Demand Gen Report’s 2018 Content Preferences Survey collects intel from B2B marketing and sales professionals. The survey uncovers patterns in content consumption, including which types of content marketing are resonating the most with B2B buyers.
The B2B content marketing space is becoming increasingly crowded each year, which means that content consumers’ scarce time is divided amongst a plethora of content sources. As a result, this audience is increasingly choosey about the content they consume. Here are six takeaways from the survey that can help content producers to break through the noise.
49% of B2B buyers reported that they now rely more on content to research and make smart purchase decisions. Research-backed content is often what differentiates credible industry sources from the rest. This year’s study found that content consumers prefer pieces backed by researched findings, with 75% strongly agreeing that producers should use more data and research to support their claims and suggestions. Additionally, 63% agree that content creators should provide more benchmarking data. Firms should strive to back their content claims with research—primary or secondary—to establish credibility amongst B2B purchasers.
Establishing credibility matters, with 65% of content consumers strongly agreeing they have higher preferences for credible content from industry influencers, and 78% of B2B buyers placing a higher emphasis on trustworthiness in the content’s source, a 3% increase from last year.
Case studies, white papers and blogs were used by over 70% of B2B buyers throughout the past year. These forms of thought leadership are likely to resonate with B2B buyers, however content form preference depends on the stage of the buyer’s journey.
Content preferred in the early stage of the buying journey includes highly accessible content with minimal investment, such as infographics (preferred by 76%), B2B media/news sites (65%), podcasts (64%), E-books (62%), and industry newsletters/publications (61%).
Content preferred in the mid stage of the funnel included third party/analyst reports (preferred by 48%), webinars (48%), interactive content (43%), case studies (42%), and blogs (40%).
Finally, late stage buyers prefer to consume value-driven content, such as ROI calculators (preferred by 48%), case studies (42%), assessments (40%), and third party/analyst reports (25%).
This underscores a need for firms to leverage different forms of content based on the audience they are targeting and the message that they are delivering. While infographics, podcasts and e-books might be ideally suited to deliver educational content, they should not be expected to perform equally well at the bottom of the marketing funnel.
As B2B purchasers rely increasingly on content that demonstrates value to their firm and return on investment, especially late in the marketing funnel, firms should strive to provide specific insights into how their solutions will benefit customers.
Not surprisingly, survey respondents cited case studies (consumed by 79%) and whitepapers (71%) as preferred content types that fulfill these needs. A majority of firms surveyed (88%) agreed that content producers need to focus less on product specifics and more on the value that can be brought to their business.
Blog content is viewed by 77% of buyers during their purchasing process, a 6% increase over last year, indicating a surge in this easily accessible and digestible format. Furthermore, blog posts were cited as the most likely to be shared with peers and colleagues, with 74% of content consumers reporting that they share blogs often.
Also popular this year is the podcast, topping the list as the content format that B2B consumers are willing to spend the most time with, and tying with whitepapers as the format that consumers are most willing to register for or share information to receive. In fact, ¾ of respondents indicate that they would share more information to receive webinar content.
Other forms of content that are likely to be shared include case studies, infographics, and webinars. Along with blogs and podcasts, these formats came out on top in share-ability, with over 60% reporting that they often share these formats with colleagues and peers.
With limited time for research, buyers prefer content packaged together by business need. Buyers surveyed expressed particular interest in content organized by industry (preferred by 64%), business role (52%) and specific vertical (46%).
Whether it’s a blog filterable by topic, an e-book focused on a particular business challenge, or areas of a website devoted solely to specific challenges and industry verticals, content should be aimed at solving particular business needs or pain points.
Content should be easily accessible and mobile optimized in order to earn attention. Roughly 84% of respondents said that they either frequently or occasionally access business-related content on their smartphone, and 66% of B2B buyers strongly agree that companies should make it easier to access their content—from fewer form fields to single-click to access.
In today’s crowded space, many buyers are willing to spend no more than five minutes reviewing most content, and so firms must establish credibility, post regularly, and continually focus their content on solving their audience’s business needs in order to stay relevant.
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