Forrester report: B2B marketers still struggling to get results from content marketing

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Marketing automation is here, is content automation next?

The party poopers at Forrester are at it again. First it was social media, and now it's the effectiveness of content marketing that's being questioned.

In a recent survey conducted in conjunction with the Online Marketing Assocation and the Business Marketing Association, Forrester found that most B2B marketers found it hard to link business results to their content marketing activity. 

Although more than half of the 113 marketers (51%) surveyed felt pretty confident that they were doing well when it came to content marketing, on closer inspection, an overwhelming majority (87%) felt it was a major challenge to produce content that directly produced revenue results.

Forrester analyst Laura Ramos had the following observations from the study:

  • Content is not marketing's job #1. 72% of surveyed marketers say less than half of their marketing staff plays a primary role in content marketing today.
  • Marketers produce content simply to fill the channel. 62% percent admit to producing content on a campaign-by-campaign basis while 47% said they focus primarily on creating content for distribution channels like their company website, online advertising, email, and social media. Another 16% said they mainly develop sales collateral. Altogether, this data shows an acute focus on acquisition that practically ignores the remainder of the customer life-cycle. 
  • They fail to highlight how they help customers become successful. While 71% of surveyed marketers say their content features case studies or customer stories, only 3% admit this is a primary focus of their efforts. 
  • Content lacks insight that buyers can turn into action. Only 12% of respondents make publishing research and perspectives the main focus of their content marketing, and no one said they engage external experts to validate those ideas.
  • Marketers focus on creating deals, not on building relationships. While more than three-quarters of respondents say they frequently communicate with their customer base, only 5% make this a priority, proving that marketers are too focused on acquisition rather than creating long-term loyalty
It's important to note that it's not all doom and gloom in Forrester's report. The marketers surveyed aren't necessarily saying content marketing isn't working. More than anything, the report highlights how few resources are dedicated to content marketing and how it is being deployed ineffectively. As Ramos points out, content has to offer value to customers apart from product and company information. So it's not that the efforts aren't there from B2B marketers, just that they're being focused in the wrong direction.

You can download the entire report from the Business Marketing Association here.

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