Late last month, the CMO Council, in partnership with NetLine Corporation, released a survey highlighting research conducted to understand the online content sourcing and sharing behaviors of B2B purchasers worldwide. The study found that content garnered from trusted sources is crucial to the discovery, qualification and selection of partners and vendors. In fact, a vast majority of business buyers—to the tune of 88 percent—believe that online content plays a significant role in vendor selection. From keeping them current on new technologies to providing strategic insights that shape purchase specifications, respondents overwhelmingly believe that strong content informs their decisions.
We’re all ears
Marketers are paying attention to this trend. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s recent B2B Content Marketing Study, 58 percent of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budgets over the next 12 months. This accounts for an estimated $16.6 billion annually in content publishing to acquire business leads, influence customer specification and consideration, and educate and engage prospects, according to the Custom Content Council and ContentWise.
Promotional to Pertinent
The key, however, is not just providing content, but rather taking the promotional messaging down a few notches in favor of informative, insightful and therefore more valuable content that reaches decision makers when they need it most. So how best to make the shift? Here are a few tips to help with the transition:
1) Provide third-party research. With all the information available to decision makers, like all of us, they’re increasingly reliant on neutral third-party information to make more educated buying decisions. Comprehensive industry/category surveys and studies and expert-originated content with supporting facts go a long way toward helping buyers along the purchasing cycle.
2) Offer different types of content. According to the CMO Council study, in each case, during buying process, decision makers are looking for a variety of formats in which to consume insight and intelligence. The top five content types most valued by respondents were research reports and studies, technical spec sheets and data sheets, analyst intelligence and insight, whitepapers and articles on trade publishing sites.
3) Vary the delivery mechanism. The polled respondents also indicated that they find content by means of search engines and portals, vendor websites and trusted sources, such as peers. That means not only developing insightful, well-researched content but also understanding who you’re reaching and where they go for their information. By matching up the content and with the way your audience consumes it, you’ll maximize the opportunity to reach them with the right information at the right time.
Let’s make a change
Buyers are clearly communicating their evolving needs, and responding to third-party, validated and trusted content that they can rely on to make decisions. Though marketers are responding, how they do so—and how quickly—will determine their success in helping decision makers along the purchasing journey.