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B2B contentmarketers respond to Covid-19, b2 content marketing outlook 2020

Image by Mahmud Shoeb from Pixabay

B2B content marketers proved resilient this year as they reacted deftly to impacts of Covid-19. They quickly implemented changes related to messaging, calendars and distribution, according to new B2B Content Marketing research from the Content Marketing Institute.

Quick Pivots

“Those are great and necessary in-the-moment changes,” writes Stephanie Stahl, general manager of CMI. “As the effects of the pandemic drag on, though, putting the customer first will be key to long-term success.”

More than eight in 10 said their organizations pivoted quickly, according to the research produced with MarketingProfs and sponsored by ON24. Four out of five said their pivots were effective. In addition, 86% expect some of the changes to stay in effect for the foreseeable future.

Of those who have a content marketing strategy, one-fourth made major changes to the strategy, while 69% slightly or moderately modified it because of the pandemic.

Over half changed targeting/messaging strategy (70%), adjusted their editorial calendars (64%), and/or changed their content distribution and promotion strategy (53%).

However, only 14% adjusted their key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics.

The Need to Revisit Marketing Metrics

That’s a mistake, Stahl says. “Make sure you don’t fall into that trap. When you make a change in your content marketing strategy or implementation, revisit your KPIs and metrics to make sure they’re appropriate,” she says. “If they are, that’s great. But have you checked lately? If not, set up a team meeting right now to review.”

Most (81%) B2B marketers say their organization uses metrics to measure content performance. Website traffic (90%) is the most popular metric. Others include email engagement (86%), website engagement (84%) and conversions (80%).

“One of our challenges is determining what content is most likely to lead to actual business,” stated one survey respondent. “We get a lot of interest in reading our content, but we’re working to determine what to focus on to gain qualified/ready buyers.”

Looking Ahead

Nearly one-third predicted their organization would spend more on content marketing in the second half of the year than the first half, a rather optimistic outlook considering the uncertain economy. Most expected spending to stay flat for the rest of 2020. Only 12% expected a decrease.

Asked to select the top content marketing-related areas their organization will invest in next year, most (70%) cited content creation. Other popular choices were website enhancements (66%), digital, in-person and hybrid events (48%), and content distribution (46%).

Producing content isn’t enough, asserts Robert Rose, chief strategy advisor at CMI. “It won’t be long before your business starts looking hard at how to make content more efficient—and measurable at scale,” Rose writes in the CMI report. “Content marketers that have skill sets and knowledge beyond just creating powerful content will be ready to evolve and lead that charge.”

Bottom Line: Although B2B content marketers responded quickly to Covid-19 disruptions this year, they’ll need to review their marketing metrics and concentrate more on measurement to ensure success in 2021, new research reveals.

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