CMO Council Report on B2B Content Marketing [Infographic]

woman reads CMO Council report on B2BA white paper released in 2013 by the CMO Council caused quite a buzz, and not a little angst, among B2B marketing executives.

“The report is staggering. After spending millions of dollars on content marketing, B2B marketing appears to have taken a few steps backwards.” (Tony Zambito, Yahoo Small Business Advisor)

The paper was based on a broad survey of people typically targeted by B2B marketers:

  • 41% were from companies with revenues above $100 million
  • Half held titles of director and above
  • Two-thirds said that they had final purchasing authority, or at least wielded influence on key purchasing decisions

Their responses give pause.

The infographic below summarizes just a few of the CMO Council report's key findings, but what specific lessons can we extract about how to do effective B2B marketing going forward?

Let’s very quickly look at 4 big takeaways:

1. Impact

"87% of respondents said that online content has either a major or moderate impact on vendor preference and selection."

Buyers are not just comparing the technical specs of different products, but they're evaluating which vendor best understands their challenges and needs. In reality the various solutions offered may be almost identical, but they are perceived very differently based on the buyer's experience with the supporting content.

The Takeaway: B2B marketers cannot afford to miss the content train

Stating the obvious? Sure, but realize that you can have content -- even lots of it -- and still miss the train. It’s vital that you have the right content.

B2B marketers typically spend 25% of their budgets on their content marketing efforts, but the CMO Council report identifies a problem: "Too many organizations are still engaged in random acts of content development ..."

Content marketing will continue to have a huge impact, but it's got to be done strategically and with a keen appreciation for what the B2B consumer is looking for. Read on.

2. Trust

Respondents were asked: "What types of content do you most value and trust?"  What was clear from their returns was a preference for authoritative content. The word of professional associations was considered far more objective and, therefore, valuable than in-house product reviews produced by the vendors.

Does this mean that B2B marketers are now at the mercy of independent reviewers? That they must wait to see what will be said about their products and services?

Not at all.

It's entirely possible to produce content that has the same powerful ring of authority to it. It's possible to do this so successfully that you actually begin to influence and, to some degree, control what is said about you by other significant voices. Brands have been immortalized this way.

The Takeaway: Everyone involved in creating your content needs to understand the elements that establish credibility

The language, the format, the presentation, and the distribution channels used, all play a vital part in producing content that builds trust.

3. Dislikes

The survey the CMO Council used asked what specific characteristics buyers most disliked in B2B content. Here are some of the top turnoffs:

  • Too many requirements for download. This came in at the top of the peeve list. Users hate complex registration processes. They want ease of access, and that includes mobile-friendly options.
  • Blatantly promotional. Thinly veiled ads offered as informational content are seen as self-serving.
  • Non-substantive. Users want to make informed decisions, so they're looking for your content to educate them as well as sell them. On the other hand, that does not mean ...
  • Overly technical. The desire for full information does not mean a call for incomprehensible technical jargon.

None of these things are really surprising, are they? Aren't they the very same things you hate when you're looking to buy? It's so important to keep putting yourself in your prospect's shoes.

The Takeaway: This understanding of what people dislike presents an enormous opportunity

Just surf around the internet and you’re sure to find that there is so much content out there that represents exactly what is most despised. Use the 4 dislikes above as a scorecard to evaluate your competitors' websites, as well as your own.

But the golden opportunity is this: if you can publish the right content -- what your customers want to read, how they want to read it -- you are immediately going to stand out from the crowd and get attention.

4. Sharing

When buyers find content that is valuable to them, they share it widely within their organizations and among their peers. "28% of respondents share content with more than 100 colleagues and 59% forward content to more than 25 people."

The Takeaway: The viral potentiality of the right content multiplies your marketing investment

Don't take information about your great product or service and bore people to death with it. Instead, create engaging content that is easily accessible, and really helps people in their buying process, and you will be richly rewarded many times over as your reputation grows exponentially.

Every piece of content should be prepared with an individual target buyer in mind. Doing that will keep it focused and personal. But it should also be prepared with the knowledge that you are reaching out to lay hold of a circle of friends. You want your buyer to be persuaded to the point of telling others, and then you want to make it easy for him to do so.

Want to work with a copywriter who is sensitive to today’s content marketing realities? Contact me.

cmo report says BtoB content impacts customer decisions[Download the full report from the CMO Council website]

 

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