B2B companies recognize that content marketing requires careful thought and strategic planning, but many still lack the necessary competencies and best practices to effectively engage with prospects, as few have the ability to analyze and respond to consumer behaviors. But, as the CMO Council's recent research highlights, business buyers are increasingly reliant on trusted third-party information to help guide their decision-making process.
Conducted in partnership with NetLine Corporation, the study, "The Content Connection to Vendor Selection: How Online Information Sourcing Influences the Pre-Sales Buying Process" polled 352 respondents across nearly 30 industry sectors, explores how different types of marketing content impact the critical phases of vendor identification, qualification, and consideration, and how such content sourcing, sharing, and consumption affects vendor selection.
The following results demonstrate how business buyers typically embrace content and their primary goals when seeking such information:
The Top Three Types of Content Sharing Circles:
- From the middle out: For 35 percent of those surveyed, content sourcing and purchase decisions are driven by tactically focused executives, while senior management is informed about how and why key decisions were made.
- From the bottom up: According to 30 percent of respondents, junior or mid-level managers source primary content and share upstream to members of senior management, who then make the final purchase decision.
- From the top down: For 29 percent of those polled, senior management consumes content, sending information downstream for product identification and final purchase and execution.
The Top Five Most Sought-After Types of Content:
- Comprehensive industry/category surveys and studies (52 percent)
- Technical details about products and solutions (44 percent)
- Analyst reviews or recommendations (43 percent)
- Expert-originated content with supporting facts and research (35 percent)
- Content published by third-party sources (35 percent)
The Top Five Reasons Business Buyers Use Content:
- Identify best practices and best-of-breed solutions (51 percent)
- Determine where competitive differentiation can be achieved (50 percent)
- Clarify the position of a specific vendor or partner (43 percent)
- Set the strategic agenda and assess areas of need and prioritization (42 percent)
- Provide perspective from a trusted, neutral source (33 percent)
Key takeaway: If marketers wish to develop an effective content strategy, they must take the time to learn from buyer behaviors. "We need to start developing content strategies that are based on how our customers and prospects are advancing through their decision-making journey," says Liz Miller, vice president of the CMO Council. "Is it the content and the format that these buyers and influencers value at key points in the funnel? Are we looking at our content in the same manner we would look at our products, merchandising them for maximum impact and developing supply and distribution channels to reach optimal audiences? We have to start getting strategic and intentional with our content, stopping this pattern of random acts of content marketing." Those who wish to differentiate themselves from the competition must actively respond and reevaluate their strategy on a regular basis.