How Are B2C Content Marketers Reaching and Understanding Their Audiences?

October 31, 2016

cmimarketingprofs-how-b2c-marketers-learn-about-audiences-oct2016Roughly 7 in 10 B2C content marketers agree that they frequently consider how their content impacts the overall experience a person has with their organization (71%) and that they focus on creating content for their audience versus their brand (69%). With that in mind, it’s interesting to see the techniques these marketers are using to learn about and reach their audiences, according to the latest report [pdf] from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

Based on a survey of 480 North American marketers who primarily sell to consumers (B2C) or to both consumers and businesses (B2C and B2B), the report indicates that the most popular way to learn about target audiences is through keywords research (59%). A majority also use social listening (54%) and website analysis (54%), with customer feedback/panels (50%) and competitive analysis (49%) rounding out the top 5 techniques.

Comparatively speaking, there seems to be less interest in methods such as database analysis (35%), quantitative (33%) or qualitative (30%) primary research, among others.

With almost three-quarters of B2C marketers planning to create more content this year, reaching and engaging these target audiences is no easy task. On average, respondents are using 7 content marketing tactics, one fewer than their B2B counterparts. The most common tactics used are social media content (85%), blogs (75%) and email newsletters (75%), with these channels a recurring theme throughout the report.

Indeed, B2C marketers were most apt to say that social media content (58%), blogs (51%) and email newsletters (43%) would be critical to their content marketing success next year. Email (89%) and Facebook (89%) are the most common distribution channels used, with Twitter (73%), LinkedIn (66%) and YouTube (65%) also popular.

Interestingly, while email is easily rated the most important channel to distribute content (with 91% considering it important), print is also rated highly. While it’s on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of usage (31%), some 62% of those marketers rate it as important to their overall content marketing success, making it more valued by its users than YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.


As for paid content promotion, then, it’s not surprising that social promotion (89%) is the most widely adopted method, with search engine marketing (76%) and print or other offline promotion (68%) next. These are the same top paid methods used by B2B marketers, too, although unlike their B2B counterparts, B2C marketers slightly favor social promotion over search engine marketing in terms of these paid methods’ effectiveness.

Turning to B2C content marketing’s organization goals, and there’s a very interesting shift observed from last year’s study. Whereas last year sales was the top organizational goal for content marketing, this year’s edition of the survey finds sales way back in the 5th spot, cited as a 2017 content objective by just 53% of respondents. Instead, brand awareness (74%) and engagement (71%) are in the top spots, followed by lead generation (63%).

Perhaps these goals are a function of what B2C content marketers are able to demonstrate. While almost 8 in 10 agree that they can demonstrate how content marketing has increased engagement, fewer (63%) can point to content’s impact on sales.

In other results from the report:

  • 86% of respondents say they use content marketing, with 51% of the remaining marketers planning to launch such an effort in the coming year;
  • 40% have clarity on content marketing success;
  • Seven in 10 feel that they are at least moderately successful in their approach to content marketing;
  • Almost two-thirds (63%) are at least somewhat more successful than last year, with higher quality, more efficient content (73%) and strategy development or adjustment (71%) the leading factors for increased success;
  • 40% have a documented content marketing strategy, up slightly from 37% last year;
  • B2C marketers spend an average of 26% of their marketing budgets on content marketing, down from 32% last year; and
  • Slightly more than 4 in 10 (42%) plan to increase their content marketing spending over the next year, down from 50% planning to do so last year.

About the Data: B2C Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends ”” North America was produced by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs and sponsored by Hightail.

The seventh annual Content Marketing Survey, from which the results of the report were generated, was mailed electronically to a sample of marketers using lists from Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs, The Association for Data-driven Marketing & Advertising (ADMA), and WTWH Media.
A total of 2,562 recipients from around the globe ”” representing a full range of industries, functional areas, and company sizes ”” completed the survey during July and August 2016. The report presents the findings from the 480 respondents who indicated their organizations primarily sell products / services to consumers (B2C) [31%] or to both consumers and businesses (B2C+B2B) [69%] in North America.

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