Commentary

Coming Of Age: The Five Rungs Of B2B Content Marketing Maturity

Some B2B marketers would hate to think of their content as “mature.” Shouldn’t it be youthful and engaging? Sure. But we’re not discussing writing style here: This is about strategy and technology. And the latter may be easier to come by than the former.

As Aaron Agius notes this week on SearchEngine Journal, only 32% of B2B marketers have a content strategy in place. And that may be why a mere 14% “think their content delivers impact — full business value,” according to Forrester.

Considering all that, this is an opportune time for ScribbleLive’s new study, “The Content Marketing Maturity Map.” It outlines five levels of maturity, starting with adolescence, it seems, but stops short of senescence.  

What does this have to do with email? Just this: A recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute found that email is used to distribute content by 94% of enterprise B2B marketers. And 87% feel email is critical to their content marketing success. Email is more than a tactic — it can’t be placed in a silo.

So let’s go through the five levels. Which one has your company achieved?

  1. Reactive — This includes “unplanned and spontaneous” content, usually sent in response to ad hoc requests from the sales team, or in a desperate attempt to keep up with a competitor. Often supervised by administrative personnel, it tends to vary in quality. There is measurement of sorts, but it does not inform decision making.
  2. Proactive — At this stage, content is produced by a small but dedicated team, and is guided by a strategy and an editorial calendar. The company understands that “content created in chaos inhibits its ability to enhance the customer experience on the path to purchase.” But most of the resulting content is top-of-funnel, and these firms tend to use “lightweight, top-of-funnel” metrics like page views and retweets. Finally, they’re still burdened with impromptu requests. 
  3. Correlative — These teams have achieved stability (and maturity). They are subjected with fewer ad hoc requests, and take a nuanced approach, creating products for different stages of the customer journey, and for different personas, in multiple formats. What’s more,  they can tell if these efforts are bringing in new customers. And they’re working on integrating everything, from production to measurement.   
  4. Adoptive — We have reached the level on which results rule. The typical Adoptive team “focuses on many different formats, and has found ways to expand promotion and reach of content. They are able to optimize and adjust content based on robust performance metrics that can attribute parameters like headlines, images and promo copy to engagement.”
  5. Predictive — Reach this plateau and you are a content master. But only 4% of B2B organizations ever get to it, according to Forrester. At this rarefied level, “everyone involved in the creation and distribution of content collaborates on one centralized platform, but decisions are only made based on data. Topics, formats and distribution methods need to perform well in order for the team to continue to utilize them as part of their strategy.”

Those are the five stages. Are you barely at the beginning? Don’t worry. As Agius observes: “Content marketing is an ongoing process that typically requires numerous iterations until success is achieved.” Don’t we all know it.

 

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