We talk so much about content on a conceptual level that I thought it might be helpful to offer some more practical advice. Luckily for me, there’s a lot of knowledge out there to work with. In this post, we’ll look at two studies that surveyed B2B buyers on their preferences for content.
A study published by the CMO council this past summer asked a lot of useful questions. I’ve summarized some key insights below:
The 5 most trusted types of content:
- Research reports or white papers from professional associations – 67%
- Research reports or white papers from industry groups – 50%
- Customer case studies – 48%
- Reports and whitepapers from analysts – 44%
- Independent product reviews – 40%
The 5 most valuable sources of content in purchasing decisions:
- Professional associations and online communities – 47%
- Industry groups – 46%
- Online trade publications – 41%
- Seminars and workshops – 41%
- Trade shows – 35%
(These results hint at who can help you amplify your voice most effectively)
The 3 most valued characteristics of content:
- Breadth and depth of information – 47%
- Ease of access, understanding and readability – 44%
- Originality of thinking and ideas – 39%
The 3 most disliked characteristics of content:
- Too many requirements for download – 50%
- Blatantly promotional and self-serving – 43%
- Non-substantive / uninformed – 34%
The above data is largely self-explanatory so I’ll save a long-winded explanation.
Salesforce Pardot also had some interesting information in its “State of Demand Generation 2013” study, most notably on the legnth of content. They asked B2B buyers how long content should be and gave three choices: under 5 pages, over 5 pages, or as long as it takes to inform them. 70% stated that they prefer content to be under 5 pages and only 2% stated that they prefer content to be over 5 pages (the remaining 28% said “as long as it takes”). We generally advise to make your content as long as it takes, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend sacrificing quality for brevity, but given these results it may be worthwhile to re-evaluate long pieces of content to see if you could either be more concise or break the content up into multiple discrete units.
The Salesforce Pardot study also found that about 3 in 4 B2B buyers prefer different content at each stage of the research process. That’s not particularly surprising, considering that informational needs change over the course of the buying journey. However, it is a good reminder not to keep dangling the same piece of content in front of your prospects.
Take all of this data with a grain of salt, as every industry is different. However, the information can serve as general guidance in the creation and / or publishing of content.