The good news is that content marketing (and content curation) have been widely adopted by B2B marketers, who have increasingly learned to leverage these strategies for business results that matter to their c-suite.
The bad news is that they have been widely adopted by B2B marketers, and it’s harder to stand out.
So much so, that a discussion on the Inbound message board last year revealed that many spend several hours, even several days, developing a single article – to make sure it’s high quality and in depth.
As a result, companies are getting overwhelmed. Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs’ 2017 study found that B2B marketers identify “not enough time devoted to content marketing” and “content creation challenges” as the top two reasons their marketing success has remained stagnant, or even decreased.
To make their content marketing strategy more sustainable, many marketers are turning to curation, gathering high quality content from other blogs and influencers, and sharing them with their audiences alongside content they create in-house. As such, they take a page out of a museums’ book in the best possible way, and offer their audiences a much richer experience:
In an attempt to help marketers leverage curated content for leads, it was important for my team and I to get first-hand data on their current content curation habits while building our product’s roadmap. Therefore, we went straight to the source – marketing professionals.
Survey Reveals: What Kind of B2B Marketers Do Content Curation?
In mid 2017, we ran a survey of 57 marketing professionals. It wasn’t a large number of people, but it helped us get started with our product, and we discovered some insights we think could interest you.
First of all, 91% of marketers we surveyed use content curation in their content marketing strategy. We’ll dive into how they do it and what’s working for them in a moment, but let’s get some context first by reviewing who these marketers are.
67% of our survey respondents work in B2B companies and 26% work in marketing agencies, which means 93% of our participants market to other companies.
16% of participants said they have over 20 people in their marketing organizations, and 5% have 10-20 marketers on their team, but the rest indicated they have 10 or less marketers in the company.
It’s no surprise then that 74% of participants said they’re responsible for doing everything marketing related in their companies.
Survey Results: How B2B Marketers Mix Owned and Curated Content to Increase Engagement
When it comes to channels B2B marketers use to promote their companies, we weren’t surprised to see LinkedIn and email taking the #1 spot. Marketers’ third favorite channel for content promotion is Facebook, followed by Twitter.
Let’s see what they do on these channels.
The Number of Articles B2B Marketers Share Every Week
98% of marketers use these channels to share articles. 47% share 1-4 articles a week, and 23% share 5-10, but 5% of marketers told us they share more than a 100 articles with their audience every week.
B2B Companies’ Content Curation vs. Creation Ratio – and How it Aligns with the Conversion Sweet Spot
As we said, 91% of our survey participants practice content curation. In fact, 4% share only curated content, and a quarter share curated content most of the time (70%).
As Tristan Handy, formerly COO of Argyle Social and now CEO of Fishtown Analytics, points out on Convince & Convert, “conventional social media marketing wisdom suggests that brands should avoid being overly self-promotional.” Therefore, the strategy of a quarter of our survey participants makes sense.
Yet Handy wanted data-based answers, so he reports reviewing “more than 150,000 tweets and status updates from more than 1,000 Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts” while he was still at Argyle Social. He learned that “the top five companies in our sample that generate the most clicks link to their own sites 37.9% of the time. And the top five companies in our sample that generate the most conversions link to their own sites 41.6% of the time. This feels like a pretty solid sweet spot,” he writes.
We clearly surveyed really smart marketers, because 60% of them told us they share curated content 30-50% of the time. Specifically, 42% indicated 30% of the content they share is curated, and 18% said they curate 50% of the time.
Looking for Content Curation Best Practices and Tools to Help You Get These Results?
Here are some useful resources with wonderful ideas:
- The Three Most Effective (and Overlooked) Content Curation Strategies – Content Marketing Institute
- 10 Content Creation Tools Every Content Marketer Needs – HubSpot
- 4 Examples of Content Curation Done Right – Oracle
- Content Curation Grows Up: What You Need to Know – Heidi Cohen
- How to Curate Content: The Secret Sauce to Getting Noticed, Becoming an Influencer and Having Fun Online – Buffer
And here’s one more great practice to follow:
B2B Marketers’ Secret Weapon to Content Curation Success
Since our survey participants curate so much content, we were curious to discover where they find it. Turns out that the #1 source is “stuff we read and find relevant.” The second spot is shared by Google alerts (or a similar solution) and manual search.
In other words, marketers are proactively looking for content to share. They set alerts and browse the web looking for great content, but they’re not afraid to spend some time digging through search engines and related websites to find articles that will serve their audience.
When asked how they decide which content to share, 84% said they read more than half the article: 21% read 60% of the article, 26% read 90% of the article, and 37% read the entire article in-depth.
That’s how we discovered marketers’ secret weapon to content curation success: 75% told us they care more about the content’s quality than about content quantity.
The Business Case for Curation is Even Greater than Sustaining Your Content Marketing Strategy Long Term
Even though marketers are taking the time to find and qualify curated content, it’s still a much faster process than creating everything themselves. But while making your team’s life easier is a great goal, it’s not the only benefit of curation.
As Handy pointed out, content curation enables you to increase engagement and conversion, while avoiding coming off as a self-promoter. Kevan Lee, the director of marketing at Buffer, adds on his company’s blog that “being really good at content curation” will help you build authority and gain influence.
It certainly worked for his company.
In another article on this company’s blog, Brian G. Peters, digital marketing strategist at Buffer, admits Buffer “used to shy away from curated content [on the company’s Facebook page], because it didn’t directly affect the bottom line: traffic, subscriptions, sales, etc.”
But after testing it for over a year on their Facebook page, Peters discovered that “7 of our 11 most successful posts throughout the last 14 months are curated (not created by Buffer)… Curated content may not ‘directly’ affect our bottom line, but it plays a significant role in reach, engagement (likes, comments, shares) and page growth. Which, in time, allows us to deliver Buffer content – content that does drive the bottom line – to a larger, more engaged audience,” he writes.
Source: Buffer (The posts marked in blue are curated content)
In other words, curated content can be linked directly to revenue if you do it well over time. In fact, Ross Hudgens, founder of Siege Media, was able to build a successful company from scratch thanks to content curation.
In a guest post for Content Marketing Institute, Hudgens shares that curating content on Twitter for months led to relationships, invitations “to write for leading industry blogs, speaking gigs… job offers… [and] freelance work, which then led to starting my own company. Today, we’re a 12-person agency working with some of the biggest brands in the world. And it all started with curating content and sharing it.”
How are Your Content Curation Habits Contributing to Your Bottom Line?
Too many companies are overwhelmed by the amount of work it takes to produce high quality content that gets results. The data shows creating your own high quality content is critical, but with so much energy going to creation, marketers’ strategy often backfires when they end up with no content to share other than their own.
On the other hand, I’ve seen too many companies turn to content curation just to pump up their social channels, without investing extra thought into how this aligns with their overall content marketing efforts.
That’s not what’s going to get you results.
Just because the content you share is related to your product or service doesn’t mean it’ll be useful to your audience, even if a thought leader wrote it. For content curation to work, you need to think about the needs of your target audience. What’s in it for them when they read the content you curate? How does this content help them take the next step toward overcoming their biggest challenge? And even how will it get them ready to purchase?
When you dedicate some time to finding and qualifying useful third party content to mix on social media with your own articles and case studies – and make sure to add your own added value, perspective or interpretation to position yourself as a thought leader too – you’re bound to see engagement and conversions increase.
Remember, it’s about quality, not quantity. And it’s about taking the first step by taking a look at your own strategy. Ask yourself: How is your content curation vs. creation mix? How much do you verify the curated content you share will actually help your audience?
Once you have the data, adjust according to the sweet spot we mentioned above, and experiment until you find the best blend for your specific followers. By this time next year, your content marketing strategy could be significantly improving your bottom line.
What practices and strategies have worked best for you when it comes to content curation? If you haven’t tried curation yet, or if it hasn’t worked for you, what’s 1 step you can take this week to change that?
P.S: If you liked this article… let’s see how you curate it on your channels 😉