New CMI study: too much TOFU in B2B?

Claude Malaison – 21 November 2019

A few weeks ago, I got my hands on the 2020 version of B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America , a comprehensive study of a field of activity that, as you know, is of particular interest to me. Not tofu but rather, content marketing. 🙂

Published annually by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, this study contains a lot of information about content marketing, in this case, B2B.

Far be it from me to give a complete account of all the trends and statistics it contains but I was keen to share with you some evidence.

The best channels and types of content in B2B.

Here is the graph highlighting the preferred communication channels for distributing B2B content. I keep repeating that the best medium is the blog. According to the study, it’s social networks that overtake all the others, namely blogs and newsletters.

The following are in order: events, videos, case studies, computer graphics, webinars, white papers.  E-books complete the Top 10 list.

The fact that social networks occupy the driver’s seat has repercussions on all marketing niches or “Funnels”.

Indeed, social networks focus too much on the “Top of Funnel” (TOFU), as Shane Schick, editor-in-chief of B2B News Network explains in his own analysis  of the study:

Too much attention on TOFU?

Too much attention in content marketing on the components of TOFU including 86% on brand awareness and not enough on the rest, namely MOFU and BOFU (see the graph above entitled Digital Marketing Funnel).

Not enough attention and effort on content that promotes lead creation and retention, customer conversion and the development of a long-term loyalty-based relationship to generate solid growth revenue.

In fact, 50% of all content is written according to the TOFU.

As Schick says, we rely too much on social networks in organic reach but also in paid reach, LinkedIn being the champion in all categories.

« While content marketing assets like blog posts have the chance to achieve considerable organic reach, the CMI report also showed that 84 per cent use paid distribution. Interestingly, LinkedIn was both the top paid as well as organic social channel for distribution and amplification purposes. »

I don’t know about you, but it speaks to me. There is a tendency to favor content on LinkedIn in B2B, which is a bit normal for both organic content and paid or sponsored content.

But look at the others: Twitter comes second for the organic and Facebook second for the paid. All this, as they say, at the expense of the content created in blogs.

In my opinion, blogs do a better job on the whole big funnel TOFU-MOFU-BOFU included, and can also use social networks as organic or paid multipliers.

A worrying imbalance…

And the worst part is that companies and content creators think they have met the expectations of their future or current customers while they create a glaring, even worrying imbalance in favor of TOFU and notoriety, which does not seem to disturb them. And yet both should.

In his book Marketing Rebellion, Mark Schaefer writes : «Businesses think just 13% of their marketing is unsolicited, while consumers feel 85% of the messages they receive from businesses are spam».

Companies, agencies and content creators have a very high opinion of their work. They forget that a long-term relationship grows first and foremost because of the RELATION and that in order to be profitable, we must put human interest contents back in the equation. «The most human company wins» is the subtitle of the book Marketing Rebellion.

In journalism, we used to call that “Human Interest”…

But what works best?

On the one hand, what works best at all stages? Blogs from a “human interest” perspective and events where people meet and have time to validate or consolidate their relationship or have access to experts and content that meet their needs. Also, to learn and build trusting relationships.

Then, to consolidate, we can exchange deeper content, such as case studies, eBooks or webinars. Speaking of events, see below.

Of all the types of content used in marketing, it is still events or “in-person events” that perform best to secure and convert leads. What for purpose? Because humans meet and talk to each other. We’re in the BOFU stage here.

To put the final nail in the coffin, the authors also mention (see on page 25 and 33 of the document), that the marketing objectives of the companies are putting too much focus on the TOFU with social networks on the one hand.

And on the other hand, they have very small teams, which results in outsourcing, in 50% of cases, content creation and in many cases, the loss of the intimate relationship with the customer. We tend to create impersonal and automated content.

These all lean towards what is called “Customer-Centric Marketing”

Businesses and content creators have every advantage in focusing on the customer nestled in the BOFU. This is one of the major trends, all studies combined. Here’s what the MX Group’s 2020 Trends blog says following the Digital Summit in Chicago.

«In order to be successful now and in the future, marketers must stop relying on product marketing. Instead, they need to gain more insights about their buyers and implement content, tools and solutions that address buyers’ pain points. Customer-centric has been a major theme for Mx over the last year and will continue to be a big 2020 B2B digital marketing trend.

If you want more information on the big trend that is “Customer-centric marketing”, note that Alain ThĂ©riault,  associate at ExoB2B, is offering several lectures on the subject and will soon publish a video on this subject in his blog.

As a member of the NextBlue Alliance, a group of companies offering IBM Watson Artificial Intelligence-based solutions, ExoB2B is well positioned to help your business in your digital shift. Contact us!

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