2019 Content Preferences Survey Report
Growing Demand For Credible And Concise Content Reinforces Need For Research And Relevancy In B2B Messaging
As B2B buyers continue to make purchase decisions by doing their own research before speaking to a sales rep, they are becoming even more precise with their content preferences, placing a higher emphasis on content backed by supporting data, industry influencers and experts.
Time is also playing a large factor in their journeys, as 73% of respondents to Demand Gen Report’s 2019 Content Preferences Survey say they have less time to devote to reading and research and typically consume between three and seven pieces of content before speaking with a salesperson. This, in turn, means vendors must share the right offers at the right time and deliver it in a way that is easily digestible and trustworthy.
According to the survey results, 93% of respondents noted they prefer shorter formats, and 97% place a higher emphasis on the trustworthiness of the source — up from 78% in 2018. This compliments the fact that 95% prefer credible content from industry influencers — up from 65% in 2018 — signaling a rise in influencer marketing popularity within B2B organizations.
Driving the trend around trustworthy content and reliable sources, when asked what the most valuable content formats and resources were for researching B2B purchases, respondents noted:
User review sites
What are the most valuable content formats and sources for researching B2B purchases?
of respondents said they have less time to devote to reading and research and typically consume between three and seven pieces of content before speaking with a salesperson.
Additional highlights from the 2019 survey, which polled more than 200 senior-level B2B marketing representatives across multiple verticals, include:
of respondents consume three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep
of respondents said they want to see B2B vendors organize content by issue/pain point
Case studies (47%) and webinars (39%) are the top-two types of most valuable influencer content formats
of respondents give most credence to peer reviews/user-generated feedback
of respondents say they are willing to share information to access webinars, with white papers trailing closely behind at 49%.
How many pieces of content have you typically consumed before engaging with a salesperson when you are amid making a purchase decision?
How have your B2B content consumption habits changed over the past year?
of respondents said they place a higher emphasis on the trustworthiness of the source — up from 78% in 2018.
The rise of influencer marketing and content fueled by influencers is clear, as 95% of respondents pointed to credible content from industry influencers as a top preference — a 30% increase when compared year over year.
In terms of preferred influencer content formats, 47% of respondents opt for case studies from companies with similar pain points, while 39% cited webinars as another valuable source. In addition, more than half (63%) of respondents say they are willing to share information to access webinars, a small dip when compared to last year’s 74%. This may emphasize the importance of the quality and speakers on the webinar.
But as buyers continue to stay clear of “sales messages” — 96% stated that B2B vendors could improve the quality of content by curbing the sales speak — a product demo in a webinar format won’t cut it.
For example, by having an influencer present on a webinar about a specific topic of expertise, vendors are better equipped to validate their messaging and get the word out about the webinar to the right audience.
Additional influencer formats preferred by respondents include:
Webinars, Case Studies Become Top Influencer Content Choices For B2B Buyers
Which of the following types of influencer content do you find most valuable?
of respondents stated that B2B vendors could improve the quality of content by curbing the sales messages.
While 73% of respondents to the survey said they have less time to devote to reading and research, many noted that they are willing to spend 10-plus minutes with interactive, visual and audio content. This signals that buyers are more interested in entertaining, quality content as opposed to long, static content.
According to the survey results:
Time-Starved Buyers Willing To Spend More Time With Visual, Audio Content
of respondents are willing to spend 20 to 60 minutes watching a webinar
are willing to spend five to 20 minutes watching videos
are willing to spend five to 20 minutes reviewing interactive content
of respondents are willing to spend 10 to 30 minutes listening to podcasts
When researching a B2B purchase, how much time do you typically spend reviewing content in the following formats?
of respondents are willing to spend 20 to 60 minutes watching a webinar.
Out of 16 content formats respondents had to choose from, a majority are viewed during the early- and mid-stages of their buying journey. Only a handful, including ROI calculators (42%), user reviews (49%) and case studies (34%), are preferred in the late stages.
Among those preferred in the early stages, short form assets such as infographics (78%), listicles (76%) and E-books (61%) ranked highest. As for the mid-stage preferences, assessments (51%), webinars (47%) and interactive content (50%) reigned supreme.
When asked which content formats they share with colleagues, respondents pointed to:
Buyers Review More Content In Early- & Mid-Stages Of Journey, Share Various Formats With Colleagues
Of the following content formats, which do you find most valuable for early, mid and late stages of the buying process?
I share the following content types with my colleagues:
Content that is catered to specific buyer needs, roles and pain points, and is easy to access continues to be a major demand. As buyers do a lot of their own research before engaging with a sales rep, it’s crucial for vendors to deliver content that is packaged together and can be easily found on websites. When asked how they would like to see B2B vendors organize their content on websites, respondents noted:
Aside from organization, respondents strongly agree on a variety of criteria that content creators must adopt to provide more quality content. Top recommendations included:
Personalized Content By Needs, Industry/Vertical With Minimal Copy Sweet Spot For Buyers
By issue/pain point (68%) — up 4% year-over-year
By industry/vertical (59%) — up 13% year-over-year
By business role (47%) — down 5% year-over-year
Use more data and research to support content
Curb the sales messages
Add more insight from industry thought leaders/analysts
Make content easier to access, such as fewer form fills
Don’t overload content with copy
How would you like to see B2B vendors organize the content on their websites?
What recommendations would you make to improve the quality of the content created/provided by B2B vendors?
of B2B buyers want vendors to use more data and research to support content.
What is your company's annual revenue?
The 2019 Content Preferences Survey collected responses from more than 200 B2B marketing practitioners, with most respondents based in the United States.
A quarter (25%) of respondents said they work in the business services/consulting industry, while 22% said they work in the software/technology realm and tech/enterprise IT (19%).
Content4Demand (C4D) is a business-to-business content strategy and content creation agency. Our team of content marketing experts specializes in two main areas: creating turnkey content to reach B2B buyers at all stages of the buyer’s journey and developing foundational marketing strategies including persona creation, content messaging development and nurture campaign design. Our ultimate goal is to construct buyer-focused content and marketing strategies that drive leads and stimulate demand for your business. C4D works with B2B companies across a variety of industry verticals including: technology, financial, manufacturing, media, healthcare and more. For more information and content samples, visit content4demand.com.
ON24 is on a mission to empower data‑driven marketers with theengagement they need to succeed in the digital world. Through thecompany’s demand generation platform, over 2,000 businesses engagetheir prospects, customers and employees for a total of one billionminutes per year. With one of the largest ecosystems of marketingautomation and CRM platforms, ON24 transforms engagement intobehavioral data helping marketers better qualify leads, accelerate salespipeline and drive revenue.
Demand Gen Report is a targeted online publication that uncovers the strategies and solutions that help companies better align their sales and marketing organizations, and ultimately, drive growth. A key component of the publication’s editorial coverage focuses on the sales and marketing automation tools that enable companies to better measure and manage their multi-channel demand generation efforts.
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Klaudia Tirico is a writer, content creator, Jersey dweller, animal lover and fashion & beauty aficionado with an interest in all things related to content, social media and influencer marketing.