B2B Buyer Behavior: New Insights to Shape Your Content in 2021

B2B Buyers Survey Report

As B2B buying trends evolve, it’s important that your content keeps up. What are buyers searching for? How can you best deliver what they need?

According to the recently released 2021 B2B Buyers Survey Report from Demand Gen Report, here are a few of the top trends:

  • Buying committees continue to become more prevalent, and committees are growing larger.
  • The buyers journey continues to be led more and more by the buyers themselves.
  • The buying cycle is less predictable; some cycles are longer while others are being accelerated based on need.

Stakeholder Content Needs Differ

This isn’t entirely new. It’s a long-term trend we’ve covered for several years. Demand Gen Report’s latest survey confirms that the buying committee continues to expand. In fact, it finds that nearly one-fifth of companies formed buying committees for the first time in the past year, while half were already using them.

These groups are typically composed of the primary decision maker, internal influencers and researchers, plus technical buying influencers and end-users, the report says.

As a content marketer, this means that an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy is particularly helpful, targeting your content to the differing needs of the individuals in the buying group rather than marketing to individuals in in isolation.

Relevance for Every Role

Whether it’s the primary decision makers, influencers or researchers, all agree on the top three factors influencing the buying decision:

  • Easy access to relevant, targeted content (number one for primary decision makers and internal influencers; number two for researchers)
  • Easy access to pricing and competitive information (number one for researchers; number two for primary decision makers and internal influencers)
  • Content that demonstrates expertise around the organization’s specific industry (number three for all stakeholders)

As you might guess, the trend of doing anonymous research continues, with 41% citing this as the first step. Perhaps even more interesting, only 19% cited speaking with a vendor’s representative as a first step.

Here’s a telling look at the buying process, with the timeline reflecting the highest percentages of respondents indicated for each step:

B2B buyer timeline
Image courtesy of Demand Gen Report

Some Behaviors Changed in 2021

With the disruptions and increase in remote work, some research and buying behaviors have definitely changed. As noted, some purchases have been accelerated based on changing business needs.

Another significant change among nearly a quarter of survey respondents (23%) is that they are looking for more personal attention/engagement from their solution providers.

Here are the results when asked, “How has the current environment affected your B2B research and buying habits?”:

Image courtesy of Demand Gen Report

The Website Experience Remains Crucial

With the increase in reliance on digital access to content, it’s little surprise that 56% of survey respondents cite web search as the top source information. Another 39% cite vendor websites. And 35% cite peers or colleagues.

Once on vendor websites, easy access to relevant content (65%) and easy access to pricing/competitor information (65%) are cited equally as the biggest factors in evaluating the effectiveness of the site. Not far behind is content that speaks directly to their needs and demonstrates industry knowledge (55%).

Your Content Matters (Big Time)

Perhaps the most important insight you can get from the B2B Buyers Survey: “80% of respondents indicated that a vendor’s content had a positive, significant impact on their buying decisions.”

The survey breaks this down by the different members of the buying committee. It finds that:

  • Primary decision makers and researchers value content that’s easier to consume.
  • Primary decision makers alone value high-quality content.
  • Influencers and researchers seek content that demonstrates ROI and builds a business plan.
  • Influencers are concerned with the timeliness of vendor responses.

These results offer great insights into how to create content that speaks directly to the different members of the buying group.

To highlight just how important content is for B2B buyers, here are the top five reasons for choosing a vendor:

choosing a vendor
Image courtesy of Demand Gen Report

How Can You Apply These Insights?

Here’s what you can learn and apply to your content marketing strategy:

  • Provide content that speaks to the common needs and goals of the buying committee using an ABM strategy. Isolating one member of the buying committee for your marketing won’t be as effective as speaking to all your stakeholders.
  • While you need to speak to the entire buying group, reversion your content to align with the specific concerns of the individuals that make up the group; i.e., create customized versions for different personas.
  • Make it easy for your buyers to find relevant content on your website. Consider a website experience audit to keep it relevant.
  • Make sure your content demonstrates an understanding of your buyers’ needs and the unique characteristics of their industry.

As a sister company to Demand Gen Report, Content4Demand is uniquely positioned to help our B2B clients with content and strategies built on the latest buyer intelligence, tailored to their specific needs.

Contact us for more information about developing a successful content strategy to speak directly to buyers (and buying committees) in your industry.

Brenda Caine

Brenda Caine is a senior content strategist at Content4Demand. She works with B2B clients on content marketing strategy, personas, messaging and ideation; content audits, gap analysis and content mapping; blogs; content development and more. Brenda has a black belt in karate, and when she’s not immersed in technology, you can find her dancing in the ballet studio, lifting weights at the gym or strolling down the avenue in a 1930s dress with a smart hat to match. 


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