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Content Marketing Team Insights 2020

5 min read

Your content is only as good as your content marketing team. What defines a successful team? What priorities should your B2B content team focus on?

The release of the B2B Content Marketing 2020 Study, undertaken by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, provides some insight into this area. The organization surveyed nearly 700 North American content marketers across a wide range of company sizes and industry, looking at benchmarks, budgets, and trends.

This post looks at the critical factors in the report separating the most successful content marketing teams from the least. We’re not interested in what everyone does. We want to know how the best organizations function.

But first, there are a couple of survey definitions we need to clarify, according to the report.

Content Marketing: A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined target audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Success: Achieving your organization’s desired/targeted results.

Most and Least Successful: The “most successful” (aka “top performers”) are those who characterize their organization’s overall content marketing approach as extremely or very successful (Top 2). The “least successful” describe their organization’s approach as minimally or not at all successful (Bottom 2).

Let’s get started!

What Are the Best Content Marketing Teams Good At?

The best content creators are great at creating appropriate content. Content is critical for several reasons.

No content? No one will link to you.

No links? You’ll have low Domain Authority.

Low Domain Authority? The service pages will never rank for those competitive commercial-intent phrases.

Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media

The survey found that content marketing goals for the average team are mostly top-of-funnel, such as:

  • Creating brand awareness
  • Educating audiences
  • Building brand credibility and trust
  • Demand generation

But that’s just table stakes. Top performers that use content marketing are:

  • Up to 2.2 times more likely to build loyalty with customers
  • Up to 1.6 times more likely to nurture subscribers, audiences, and leads using content
  • Up to 2.6 times more likely to generate sales and revenue
  • Up to 2.3 times more likely to build a subscribed target audience

To operate at a high level, your marketing efforts need to build a subscribed audience, nurture them, generate revenue, and then build loyalty with those customers.

The right content depends on the context. Successful content marketing teams are up to 2.8 times more likely to craft content based on specific stages of the customer journey.

Plus, you need to get the content to the right person at the right time. Successful content marketing teams, based on the survey, are:

  • Up to 2.5 times more likely to prioritize the delivery of relevant content when and where a person is most likely to see it
  • Up to 3.6 times more likely to provide customers with optimal experiences across their engagement journey

How to Create a Successful Content Marketing Team 

Good news! You don’t need a huge content team to be successful. While it’s nice to have a graphic designer, a content manager, a subject matter expert or two on hand, you can achieve a lot with a lean content marketing team structure.

The B2B Content Marketing 2020 Study found that small teams (2 – 5) are the norm. Even in large companies of 1,000+ employees, only 26% have more than five content marketing employees.

Half outsource at least one content marketing activity; usually that’s content creation. Bigger companies are more likely to outsource.

Teams that consider themselves successful are up to 11 times more likely to be operating at a sophisticated or mature level. The study defines sophisticated as “providing accurate measurement to the business, scaling across the organization” and mature as “finding success, yet challenged with integration across the organization.”

To get there, you’ll need to move through three lower phases as quickly as possible. The Content Marketing Institute / MarketingProf’s study defines these as:

  • First Steps – doing some aspects of content, but not fully realizing the process
  • Young – Suffering growing pains, challenged with creating a unified content strategy and plan to measure 
  • Adolescent – Having developed a business case and experiencing early success, becoming increasingly sophisticated at measurement and scaling.

Having navigated these phases, what does it look like to be at the top level of sophisticated or mature?

Characteristics of A Successful Content Marketing Team

First, you need a documented content strategy. The survey says that thriving teams are up to four times more likely to have a documented strategy that unsuccessful marketing teams.

Centralize your content marketing group so that you work with multiple brands/products/departments throughout the organization. Successful teams are three times more likely to operate in this manner than the lowest-performing groups.

Measure performance and initiatives using metrics and KPIs. The most successful content marketing line-ups are up to 2.8 times more likely to be using these.

Calculate content marketing ROI. You can’t improve what you don’t measure. It’s no coincidence that top performing teams are up to 2.9 times more likely to measure ROI and 3.4 times more likely to demonstrate excellent or very good ROI, according to the study.

What better way to increase your budget than proving to the leadership team your ability to generate an acceptable return. Perhaps that’s why, according to the study, the best performing content teams have nearly three times the budget as the lowest performing groups.

Prioritize the audience’s informational needs over your desire to get across your organization’s promotional message. The survey says the best teams are nearly twice as likely to do this.

The Priority for Content Marketing Teams in 2020

The Content Marketing Institute / MarketingProf’s B2B Content Marketing 2020 Study found that, for nearly half of respondents, content quality/quantity is a top 3 activity to prioritize in the coming year. Yet, they also found that only 24% use any content optimization technology.

MarketMuse Suite can give you a competitive edge in improving your content quality, something the other 75% of content teams are struggling to accomplish at scale.

Stephen leads the content strategy blog for MarketMuse, an AI-powered Content Intelligence and Strategy Platform. You can connect with him on social or his personal blog.