Content is the foundation of all marketing today, and that trend will continue in 2022 based on the results in the recent 12th Annual B2B Content Marketing: Insights for 2022 report from the Content Marketing Institute. In other words, if your cannabis or cannabis-related business isn’t already prioritizing content marketing, then you need to create a strategy and carve out budget dollars to invest in it as soon as possible.
After reviewing the data in the report, there are five key areas of importance that cannabis brands (both plant-touching and ancillary brands) should know about B2B content marketing trends that will dominate in 2022. Let’s take a closer look at each, so you can develop a plan to maximize your investments and results.
1. B2B Content Marketing Goals and Problems
B2B marketers report that content marketing is extremely effective at helping them achieve multiple goals, particularly building brand awareness and trust. Following is the breakdown of the goals that content marketing has successfully helped B2B marketers achieve during 2021:
Create brand awareness: 80%
Build credibility and trust: 75%
Educate audience(s): 70%
Build loyalty with existing clients/customers: 60%
Generate demand/leads: 60%
Nurture subscribers/audiences/leads: 49%
Drive attendance to one or more in-person virtual events: 47%
Generate sales/revenue: 42%
Support the launch of a new product: 42%
Build a subscribed audience: 37%
However, achieving those goals in the past 12 months didn’t happen without challenges, and many of these challenges will continue in 2022. The top two obstacles B2B marketers face related to content marketing are creating content that appeals to multi-level roles within the target audience (44%) and accessing the subject matter experts to create content (42%).
Even more interesting are the challenges related to traditional sales and marketing. In total, 36% of B2B marketers said creating valuable content rather than sales-oriented content is a challenge, and 36% said overcoming traditional marketing and sales mindsets is a challenge. In other words, today’s content marketing is successful when it adapts to meet buyers where they are, not when it tries to force traditional sales and marketing on them. Companies that successfully leverage content marketing in 2022 will be the ones that recognize the shift and adapt to it.
2. What Content to Create and How to Create It
According to the data, the most successful B2B content marketers in 2021 were more likely to use case studies, ebooks, white papers, long articles and blog posts, and research reports than less successful marketers.
In terms of what types of content B2B content marketers created in 2021, short articles and blog posts were the most popular by a significant margin:
Short articles/posts (fewer than 3,000 words): 90%
Virtual events/webinars/online courses: 64%
Case studies: 61%
Infographics/charts/data visualizations, 3D models: 57%
Ebooks/white papers: 56%
Long articles/posts (more than 3,000 words): 49%
Research reports: 29%
In-person events: 19%
Livestreaming content: 19%
Print magazines or books: 17%
None of the above: 2%
Of those types of content, B2B content marketers ranked virtual events/webinars/online courses as the assets that produced the best results in 2021 (58%), followed by research reports (48%), short articles/posts of fewer than 3,000 words (48%), and ebooks/white papers (47%).
In order to create all of that content in 2021, half of the B2B organizations surveyed in the study outsourced some or all content marketing creation. Interestingly, larger companies were more likely to outsource content creation than smaller companies, and the most successful companies (regardless of size) were more likely to outsource. Bottom-line, if you’re not already outsourcing content creation, you should consider doing so in 2022.
3. Content Distribution
B2B marketers used a variety of owned, earned, and paid media to distribute content during 2021 with nine in 10 (90%) distributing their content on the company’s website. More than half of respondents also distributed their content on the company’s blog (76%), email newsletter (69%), and other non-newsletter email marketing campaigns (68%).
Among the types of nonpaid (organic or earned) media used to distribute content in 2021, the top three were media/public relations (52%), speaking/presenting at events (52%), and guest posts/articles in third-party publications (43%).
More than eight out of 10 marketers (81%) reported using paid media to distribute their company’s content, and 77% did so through social media with LinkedIn ranking as the social media platform that produced the best results (79%) followed by Facebook (54%). The paid content distribution channels B2B marketers used in 2021 were:
Social media advertising/promoted posts: 77%
Search engine marketing (SEM)/pay-per-click: 65%
Sponsorships (e.g., events, booths, workshops): 49%
Native advertising/sponsored content (not including social media platforms): 39%
Partner emails promoting our content: 31%
As the data shows, a combination of owned, earned, and paid media distribution should be a part of your content marketing strategy in 2022 to get the best results.
4. Tools and Data
To create, distribute, track, analyze, and optimize content marketing investments, B2B companies typically use multiple technologies. Depending on the size of your organization and content marketing team, you may or may not need a full suite of tools, but it’s important to make sure you’re not missing any critical platforms in your software stack.
More than half of B2B organizations are using the following technologies to support their content marketing initiatives:
Analytics tools (e.g., web analytics, dashboards): 83%
Social media publishing/analytics: 80%
Email marketing software: 75%
Content creation/calendaring/collaboration/workflow: 73%
Customer relationship management (CRM) system: 53%
When it comes to collecting data to track B2B content marketing performance, more than half of marketers say the following metrics provide the most insights:
Website engagement: 69%
Website traffic: 65%
Email engagement: 64%
Social media analytics: 51%
To keep up with B2B competitors in 2022, your content marketing data should allow you to track all of these metrics in a timely and reliable way.
5. What’s Coming in 2022?
Two out of three B2B organizations (66%) plan to increase their content marketing budgets in 2022. The top 10 areas where they plan to invest during 2022 are:
Events (digital, in-person, hybrid): 61%
Owned media assets: 57%
Paid media: 55%
Social media management/community building: 39%
Earned media: 38%
Content distribution: 33%
Getting to know audiences better: 32%
Content marketing technologies: 31%
User experience (UX) design: 29%
At the same time, B2B organizations expect several content marketing-related areas to be particularly important in 2022:
Changes to SEO/search algorithms: 62%
Data management/analytics: 50%
Content marketing as a revenue center: 44%
Changes to social media algorithms: 42%
Other areas of concern among smaller audiences of B2B organizations include data privacy, voice search, and content security. We can expect these areas will grow in importance in the next 12 months, but for now, they appear to be a lesser concern among B2B content marketers. Today, it seems like more marketers are trying to catch up than prepare for the future (goodbye Google third party cookies).
Key Takeaways about B2B Content Marketing in 2022 for Cannabis Brands
The key takeaways B2B content marketers in the cannabis industry can learn from the research are critical to creating a strategy that will drive positive results in 2022. First, understand that what works in content marketing today isn’t the same as the traditional sales and marketing tactics that were used in the past – even those used just a few years ago.
Second, be willing to outsource content creation like the most successful B2B marketing organizations do. Third, include investments in owned, earned, and paid media in your content distribution plans for 2022. Fourth, make sure you have the tools you need to track the most essential content marketing data. Finally, prioritize both current and future challenges because the future will come faster than you think.