Remember the good ‘ole days of flipping through cable TV channels and landing on a program by the Home Shopping Network or QVC? The featured clothing items would sell out left and right before the thirty-minute special was over, because the hosts were wizards when it came to entertaining and building trust with the audience, getting them excited about a product, and creating a sense of urgency to purchase it.
They painted a picture to show a glimpse of what your life would be like if you were savvy enough to snag, say, this amazing blouse—but, only in the next ten minutes, and you can get it for just $19.99! For consumer brands, being on QVC was the supreme direct-to-consumer distribution channel. This form of content was and actually continues to be king.
If only B2B software brands could be featured by the likes of a QVC-like show, with dozens of salespeople on the phones, at-the-ready to fulfill the incoming orders.
Or can they?
Swap out the charismatic QVC personality with someone extroverted on your customer success team and ask them to give a live demo of your product, or host an interactive AMA session with a C-suite exec to build thought leadership. If you don’t have someone internally, you could also tap an influencer in your industry who might be able to “hawk your wares” to their own audience. Then, make sure members of your sales team are ready to follow up immediately on audience questions, further demo requests, etc.
Chances are you already understand this, and you’re looking for some research to make the case that content marketing deserves a larger slice of your overall marketing budget. If that’s true, here are some irrefutable B2B content marketing statistics that will help you win your case and hopefully, sell out of product faster than ShamWow did on its TV debut. (Okay, selling out isn’t technically possible for a SaaS, but you know what I mean!)
Why Should SaaS Companies Care About Content?
If you think about B2B SaaS marketing, it boils down to three essential pillars: brand, product marketing, and demand generation. Depending on the stage of your company, one pillar might have to take more precedence over the rest.
However, across all three, content is the perfect vehicle since it enables you to tell the story of your brand, position your product, and raise awareness of the problems you can solve with it. Content marketing, when done right, is so important because it allows you to inform and help your audience, build a relationship with them, and demonstrate you understand their problems. In doing so, you can build trust.
Just ask popular Home Shopping Network Host, Jillian Martin, who, on why she is such a great host, told Fast Company, “People want to buy something from someone they trust. I have established that trust with the viewer.”
If that’s not enough to convince you to implement content marketing, here are some statistics that demonstrate the importance of content marketing:
- 70% of people would rather learn about a company from an article than a traditional advertisement and 90% percent expect brands to provide content.
- 49% of B2B buyers reported they now rely more on content to research and make purchase decisions.
- Despite there being an overwhelming amount of content available to them, 44% of respondents to a DemandGen Report said they typically consume three to five pieces of content before engaging with a vendor.
- Content marketing generates 3X more leads than outbound marketing and costs 62% less.
- 79% of companies use content marketing to generate quality leads.
- The content marketing market size is projected to increase by $418 billion, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16% between 2020 and 2025.
Content Marketing Strategy
It’s not really up for debate in the B2B marketing space—you need a content marketing strategy. It’s so important to have one in play that only 5% of B2B marketers report they don’t.
An effective SaaS content marketing strategy helps to increase brand awareness, web traffic, and ultimately, leads. Not only that, but it can help to retain customers, with 63% of content marketers using their content strategy to build loyalty with their existing clients.
To be successful though, you need to understand your target audience’s pain points and consistently produce high-quality material that addresses these issues. Promotion via the right channels and measuring performance are equally critical steps in this process. If you want to acquire and develop more content marketing skills, check out these content marketing certification courses.
Create top-notch, industry-expert backed content and the audience will come, right? If only it were that simple. It’s just as important to plan how to promote your content as it is to plan what the content is going to be.
So, in 2023, what does the research say about distribution? A blend of organic and paid is here to stay.
Organic vs. Paid Content Distribution
On the organic side, according to the Content Marketing Institute, the top channels that marketers rely on are social media platforms (89%), email (87%), and their organization’s website/blog (86%) with 54% speaking/presenting at virtual events and just 38% are writing guest posts for other publications. To drive traffic to their blog, 69% of marketers report to actively invest time in SEO.
According to a survey by the Content Marketing Institute, in 2019, 71% of B2B marketers who reported the most success used paid channels, such as search engine marketing (SEM) or paid social media marketing to promote their content. While content marketers should optimize their content for SEO and make it easy for readers to share, clearly they should also allocate some budget for paid promotion to further increase reach.
Regarding paid distribution, of all the different paid content marketing channels, social media is the most popular one, with two-thirds of marketers using it. Which is partly why it’s no surprise that social media ad spend in the US has been rising each year and is expected to hit $94 billion in 2023.
Top Social Platforms for B2B Content Distribution
In B2B, the most important social media platform for distributing your messaging is—you guessed it—still LinkedIn, both for organic and paid content promotion. In my experience, this makes sense since B2B buyers are most likely to use LinkedIn to find out about products they need to use at work and the companies behind them. For example, you’re more apt to download and read an eBook about how to grow your business on LinkedIn than if you were scrolling through Instagram.
After social media, the next most important paid channel is Google Search ads with 45 percent of marketing teams using them in their strategies. This is followed by YouTube ads, with 40% and display ads, with 32%.
Recommended: 60 Email Marketing Statistics Every CMO Should Know.
Today’s buyers depend on various content formats to be available for their consumption all throughout their buyer’s journey. The more ways that you produce and distribute content, the more likely members of your target audience will find it and consume it at their convenience. At the same time, at every phase of the journey, different content formats will fare better.
For example, 64% of B2B buyers said they prefer podcasts at the top of the funnel, while for 48% of buyers, webinars were valuable in the mid-stage of their buying journey. If you think about it, these numbers make sense since you might be listening to a podcast passively, not when you are on the hunt for a specific solution, whereas, if you’re taking the time to watch a webinar, you likely have a challenge that you’re seeking knowledge on how to overcome.
Content Marketing Performance
While it requires effort, content marketing is worth pursuing since most teams that do it tend to get positive results:
- According to a recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute, 88% of marketers have successfully reached their goals of creating brand awareness and building credibility and trust through content marketing.
- B2B companies with a content strategy see website conversion rates of almost twice their counterparts who lack a strategy and email click-through rates that are up to 30% higher.
- If you manage to dominate the competition for content in your niche, you can see year-over-year growth in unique site traffic to be 7.8x higher.
When it comes to key performance metrics, how can you know that your content marketing works? A surge in website visitors is often an indication that your SaaS company's valuable content resonates with potential customers. If they click around and visit other pages of your site, all the more proof that it’s working!
Content marketing software and tools like Google Analytics, Heap, and Google Search Console provide insights into user behavior, such as bounce rates or time spent per visit—vital indicators of audience engagement levels. 57.9% of companies take it a step further and use marketing attribution tools and processes for measuring the performance of their content.
Content Marketing Budgets
Okay, we might have performance targets, but what about the target budget for a content marketing strategy?
Siege Media found that 54% of businesses will increase their content marketing budgets this year. Hubspot found that as many as 70% of marketers are investing in content marketing actively with more than two out of five saying they spend at least half of their team’s budget on content.
Another study found that B2B businesses are devoting an average of 33% of their marketing budget to content marketing. Then, within that budget, as many as 67% of them have invested money in ways to promote and distribute their content.
How can you get more bang for your buck?
Here are some helpful statistics on content marketing ROI:
- First, make sure to measure your content ROI in order to know how you can improve it. Sadly, just 43% of B2B companies measure content marketing ROI.
- Leverage B2B marketing automation platforms to do more with less since 76% of companies see a return on investment within the first year of implementing their marketing automation software.
- On top of automation, consider adding AI capability; 66% of marketers using generative AI have witnessed positive ROI and increased productivity.
- 1 in 4 marketers are leveraging influencer marketing and it offers the second highest ROI of any marketing trend with 44% of marketers saying the most significant benefit of working with small influencers is that it's less expensive.
Content Marketing Challenges
As with anything that’s worth doing—it is often easier said than done! Even in 2023, teams still face content marketing challenges, primarily due to constraints.
Here is what the data says about content marketing challenges:
- Just 44% of B2B content marketers have a documented content strategy.
- Content marketing production volume, regardless of the industry, is a challenge for 28% of marketing teams.
- Then, making content stand out is also a prevalent challenge, with 36.7% of marketers reporting that creating engaging visual content consistently is one of their top struggles.
- B2B marketers cite lack of time (69%), producing enough content (55%), and producing engaging enough content that engages (47%) as their biggest content marketing challenges.
Rising Trends For Content Marketing In 2023
Despite these challenges, marketers are still bullish on content, with three trends popping up in the statistics around where content marketing is headed:
1. Video Remains King
Short-form videos are currently the prevailing trend in the realm of marketing, boasting the greatest return on investment and are anticipated to experience the most substantial expansion throughout 2023.
Marketers are gearing up to allocate a larger share of their investments towards short-form video marketing compared to other trends. Notably, a remarkable 90% of marketers are already utilizing this type of content and are poised to augment or uphold their investment in it throughout 2023. Furthermore, 21% of marketers intend to harness the power of short-form videos for the very first time this year.
If you want to take your video marketing game above and beyond, there is a growing movement where B2B SaaS companies are creating their own, owned media platforms.
Case in point? Lavender just launched LavenderLand using the tool, AudiencePlus, which allows it to host video or written content in an engaging, Netflix-esque interface:
2. Unique, Original Content Will Be Prioritized
Thanks to the legion of AI tools that are making it easier and more accessible for companies to spew out low-quality content in record time, marketers will have to differentiate their content creation by conveying information that cannot be found elsewhere. There is a stronger emphasis than ever before on interviewing subject matter experts, user-generated content, and original research.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, a majority of B2B marketers differentiate from the competition through content quality (83%) and covering untapped stories (72%). Blending video content into written pieces also helps.
Digital marketing expert, content marketing guru, and founder of a marketing conference, Ann Handley agrees, “To me, great content almost always has a story and writing component. So I want people to think of writing and their words not as boring drudgery, but as a way to differentiate themselves online.”
Not only does it help to bring new ideas to the forefront, but thinking about the UX/UI is another way to stand out. When businesses dedicate 10%-50% of their content efforts towards content design, they are 33% more likely to report successful results.
3. Marketers Will Need to Collect More Data On Their Audience
With Google phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome by 2024, marketing teams have to go back to collecting data the “old-fashioned” way, using “zero-party data” or data collected voluntarily from customers in exchange for value.
Zero-party data is the foundation for a relationship built on trust and a value exchange. For consumers, it holds the promise of a personalized and more relevant experience with brands. In return, brands and businesses receive better insight and a longer-term relationship.Senior Director of Marketing at Microsoft Advertising, John Cosley
The Bottom Line
I hope these fifty-some-odd B2B content marketing statistics have helped you to gain more clarity about the state of content marketing, where to invest in it, how to think about it, and why!
Content is the backbone of the relationship that you can forge with potential customers, so don’t skimp! Be sure to read through our best content marketing software recommendations and our top content marketing platforms.
For more examples of great content, and helpful resources on content and digital marketing, make sure you subscribe to The CMO newsletter.