Content marketing, also called branded content, is a marketing strategy focused on the creation and distribution of relevant, valuable content for the purpose of driving a target audience to engage in certain profitable behaviors. A recent study published by Holger Shulze showed a rise in lead generation, brand awareness and thought leadership as B2B marketers’ content marketing objectives.
A related survey of US B2B marketing professionals conducted by BtoB Magazine reinforced Shulze’s findings. Again, Lead Generation (51%), Brand Awareness (38%) and Thought Leadership (34%) topped the list of content marketing objectives, followed closely by Sales and Customer Acquisition (both at 29%). Rounding out the sales process, the surveyed B2B marketers next named Customer Retention and Loyalty as their next “leading objective.”
Researchers also asked marketers what are the reasons that drive the use of content marketing (allowing for 3 answers). 56% of polled marketers noted that improved engagement with audiences was their primary goal, followed by making brand a trusted source (47%). It is not surprising that target audience engagement ranked at the top of the list, as it is a fundamental aspect successful marketing tactics. With the users engaged, marketers have a greater opportunity to influence buyers’ behavior.
There are several content creation strategies implemented by B2B marketers, including original content creation, content curation, re-purposing of existing content and user-generated content. Each strategy requires the correct approach to ensure that the resulting content is relevant and valuable to the target audience. Shulze research also pointed out that even in the highly complex technology sector, originality and engagement ranked higher than professional writing. This finding suggests that content marketers believe potential customers must first be engaged by a brand with unique and interesting content and only then should the technical content be used to influence buying decisions.