In October 2014, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) released its annual content marketing trends report regarding the status of content marketing and marketing strategies in general for 2014. The goal of the annual survey is to not only report what happened over the past twelve months but also provide some insight into where things may be headed.
Among the items they focused on were website conversions – turning web visitors into customers. CMI reports that nine out of ten small businesses surveyed, those with less than 99 employees, plan on upgrading their sites so that their websites do a more effective job of converting visitors into customers in 2015. And the numbers are high for larger businesses, those over 100 workers (no maximum was mentioned), 84 percent indicated they were upgrading their websites this year for conversion purposes.
The B2B companies surveyed also are very involved in social media. In 2013, 88 percent of the companies surveyed were involved with one or more social media websites to promote their companies, its products, or its services. In 2014, that jumped to 93 percent and this will likely stay strong throughout 2015. Other changes noted:
- In 2013, 77 percent of the smaller companies surveyed indicated they were blogging; in 2014 that jumped to 87 percent.
- The use of infographics also jumped significantly, from 48 percent of smaller companies publishing infographics in 2013 to 60 percent in 2014.
- More than half of the small businesses indicated they are increasing their spending on content marketing activities in 2015 compared to last year.
What appears to be one of the biggest challenges of all the small businesses surveyed is finding trained content marketing professionals to prepare content, blogs, infographics, videos, and other forms of content marketing. In 2013, only 11 percent of those surveyed said this was a problem, but by 2014 this had jumped to nearly one-third of the companies surveyed.
It should be noted that one reason this challenge has been growing is that a number of smaller B2B companies are new to content marketing. As more got involved in 2014, finding professionals that could prepare content for specific industries became more problematic.
Based on the survey, CMI also offered suggestions for smaller B2B marketers to make their content marketing strategies more effective. Among their suggestions are the following:
- Understand your audience, their needs and challenges, and how your products or services can address those issues.
- Develop a documented content marketing strategy.
- Develop a subscription model (free or fee; people sign up to receive content from a site).
- Understand what is effective; the easiest way to do this is to check a site’s analytics to see what posts or content received the most attention or commentary.
Being able to anticipate future trends can keep companies ahead of the content marketing curve. The CMI survey offers the first inkling of what to expect.