How do B2B Buyers Consume Information

Relevance is the holy grail of marketing.  For companies investing in content planning, understanding how do B2B buyers consume information is an important question to ask.

Drawing from CMO Council and Netline research, Ayaz Nanji reports in a MarketingProfs article that 94% of the companies surveyed curate and share infrmation prior to purchasing B2B produts and services.  The research found three distinct profiles or personas involved in the buying decision — Researchers, Influencers, and Decision Makers.  Each persona (as detailed below) showed a distinct preference for the type, source, and format of the information.

How do B2B buyers consume information?

  • Researchers — sought out timely industry trends research to inform them of advanced technologies and solutions.
  • Influencers — preferred executive level summaries and thought leadership from trusted third parties. “This group is the most interested in summarized content, including infographics, videos, and blog commentary.”
  • Decision Makers — opted to keep informed via “research reports and analyst commentary but also expect(ed) to have access to detailed data to enable better decision-making at the tail end of the purchasing funnel.”

The research which was based predominantly on larger companies showed that each of these personas consumed information differently.  Additionally, the interaction between these personas differs depending on the organizational profile.  For example, in some organizations, more junior personnel may research the information, putting forward a recommendation to the senior level executive. In other organizations, the junior level resource may only compile information leaving the ultimate decision to the decision maker.

The following research insights are particularly important:

  • 85% respondents value digital content, reporting that it plays a “major to moderate role in their vendor selection.”
  • The most valuable content types were research reports (65%), technical data sheets (50%), analyst intelligence and insights (46%), whitepapers (35%), trade publications (30%).
  • Personas discover the information they need from search (68%), vendor sites (40%), trusted sources and peers (25%)

Operationalizing Content Marketing

So how do these research findings help B2B marketing executives?  And what are the implications of these findings for Sales?  In simplistic terms, Marketing and Sales aspire to a common set of goals — to (1) attract well qualified leads and (2) close deals faster.

Marketing needs to create content with multiple buyer types in mind.  If for example, your company is targeting  CTOs of healthcare companies, Marketing needs to configure content that is able to address each of the stakeholders involved in getting the CTO’s sign off on your product or service.  But more than that, Marketing must use insights on the particular industry and organization’s decision making process.  This then becomes not just a content discussion but a more inclusive view of content, organizational and market dynamics.  Beyond that, Marketing should be cognizant of the types of content get buy in for each buyer type along the Sales Funnel or the overall Lead to Revenue process.

Sales needs to recalibrate.  In the past, Sales was responsible for taking the baton of a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) and running with to take it the last mile.  In the new reality of a content-enabled Sales process, Sales places a higher value on Marketing to provide those smart touchpoints that get the Sale over the line.  Sales and Marketing align to get the Revenue.

ThoughtBoost collaborates with high growth potential firms to calibrate their Sales and Marketing impact.  We reengineer content marketing to address specific, persona-based buyer cycles.

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