A recent study shows that nine out of 10 B2B firms use content to market their brands.

A recent study from the Business Marketing Association, MarketingProfs, American Business Media and Junta42 shows that nine out of 10 B2B firms use content to market their brands. The 2010 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Trends and Budgets report shows that businesses are increasingly distributing content through myriad channels and using it to support multiple marketing goals, and marketers who want to keep their brands in the game may want to follow suit.

According to the study, B2B marketers currently allocate more than one-quarter of their budgets to content development. More than half anticipate spending more on content marketing in 2011. Content marketers predominantly use social channels (79 percent), articles (78 percent) and email newsletters (61 percent).

More than half of businesses use a combination of in-house and outsourced resources in their content marketing campaigns. Most identify brand awareness as the primary goal of content marketing, closely followed by customer retention and lead generation.

The biggest challenge of content marketing is producing engaging content, with 36 percent of businesses citing this issue as their top concern. Marketers planning campaigns should consider the recent findings of a Perfect Marketer survey, reported by Brafton, which indicate that journalistic content produces more profitable traffic than trendy content.

While many marketers said they struggle to understand the efficacy of their content strategies, it seems investing in content development is key to success. A subset of respondents who believe their content marketing is effective or very effective are out-investing their competitors, allocating larger shares of their budgets to content marketing.

Companies – B2B or otherwise – should consider devoting more of their marketing dollars to content marketing in 2011 to stay ahead of the curve. As Brafton reported earlier this year, marketing analysis firm The Bloom Group says that researched content sets apart industry thought leaders from marketing laggards, with companies investing more in content boasting triple the monthly leads of the laggards.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.