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Learn B2B Buyer Content Preferences: New Report

b2b-buyer-content-preferences-thumbEighty-eight percent of B2B companies participate in content marketing today. There’s a good reason for that: While there are certainly challenges to strategizing with content, it’s effective when done well. That’s because buyers in this digital market rely on content—accessible, value-driven content—to inform their purchasing decisions. So much so, in fact, that a recent report—the 2016 Content Preferences Survey Report—found more than half of B2B buyers rely on content to research their buying decisions. Besides content consumption stats, the data also reveals the content preferences of B2B buyers, providing critical insight into how to get more traction out of your brand’s content marketing initiatives. Let’s explore the findings.

Trustworthiness: A Buyer’s Top Content Priority

It’s not shocking that trustworthiness is a B2B buyer’s top content priority (see Figure 1 for a breakdown). One hundred percent of those surveyed reported their content “must come from a reliable source in order to impact their buying decision.”

That’s a no-brainer, right? The real question, then, is what makes brands and their content trustworthy? If we read further into the study, we learn another preference of buyers today: They’d like to see more insight from industry analysts. They want more data. They don’t want a slew of straight sales pitches—in fact, they can spot them a mile away.

Less Time to Read Calls for Shorter Formats

Just what types of content do B2B buyers want? Case studies are king—more on that in a minute—but one overarching theme in the survey findings points to a call for shorter formats. Infographics and blog posts, for example, have each gained five popularity percentage points since the same survey was conducted last year. Why? A whopping 73 percent of respondents indicated they have less time to research and read than they did just 12 short months ago. See Figure 2 below for a breakdown of the most valuable content types viewed by respondents during their decision-making processes.

Rapid-Fire Insights

Here are some additional insights from the report, rapid-fire style. After all, we did just talk about the value of shorter formats and impactful brevity, didn’t we?

  • Almost half (47 percent) of respondents indicated they viewed three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. Moral of the story: Have a robust content production schedule that can keep up with the needs of your audience. Don’t sacrifice quality, though—value-add wins over quantity every time. Note that 83 percent of buyers said they were overwhelmed by the amount of content available today, so make sure what you are producing is well-organized and easy to digest.
  • A substantial 73 percent of respondents viewed a case study during their research. A key takeaway from the report, in fact, mentions that “buyers want content that can help them benchmark their strategies and success stories from others facing similar challenges.” It’s the perfect scenario for case studies, so lean in on those when you can.
  • Almost all (96 percent) of respondents said they want more input from industry thought leaders. Trustworthiness is godliness when it comes to content, and your brand can gain the trust of your audience by engaging more industry thought leaders and outside voices in your content. Yes, your brand has a lot of good to say—and 95 percent of respondents said they were open to considering vendor-produced content as trustworthy—but mixing it up with fresh thought leader perspective now and then is your best bet.

What’s Next?

What’s your take on the content preferences revealed in this study? Reflect for a moment: How do you think your current content strategy stacks up to what the B2B buyer needs? If this question gives you pause, there are a number of budget-friendly content marketing tools you can turn to for guidance in addition to the tips I mentioned above. Have any additional questions on this topic? Leave them in the comments.

Eric Vidal
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