Content marketing is a strategy that many marketers have a love/hate relationship with. Producing high-quality, compelling content is a big challenge, one that only gets harder when it’s expected that content will go out multiple times a week. But the returns on the creative effort include everything from increases in web traffic, to an increase in sales via both new and returning customers. Today, customers expect to be able to self-educate and learn more about your company without ever speaking to a person. At the same time, they want the confidence and sense of connection that makes them feel good about their purchase decision. Content can achieve all these goals, but it doesn’t happen by accident. Hence the love/hate—many love the outcomes, but hate (or at least struggle through) the process.
But not everyone has completely bought in. Some businesses and marketers still question, “Does content marketing actually work?” In these cases, what really can convince the skeptics are content marketing. The most up-to-date marketing stats from 2020 tell the story of just how effective content marketing can be. This data can also help marketing teams fine-tune a successful content creation strategy full of more love and less hate, in 2021 and beyond.
By the Data: How Effective is Content Marketing?
Let’s start by circling back to the question of if content marketing works at all. On the surface, there are some high-level statistics that can convince every business to say “yes” to content marketing
(Content Marketing Institute)
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing. (DemandMetric)
- Organizations that use content marketing convert 6x more leads than those who don’t. (Aberdeen)
But these outcomes and results aren’t promised to everyone who puts a blog, infographic, or video online. The success of your content marketing largely depends on the perspective of the customer. This means you must match their expectations for, well, the Internet. No one using the Web likes to be constantly spammed with ads. We use the Internet for education and entertainment, not to be treated like a walking (or scrolling) pocketbook.
In the same way, content marketing won’t work if you’re just creating content that screams “buy, buy, buy” with a big neon sign at your customers, offering them no other value. More and more, successful content is focused on improving the customer experience, especially their experience of the research process:
- 89% of businesses are soon expected to compete mainly on customer experience. (Gartner)
- 81% of customers conduct online research before buying. (Adweek)
- 45% of content marketers say that creating content which resonates with their audiences is a leading challenge. (SEM Rush)
The impact of content marketing is directly connected to the content’s impact on the audience. With a significant number of marketers struggling to achieve audience connection, this represents the biggest opportunity for your content to stand out and be effective for your business.
In short, the question about whether content marketing is effective has more to do with your unique content than the industry as a whole. Amazing efficiencies and achievements are possible with the right strategy and tools.
What Content Marketing Types Are Audiences Looking For?
Believe it or not, buyers are aware they are on a journey for a solution. Whether they turn to a search engine to look up a product, business service, or simply a question about the world, they want answers, and usually for something in life to become easier.
What does that mean about the content they are looking for? In some cases, the facts can actually be contradictory:
- 51% of B2B buyers want short, educational content that isn’t pushing a sale. (Demand Gen)
- Long form articles and blogs of over 3,000 words receive 3x more traffic. (Convince & Convert)
- 41% of people feel totally overwhelmed with information and avoid it if they can. (KMPG)
What gives? One minute it’s a request for short content, but then they want long content, and then no content at all? While the connection between these statistics might stand out as more frustrating than revelatory, this conflict can actually give us empathy for customers, and help us meet all the expectations at the same time.
The average consumer interacts with 3-5 pieces of content before they make a purchase decision (Single Grain). So the truth is, your consumer who wants short content and long content may end up being the same person at different points in their research process. Maybe early on they want quick insights to help them put their experiences in context, while later they want to take a deep dive into critical concepts. Or other consumers might want a deep exploration of their circumstances up front, with short content later that helps them simplify the decision process. This illustrates why content creation is such a constant process of learning, revision, and new creation to offer a variety of options to every customer in your target audiences.
And to return to the point about simplifying the decision process, this is one of the most important roles content creation should play in your marketing strategy. 64% of consumers prioritize simplicity in their purchase process (Compare Metrics). Making things as much as 20% more simple compared to your competition increases a customer’s likelihood to purchase, re-purchase, or recommend you by 96% (CEB).
What does content look like when it’s making things simple? The answers include everything from recommendations to thought leadership—basically, anything that helps audiences feel more informed and confident making a decision:
- 61% of customers have made a purchase after they read a recommendation on a blog. (Content Marketing Institute)
- Thought leadership content was the deciding factor for half of business decision makers. (Edelman)
Ask yourself what problem your content is simplifying for your audience, and you’ll be on the right track to create compelling content.
Content Marketing Statistics About Types of Content
Outside what the content should contain or say to the reader, there’s also the question of format. In this arena, there’s some discrepancy between what is most popular with audiences and what is most often created by content marketers.
Among audiences, the most popular forms of content among audiences in 2020 are:
- Video: 66% of people prefer short videos explaining products or services. (Social Media Today)
- Interactive Content: Interactive content gains 2x more engagement than static content, with the opportunity for repeat engagement. (Demand Gen)
- Webinar: The average webinar receives 260 registrations, with a 20-40% rate of converting attendees to leads. (Ready Talk)
- Influencer Content: 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations. (Digital Marketing Institute)
This isn’t to say that a majority of marketers aren’t using these tools; for instance, anywhere from 80-90% of companies are using webinars and videos. The same number of companies plan to step up interactive content in the next year, too. And 7% of companies planned to invest over a million dollars in influencer marketing in 2020. But other forms of content are still more commonly created:
- Blog Post: 53% of marketers say blogging is their top content marketing priority. (OptInMonster)
- Email: 35% of marketers send their customers 3-5 emails per week. (HubSpot)
- Infographic: Almost one-third of marketers said infographics were their most important content. (Social Media Today)
- Case Study: 42% of marketers use case studies, with 13% calling them a primary form of media. (SEM Rush, HubSpot)
The good news for marketers and audiences alike is that these forms of content are not mutually exclusive. Infographics can easily become interactive. Popular long blog posts can be converted to videos or webinars with just a little work. And in reverse, blogs and email blasts can draw attention to popular content like videos or welcome and announce the support of an influencer.
Regardless of which type of marketing content you choose to create, make sure to use at least one relevant and compelling image. Content with visuals receives 94% more views and engagement than content without, and users are also shown to retain information better when it’s paired with a relevant image. (Review 42)
The format of content in marketing plays a big role in whether or not audiences absorb your message, and how much they retain over time. Make sure to strike a balance between what is easiest and most efficient for your team to create, and what your audiences are looking for and prefer, to make the best of all types of content in your marketing strategy.
Content Marketing and Leads Statistics
The purpose of content marketing is to generate new customers, whether through direct or indirect methods. Here are some compelling statistics about how well content marketing generates leads, as well as the types of content that generate the most leads:
- Content marketing generates three times more leads than outbound marketing such as ads and trade shows. (Demand Metric)
- 80% of marketers think marketing automation generates more leads and conversions. (APSIS)
- Over 60% of marketers generate leads through social media with a commitment of 6 hours or less per week. (Social Media Examiner)
- Marketers who use video get 66% more leads per year. (Aberdeen)
However, another compelling statistic is that two-thirds of generated leads are not sales ready (Marketing Sherpa). This underscores the need to use content to educate and better-qualify leads as they move through the purchase decisioning process.
- 63% of leads won’t be ready to make a purchase for at least 3 months. (Marketing Donut)
- Companies that nurture leads generate 50% more sales at 33% less cost. (Marketo)
- Nurtured leads spend 47% more than non-nurtured leads. (Annuitas)
- Emails sent for lead nurturing have a 5% higher click-through rate and receive 4-10x higher responses. (HubSpot, Funnel Overload)
Overall, video and social media are great tools for generating leads and gaining interest, while nurturing leads through email and other channels is an important part of converting them to customers. But what this looks like in your strategy depends largely on the type of business and industry. Let’s look at some of the ways content marketing is different in B2B versus B2C marketing environments.
B2B Content Marketing Statistics For 2021
B2B businesses thrive by selling goods or services to other businesses. B2B companies often work as vendors, consultants, or as part of the supply chain. Marketing to other businesses means a long sales process where information and sound rationalization are most important to convincing key stakeholders your product or company will be best for their business in the long run.
Here are some actionable statistics that are specific to effective B2B content marketing.
- 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing. (Content Marketing Institute)
- At least 67% of the buyer’s journey is now completed digitally. (Sirius Decisions)
- 57% of B2B marketers stated that SEO optimization generates more leads than any other part of their content marketing. (Junto)
- 80% of B2B social media leads come from LinkedIn, but only 47% of marketers are using the platform. (Oktopost, Quicksprout)
- B2B marketers who blog receive 67% more leads than those who don’t. (HubSpot)
- 70-75% of B2B buyers are willing to trade contact information for a white paper during the research process. (Demand Gen)
- 70% of B2B marketers think video helps convert leads. (Content Marketing Institute)
- 79% of B2B marketers think email is most important for demand generation. (Content Marketing Institute)
Again, it’s important to remember these statistics aren’t mutually exclusive. For instance, SEO optimization and keyword research will inform every piece of content that is created in a B2B marketing strategy, from blog topics to video titles. Email is not just a medium for demand generation in and of itself, but a valuable pathway to attract attention to new content you create. Ultimately, these statistics have the most power to improve B2B marketing when considered in tandem.
B2C Content Marketing Statistics For 2021
B2C companies thrive by selling products and services directly to consumers. This could include everything from an online retailer to a software provider. These customers want a seamless, clear, and secure shopping experience that doesn’t cause them to question the reason they are making the purchase, whether emotional or logical.
Here are some actionable statistics that are specific to effective B2C content marketing:
- 86% of B2C marketers think content marketing is a key strategy. (Content Marketing Institute)
- The average annual reported B2C content marketing budget is $230,000, though 23% report having no budget. (Content Marketing Institute)
- 40% of B2C content marketers never research the competition, or only look once a year. (Conductor)
- 70-80% of people ignore paid search ads and only choose to click on top-ranking organic search results. (Junto)
- Only 48% of B2C marketers are focused on driving sales through content. Many more want to create brand awareness (84%) and educate audiences (75%). (Content Marketing Institute)
- 93% of B2C marketers use social media, while 85% use the company blog, 79% use email marketing, and 39% use influencer marketing. (Content Marketing Institute)
- Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are the three most-popular social channels for B2C marketers. (Statista)
- 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. (Junto)
B2C companies interested in starting or deepening content marketing have significant opportunity to work on the later stages of the content funnel. While building brand and audience awareness is an essential first step, the potential of content marketing goes well beyond branding. Using social media, blogging, and email to continue a relationship with existing customers is a great way to get referrals and earn repeat business.
Get On-Demand Content Marketing Statistics and Insights
One final statistic we will leave you with is that less than 40% of companies, whether B2B or B2C, have a written, established content strategy, according to the Content Marketing Institute. This means that content marketing efforts at these companies aren’t being approached systematically. And later, the returns on content marketing efforts may not be tracked, reported on, or celebrated.
We developed the DemandJump platform as a real-time consumer insights resource for professionals across every industry. At any moment, the search terms and questions your audiences are using can change, or a sudden bump in searches for businesses like yours could create opportunity. This is just the beginning of the insights DemandJump makes available to you with the effort of a simple login. Our machine learning algorithm analyzes your website in conjunction with the latest SEO data to provide recommendations and topic suggestions for content that will win consumer attention. You also no longer have to worry about competitor research as we draw in the other pages you will be competing against for search ranking. And, built in cross-channel analytics let you see how existing content is performing and support your confidence in your strategy.
While content marketing statistics are informative, they set you up to be a follower, not a leader. With DemandJump you’ll have the insights and information to step out and claim customers away from your competitors. The transformation is just a free trial away.