Content marketing in 2019 will see the tandem rise of efficacy across organic and paid campaigns. Marketers now have more than a decade of experience creating, measuring and distributing content, albeit the goalposts seem to shift as often as Google changes its algorithms (which it does on a smaller scale about 2,000 times a year).

Compiled in this report are 129 data points that are key to understanding the state of content marketing in 2019 as well as insights that are fundamental to knowing what tools are on the market, where investments are being made, where revenue growth is occurring and what changes are still on the horizon.

B2C and B2B marketers alike will find practical industry benchmarks against which they can compare their own technologies, performance metrics and marketing spend.

Content management systems

Across the entire internet, websites are most often built on the following CMS:

  • WordPress: 52%
  • Wix: 7%
  • Joomla: 4%
  • Progress Sitefinity: 4%
  • Squarespace: 4%
  • Google Search Appliance, Drupal, Weebly, GoDaddy: 3% or less

E-commerce platforms

Based on number of customers, the following e-commerce platforms comprise the top five market share:

  • Weebly: 440,000+ customers
  • Shopify: 377,000+ customers
  • Open Cart: 300,000+ customers
  • Squarespace: 250,000+ customers
  • Magento: 240,000+ customers

However, total online sales (in dollars) driven by e-commerce platforms paint a different picture. This is due to SMBs and solo startups opting for cheaper, more simplistic platforms capable of handling low-volume inventory and sales. Larger e-commerce brands are more apt to transact over the following platforms:

  • Magento: $36 billion
  • Shopify: $29 billion
  • Volusion: $24 billion
  • Squarespace: $17.5 billion
  • SellerDeck: $15 billion

Email marketing

Email marketing’s importance cannot be overstated. Behind social media software, email marketing technology is the second-most commonly used tool in the industry – even more prevalent than general analytics tools, marketing automation systems and project management suites.

Additionally, the primary way both B2B and B2C marketers nurture their audience is through email. And it makes sense: For every $1 dollar spent on email marketing, $38 is returned.

The platforms available to marketers are wide-ranging, making the only thing preventing higher-distribution ROI is selecting a tool and integrating it within existing company operations effectively.

Platforms

Based on number of users, top platforms include:

(These platforms focus exclusively on email marketing, and are not all-purpose marketing automation platforms.)

  • Campaign Monitor: 2 million users
  • Vertical Response: 1.6 million users
  • Benchmark: 1.5 million users
  • iContact: 840,000 users
  • Constant Contact: 650,000 users

Types of marketing automation

Currently, about half of organizations use some form of marketing automation, though nearly 60% of B2B marketers plan to incorporate more automation into their workflows. Commonly used types of automation include:

  • CRM
  • Lead management
  • Workflow
  • Analytics
  • Advertising
  • Email marketing
  • Distribution
  • A/B testing

Businesses list the top three benefits of their marketing automation platforms as:

  1. Improved message targeting.
  2. Better customer experience.
  3. Higher lead quality.

Marketing automation spend

55% of CMOs plan to increase their marketing automation in the year ahead, and total investment in marketing technology is growing 14% each year. But data shows that high-performing marketers are the ones driving most of the martech investment growth. Late- or non-adopters are still sitting on the sidelines or are using a single automated tool.

One of the reasons adoption of martech is still fairly low is that companies have been unable to keep up with the pace of technological change: 56% of marketers say martech is evolving faster than their ability to use it.

New tools are rolling out every year, and software suites continue to be expanded for greater comprehensiveness. However, marketers often have one investment window each fiscal year. By the time they purchase an automation tool and familiarize themselves with it, other options are already available. It can take months or years to fully integrate a new workflow tool into modern marketing departments of larger organizations, so there may be a perpetual feeling of playing catchup.

Marketing automation platforms

Based on number of users, the following platforms maintain top popularity throughout the industry:

  • MailChimp: 15 million users
  • GetResponse: 350,000 users
  • HubSpot: 210,000 users
  • Oracle Marketing Cloud: 130,000 users
  • InfusionSoft: 130,000 users

Social media marketing

There is still a sense of social media ROI being too intangible heading into 2019. While engagement and followers signal a certain level of success, organizations are looking for harder data that proves the investment value of social media. As such, companies are ramping up spend toward paid social campaigns, which can be easily monitored, measured and manipulated to generate the returns they’re looking for.

Social media spend

  • 1 out of every 3 minutes users spend online is on social media.
  • 1 million new social media users are born every day (aka babies who will eventually become social media users).
  • Social media ad spend is growing by more than 10% every year (budgets will double by 2023).
  • Social media ad revenue is higher than $50 billion annually.
  • 70% of B2B marketers invest in Sponsored Content on social media.

Below are the most popular social media channels ordered by their adoption rate among B2C and B2B marketers:

Top B2C social channels

  • Facebook: 97%
  • Instagram: 72%
  • Twitter: 62%
  • YouTube: 51%
  • LinkedIn: 47%

Top B2B social channels

  • Facebook: 91%
  • LinkedIn: 79%
  • Twitter: 70%
  • Instagram: 57%
  • YouTube: 52%

Social media marketing software

Based on number of users, the following platforms make up the top five tools that marketers are using:

  • Hootsuite: 2.1 million users
  • Buffer: 993,000 users
  • Sprout Social: 216,000 users
  • Statusbrew: 150,000 users
  • Sprinklr: 130,000 users

Project management software

Based on number of users, the most popular PM tools are:

  • Atlassian: 65 million users
  • Microsoft Project: 22 million users
  • Basecamp: 15 million users
  • Trello: 4.75 million users
  • Teamwork Projects: 3.4 million users

Customer relationship management software

Based on number of users, marketers are using the following CRMs:

  • Zoho: 20+ million users
  • SAP: 8+ million users
  • Salesforce: 7+ million users
  • Oracle Sales Cloud: 4.6+ million users
  • Microsoft Dynamics: 4.4+ million users

Website stats

Mobile continues its dominance in total worldwide web traffic, and businesses are seeing their mobile conversion rates slowly reach parity with desktop conversion rates. That’s a good sign for e-commerce brands, as mobile purchasing is on the rise.

On the other hand, companies still have a ways to go until their mobile page loading times better match the demands of users — far too many pages have too many elements that slow down page speed, thus impacting conversion opportunities.

In total, the web is becoming much more secure, with Google now pushing HTTPS as a ranking factor and the vast majority of traffic occurring on secure sites.

Digital advertising spend

Total content marketing spend and trends

The total market value of the content marketing industry is growing 16% every year, with three primary factors driving this growth:

  1. Greater brand awareness.
  2. Cheaper than traditional marketing and advertising.
  3. Higher conversion rates.

Total spend on content marketing is nearly $400 billion annually, and U.S. brands and agencies are spending close to $80 billion on SEO services.

B2B content format trends

Audio/visual content is driving increases in content creation spend (64%). Videos, livestreams and webinars are becoming core content formats for B2B marketers. Marketers are also ramping up their traditional written content as well, such as blog articles and eBooks (61%). Surprisingly, investments in creating podcasts has mostly remained static in the past year.

B2C content format trends

Similar to the B2B space, B2C marketers (69%) are investing more in audio/visual content. They’re also increasing their creation of written content — even at higher rates than B2B marketers (64% vs. 61%).

Where B2C and B2B marketers differ is in the usage of social media stories as a defined content category. 69% of B2C marketers are using storytelling via social media as a content format versus just 37% of B2B marketers.

B2B investment trends

Half of B2B marketers are increasing their content marketing budgets in 2019. 40% don’t measure ROI, and an additional 11% are “unsure.”

The top three areas of content marketing that are being allocated more dollars are, in order:

  1. Content creation (56%)
  2. Staff (37%)
  3. Paid content distribution (36%)

B2C investment trends

57% of B2C marketers are increasing their content marketing budgets in 2019. On the other hand, 57% don’t measure ROI at all. Another 11% are either unsure if they measure, or are unclear on how to.

The top three areas of content marketing that are being allocated more dollars are, in order:

  1. Content creation (56%)
  2. Paid content distribution (37%)
  3. Staff (34%)

B2B marketing strategy trends

  • 60% of B2B brands are aiming to adopt an account-based marketing model.
  • 41% of B2B marketers want their content marketing to not just generate leads but convert them as well.
  • 60% of B2B marketers say email is their best channel for generating revenue, prompting them to pivot toward email marketing personalization.

B2C marketing strategy trends

  • 80% of consumers say speed, convenience, knowledgeable help and friendliness are the top customer-experience traits that shape their likelihood of purchasing, pushing B2C brands to follow an Amazon model of customer-first.
  • Changes to search-engine and social-media algorithms are the top two most pressing issues on the minds of B2C marketers (63% and 59%, respectively).
  • 70% of B2C brands primarily use social media listening as their top technique for researching their audience. (It’s only the fifth-best technique according to B2B marketers.)

Conversion rate trends (paid & organic)

Conclusion

Companies rate their content marketing as more successful (74% B2C, 70% B2B) than it was the year prior, a trend that continues to inch upward.

That’s a good sign, though still not as promising as it could be considering content marketing has been termed the “last type of marketing left.” Brands’ lack of metrics proficiency is still inexcusably glaring, and it’s the central barrier keeping them back from achieving ROI – or even knowing what ROI for their organization looks like.

As artificial intelligence and programmatic technologies become native to automation platforms, the issue of poor measurement could be resolved by algorithms, not increased human expertise.

Mike O'Neill is a writer, editor and content manager in Chicago. When he's not keeping a close eye on Brafton's editorial content, he's auditioning to narrate the next Ken Burns documentary. All buzzwords are his own.