Marketers Reveal Their Top Content Formats for 2016

As Demand Gen Report’s sister brand, the Content4Demand team always has access to a wealth of B2B buyer insights. Together, the annual B2B Buyer’s Survey and Content Preferences Survey provide an in-depth look into the content formats and approaches buyers prefer as they research and compare solutions and services. The results help guide our offerings and, of course, how we advise our clients on their content marketing strategies and initiatives. 

But sometimes it’s helpful to look inward and see what channels and tactics are top of mind among our fellow B2B marketers. So as part of our “Make Content Great Again” campaign, we opened the voting polls to hear what the public had to say. During Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit in Las Vegas and the annual SiriusDecisions Summit in Nashville, we asked thousands of B2B marketers to answer one simple question: What do you think is the content format to watch in 2016?

The winners were:

  • Motion graphic videos (38%)
  • Interactive infographics (29%)
  • Graphical E-books (gBooks) (15%)
  • Listicles (14%)
  • Quizzes & Assessments (4%)

While video and interactive infographics were relatively close in the final tally, there was a significant gap between these top two contenders and the rest of the pack. We wanted to take a closer look at these results and contemplate why the results seemed to swing in the direction of these two specific formats. A few initial thoughts come to mind:

  • Video has reached a tipping point: Over the past five years, a variety of research reports and studies have validated the engagement impact and business benefits of video. It’s easy to see why: Video is expected to account for 69% of all consumer Internet traffic by the end of 2017, according to Cisco. As a result, 64% of marketers expect video to dominate their strategies in the near future. It is more mature and established than the other formats we included in the vote, so it makes sense that it’s top of mind for many marketers.

How to Make the Right Interactive Content Decisions

  • Education and best practices for gBooks and listicles still need to be established: An attendee gave me a puzzled look as he started to set his vote at SiriusDecisions: “Isn’t a graphical E-book just an E-book?” he asked. As I explained the subtle differences between the two formats, it was clear to me that a lot of educating needs to be done around the format. The same could be said for listicles. While many point to standard list-style pieces or Buzzfeed articles as examples, Content4Demand thinks the real value of listicles emerges when they’re implemented in an HTML5 environment with strong visuals, videos and other interactive elements. There are a lot of vague definitions of content formats and approaches. There are also a lot of contradictory best practices teeming on the web, which not only confuses marketers but could also turn some marketers off from experimenting with a new format altogether.
  • Marketers are trying to figure out where assessments belong: When Content4Demand first started experimenting with assessments, we were excited. We were optimistic that it would be one of the most cutting-edge and effective content formats out there. It was interactive and engaging for end-users, and on the back-end, marketers received a wealth of data about their buyers, their behaviors and potential pain points. Sales reps could then use these insights to engage with buyers and have more relevant conversations. However, as we continued to test the format and incorporate it into different campaigns, we noticed there were discrepancies regarding where assessments were most effective in nurture campaigns, how they were best promoted and how we could turn them into lead-generating assets. Although we’ve been able to establish some best practices since then, I think many marketers are still learning what works (and what doesn’t) for this particular format. But because there are some clear use cases and success stories emerging, adoption will only continue to rise.

Only time will tell how these formats will continue to evolve and which will effectively capture buyer attention and drive stellar results for marketers. We’ll enjoy tracking the trends and sharing our best practices along the way!

But what do you think? Which content format will be the one to watch through the end of this year and into 2017? Take our poll to share your thoughts!

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