At Summit 2013, we stated that 60 percent to 70 percent of content produced by B2B marketing organizations goes unused, sitting on sales portals and Web site shelves.  This statistic was eye-opening to many marketing leaders, who realized that they put a lot of time and effort into content creation, delivery and curation without obtaining clear content usage measurements or an understanding of whether the content is valued by its audiences.

What I found even more surprising was the number of clients who told us after we released this statistic that their content non-usage rates were even higher. They reported that more than 80 percent of their content went unused, and they spent millions of dollars on content that was never viewed or downloaded.

One of the biggest recent trends we have witnessed among SiriusDecisions clients is their recognition of a marketing content problem – and marketing leaders’ subsequent decision to transform the enterprise-wide content processes to make marketers more efficient and content more effective.

The awareness that content should have an ROI (i.e. that content is not free) has been a huge driver of this change.  A secondary factor is the shift from product-centric content to audience-centric content in order to generate the types of conversations that buyers and sellers now need to have. These conversations cover thematic issues, problems, opportunities and topics that are related to the offering but involve more than simply discussing the offering. The bottom line is that B2B buyers want to learn more than what the product is or does; they are trying to also gather information on how to solve a problem or capitalize on an opportunity.

The needs and interests of the buying audience require the creation of buyer-centric content or, more precisely, content for individual buyer personas. Yet B2B content factories continue to struggle to produce buyer-centric content – or enough buyer-centric content to feed the requirements of the campaign, digital marketing and sales teams.

In  a recent survey on content marketing, we asked respondents to name their three biggest challenges in creating buyer-centric content. The top result was a lack of persona-based insights, which was related to the access, availability and accuracy of the data the organization had on buyers and their buying behavior. In addition to time, resources and money, the root cause of the content problem is that content is not created based on intelligence about the buyer persona and knowledge of how they buy.