2015 Content Marketing Trends [Research / Charts]

2015 Content Marketing TrendsIs your 2015 content marketing on track to succeed?

Before you can answer this question, you need to know what content marketing success looks like.

If you’re like most marketers, you can’t answer this question.

I say this based on Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs’s 2015 B2B Content Marketing Budgets, Benchmarks and Trends for North America. Stick with me to see what’s hindering your 2015 content marketing strategy and how to transform your information into revenue-driving content marketing.

2015 Content marketing trends based on research2015 Content Marketing Trends

86% of B2B marketers use content marketing in 2014, down from 93% last year.

Why the decline in content marketing use, you may wonder, when there’s more and more content? CMI modified their definition of content marketing. They sharpened their focus on 2 key elements that make all the difference to content marketing success.

1. Attract and retain a clearly defined audience. To achieve your business goals, your content must be created for a specific audience, not some amorphous public.

Try writing for a mass of people and your content will lack power. Read any corporate document and you’ll see what I mean. By contrast, great writing contains very specific details. It’s these particulars that make the writing real and broaden its audience.

Actionable Content Marketing Tactic:

Create an effective marketing persona for each of your audiences. Take the time to define your key audiences. This should be a team effort across your organization, not just a marketing exercise. This means your executives, marketing, sales, customer service, product and operations.

Marketing persona creation objective: Ensure your employees understand your key customers. A marketing persona is more than just a customer description. It focuses your organization to improve your business. The power of marketing personae extends to the rest of your marketing.

I’m often asked how many personae should a firm create. The answer is enough to cover your distinct customer segments so that your marketing is different for each one.

The research found that B2B businesses had 4 distinct customer audiences. 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks-Target audiences-1

2. Drive profitable actions. While you can track a wide range of content metrics, the bottom line is you must be able to show how your content generated sufficient number of qualified leads and sales to yield profits. In other words, your revenues must be greater than your costs.

Actionable Content Marketing Tactic:

Determine your business objectives and associate key metrics with them. Setting goals without specific action items and a way to track them is a recipe for failure. Research by Dominican University’s Dr. Gail Matthews proved this point.

Writing down your goals, sharing them with someone, and sending weekly updates makes you 33% more successful in accomplishing your stated goals on average than just formulating your goals without any accountability.

2015 Content marketing effectiveness

  • 38% of B2B marketers rate their content marketing use as EFECTIVE in 2014, down from 42% last year.
  • Almost 1 out of 5 B2B marketers rate their content marketing use as NOT EFFECTIVE! Yikes!

2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks-Content Marketing Effectiveness-2

Develop your 2015 content marketing strategy

Creating and documenting a content marketing strategy seems like a no-brainer for content marketing success. But as CMI and MarketingProfs found, it’s not.

  • 35% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.
  • 48% of B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy but it’s NOT documented.
  • 17% of B2B marketers either have NO content marketing strategy or are NOT sure that they do. (Oops!) This translates to 1 out of 6 marketers having no content strategy.

2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks-Have Content Marketing Strategy

Actionable Content Marketing Tactic:

Develop your content marketing strategy as part of your annual marketing and planning process. Content marketing isn’t something that you do on the side. It should be integrated across your entire business. This is a point that I make in many of my presentations.

Your content is an integral part of your marketing plans to ensure that you’re not just screaming “Buy, buy, buy!!!” at your prospects and customers.

Bear in mind that customers trust quality content more than any form of paid advertising according to Nielsen’s 2013 Global Trust in Advertising Report.

  • 69% of customers trust branded websites
  • 67% of customers trust editorial content

Spread your content creation efforts across your entire organization. Don’t just take my word for it. Both Jay Baer and Marcus Sheridan embrace this approach.

By doing this, you break down the silos across your company and leverage the power of the people who know the most about your customers and products.

Even more important for resource-constrained marketers, it allows you to tap into other people’s budgets!

42% of marketers say that their content strategy CLOSELY guides their content creation. The challenge for the other 58% of marketers is that without a content marketing strategy, how do you ensure that your content supports your business objectives? 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks-Strategy guides Content Efforts-1

2015 Content marketing goals

Marketers point to brand awareness as their top content marketing goal. This objective often translates to “I need a reason to get more budget and I can’t prove anything else.” Yet, effective content marketing requires contribution to sales and profits. To this end, your main goals should be as follows:

  • 83% of marketers seek to generate sales leads.
  • 75% of marketers seek to drive sales.
  • 74% of marketers seek to nurture leads.
  • 69% of marketers seek to retain customers.
  • 52% of marketers seek to upsell or cross-sell customers.

Most marketers are more focused on new customer acquisition. They’re missing the opportunity to cost-effectively increase sales and customer lifetime value with post-sales marketing. 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks-Content Marketing Goals-1 Actionable Content Marketing Tactic:

  • Create a content series that can be emailed to recent customers. When customers first purchase from you, they’re most excited about your company and products. Use this opportunity to help them improve their use of your products and cross sell them on related products.

2015 Content marketing metrics and ROI

Marketers tend to measure what’s easily available, namely traffic. While this is an important first step, it’s not necessarily a key driver of sales and profitability.

Less than half of marketers monitor these 4 key content marketing metrics:

  • 49% of marketers track sales lead quality.
  • 48% of marketers track higher conversion rates.
  • 43% of marketers track sales.
  • 40% of marketers track sales lead quantity. 

2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks-Content Marketing Metrics Actionable Content Marketing Tactic:

  • Determine metrics that are associated with your content marketing objectives. This means assign a value to the number of sales you’re going to generate or track attributes of quality sales leads.
  • Include a trackable call-to-action. Just asking for the sale will improve your results. Make them easy to track with a promotion code.

Content marketing ROI seems to be elusive for most marketers.

  • 21% of marketers are SUCCESSFUL at tracking content marketing ROI. That translates to 1 out of 5 marketers.
  • 25% of marketers are UNSUCCESSFUL at tracking content marketing ROI or do NOT track content marketing ROI. That translates to 1 out of 4 marketers.

2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks-Content Marketing ROI Success-2 Yet according to Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2014, the mere act of measuring content marketing ROI is as important to increasing ROI as what you measure! 

Actionable Content Marketing Tactic:

Start to measure the factors, specifically sales and expenses that contribute to content marketing profitability. Skip the fancy tracking system. Just calculate your total sales and the number of units sold by product line. Then determine how much it cost to create the content and sell the items. Account for people’s time.

Dedicated 2015 content creation resources

To create quality content on a consistent basis, you must have dedicated content resources, both personnel and budget.

47% of marketers have a dedicated content marketing group. The benefit of these resources extends beyond creating more content. They can support other internal content creation and optimize existing content.

  • 12% of marketers have a content marketing unit that functions independently.
  • 35% of marketers have a content marketing unit that works horizontally across the organization.

Almost 2 out of 5 organizations do NOT have any dedicated content marketing resources. This lack causes businesses to feel that they’re constantly behind in content creation, curation and distribution. 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks-Dedicated Content Marketing Group-2 Actionable Content Marketing Tactic:

Work with Human Resources to encourage content creation across your organization. Look beyond marketing and copywriters for content.

    • Determine where you have content creators who may not be classified as content marketers. Think broadly in terms of marketing, PR, communications, sales, customer service and social media.
    • Encourage employees to contribute quality content. Remove the barriers to content creation with editorial and technical support.

While owners and marketing departments tend to be the major content creators depending on company size, you can get everyone in your organization into the process. This may require human resources support so that it’s in people’s job description.

Content marketing reports to a C-level executive in a mere 3% of enterprises. This is attributable to the fact that content marketing is often integrated across business units. 5% of marketers do NOT know where their content is produced. This is a problem. 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks-Who creates content marketing-1

To improve your content marketing results, follow these 3 simple tactics that form the core of a strong content marketing strategy based on 2015 content marketing trends:

  • Set content marketing goals associated with your business objectives. Make sure that they ultimately lead to sales and profits.
  • Define your 4 main content audiences. This means create a separate marketing persona for each one.
  • Start to track your content marketing results. At a minimum, measure your sales and expenses. 

What do you view as your biggest content marketing hurdles for 2015?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies. You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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