buyers have relied on a whitepaper to help them make a decision about a purchase.
Thoughts: This is tactic is particularly prevalent and useful in the B2B sector as a way of building leads.
52. Fact: Structurally, the content strategy is usually overseen by corporate marketing (54%), product marketing (25%), CEO (21%), or PR (19%).
Thoughts: Whoever is in charge, it’s important for dedicated individuals to be involved, rather than having it be secondary to their primary job function.
53. Fact: The majority of B2B buyers who complete a sale already made up their mind about the purchase before they talked to a sales representative, at a figure of 57%. 47% of B2B decision makers consume between 3 and 5 pieces of content before they talk to a salesperson.
Thoughts: Content marketing is an incredible way to warm up leads and get their interest before sales can have any impact.
54. Fact: 76% of B2B marketers operate a blog, and 73% of them publish case studies.
Thoughts: As we keep stressing, make sure that a list-building email marketing strategy is heavily incorporated into both of these approaches.
55. Fact: 70% of B2B marketers consider event marketing an effective strategy.
Thoughts: Events are a great source of content for press releases and press coverage, as well as a great way to meet up with influencers in your industry who can help promote your content and your business in general. It’s important to remember that content marketing doesn’t begin and end with content. The more closely it is attached to things happening in the real world, the more successful it will be.
56. Fact: 78% of B2B buyers make case studies a part of their decision making process.
Thoughts: The best case studies are not just useful in showcasing your work, but are also instructive, educational, and actionable for your audience. Fears that instructing your audience will make your services seem less valuable to them are irrational, as their trust in your capabilities is virtually always improved by an instructive case study. This far outweighs any perceived loss in scarcity that might come with knowing more about the subject at hand.
57. Fact: 67% of a B2B lead’s journey is taking place digitally.
Thoughts: It’s important to make yourself a part of that journey as much as possible.
58. Fact: 92% of marketers say that their organization considers digital content to be a business asset.
Thoughts: This is the way it should be viewed, and why it should not just be archived, but maintained.
59. Fact: 78% of CMOs believe that custom content is the future of marketing.
Thoughts: Custom content is content tailored for specific segments of your audience. This makes it even more important than before to define who your audiences are before developing your content.
60. Fact: 58% of marketers say that original written content is their most valuable digital asset, even when compared to visual assets like infographics and videos.
Thoughts: A useful insight to take away from this is that written content is the best testing ground for proofs of concept. Since visual content requires more investment, you can test the waters with your written content and interpret the results and a jumping off point for visual content.
61. Fact: “Prescriptive” content, which focuses on helping their audience achieve success, was the most popular type of content consumed in the B2B industry in 2017, used by 97% of people in the B2B audience.
Thoughts: Time and again this form of content has proven its value, and it is the most likely to be actively sought out.
62. Fact: Facebook is still the most popular social network, used by 90% of social media users.
Thoughts: This is not a free pass to neglect Twitter and Instagram, and certainly not LinkedIn if you are B2B, but it is still the go-to social network for your content.
63. Fact: Producing content that will engage users is the most difficult content marketing challenge, according to 60% of marketers in the B2B industry.
64. Fact: Compared to traditional marketing, content generates 3 times as many leads.
65. Fact: Coca-Cola invests more money in content marketing than they do in television advertisements.
Thoughts: The fact that such an old and mainstream product currently invests more in content marketing that TV ads should be alarming for anybody who isn’t fully committed to a modern content marketing strategy.
66. Fact: The average amount of time a user spends reading an article is 37 seconds.
Thoughts: While this might not seem high, it is high enough average to indicate that users are reading the articles, not bouncing off of them. The short-attention span does mean that we need to capture interest early on. Remember, however, that the typical visitor isn’t really your target audience. Your target audience is the person with a strong enough interest in the subject matter to join your mailing list.
67. Fact: Marketers are targeting customers with content based on buyer personas (63%), verticals (38%), geography (30%), and by individual accounts or customers (30%).
Thoughts: Putting personas to use enhances revenue by 171%, so don’t dismiss the exercise as silly. As imprecise as personas may be, they help you clarify who you are writing for and why, in a way that will result in more purposefully created content.
68. Fact: Infographics receive 3 times as many links and social media shares when compared to all other forms of content. Usage of infographics grew from 9 to 52% in 2014.
Thoughts: In other words, infographics are very much worth the investment. As we mentioned above, it can be a good idea to test the waters with written content first, to nail down which infographics are the most likely to lead to positive results.
69. Fact: 40% of companies say that they have either “fully” or “moderately” integrated the automation systems that they use for marketing and for sales.
Thoughts: Your content marketing strategy should leave your sales staff as informed about their leads as possible.
70. Fact: 53% of emails are opened on mobile devices.
Thoughts: Change the way you think about how consumers are interacting with their email.
71. Fact: 84% of buyers in the B2B industry use LinkedIn as their primary social network, but use email much more heavily, with 94% claiming email as their primary channel for sharing.
Thoughts: If you are in the B2B industry, you can’t neglect LinkedIn, but you absolutely must remember that email is still central to your strategy.
72. Fact: 69% of B2B marketers believe that creating content for their audiences is more valuable than producing content “for their brand.” The figure is also 69% for B2C marketers.
Thoughts: Your approach should be to produce content that is intrinsically valuable in the same way that a product is. This is crucial to establishing the trust that will lead to a sale.
73. Fact: 42% of B2B marketers claim to be “very effective” at content marketing.
Thoughts: If you’re one of the 58% who don’t consider themselves very effective at content marketing, it’s time to invest more in the medium.
74. Fact: 28% of companies say that they have reduced their spending on digital advertising in order to invest more money in content marketing.
Thoughts: Generally speaking, this is a good decision for your ROI, since content marketing has cumulative benefits while digital advertising tends to lose its benefits as soon as you stop spending money.
75. Fact: The average blog post length has grown from 808 words in 2014 to 1,054 words in 2016.
Thoughts: Don’t interpret this to mean that you can succeed more just by making your posts longer, but take it to mean what it really means. The most useful posts win.
76. Fact: 80% of executives and business owners prefer learning about a business from content rather than advertisements.
Thoughts: If you want to reach corporate decision makers in the most effective way possible, invest in content.
77. Fact: Outsourced writing is very common, even for marketers themselves. 64% of B2B marketers outsource their writing.
Thoughts: Outsourcing can be a smart way to produce more effective content without needing to distract your staff, but take care to ensure that your content creators are knowledgeable about the industry and that you retain creative control or influence where needed.
78. Fact: Industry content produced by influencers in the industry earn the most credence from the B2B audience, cited by 87% of that audience. Peer review, third party publications, and user-generated feedback were also given credence, at 68%, 68%, and 60% respectively.
Thoughts: Ensuring that your content is seen as authoritative is a must if you want to succeed.
79. Fact: Only 8% of marketers say that they are “very successful” or “extremely successful” at attributing the ROI of their content marketing efforts, and 65% of B2B marketers have trouble defining which content is or will be effective and which will not.
Thoughts: This is very likely the most poorly invested-in aspect of content marketing, and one that will give you a strong edge.
80. Fact: 90% of marketers are uncertain that the metrics they are using are the most effective at measuring business results, and 50% wanted to get better at measuring how much real attention was being spent on their content, in addition to the page views and unique visits that 69% of marketers were tracking.
Thoughts: Avoid vanity metrics and focus on those that connect most strongly to your primary business goals.
81. Fact: The decision makers who buy B2B services and products consider content to be a trustworthy source of information 95% of the time.
Thoughts: Leverage and enhance this sense of trustworthiness by making your content as useful and factually oriented as possible, while appealing to the use-cases your target audience would be most interested in.
82. Fact: The most effective social media networks for the B2B industry are LinkedIn (82%), Twitter (66%), YouTube (64%), Facebook (41%), and SlideShare (38%). LinkedIn is 277% more effective at producing leads than Facebook or Twitter.
Thoughts: Always bear in mind that strategies are not channel-neutral, and that different approaches will have different results depending on your platform.
83. Fact: 45% of marketers say that blogging is their most important content marketing strategy.
84. Fact: The 5 biggest challenges to content marketers are lack of time and bandwidth (51%), variety and volume (50%), engaging their audience (42%), and budget constraints (35%).
Thoughts: Much of this comes down to an unwillingness to invest financially in content marketing. Content marketing is cheap but that doesn’t mean we need to treat it like it is a free add-on that we should pay for with existing labor. The more we invest in content marketing, within reason, the more valuable it is for us.
Feeling informed? If you don’t have a photographic memory, odds are you’ll want to refer back to these facts again in the future. Consider tossing this in your bookmarks and visiting it again in the future. Use these facts as a jumping off point for brainstorming sessions, and build a rock solid content marketing strategy.