According to the Content Marketing Institute, 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing. That's a big number. 

When I heard this last year, I had two reactions:

  1. No kidding. Isn't that marketing's job? To produce content? From advertising, to email, whitepapers, videos, blog posts, case studies, brochures . . . it's what marketing does, right? I'm surprised the result wasn't 100%. (I wonder what those 9% were doing instead?)
  2. Hmm . . . sounds like a bad joke I used to tell about enterprise portals . . . except now it goes something like, "How is content marketing like teenage sex . . . ?" (You can look it up . . . )

More interestingly, only 36% of those surveyed identified their content marketing as "effective" or "very effective" — down from the 40% in the prior survey!

So if virtually everyone is practicing content marketing, is there a way to determine the impact all this activity has on business results — beyond asking marketers what they're doing and whether or not they find it effective?

Teaming up with the Business Marketing Association (BMA) and the Online Marketing Institute (OMI), Forrester is identifying the capabilities required — and the gaps that exist — when marketers develop content in the effort to better engage buyers and distribute it to create relationships.

Working with my Forrester colleagues Tracy Stokes and Ryan Skinner, we identified five dimensions you should investigate when determining how well your content marketing is working. This assessment (subscription required) helps marketing leadership take stock of your firm's content marketing strategy, processes, and capabilities and evaluate how well your teams:

1. Understand customer issues and identify topics that engage both target prospects and current customers.
2. Create content that speaks to the concerns or desires that customers care about most while reflecting the firm's mission and brand.
3. Publish against an editorial calendar that includes key themes and forward-leaning ideas that capture customer attention and create interactions.
4. Tailor content distribution to intercept the customer's journey and build relationships across the entire purchase life cycle.
5. Build discipline around measuring, optimizing, and iterating content marketing activity to deliver clear, specific value to both customers and the business.
Next month, we'll publish the results of our benchmark study to show how mature B2B content marketing really is. In the meantime, download the interactive spreadsheet (it's part of Figure 2) and use it to score your current situation. You can compare your results when the report publishes in mid-July. I've had the chance to talk with a few of the high-scorers, and they are accomplishing some amazing results. To hear more, join the August 7th webinar when I'll review the results and share more of their stories.
It's mid-year, folks. Time to look at your plans for the second half of 2014. And since content is the fuel for the marketing engine, why not not tune it up with this assessment?  
(If you can't access the spreadsheet, comment here with a good way to contact you and I'll get in touch.) Happy summer!