What’s working in B2B content marketing?

Creating brand awareness, building and growing credibility and trust and educating their audience. These are the top three ways content is helping marketers achieve their business goals, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) latest report.

For more than 10 years the CMI has produced an annual research report that shows how business to business marketing teams are using content to support business success.

The findings act as a useful benchmark for marketing teams, highlighting what’s working and what’s not. The latest report can be found here:

So, what does the research tell us? Marketers say content is helping them achieve a range of different goals. These include:

  1. Creating brand awareness 83%
  2. Building/growing credibility/trust 77%
  3. Educating audience (s) 72%
  4. Building loyalty with existing clients/customers 63%
  5. Generating demand/leads 67%
  6. Nurturing subscribers/audiences/leads 54%

The top three most popular goals were the same last year, indicating that these are the key areas of focus for content initiatives. In crowded, competitive markets – such as the learning technology market – building brand credibility and trust along with being crystal clear about the offer are key to market differentiation. Interestingly, the report doesn’t explicitly talk about the role of the customer voice in content marketing, which is a key component of telling the market differentiation story. When asked about how they differentiate their content from that of the competition, respondents said:

  • Produce better quality content 83%
  • Cover stories/topics their competitors aren’t covering 72%
  • Actively promote the content we publish 50%

That said, 2022 data shows that the most successful content marketers were more likely than all respondents to have used case studies – a powerful vehicle for the customer voice –  as their number one content approach.

When it comes to formats that produced the best results, events take the top two slots, with face-to-face events making a comeback now that the Covid years have passed.

Longer form formats, such as research reports, whitepapers and articles, remain popular for the B2B audience. For all the continued buzz and popularity around podcasts, they are not having the kind of impact longer form formats are having. Video and graphic formats are lagging behind as well. These are the top 10 best performing content formats, according to the research:

  1. In-person events 48%
  2. Virtual events/webinars/courses 47%
  3. Research reports 46%
  4. Ebooks/whitepapers 43%
  5. Short articles (fewer than 1,500 words) 39%
  6. Case studies 36%
  7. Videos 36%
  8. Long articles (more than 1,500 words) 32%
  9. Podcasts 21%
  10. Infographics 20%

These findings contrast with marketing strategies outside of the business-to-business sector. Hubspot’s State of Marketing Report 2023 shows that the content formats that deliver the most return on investment are videos, followed by images and blog posts.

For B2B marketers, the biggest content market challenges are around alignment of content to audience and business need as well as content/communications consistency and differentiation. The top seven challenges are:

  • Creating content that appeals to different stages of the buyer’s journey 61%
  • Aligning content efforts across sales and marketing 50%
  • Developing consistency with measurement 43%
  • Communicating internally among teams/silos 41%
  • Differentiating our products/services from the competition’s 38%
  • Accessing subject matter experts to create content 34%
  • Achieving consistency with messaging 33%

Finally, when we were looking through previous years’ data one challenge resonated for us at Insights Media. And that was around finding partners to support an organisation’s content marketing efforts. In 2021’s research, respondents revealed that the top challenges when seeking outsourced B2b content marketing help were:

  1. Finding partners with adequate topical expertise – 65%
  2. Finding partners who understand/can empathize with our audience – 41%
  3. Budget issues – 40%
  4. Lack of clear return on investment (ROI metrics) – 31%
  5. Finding partners who can provide adequate Strategic advice – 26%
  6. Lack of integration with our organization’s process/tools – 25%
  7. Finding partners who consistently deliver on time – 19%
  8. Lack of comprehensive solutions from one partner – 14%

These are the challenges we can help with. Our indepth knowledge of the HR, learning and talent markets makes us a trusted partner for our customers.  We are data and research driven which helps us understand audience challenges, and we are strategic advisors – providing support and advocacy to build and transform the business through content and engagement.

If you are looking for help with your content marketing then please do drop us a line at team@insightsmedia.co.uk

Links to the research

13th annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends, Content Marketing Institute


  • 1,104 participants surveyed in July 2022.

12th annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends, Content Marketing Institute


  • 1,275 respondents surveyed July 2021.