Driven by advancements in technology, the lure of a connected audience and the ease of creation, countless reports show that we’re now generating more content than ever before. 

The rise of content marketing has turned many brands into established publishers, and now, we shouldn’t be surprised to see our favourite companies dishing out streams of blogs, infographics, videos and more.

Free content represents an appeasing deal for the consumer. However, these efforts do amount to an allocation of money and time at the other end, and there are signs that tracking a return from content remains an issue for marketers in the US. 

Findings from the Content Marketing Institute’s fifth annual ‘B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends’ report, released this week and conducted on 1,820 respondents from North America, show that only 21% of content producers say they are successful at tracking ROI.

Pair this figure with the 70% of B2B marketers that have increased their content output since last year and it appears that companies are ploughing resource into their content strategies without the means to assess what it achieves. 

Uncertainty remains

A look further down the CMI’s readings also reveals issues with planning, proven in a table that shows the percentage of content marketers that work to a strategy that isn’t documented (48%) dwarfing those that have everything mapped out (35%).

In addition to this, 14% of content marketers are not even working to a strategy, while 3% are unsure about whether they have one on file. 

What’s perhaps more worrying are the goals that content marketers are looking to achieve, matched with their inability to track a return on investment.

A total of 75% say they’re looking to their content to boost sales, while 83% are on the hunt for solid leads. But when the marketers were asked about the metrics they used to define success, just 40% actually looked at their sales figures following the release of certain pieces.

When asked about tracking returns, 33% scored themselves a three out of ten, with 15% admitting to not tracking content ROI at all. 

Tracking becomes integral

Notes from the CMI’s report touched on industry’s issue with tracking, while offering some respite to those struggling to gauge a return on investment.

“As these percentages show, many B2B marketers have a tough time tracking ROI. Having documented content marketing helps, though, as 35% of those who possess one are successful in this arena, compared with the 21% average for the overall sample.”

Furthermore, with measurement and tracking ROI scoring high in areas B2B content marketers wanted to learn more about, change could be on the horizon.

“It was encouraging to see that the initiatives marketers are working on now align with the challenges,” the report noted. 

“The number one initiative is ‘creating engaging content’. The number one initiative marketers plan to begin working on within the next 12 months is ‘measuring content effectiveness’.”