There’s a hole at the center of The Future of B2B Content 2019, a new study by Walker Sands Communications. It’s the fact that email newsletters have fallen behind social media and other glitzy tools in content delivery.
Of the B2B executives polled, 72% are planning to increase their use of social media in the next 12 months, and 65% are planning to increase their website content.
Only 37% say the same about newsletters, which places those a point behind press releases.
It could be that B2B marketers have already deployed newsletters, and that these have reached critical mass. In contrast, brands haven’t yet mastered social media.
But newcomers should remember that email newsletters reach an existing audience of people who have shown they are interested.
That said, this particular survey question compares apples and oranges: It lists channels along with content formats. For instance, the results show that 63% will increase their video usage, 45% will increase their use of infographics and 38% will increase their case studies.
All of these formats can be delivered via email newsletters.
In addition, 31% will boost their animation efforts, 27% will amp up their white paper production and 26% will increase their bylined articles.
The study states that short-form content now “rules the roost.”
Meanwhile, 41% say they use newsletters to engage existing customers, and 40% use them to attract new ones, again putting them behind social media and websites.
There’s no question that content is important — 98% of all B2B brands say its performance justifies the cost.
And they use it with a variety of goals in mind:
The biggest challenges are creating website content (38%), ROI tracking (31%), data reporting (29%) and blog creation (28%).
That may be why 41% of VP-level executives plan to use outside resources over the next 12 months to help with tracking content ROI and 36% for their subject matter expertise. In addition, 34% will look outside for content production and 32% will use outside resources to ensure their content stands out from that of their competitors.
The question arises: Should B2B brands gate their content — that is, require people to fill out forms? It would seem not. Of the executives surveyed, 80% say “gated access stops them from downloading content at least some of the time,” the study notes.
Worse, 45% of those at the VP level or higher say gating prevents them from downloading content all the time.
This gating is especially aggravating when a person is clicking through in a newsletter. Doesn’t the brand already have the person’s information?
Email addresses are among the data points typically requested in registration forms.
Of the businesses studied, 44% gate and the remainder do not. The biggest motivation for doing so is to earn qualified leads, followed by the need to add prospects into an automated marketing program, to create an air of exclusivity around content and to prove ROI.
Walker Sands surveyed 300 B2B marketing executives.