Content marketing became a major strategy around 2004 to 2006. When it first appeared, it primarily involved words, posted on company websites, in the form of blog posts. It was developed because more and more B2B organizations specifically believed traditional marketing formats was no longer working.
However, since then, it has evolved. Videos, webinars, original research, such as white papers on topics specific to an industry, case studies, and podcasts, now all come under the content marketing umbrella. No matter what the format, these all involve words, the essence and foundation of this strategy.
Now, because we have so many different formats with more evolving, many marketers are wondering which of these formats is proving most effective. To determine this, we first must remember what content marketing does. Content marketing, no matter what the form, does not make a sale; content marketing leads to a sale. This is primarily true in B2B marketing.
In other words, this strategy draws consumers in, educates them about a company, the value of the firm’s products or services, builds trust, and then helps them take the next step, inquiring about purchasing the product or service.
So now that we are clear on what this strategy is all about and the value it provides, which of these different formats seems to be proving most successful for most B2B organizations in 2020? According to a June 2020 survey by Ascend2, a business research group, of 263 B2B and B2C marketing professionals surveyed, these are the most influential formats:
- Videos: 41 percent
- Webinars: 36 percent
- Original research (White Papers): 36 percent
- Blog posts: 34 percent
- Case studies: 29 percent
- Podcasts: 18 percent.
While social media was not considered a content marketing strategy, the researchers also asked the marketing professionals their view on using social media to market a company’s products and services.
Usually this involved distributing the different content, no matter what the format, and posting it on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook (if B2C), Twitter, and others. “More than half of the marketers surveyed believe that social media is one of the most effective digital [marketing] tactics in generating leads that eventually convert into sales.”
Two other strategies mentioned that have proven successful were the following:
- Website search engine optimization, 43 percent
- Email marketing programs, 42 percent
So, what’s coming next?
Part of their research included asking marketers which forms of content marketing they believed would grow in prominence in the months to come. Most likely due to the pandemic, what they called online “live” events were at the top of the list.
Most of the marketers believed these live events would not only increase in popularity but could even become the number one lead generator going forward. Live events would include podcasts, but more specifically, the marketers were referring to live webinars, some including major “influencers” within an industry as well as company stakeholders.
However, something that we must remember when it comes to all content marketing formats is that tastes and popular formats change. For instance, webinars and live events may be more popular now and become more popular in the near future because so many people are working at home while they have more time to take advantage of these formats and there are fewer office interruptions.
Things could change when people return to an office setting. Their time may be more limited. To attend a live event may become more of a team or group event, instead of something one can do on their own. In such cases, words, in the more traditional form of blogs, will likely once again grow in popularity. Professionally written content continues to be a solid option, educating readers effectively—and possibly more quickly—than webinars or podcasts.