Sunday, March 31, 2024

B2B Content material Advertising and marketing Tendencies Analysis

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Creating requirements, pointers, processes, and workflows for content material advertising and marketing will not be the sexiest job.

However setting requirements is the one strategy to know for those who can enhance something (with AI or the rest).

Right here’s the excellent news: All that non-sexy work frees time and assets (human and tech) you may apply to deliver your model’s methods and plans to life.  

However in lots of organizations, content material nonetheless isn’t handled as a coordinated enterprise operate. That’s one of many large takeaways from our newest analysis, B2B Content material Advertising and marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Tendencies: Outlook for 2024, carried out with MarketingProfs and sponsored by Brightspot.

Just a few signs of that actuality confirmed up within the analysis:

  • Entrepreneurs cite an absence of assets as a prime situational problem, the identical as they did the earlier yr.
  • Almost three-quarters (72%) say they use generative AI, however 61% say their group lacks pointers for its use.
  • Probably the most steadily cited challenges embody creating the precise content material, creating content material persistently, and differentiating content material.

I’ll stroll you thru the findings and share some recommendation from CMI chief technique advisor Robert Rose and different business voices to make clear what all of it means for B2B entrepreneurs. There’s quite a bit to work via, so be happy to make use of the desk of contents to navigate to the sections that the majority curiosity you.

Be aware: These numbers come from a July 2023 survey of entrepreneurs across the globe. We obtained 1,080 responses. This text focuses on solutions from the 894 B2B respondents.

Desk of contents

AI: 3 out of 4 B2B entrepreneurs use generative instruments

After all, we requested respondents how they use generative AI in content material and advertising and marketing. Because it seems, most experiment with it: 72% of respondents say they use generative AI instruments.

However an absence of requirements can get in the best way.

“Generative AI is the brand new, disruptive functionality coming into the realm of content material advertising and marketing in 2024,” Robert says. “It’s simply one other strategy to make our content material course of extra environment friendly and efficient. However it will possibly’t do both till you determine a normal to outline its worth. Till then, it’s but simply one other know-how that will or might not make you higher at what you do.”

So, how do content material entrepreneurs use the instruments at present? About half (51%) use generative AI to brainstorm new subjects. Many use the instruments to analysis headlines and key phrases (45%) and write drafts (45%). Fewer say they use AI to stipulate assignments (23%), proofread (20%), generate graphics (11%), and create audio (5%) and video (5%).

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Some entrepreneurs say they use AI to do issues like generate e-mail headlines and e-mail copy, extract social media posts from long-form content material, condense long-form copy into brief type, and many others.

Solely 28% say they don’t use generative AI instruments.

Most don’t pay for generative AI instruments (but)

Amongst those that use generative AI instruments, 91% use free instruments (e.g., ChatGPT). Thirty-eight p.c use instruments embedded of their content material creation/administration techniques, and 27% pay for instruments similar to Author and Jasper.

AI in content material stays largely ungoverned

Requested if their organizations have pointers for utilizing generative AI instruments, 31% say sure, 61% say no, and eight% are not sure.

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We requested Ann Handley, chief content material officer of MarketingProfs, for her perspective. “It feels loopy … 61% have no pointers? However is it really stunning and loopy? No. It’s not. Most of us are simply getting going with generative AI. Which means there’s a clear and wealthy alternative to steer from the place you sit,” she says.

“Ignite the dialog internally. Press upon your colleagues and your management that this isn’t a know-how alternative. It’s additionally a folks and operational problem in want of considerate and clever response. You may be the AI chief your group wants,” Ann says.

Why some entrepreneurs don’t use generative AI instruments

Whereas an absence of pointers might deter some B2B entrepreneurs from utilizing generative AI instruments, different causes embody accuracy considerations (36%), lack of coaching (27%), and lack of know-how (27%). Twenty-two p.c cite copyright considerations, and 19% have company mandates to not use them.

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How AI is altering web optimization

We additionally questioned how AI’s integration in serps shifts content material entrepreneurs’ web optimization technique. Right here’s what we discovered:

  • 31% are sharpening their deal with person intent/answering questions.
  • 27% are creating extra thought management content material.
  • 22% are creating extra conversational content material.

Over one-fourth (28%) say they’re not doing any of these issues, whereas 26% say they’re not sure.

AI might heighten the necessity to rethink your web optimization technique. However it’s not the one motive to take action, as Orbit Media Studios co-founder and chief advertising and marketing officer Andy Crestodina factors out: “Featured snippets and people-also-ask packing containers have chipped away at click-through charges for years,” he says. “AI will make that even worse … however just for data intent queries. Searchers who need fast solutions actually don’t need to go to web sites.

“Focus your web optimization efforts on these large questions with large solutions – and on the business intent queries,” Andy continues. “These phrases nonetheless have ‘go to web site intent’ … and can for years to come back.”

Will the AI obsession ever finish?

Many B2B entrepreneurs surveyed predict AI will dominate the discussions of content material advertising and marketing traits in 2024. As one respondent says: “AI will proceed to be the shiny factor via 2024 till entrepreneurs notice the dedication required to develop prompts, undergo the iterative course of, and fact-check output. AI may help you sharpen your abilities, however it isn’t a alternative resolution for B2B advertising and marketing.”

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Staff construction: How does the work get carried out?

Generative AI isn’t the one difficulty affecting content material advertising and marketing today. We additionally requested entrepreneurs about how they manage their groups.

Amongst bigger corporations (100-plus staff), half say content material requests undergo a centralized content material workforce. Others say every division/model produces its personal content material (23%), and the departments/model/merchandise share duty (21%).

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Content material methods combine with advertising and marketing, comms, and gross sales

Seventy p.c say their organizations combine content material technique into the general advertising and marketing gross sales/communication/technique, and a couple of% say it’s built-in into one other technique. Eleven p.c say content material is a stand-alone technique for content material used for advertising and marketing, and 6% say it’s a stand-alone technique for all content material produced by the corporate. Solely 9% say they don’t have a content material technique. The remaining 2% say different or are not sure.

Worker churn means new teammates; content material groups expertise enlightened management

Twenty-eight p.c of B2B entrepreneurs say workforce members resigned within the final yr, 20% say workforce members have been laid off, and about half (49%) say they’d new workforce members acclimating to their methods of working.

Whereas workforce members come and go, the understanding of content material doesn’t. Over half (54%) strongly agree, and 30% considerably agree the chief to whom their content material workforce reviews understands the work they do. Solely 11% disagree. The remaining 5% neither agree nor disagree.

And distant work appears well-tolerated: Solely 20% say collaboration was difficult because of distant or hybrid work.

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Content material advertising and marketing challenges: Focus shifts to creating creating the precise content material

We requested B2B entrepreneurs about each content material creation and non-creation challenges.

Content material creation

Most entrepreneurs (57%) cite creating the proper content material for his or her viewers as a problem. This can be a change from a few years when “creating sufficient content material” was probably the most steadily cited problem.

One respondent factors out why understanding what audiences need is extra necessary than ever: “Because the web will get noisier and AI makes it extremely straightforward to create listicles and content material that duplicate one another, there will likely be a necessity for corporations to face out. On the identical time, as … millennials and Gen Z [grow in the workforce], we’ll start to see B2B turn into extra entertaining and fewer boring. We have been by no means solely competing with different B2B content material. We’ve all the time been competing for consideration.”

Different content material creation challenges embody creating it persistently (54%) and differentiating it (54%). Near half (45%) cite optimizing for search and creating high quality content material (44%). A couple of third (34%) cite creating sufficient content material to maintain up with inside demand, 30% say creating sufficient content material to maintain up with exterior demand, and 30% say creating content material that requires technical abilities.

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Different hurdles

Probably the most steadily cited non-creation problem, by far, is an absence of assets (58%), adopted by aligning content material with the client’s journey (48%) and aligning content material efforts throughout gross sales and advertising and marketing (45%). Forty-one p.c say they’ve points with workflow/content material approval, and 39% say they’ve issue accessing material specialists. Thirty-four p.c say it’s troublesome to maintain up with new applied sciences/instruments (e.g., AI). Solely 25% cite an absence of technique as a problem, 19% say maintaining with privateness guidelines, and 15% level to tech integration points.

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Content material sorts, distribution channels, and paid channels

We requested content material entrepreneurs concerning the kinds of content material they produce, their distribution channels, and paid content material promotion. We additionally requested which codecs and channels produce the very best outcomes.

Common content material sorts and codecs

As within the earlier yr, the three hottest content material sorts/codecs are brief articles/posts (94%, up from 89% final yr), movies (84%, up from 75% final yr), and case research/buyer tales (78%, up from 67% final yr). Nearly three-quarters (71%) use lengthy articles, 60% produce visible content material, and 59% craft thought management e-books or white papers. Lower than half of entrepreneurs use brochures (49%), product or technical information sheets (45%), analysis reviews (36%), interactive content material (33%), audio (29%), and livestreaming (25%).

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Efficient content material sorts and codecs

Which codecs are simplest? Fifty-three p.c say case research/buyer tales and movies ship a few of their finest outcomes. Nearly as many (51%) names thought management e-books or white papers, 47% brief articles, and 43% analysis reviews.

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Common content material distribution channels

Concerning the channels used to distribute content material, 90% use social media platforms (natural), adopted by blogs (79%), e-mail newsletters (73%), e-mail (66%), in-person occasions (56%), and webinars (56%).

Channels utilized by the minority of these surveyed embody:

  • Digital occasions (44%)
  • Podcasts (30%)
  • Microsites (29%)
  • Digital magazines (21%)
  • Branded on-line communities (19%)
  • Hybrid occasions (18%)
  • Print magazines (16%)
  • On-line studying platforms (15%)
  • Cell apps (8%)
  • Separate content material manufacturers (5%)
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Efficient content material distribution channels

Which channels carry out the very best? Most entrepreneurs within the survey level to in-person occasions (56%) and webinars (51%) as producing higher outcomes. Electronic mail (44%), natural social media platforms (44%), blogs (40%) and e-mail newsletters (39%) spherical out the checklist.

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Common paid content material channels

When entrepreneurs pay to advertise content material, which channels do they spend money on? Eighty-six p.c use paid content material distribution channels.

Of these, 78% use social media promoting/promoted posts, 65% use sponsorships, 64% use search engine advertising and marketing (SEM)/pay-per-click, and 59% use digital show promoting. Far fewer spend money on native promoting (35%), associate emails (29%), and print show adverts (21%).

Efficient paid content material channels

SEM/pay-per-click produces good outcomes, in line with 62% of these surveyed. Half of those that use paid channels say social media promoting/promoted posts produce good outcomes, adopted by sponsorships (49%), associate emails (36%), and digital show promoting (34%).

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When requested which natural social media platforms ship the very best worth for his or her group, B2B entrepreneurs picked LinkedIn by far (84%). Solely 29% cite Fb as a prime performer, 22% say YouTube, and 21% say Instagram. Twitter and TikTok see 8% and three%, respectively.

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So it is smart that 72% say they elevated their use of LinkedIn over the past 12 months, whereas solely 32% boosted their YouTube presence, 31% elevated Instagram use, 22% grew their Fb presence, and 10% elevated X and TikTok use.

Which platforms are entrepreneurs giving up? Did you guess X? You’re proper – 32% of entrepreneurs say they decreased their X use final yr. Twenty p.c decreased their use of Fb, with 10% reducing on Instagram, 9% pulling again on YouTube, and solely 2% reducing their use of LinkedIn.

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Curiously, we noticed a major rise in B2B entrepreneurs who use TikTok: 19% say they use the platform – greater than double from final yr.

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Content material administration and operations

To discover how groups handle content material, we requested entrepreneurs about their know-how use and investments and the challenges they face when scaling their content material.

Content material administration know-how

When requested which applied sciences they use to handle content material, entrepreneurs level to:

  • Analytics instruments (81%)
  • Social media publishing/analytics (72%)
  • Electronic mail advertising and marketing software program (69%)
  • Content material creation/calendaring/collaboration/workflow (64%)
  • Content material administration system (50%)
  • Buyer relationship administration system (48%)

However having know-how doesn’t imply it’s the precise know-how (or that its capabilities are used). So, we requested in the event that they felt their group had the proper know-how to handle content material throughout the group.

Solely 31% say sure. Thirty p.c say they’ve the know-how however aren’t utilizing its potential, and 29% say they haven’t acquired the precise know-how. Ten p.c are not sure.

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Content material tech spending will doubtless rise

Even so, funding in content material administration know-how appears doubtless in 2024: 45% say their group is prone to spend money on new know-how, whereas 32% say their group is unlikely to take action. Twenty-three p.c say their group is neither doubtless nor unlikely to take a position.

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Scaling content material manufacturing

We launched a brand new query this yr to know what challenges B2B entrepreneurs face whereas scaling content material manufacturing.

Nearly half (48%) say it’s “not sufficient content material repurposing.” Lack of communication throughout organizational silos is an issue for 40%. Thirty-one p.c say they don’t have any structured content material manufacturing course of, and 29% say they lack an editorial calendar with clear deadlines. Ten p.c say scaling will not be a present focus.

Among the many different hurdles – issue finding digital content material property (16%), know-how points (15%), translation/localization points (12%), and no model information (11%).

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For these battling content material repurposing, content material standardization is important. “Content material reuse is the one strategy to ship content material at scale. There’s simply no different means,” says Regina Lynn Preciado, senior director of content material technique options at Content material Guidelines Inc.

“Even for those who’re not attempting to offer probably the most customized expertise ever or dominate the metaverse along with your omnichannel presence, you completely should reuse content material if you’re going to ship content material successfully,” she says.

“Methods to obtain content material reuse? You’ve most likely heard that you’ll want to transfer to modular, structured content material. Nevertheless, simply chunking your content material into smaller parts doesn’t go far sufficient. For content material to movement collectively seamlessly wherever you reuse it, you’ve received to standardize your content material. That’s the personalization paradox proper there. To personalize, you should standardize.

“Upon getting your content material requirements in place and everyone seems to be creating content material in alignment with these requirements, there isn’t any restrict to what you are able to do with the content material,” Regina explains.

Why do content material entrepreneurs – who’re expert communicators – wrestle with cross-silo communication? Requirements and alignment come into play.

“I believe within the rush to all of the issues, we run out of time to handle scalable processes that may repair these painful silos, together with taking time to align on targets, roles and duties, workflows, and measurement,” says Ali Orlando Wert, senior director of content material technique at Appfire. “It takes time, however the payoffs are price it. You need to learn to crawl earlier than you may stroll – and stroll earlier than you may run.”

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Measurement and targets: Producing gross sales and income rises

Nearly half (46%) of B2B entrepreneurs agree their group measures content material efficiency successfully. Thirty-six p.c disagree, and 15% neither agree nor disagree. Solely 3% say they don’t measure content material efficiency.

The 5 most steadily used metrics to evaluate content material efficiency are conversions (73%), e-mail engagement (71%), web site site visitors (71%), web site engagement (69%), and social media analytics (65%).

About half (52%) point out the standard of leads, 45% say they depend on search rankings, 41% use amount of leads, 32% observe e-mail subscribers, and 29% observe the price to amass a lead, subscriber, or buyer.

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The most typical problem B2B entrepreneurs have whereas measuring content material efficiency is integrating/correlating information throughout a number of platforms (84%), adopted by extracting insights from information (77%), tying efficiency information to targets (76%), organizational aim setting (70%), and lack of coaching (66%).

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Concerning targets, 84% of B2B entrepreneurs say content material advertising and marketing helped create model consciousness within the final 12 months. Seventy-six p.c say it helped generate demand/leads; 63% say it helped nurture subscribers/audiences/leads, and 58% say it helped generate gross sales/income (up from 42% the earlier yr).

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Success components: Know your viewers

To separate prime performers from the pack, we requested the B2B entrepreneurs to evaluate the success of their content material advertising and marketing strategy.

Twenty-eight p.c price the success of their group’s content material advertising and marketing strategy as extraordinarily or very profitable. One other 57% report average success and 15% really feel minimally or under no circumstances profitable.

The preferred issue for profitable entrepreneurs is understanding their viewers (79%).

This is smart, contemplating that “creating the precise content material for our viewers” is the highest problem. The logic? High-performing content material entrepreneurs prioritize understanding their audiences to create the precise content material for these audiences.

High performers additionally set targets that align with their group’s targets (68%), successfully measure and display content material efficiency (61%), and present thought management (60%). Collaboration with different groups (55%) and a documented technique (53%) additionally assist prime performers attain excessive ranges of content material advertising and marketing success.

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We checked out a number of different dimensions to determine how prime performers differ from their friends. Of be aware, prime performers:

  • Are backed by leaders who perceive the work they do.
  • Usually tend to have the precise content material administration applied sciences.
  • Have higher communication throughout organizational silos.
  • Do a greater job of measuring content material effectiveness.
  • Are extra doubtless to make use of content material advertising and marketing efficiently to generate demand/leads, nurture subscribers/audiences/leads, generate gross sales/income, and develop a subscribed viewers.

Little distinction exists between prime performers and their much less profitable friends on the subject of the adoption of generative AI instruments and associated pointers. Will probably be attention-grabbing to see if and the way that adjustments subsequent yr.

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Budgets and spending: Holding regular

To discover funds plans for 2024, we requested respondents if they’ve information of their group’s funds/budgeting course of for content material advertising and marketing. Then, we requested follow-up inquiries to the 55% who say they do have funds information.

Content material advertising and marketing as a share of whole advertising and marketing spend

Right here’s what they are saying concerning the whole advertising and marketing funds (excluding salaries):

  • A couple of quarter (24%) say content material advertising and marketing takes up one-fourth or extra of the full advertising and marketing funds.
  • Almost one in three (29%) point out that 10% to 24% of the advertising and marketing funds goes to content material advertising and marketing.
  • Slightly below half (48%) say lower than 10% of the advertising and marketing funds goes to content material advertising and marketing.

Content material advertising and marketing funds outlook for 2024

Subsequent, we requested about their 2024 content material advertising and marketing funds. Forty-five p.c suppose their content material advertising and marketing funds will improve in contrast with 2023, whereas 42% suppose it’ll keep the identical. Solely 6% suppose it’ll lower.

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The place will the funds go?

We additionally requested the place respondents plan to extend their spending.

Sixty-nine p.c of B2B entrepreneurs say they might improve their funding in video, adopted by thought management content material (53%), in-person occasions (47%), paid promoting (43%), on-line group constructing (33%), webinars (33%), audio content material (25%), digital occasions (21%), and hybrid occasions (11%).

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The elevated funding in video isn’t shocking. The deal with thought management content material would possibly shock, however it shouldn’t, says Stephanie Losee, director of government and ABM content material at Autodesk.

“As measurement turns into extra refined, corporations are discovering they’re higher capable of quantify the return from upper-funnel actions like thought management content material,” she says. “On the identical time, corporations acknowledge the influence of shifting their standing from vendor to true associate with their prospects’ companies.

“Autodesk not too long ago launched its first international, longitudinal State of Design & Make report (registration required), and we’re discovering that its insights are of such worth to our prospects that it’s enabling conversations we’ve by no means been capable of have earlier than. These conversations are price gold to each side, and I might think about different B2B corporations are discovering the identical factor,” Stephanie says.

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High content-related priorities for 2024: Main with thought management

We requested an open-ended query about entrepreneurs’ prime three content-related priorities for 2024. The responses point out entrepreneurs place an emphasis on thought management and turning into a trusted useful resource.

Different steadily talked about priorities embody:

  • Higher understanding of the viewers
  • web optimization
  • Discovering the very best methods to make use of AI
  • Rising model consciousness
  • Lead era
  • Utilizing extra video
  • Higher use of analytics
  • Conversions
  • Repurposing current content material

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In one other open-ended query, we requested B2B entrepreneurs, “What content material advertising and marketing traits do you are expecting for 2024?” You most likely guessed the preferred development: AI.

Listed below are a number of the entrepreneurs’ feedback about how AI will have an effect on content material advertising and marketing subsequent yr:

  • “We’ll see generative AI all over the place, on a regular basis.”
  • “There will likely be struggles to find out the very best use of generative AI in content material advertising and marketing.”
  • “AI will doubtless lead to a flood of poor-quality, machine-written content material. Winners will use AI for automating the processes that help content material creation whereas persevering with to create high-quality human-generated content material.”
  • “AI has made creating content material really easy that there are and will likely be too many lengthy articles on comparable topics; most won’t ever be learn or considered. A sea of too many phrases. I predict short-form content material should be the motive force for eyeballs.”

Different traits embody:

  • Larger demand for high-quality content material as shoppers develop weary of AI-generated content material
  • Significance of video content material
  • Rising use of brief video and audio content material
  • Affect of AI on web optimization

Among the many associated feedback:

  • “Occasion advertising and marketing (webinars and video thought management) will turn into extra essential as groups depend on AI-generated written content material.”
  • “AI will likely be an business sea change and strongly influence the which means of web optimization. Entrepreneurs must be able to experience the wave or get left behind.”
  • “Pleasure round AI-generated content material will rise earlier than flattening out when folks notice it’s arduous to distinguish, validate, confirm, attribute, and authenticate. New instruments, processes, and roles will emerge to deal with this problem.”
  • “Lengthy-form reviews might begin to see a decline. If that’s the case, we are going to want a alternative. Logically, that could possibly be a webinar or video collection that digs deeper into the takeaways.”

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Motion steps

What does this yr’s analysis counsel B2B content material entrepreneurs do to maneuver ahead?

I requested CMI’s Robert Rose for some insights. He says the steps are clear: Develop requirements, pointers, and playbooks for methods to function – similar to each different operate in enterprise does.

“Think about if everybody in your group had a unique thought of methods to outline ‘income’ or ‘revenue margin,’” Robert says. “Think about if every salesperson had their very own model of your organization’s buyer agreements and tried to determine methods to write them for each new deal. The authorized workforce could be apoplectic. You’d begin to hear from gross sales how they have been pissed off that they couldn’t determine methods to make the ‘proper settlement,’ or methods to create agreements ‘persistently,’ or that there was an entire ‘lack of assets’ for creating agreements.”

Simply keep in mind: Requirements can change alongside along with your workforce, audiences, and enterprise priorities. “Setting requirements doesn’t imply casting insurance policies and templates in stone,” Robert says. “Requirements solely exist in order that we are able to all the time query the usual and be sure that there’s enchancment accessible to make use of in setting new requirements.”

He provides these 5 steps to take to solidify your content material advertising and marketing technique and execution:

  1. Direct. Create an initiative that may outline the scope of an important requirements in your content material advertising and marketing. Prioritize the areas that damage probably the most. Work with management to resolve the place to begin. Perhaps it’s persona growth. Perhaps you want a brand new standardized content material course of. Perhaps you want a stable taxonomy. Construct the checklist and make it an actual initiative.
  2. Outline. Create a standard understanding of all of the issues related to the requirements. Don’t assume that everyone is aware of. They don’t. What’s a white paper? What’s an e-book? What’s a marketing campaign vs. an initiative? What’s a weblog publish vs. an article? Attending to a standard language is likely one of the strongest issues you are able to do to coordinate higher.
  3. Develop. You want each insurance policies and playbooks. Insurance policies are the formal documentation of your definitions and requirements. Playbooks are the way you talk combos of insurance policies in order that completely different folks can’t simply perceive them however are prepared, keen, and capable of observe them.
  4. Distribute. If nobody follows the requirements, they’re not requirements. So, you’ll want to develop a plan for the way your new playbooks match into the bigger, cross-functional strategy to the content material technique. You might want to deepen the combination into every division – even when that’s simply 4 different folks in your organization.
  5. Distill. Evolve your requirements. Make them dwelling paperwork. Deploy know-how to implement and scale the requirements. Take a look at. If a normal isn’t working, change it. Generally, extra natural processes are OK. Generally, it’s OK to acknowledge two definitions for one thing. The bottom line is acknowledging a change to an current commonplace so you already know whether or not it improves issues.

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For his or her 14th annual content material advertising and marketing survey, CMI and MarketingProfs surveyed 1,080 recipients across the globe – representing a spread of industries, useful areas, and firm sizes — in July 2023. The net survey was emailed to a pattern of entrepreneurs utilizing lists from CMI and MarketingProfs.

This text presents the findings from the 894 respondents, largely from North America, who indicated their group is primarily B2B and that they’re both content material entrepreneurs or work in advertising and marketing, communications, or different roles involving content material.

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Due to the survey contributors, who made this analysis doable, and to everybody who helps disseminate these findings all through the content material advertising and marketing business.

Get the newest Content material Advertising and marketing Institute analysis reviews whereas they’re sizzling – subscribe to the each day or weekly publication.

Cowl picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content material Advertising and marketing Institute

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