It’s nothing new that B2B Buyers do their own research. And they consume 3-7 types of content before making purchases. But each year, as buyer's behavior changes, so do their expectations.
It could be due to the technology they’re using, personalized experiences, or less time to devote to research and reading. Regardless, buyers expect better experiences from the content they read, watch, or listen to.
What Do Buyers Want?
"Growth tops the list of CEO business priorities for 2019-2020. 82% of CEOs have initiatives underway to make their companies more digital... and offer new products and revenue-producing channels."
According to the 2019 B2B Buyers Survey Report by Demand Gen 2,
“79% of B2B buyers said the winning vendor’s content had a significant impact on their buying decision.”
Regardless of whether it's a new product or revenue-producing channels, these trends emphasize the importance of quality content in growing your business. Buyers will take time out for relevant content and that can directly impact their buying decisions.
The question is, has your content evolved into what your buyers expect to see? Is it on their radar when they’re researching purchases? And has your content flagged you as a winning vendor?
Past B2B Buyer Expectations
The Case Study Makeover Guide captured the attention of numerous marketers. According to the studies shared, over the past few years, B2B buyers had 4 expectations:
- 1Be Customer First.
Decision makers want to know that you understand their pain, their situation, and what they want to achieve. They want you to deliver benefits they find valuable for their needs.
- 2Provide insights into all the data.
Guide buyers to pick out the data that matters to them and help them figure out what it means for their business.
- 3Offer more benchmarking data.
Give decision makers the ability to study real-world examples of how their peers identified gaps, solved similar challenges, and successfully made improvements to grow their business.
- 4Provide content with less sales messages.
Help buyers understand their challenges and the possibilities for success first, instead of focusing on promoting your products, your services, and your company.
So, where are we in 2020 and beyond…
Things Haven't Changed Much
The truth is, according to the latest trends, moving forward things haven’t changed much. One thing that will remain on top is to be Customer First. Another study by Demand Gen, The 2019 Content Preferences Survey Report 3, shows 5 key ingredients buyers want when consuming content to help them make better decisions.
B2B Buyers prefer content with these 5 key ingredients:
- 1Content with less sales messages—a product demo in a webinar won’t cut it.
- 2Content backed by more supporting data, filled with reliable sources, and that is trustworthy.
- 3Case studies with similar pain points—regarded as the most valuable type of influencer content. Influencer content inspires people to listen to the advice and take action on it.
- 4Other formats for influencer content such as webinars, videos, white papers, blog posts, and infographics.
- 5Content that is clear, concise, and easy to read. Buyers have even less time to research and read reports. They simply don't want to read clusters of text. They need visual breaks and the ability to skim-read.
B2B Buyers Speak Up
In the same Demand Gen Content Preferences Survey, B2B buyers speak up about their preferences. They recommended four ways vendors can improve the quality of their marketing content. Much of the content they are finding is still missing these key ingredients.
4 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Content:
66% Use more supporting data and research
65% Curb sales messages
60% Add more insights from industry experts
59-51% Make it clear, concise, and easy to consume
Be sure to add in interactive, visual, and/or audio content, fewer form fills, and don't overload it with copy only.
Early to Mid-Stages of Buyer's Research
One last important from the Content Preferences Survey is that buyers review more content in the early to mid-stages of their research. They have 5 top content types they prefer during these stages.
The Top 5 Content Types:
55% White papers
49% Case Studies
Do you have enough content that specifically focuses on the early to mid-stages of the buyer's journey?
Are your white papers addressing the challenges your prospects are up against or are they focused on the features and benefits of your products and services?
Are you focusing on your customer's pain points in your case studies?
Are you doing product demonstrations in your webinars or are you educating your audience on their potential challenges and the possibilities of solutions?
Look over all the ways buyers prefer to get content in this article. If you make some of these changes and give people what they're looking for, you should see better engagement with and responses to your content. And in the end, if your solution is a good fit, buyers will make the decision to buy from you.
Quality content has proven to be very persuasive in helping people make decisions. In fact, 79% of B2B buyers said that the winning vendor's content had a significant impact on their buying decision.
Each year, as buyer's behavior change, so do their expectations about how they want to consume the content they find to help them make better buying decisions. One thing that will remain on top is to be Customer First.
Not much has changed in terms of what appeals to B2B buyers. Except that people are now more outspoken about what they want and they have even less time on their hands.
The Demand Gen Content Preferences Survey revealed that B2B Buyers recommend 4 ways vendors can improve their content:
- Use more supporting data and research.
- Curb sales messages.
- Add more insights from industry experts and thought leaders.
- Make it clear, concise, and easy to consume.
One other preference to consider is this. Relevancy wins. Create content such as case studies that examine similar pain points for your potential customers.
What appeals to your own target audience? Does your content include these four buyer recommendations?
If you're missing any one of these, try to incorporate them into your content plan and monitor the results. See if your content can catapult you to be the winning vendor to grow your business.
I’m planning a series of articles on using these recommendations when creating white papers and case studies. There are many tips and thoughts to uncover. So stay tuned.
1 Gartner 2019 CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey, Gartner, Inc.
2 2019 B2B Buyers Survey Report, Demand Gen
3 2019 Content Preferences Survey Report, Demand Gen