These days there’s no question that great content is a foundational element of any marketing strategy—especially in B2B. In fact, according to Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) 2017 benchmarking report, 89% of B2B marketers use content marketing to “attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
And thanks to yet another insightful report from CMI—the latter objective is our focus today.
Last week, CMI and SmartBrief released their How Content Influences the Purchasing Process report, featuring data and insights collected from 1,200 SmartBrief subscribers. The aim of the report was to dig into the minds of those who are actually consuming content, and uncover what types of content are most influential, how decision-makers perceive vendor content, and more.
From a marketer’s perspective, the findings both reinforce and redefine how marketers should be crafting their B2B content marketing strategies. Below I share five key statistics from the report, and some associated takeaways that can help you both bolster and boost your content efforts to drive action by decision makers.
#1 – 81% say they generally conduct research beforebringing a vendor in.
Marketers know that the modern buyer’s journey is becoming increasingly self-directed. After all, this shift is arguably what drove the emergence of content marketing in the first place. So, it’s no surprise that CMI and SmartBrief’s report revealed that an overwhelming majority of decision-makers are conducting their own research before making contact with a vendor.
The big takeaway: Simply put, decision-makers want to be educated. Thanks to the rise of the internet, social media and mobile technologies, buyers are more empowered than ever to take things into their own hands. As a result, marketers need to double-down on their efforts to guide people through the purchasing process by creating content for each stage of the sales funnel.
For the TopRank Marketing team, this means leveraging the Attract, Engage, Convert model, as well as an integrated mix of tactics, to craft customer-centric content that’s easy to find, consume and share.
#2 – 40% say credibility trumps the source of information.
Since decision-makers are often taking research into their own hands, it stands to reason that they’re consuming information from a variety of sources. According to the report, 66% of respondents admitted to using sources other than vendors to initially collect information.
But perhaps one of the most interesting revelations was that 40% say the information source isn’t a big concern. In the end, they just want good, credible information.
The big takeaway: As long as the content is credible, the source doesn’t matter. While an organization’s owned channels may never be a one-stop-shop for all prospects’ needs, the report encourages vendors to ensure their websites are up-to-date. In addition, since your prospects will likely come into contact with your brand in a variety of ways, marketers can take the lead on evaluating how their brand is being presented across all channels (i.e. printed materials, social media, third-party review sites, in-person events, etc.) to ensure consistency and build credibility.
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