There's good news for you content marketers out there - the Demand Gen Report’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey found that 51% of B2B buyers are relying more on content to research their buying options than they did last year. Interestingly enough, while B2B buyers are relying more on content for pre-purchase research, 73% said they had less time to spend consuming content than they did a year ago.
The conclusion for B2B sellers from these 2 data points is that your content needs to clear and concise. As Richard Belzer says, "get to the verb, Ceasar." This is just one of the interesting findings from the Demand Gen Report survey. For B2B sellers, a review of what buyers had to say is a good place to start when forming your content marketing strategy. So with no further ado, here's what buyers want and how you can give it to them.
Buyers want concise content that educates
This is hardly surprising considering the pressure to produce that we all face - we simply don't have time for fluff.
The Content Preference Survey found that 100% of buyers, "place a higher emphasis on the trustworthiness of the source." But good news for content marketers - 95% are "willing to consider vendor-related content as a trustworthy."
The takeaway is that buyers want content that educates them, not content that tries to sell them.
And buyers want content that is easy to consume - 88% of survey respondents preferred shorter content forms. Here are a few suggestions to make your content more easy to consume.
- Structure your content so that buyers can quickly find the content they're looking for. Use clear headers, images that illustrate ideas and concepts, bulleted and numbered lists. Make your content easy to read - use larger fonts and line spacing.
- Structure your content so that it's mobile friendly. Use web templates that respond to the devices that it's being consumed on. And test your content! Don't just look at how your software says it will look - look at it on your smartphone or tablet.
- Publish visual-based content forms like videos, infographics and webinars. A picture is worth a thousand words and you're buyers don't have time for a thousand words.
Buyers want trustworthy content
Remember that every single survey respondent placed a higher emphasis on the trustworthiness of the content source. This manifest itself in a few important ways.
77% of buyers identified third-party/analyst reports as "the most valuable content viewed during the decision-making process." It's much more valuable to hear a trusted peer sing your praises than to hear a self-serving sales message. Here are a few things you can do to make your content more credible.
- Case studies are an essential tool in the buyer's decision-making process. 72% of buyers identified case studies as "the most valuable content viewed during the decision-making process." It's worth investing time and resources in producing professional case studies that show how you have successfully helped other customers solve problems.
- Shareworthy content adds credibility to your content marketing. 68% of survey respondents said that they are getting more of their content through social networks or peer recommendations. There's no way to rig that game - the only way your content is going to be shared by trusted peers is if it is good.
- Two words - stop selling!!!! There's nothing that turns off today's buyers quicker than a thinly veiled sales pitch. Buyers have finely tuned bullshit detectors and they're always on.
Buyer content preferences
When asked what content format buyers used to make decisions in the past twelve months, the top five responses were:
- White papers - 82%
- Webinars - 78%
- Case studies - 73%
- eBooks - 67%
- Infographics and blog posts - 66%
These content formats are the backbone of a modern content marketing effort - they are affordable and any business of any size can compete in the content marketing arena with these content formats. The difference is in the details - the quality and presentation of your content. Good content will find an audience.
The types of content buyers prefer is illustrated in the attached image, courtesy of The Demand Gen Report 2016 Content Preferences Survey.
Buyer preference for prescriptive content is backed up by HubSpot's research on compounding blog posts. Buyers are looking for tactical advice that helps them solve problems. This type of content should be the bread and butter of your strategy.
The findings of Demand Gen Reports survey provide a roadmap for content marketers - create credible, shareworthy content that is presented in an easy to digest format. With all the bad content out there, there are great opportunities for those that are producing good content. The cream will rise to the top.