New survey data shows the content B2B customers value most. The survey was done by The Demand Gen Report for ON24 and included 174 B2B executives.
What B2B customers want from content marketing
Before we dig into the content types, let's look at what makes any piece of content valuable in the B2B context. According to the survey, the most useful content:
- Features relevant and immediately shareable links (48%)
- Includes plenty of shareable stats and insights (42%)
- Tells a strong, resonant story (41%)
- Is ungated and easy to share (37%)
- Influences peers/other internal stakeholders on the buying team (34%)
What I think is interesting here is the desire for shareability. As important as the data and insights we communicate is the ease with which relevant points can be shared with others.
This is an opportunity for writers, designers and social marketers to focus formatting and design that makes sharing the full piece and its most salient points easier. We create new standards and templates that blend information, links and sharing options to best serve the B2B audience. And don't forget to do this when resurfacing/updating existing B2B content.
Now, let's look at those content types.
What B2B content marketing assets are most valued
The surveyors asked B2B decision-makers to rank the content they found most value when researching a purchase:
- 43% Research and survey reports (the second-most consumed content type)
- 40% Case studies
- 40% Webinars (the most popular content type)
- 37% B2B Media/News
- 34% White papers
- 34% E-books (third on the most-popular list)
These results are no surprise when we correlate them with the high-value traits.
Relevant data and insights
Research papers and case studies are purpose-built to deliver lots of actionable data and insights. One reason I think research papers out-perform white papers is the third-party validation that comes from research data. Yes, cogent commentary from experts is still of value, but papers that emphasize data and contextualize it with quotes and product examples appears to be more useful and trusted. And let's be honest, as much as we share information to influence others, we also do it to be -- wait for it -- useful and helpful.
Let me also put in a plug for diversifying your SME list. More voices from under-represented people make better content. Here are some ideas on finding more diverse sources.
Andy Crestodina has been encouraging content marketers to conduct or commission their own surveys and polls for years now. Maybe this data will help move that idea up the decision-making ladder. You can't just throw any set of questions out there and get results that people will trust, but this may be a good time to explore the resources you'd need to pull this off. This post from his company, Orbit Media, is a good place to start.
Multiple content options
We can capitalize on the popularity of webinars to deliver more value. We've helped a couple of clients adapt research reports and case studies into webinars featuring many of the SMEs and customers featured in the original assets.
Somewhat surprisingly, though considered very valuable, case studies didn't fare well in the popularity contest, coming in 6th. This means we can redesign case studies to be easier to consume and more shareable. One tactic might be a distillation of the case as a blog post (blogs ranked slightly higher on the popularity list) with a link to the ungated full version.
How to leverage B2B content types
This data validates an approach we've been using with clients for some time now: leveraging different types to meet more needs and reinforce messaging. One of my favorite content packages looks like this:
- Research paper with a blog post digest
- Customer case study amplifying key topics in the research paper with a blog post digest
- Webinar bringing together research experts and customers with a blog post digest
- Social and other short-form content featuring key data and insights from big-rock content
The whole 2022 Content Preferences Report is a useful read. Download it here.