The 2020 Content Preferences Study from Demand Gen Report (DGR) is packed with insights to help you create more content that your B2B buyers will use and trust. The annual survey digs into how B2B executives view and use marketing content when they’re investigating, evaluation and purchasing products and services.
DGR asked 214 B2B executives from a range of industries what recommendations they would make to improve the quality of the content they see from B2B vendors. Let’s look at each of their responses in more depth to discover what it means for our own content creation.
Support Content with More Data & Research
B2B buyers don’t want vague promises or descriptions. They want concrete facts that engender reliability and help them understand the solution. Trustworthiness continues to be a major factor for B2B buyers. In fact, over the past year, respondents said that the factor that had changed most in terms of content consumption was placing more emphasis on trustworthiness of the sources.
Here are some suggestions for ensuring that you’re including data and research in your content:
- Work with customers to quantify the results they’ve experienced as a result of purchasing and implementing your product or service. Has it helped them reduce time to complete a process from three days to two hours? Has productivity increased by 15%? Have they been able to reduce errors in a work process by 78%?
- Do your own market research. Check out my recent post on how to use marketing surveys to gain deeper knowledge of your customers.
- Find reports from respected industry analysts to cite in your marketing content. They’re excellent at providing supporting data on industry trends and buyer perspectives.
Curb the Sales Messages
Your B2B buyers want to work with brands that they feel understand their challenges and their needs. They don’t appreciate a hard sell that says, “We just want your money. We don’t really care what happens after that.”
Also, keep in mind where your buyers are in the buyer’s journey. In the early stage, they are simply trying to get the lay of the land, understand what’s happening in terms of new solutions for common challenges and educate themselves on what’s out there. As they begin to consider the pros and cons of different solutions, they still need helpful and accurate information, not hyperbole.
Even in the decision stage, your buyers want support for their purchase choice in the form of ROI, results they can expect and information about how the vendor will support them once they’ve made a purchase.
More than anything, your buyers want to know that you understand them. When the sales pitch comes on strong, it’s usually without any reassurance that the vendor values their business, has a solution that matches their problem and has the resources and the mission to make you a happy customer for the long term.
Create Shorter Content
Especially in the early stages of researching solutions, you need to deliver content value in short, digestible bites. Your buyers have many other concerns besides purchasing your product or service. Get to the point, and make it count. Listicles (B2B buyers’ #1 preferred format), infographics, blogs and videos can communication a lot of information in a short space.
This early-stage content needs to be attention-grabbing. Use interactive and visual elements to draw your buyers in. And don’t forget compelling headlines. Dare to be creative at this stage, even humorous. The element of surprise will help draw buyers to your content. Just make sure when they do engage, you give valuable information.
More Thought Leader Insight
One of the trends that’s growing in importance is the role of objective sources for content, including peer-to-peer content. When asked how their content consumption behavior has changed since last year, survey respondents said that they are relying more on content from industry influencers (43%) and get more content from social networks and peer recommendations (39%).
Based on this, B2B content marketers should definitely be incorporating influencer programs into their content marketing strategy.
Expand your definition of influencers to include not only those with large followings on social channels and industry analysts but also internal experts, channel partners and your own customers.
Influencer content takes many forms. Some of the best formats to consider are blog posts, E-books, white papers, videos, podcasts, webcasts and case studies.
Don’t Overload Content With Copy
It’s no surprise that with the continuing rise in popularity of video and interactive, B2B buyers want visually appealing and well-designed content that’s easy to navigate. The Content Preferences Report cites “a continued trend away from traditional copy-heavy content associated with B2B marketing, and a migration toward offers that can engage on a variety of screens and encourage buyers to self-navigate through content experiences.” In addition to interactive, we need to make sure content is mobile-optimized.
One way to keep the word count down is to create interactive content that includes a variety of ways to let your buyers dive deeper when they are ready. Here are a few ways you can do this:
- Use embedded podcasts or video.
- Offer more details when buyers hover, flip tiles or navigate through content carousels.
- Provide rabbit holes that buyers can go down using links to other content or resource hubs.
The Final Word
The trends are clear. B2B decision makers want engaging, interactive content. At the same time, it needs to be valuable content from trusted sources. Buyers want information they can trust from brands that see them as more than a sale.
If you’re rethinking your messaging and your marketing strategy in light of an uncertain world, now’s the perfect time to create new content that’s just what your buyers are asking for.