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B2B Marketing Branding

Despite seismic shift towards generating marketing content, most companies are not set up to get the job done


By Laurie Fullerton, Freelance Writer

March 23, 2016 | 5 min read

Content is increasingly a stalwart marketing strategy amongst B2B marketers, but there is clearly room for improvement. In a recent survey, many of the respondents agreed that their content departments are generating material using individuals who are juggling other tasks, while making content choices based on intuition gleaned from meetings and brainstorming, and not actual research or analysis.

In a report by Rundown, an estimated 86 per cent of B2B marketers surveyed are now producing content to attract and retain their audience, yet it appears that a vast majority of companies today have dedicated only five individuals or less in house to take on the task. It is estimated that 67 per cent of organizations employ one to five people full time that are dedicated to content production, with 61 percent of those on these content teams covering four or more different roles. Further, while more and more organizations are creating full-time, in-house content teams, most marketers still make content decisions based only intuition, that come from meetings (88 per cent) and brainstorming (76 per cent). A mere 28 per cent of content comes from research and data. When asked about the biggest content creation challenge, most marketers cited a complex workflow (71 per cent) and limited resources (68 per cent) as the key detractors.

While a staggering 79 per cent of those surveyed believe their in-house staff is more effective than agencies or freelancers when it comes to producing content, and only 10 per cent of organizations saying freelancers are their most effective content production resource, the bulk of the content work is delegated to less than five people companywide in most cases.

In fact, 86 per cent of B2B marketers surveyed said they are now producing content to attract and retain their audience, with 67 per cent of those surveyed using one to five full-timers, while 25 per cent have 6 to 20 full-time employees, and 4 per cent with 50 or more full-time employees.

Despite the reluctance or apparent dissatisfaction with freelancers, according to the survey, it appears that 57 per cent of organizations use at least one outside agency to support their content production efforts, while 43 per cent rely entirely on in-house staff or freelance help. Further, 80 per cent of organizations surveyed use between 1 to 5 part-time workers to support their content marketing operations. There are some rumblings in house however with one respondent saying that "some suppliers don't always deliver to what we think their capabilities are … everyone thinks they're a content provider, even if they're not very good at it."

Once again, the survey notes that 79 per cent of those asked are happier relying on in-house staff, compared to nine per cent who say freelancers are more effective. In fact, according to the report, in-house teams produce 75 to 100 per cent of content, with only about 25 per cent coming from outside sources.

While content created in-house is reportedly more effective and valued, it appears that the majority of content teams have a total of nine other day-to-day roles. With 61 per cent of those surveyed covering other roles, it appears that most of those surveyed refer to their role as "executives" who oversee the content budget and senior team, while only a few said they were "analysts" who are responsible for analyzing data and providing reports and insights to the team.

When it comes to the organization of content teams, very few are run like a traditional newsroom, with only eight per cent of organizations taking the newsroom approach. Most decisions on content are made based on intuition, with the majority of content production organized under the banner of marketing or PR who report to a senior executive who is responsible for content. The process of creating or developing or assigning content related material appears to be based on meetings and brainstorming as stated before, as well as browsing (42 per cent), events (34 per cent) and strategy (30 percent). Research remains at a meager 28 per cent of all content, followed by marketing, also at 28 per cent. The process of creating content is complicated for the vast majority of those surveyed, with execution the primary pain point. As content quality ranks third on the list of challenges, limited resources and complex workflow are the top detractors. In fact, when asked what problems would be solve this issue, the majority of marketers said better/easier workflow (71 per cent) and more or better resources (68 per cent).

Further, 82 per cent of those surveyed still struggle to understand the ROI of their content marketing efforts. With the majority of marketers still relying on intuition instead of evidence, more than half of marketers are in the dark on which content pieces work and why. Content teams still need data and insights to help guide their content creation and distribution efforts, the survey suggests. Additionally, 52 per cent agree that budget problems are amplified when they don't know which content pieces to invest in, as they are not certain which ones are working. There is also a lack of clarity on how much time it takes for a content team to produce material on a daily basis.

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