Content Marketing by the Numbers: 49 Facts You Need to Know

From Boston Content's Executive Director, @KatieMartell

Oh what a night.

Earlier this week Boston Content teamed up with Pathfactory, LogMeIn, and Hubspot’s INBOUND conference to bring together over 200 content professionals for a night of research, trends, and networking.

Grab a seat and watch the full event recording here.

Words matter - but this night was all about the numbers. 


I’ll admit, I love research data. I love the way numbers tell a story in a way words alone cannot. (My sister has a PhD so some of that #nerdlife must have rubbed off on me.)

I really wanted to put together a night that was all about new research in the field of content.

In preparation, I looked up the etymology of the phrase “by the numbers” – which refers to doing something precisely, in a strict sequence, or step by step. It goes back to the American Revolutionary War where a book containing numbered positions for rifle and bayonet practice was used to train soldiers. Each diagram was numbered.

By the Numbers

Looks fun.


In a way it’s kind of ironic, because right now nothing is precise in our world of content. From the job scope itself, to best practices, to which channels are the most effective, things are changing quickly. The best way to learn is truly to experiment, and build community around the profession to share what works – and what doesn’t.

(PRO TIP: That’s why Boston Content exists. Join here, it’s free.)

Here are 49 – YES 49 - facts shared by our speakers:


RE: Content Consumption Habits

Speaker: Daniel Waas, VP Marketing GoToWebinar


Photo by Katie Burkhart

Photo by Katie Burkhart


1. B2C Motivations for Consuming Content

  •  18% of consumers seek entertainment – an amusing escape to relax, take a mental break and a mood improvement
  •  17% of consumers seek to update socially – seeking relaxing info that will keep them updated on what’s going on, allow them to relax, or take a mental break
  • 16% of consumers seek to find – looking for answers, to research something specific, learn something new, get new ideas, or get support/advice.

(Source: Content Moments Study, AOL, 2017)

2. B2B Motivations for Consuming Content

  • To learn new knowledge or skills
  • To stay up-to-date with industry trends
  • To get fresh ideas

(Source: GoToWebinar Content Consumption Study 2018)

3. Most valuable topics for B2B professionals:

  • Best practices / educational topics
  • Stats & research findings
  • Industry news

(Source: GoToWebinar Content Consumption Study 2018)

4. What B2B professionals dislike most about content:

  • Too promotional
  • Too wordy
  • Too high-level

(Source: GoToWebinar Content Consumption Study 2018)

5. Why certain content keeps readers’ interest:

  • It’s easy-to-understand
  • It’s educational
  • It’s entertaining

(Source: GoToWebinar Content Consumption Study 2018)

6. What generations consume webinars at work:

  • 43% of baby boomers
  • 47% of generation X
  • 44% of millennials

    (Source: GoToWebinar Content Consumption Study 2018)

7. What generations consume video at work:

  • 39% of baby boomers
  • 48% of generation X
  • 57% of millennials

(Source: GoToWebinar Content Consumption Study 2018)

8. What generations consume blogs at work

  • 16% of baby boomers
  • 28% generation X
  • 37% millennials

(Source: GoToWebinar Content Consumption Study 2018)

9. What generations consume newsletters at work:

  • 57% of baby boomers
  • 54% generation X
  • 49% millennials

(Source: GoToWebinar Content Consumption Study 2018)


RE: The State of B2B Buyers and Marketing

Speaker: Katie Martell, On-demand Marketer and Exec Director of Boston Content (hey that's me!)


Photo by Katie Burkhart 

Photo by Katie Burkhart 


10. Information overload

We are exposed to as much data in a single day as someone in the 15th century would be in their entire lifetime.

11. No really, information OVERLOAD

Every day, Americans take in five times as much information as they did in 1986.

12. Buyers are being buried by email.

The average office worker receives 121 emails per day. (per Statista)

13. Our B2B buyers are distracted

  • They switch between tasks 300 times a day - RescueTime
  • They use 56 different apps and websites a day - RescueTime
  • They check email or IM 40 times every day (once every 7.5 minutes) - RescueTime
  • They check their phones 150 times every day (once every 5 minutes) - NBC News, Feb 2018

14. Marketers aren’t helping the matter

2,000,000 blogs are published every day – MarketingProfs

15. The volume is compounding

The amount of web-based content is doubling every 9 to 24 months. - Mark Schaefer in 2013

16. It’s created content-obsessed buyers

And a new diagnosis: “infomania” referring to the compulsive desire to accumulate news & information.

17. The impact of content overload is real

It creates a condition called “Continuous Partial Attention” which leads to higher levels of stress in the brain prohibiting reflection, contemplation + thoughtful decisions.

18. Content plays a major role in the B2B sales process.

70.2% of buyers prefer to get a clear understanding of their needs before they talk with a sales rep (self-education.)  - CSO Insights 2018 Buyer Preference Study

19. But it isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Remember infomania?

“Buyers may be better informed than ever, but they’re deeply uncertain and stressed.” – CEB/Gartner

20. Buying takes longer than ever

65% of buyers spend as much time they’d expected to spend on the  entire purchase  just getting ready to speak with a sales rep – CEB / Gartner

21. And that means sales are decelerating

An 18% decrease in purchase ease is created, as content overload “pushes decision makers
into unproductive, open-ended learning loops” – CEB / Gartner

22. More content is not the answer

60-70% of all content churned out by B2B marketing departments sits unused by Sales – SiriusDecisions

23. The key is relevance.

There are 4 keys to relevant content for large B2B accounts:

  1. Educate on the space
  2. Contextualize to my business
  3. Prescribe a plan of action
  4. Experience the process and outcome


24. Breaking through requires NEW, ORIGINAL insight.

50% of B2B buyers want vendors to share insights that they haven’t considered - Forrester

25. Buyers are open to engaging with a vendor when the time is right.

Notably, when a business challenge is:

  • New and unfamiliar to the buyer
  • Perceived as risky for the buyer’s company
  • Perceived as risky for the individual buyer

Source: CSO Insights

26. Our buyers are stressed out, like all Americans

59% of Americans consider this the lowest point in US History. They are more stressed than during WW2, Vietnam, Cuban Missile Crisis, or 9/11.

Source: American Psychological Association’s report, "Stress in America™"

27. This creates a world of confusion and mistrust.

In 2018, the US saw the largest decline in trust in four major institutions (NGO, Business, Government, and Media) in 18 years.

Source: Edelman Trust Barometer Report

28. Businesses struggle to gain trust – the precursor to any meaningful relationship

42% of consumers don't know which companies to trust.

Source: Edelman Trust Barometer Report

29. But CEOs know it’s their #1 responsibility

69% of CEOs believe their top responsibility is to ensure their company is trusted.

Source: Edelman Trust Barometer Report

30. Buyers seek voices of authority

Technical experts, financial industry analysts, and successful entrepreneurs now register credibility levels of 50 percent or higher. (In previous years, peers had held higher levels of authority and trust.)

Source: Edelman Trust Barometer Report

31. Business plays a more visible role in society than ever

64% of buyers say CEOs should take the lead on change rather than waiting for government to impose it.

Source: Edelman

32. It’s time for all companies to step up and lead via thought.

15% of CXOs spend four hours or more per week engaging with thought leadership

Source: Edelman and LinkedIn

33. Thought leadership has direct business impact

  • 80% of business decision makers say thought leadership increases trust in a vendor
  • 48% of c-suite execs claim thought leadership has directly led them to award business to a company
  • 90%  of c-suite execs claim respect & admiration increases for a vendor after engaging with thought leadership

Source: Edelman and LinkedIn

34. Thought leadership done poorly has dire consequences.

30% of buyers say poor thought leadership “led me to decide to not award a piece of business to a company”

Source: Edelman and LinkedIn

35. And TBH, we’re not doing great

Only 14% of buyers say the overall quality of most of the thought leadership they read is “very good” or “excellent.”

Source: Edelman & LinkedIn

KATIE'S PRO TIP: Be strategic. Use content to set a bold vision for what could be, differentiate, galvanize, and lead through chaos.

SHAMELESS PLUG: My new book is all about this topic. I write about what makes transformative voices so effective in times like these. Sign up for my newsletter to be notified of its launch.



RE: The rise of on-demand content

Speaker: Elle Woulfe, VP of Marketing PathFactory


Photo by Katie Burkhart 

Photo by Katie Burkhart 

36. It’s an on-demand world

People now expect an on-demand experience in all aspects of their lives. Buyers want what they want, when they want it. They expect smart services that anticipate their needs.

37. The on-demand economy is growing

To be specific, to $57B by the end of 2018 as 78% of people now consume content on-demand

38. This trend applies to B2B

The on-demand experience in B2B marketing is about the journey through content. While B2B buyers don’t make purchase decisions at a moments notice – they do consume a lot of content along the path to purchase and the expectations they have cultivated in their consumer lives have carried through to their professional lives.

39. B2B buyers consume a lot of content

The average amount of content a buyer consumes before making a purchase decision is 10.4 pieces.

40. TBH, B2B Marketing doesn’t make it easy

The B2B buyer’s journey for most, is not the seamless, convenient experience they expect.

  • Not personalized - not tailored to their needs and responsive to where they are on the journey
  • Too slow – it moves at a pre-determined pace that is often far too slow for engaged buyers
  • Too hard - it is simply too complicated and difficult to navigate – leaving many buyers frustrated when they are researching B2B products and solutions

41. Content itself, though, is not the problem

Although we’ve seen a 300% increase in content creation, only 5% of content accounts for 90% of engagement.

Source: Beckon, Marketing Truth or Marketing Hype?, 2016

42. More distribution isn’t helping

281B emails are sent per day, along with 40B targeted ads delivered.

Source: Radicati Group, Email Statistics Report, 2018

43. The key is quality (and relevance) over quantity

The key to solving this problem in B2B comes down to one thing and it’s something that B2C vendors have known for a long time.

Think of the relevance of Netflix. You are served a set of highly curated recommendations that reflect your past viewing habits and preferences. Netflix knows everything about what you’ve watched and what you like and they use that insight to power a highly relevant recommendation just for you.

44. Netflix is not guessing

Netflix knows a lot about you to tailor the experience:

What Netflix knows:

  • When you watch a show
  • Where you watch it
  • On which device do you watch it
  • Do the nature of shows vary with the device
  • When you pause a program
  • Do you re-watch any portion of a program
  • Do you skip the credits or not
  • The ratings
  • The searches
  • What to recommend next
  • What content to make

45. That data drives a personalized, curated experience

80% of Netflix’s viewing is driven by the recommendation algorithm, and the success rates for Netflix’s original shows are 80% vs. 30%-40% success rates of traditional TV shows – without pilots.

46. Designing an on-demand B2B experience operates under the same parameters:

In a B2B content experience, you collect data like:

  • Which pieces of content a buyer found most useful
  • What the content was about
  • Which topics they’re most interested in
  • Who they are, and if others from his company are engaged
  • Where they are in the buyer’s journey and if they’re progressing
  • What they should see next
  • What action you should take

47. But, marketers struggle to create those experiences today

Only 23% of marketers are satisfied with their ability to leverage customer data to create more relevant experiences.

Source: Salesforce, State of Marketing report, 2017

 48. Although it’s what buyers have come to expect

“B2B consumers expect that the brand experiences they encounter in their professional lives will have the same sophistication and consistency as those they experience in their personal lives.”

Source: The Birth of the B2B Consumer, Forrester Research, 2017

49. Our value as marketers depends on providing this kind of insight.

Passing better information about accounts and prospects is now the #1 ask for sales and marketing teams  

Source: InsideView: The State of Sales and Marketing Alignment, 2018



Phew. Talk about information overload. 

Thank you again to our speakers, partners, and all who came out for Content Marketing By the Numbers at INBOUND 2018.

Click here to view the entire event on-demand.