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Two-thirds of B2B content marketers are reporting more success with their campaigns compared to last year, according to a new report published by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs. The annual study of key decision makers in the industry shows a general maturing of content strategies and a growing desire to build audiences.

Last year’s report found 65% of B2B marketers deemed their content marketing programs more successful than the year before, and the figure is almost the same this time around. Just 1% of those surveyed rated their organisation’s success as “much less” successful, while 18% said it was “much more” successful.

CMI noted that there are certain aspects of a content campaign that set the top performing enterprises apart from the rest, including the presence of a documented strategy, a high level of commitment to creative, realistic ambitions, leadership focused on giving content time to produce results, and a schedule that can deliver articles, videos and other resources consistently.

One trend that has emerged during the last twelve months is a shift towards using content for building audiences and subscriber bases, either on official blogs or social media. Four out of five respondents said building audiences was their primary focus, which represents a marked increase compared to the 2017 study. This figure rises to 92% for the most successful content marketers.

“Across the board – at all levels of content marketing success – the research shows more marketers concentrating on building audiences,” Content Marketing Institute’s research director, Lisa Murton Beets said. “Among all respondents, 80% reported they are focused on this (versus 92% of the top performers), representing an 18% year-over-year increase. This is terrific news considering an audience can be one of an organization’s most valuable assets.”

While content programmes are maturing, the majority are still finding it difficult to bring together metrics and content goals to evaluate the performance of campaigns effectively. Just 19% said their ability to do this was either very good or excellent, but this increased to 54% for top performers. This is likely to be an area where marketers will look to improve during the next year.

Metrics and the science of content are crucial for success, but three-quarters of those surveyed now agree “creativity and craft” are valued within the organisation, which bodes well for the future. About 59% also believe that their leadership teams are giving them ample time to drive positive business results through content, while project management is seen as potentially a key differentiator moving forward.

MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer, Ann Handley concluded: “Where we really see a difference is in organizations that also do well with project management. For example, 70% of the top-performing content marketers rate the project management flow during their content-creation process as excellent/very good, compared with 36% of the total sample. This tells us that not only does it pay to be creative, if you truly want an edge, you also have to have good processes in place.”