Are you planning to increase your spend on content marketing in 2013? If so, congratulations, you’re bang on trend with your budget allocation. In fact, more than half of B2B marketers are set to boost their spend on content for 2013, revealing a bright future for the sector.

Such optimistic figures continue the growth trend of the past year, with average content budgets swelling from 26% in 2011 to 33% by the end of 2012. And dedicating more spend to content marketing should pay dividends –a recent study found that the most effective B2B marketers are those who allocate the greatest percentage of their marketing budget to content marketing.

Assuming that you’ve already decided to, or are still considering doing more with content in the coming months, here are a few top trends within content over the past year as garnered from a recent study involving 1,416 B2B marketers from the US from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

1. Content and social media are perfect partners

According to this study, a healthy 87% of marketers used social media to promote and distribute content. In fact, social media was more widely used for content marketing than articles, email newsletters, ebooks, case studies and other tactics. The popularity of social above other content marketing tactics, even knocking articles off from pole position, reveals that B2B marketers are wisely ‘fishing where the fish are’.

2. Brand awareness is the key objective

Surprisingly, the top goal for B2B marketers is not increased website traffic, but brand awareness. Raising brand awareness is the number one priority for 79% of content marketers. This is followed by customer acquisition (74%), lead generation (71%) and customer retention (64%). This finding is made all the more interesting by the fact that website traffic was considered to be the most important metric for calculating the success of content marketing activity. To really drill down into how content efforts are impacting on your site traffic, we recommend using Google Analytics to track specific data such as numbers of unique visitors and referrals from search engines. To get a better idea of engagement, it pays to look at page views and time visitors spend on your site.

3. Producing sufficient content is the greatest challenge

Over the past year, the biggest challenge for content marketers has shifted from creating the type of content that successfully engages to simply producing enough content. Over 2012, 64% of marketers surveyed cited content production as their most significant challenge.

This doesn’t surprise me, as the most commonly cited issue our clients face is finding the time, resources and inspiration to create quality editorial content over a sustained period of time. One way of getting around the problem is to become more creative and resourceful about content, for instance by repurposing your most popular existing content to give it a new lease of life.

Another option is to outsource content. The CMI and MarketingProfs study found that while 56% of companies are creating all their content in-house, some 43% develop a balance of in-house and outsourced content for marketing purposes. Deciding between spending on outsourcing versus dedicating precious in-house resources can be tough, so striking a balance between the two can be a valuable solution, particularly if certain skillsets are lacking within the organisation. Remember, whatever you decide, effective content marketing requires commitment and long-term nurturing.

It’s New Year’s Resolution time, so what are your plans and goals for content marketing in 2013? Are they different to those set for 2012?

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