The folks at CMI do a great job each year documenting some of the biggest trends in B2B content marketing, and their latest report – B2B Content Marketing 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – is no exception. Thirty-two pages of data, visualizations, and insights that can help savvy B2B marketers plan effectively for 2016.

Let’s unpack a few of these benchmarks and trends that are truly mission-critical for marketers during their planning efforts for next year:

The State Of B2B Content Marketing

Three of the major benchmarks, in particular, paint a picture for where content marketing at B2B organizations is headed.

First, 88% of B2B marketers have incorporated content marketing into their digital mix, up slightly year-over-year. Second, 55% of marketers are unsure what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like. And third, 30% of marketers feel that their organizations are effective at content marketing, down significantly from 2015.

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Taken together, these numbers say one thing: while 9 out of 10 B2B organizations have adopted content marketing in some form, they have not done so strategically, with a documented Content Strategy, and that is leading to confusion and murk within the marketing team on the role and potential impact of content marketing.

Quantity vs Quality

Another telling statistic from the report is that 76% of B2B marketers plan to ramp up the quantity of content they product in 2016, while only 19% plan for production to remain static. Even more illustrative, 73% of the ‘most effective’ content marketers plan to increase production, but 81% of the ‘least effective’ plan to produce more.

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Said another way, those firms who feel they are ineffective at content marketing are actually spending more than those who feel they’re effective. So in 2016, there isn’t yet a strong correlation between whether a firm perceives content marketing to be effective and their planned investment in content marketing.

B2B marketers simply understand, based on their library of experience, that content marketing is such a crucial part of the future of the Buyer Journey that they must invest or they will be left behind.

Social & Content Are Linked

Another set of benchmarks in the report make the case that we have been proving for many years: social communities and content marketing are inexorably linked.

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Social Media is, again, the #1 B2B content marketing tactic at 93%, ahead of Case Studies, Blogs, Newsletters, and even In-Person Events. And the most effective social communities that B2B marketers build are on LinkedIn (66%), Twitter (55%), YouTube (51%), and Slideshare (41%). Facebook (30%) comes in at #5, decreasing year-over-year, likely due to the changes to the Facebook News Feed algorithm that have decimated organic reach for B2B marketers.

By building a network of subscribers made up of your target customers, buyer influencers, employees, potential employees, and executive leadership, you are investing in an owned media platform that gives you always-on access to the levers of business growth, whether product awareness, lead generation, or customer advocacy.

Conclusion

Have questions about how trends in B2B content & community marketing will impact your 2016 planning? Reach out to our consultants today for some expert input.

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Read the full Content Marketing Institute report: