Corporate Eye

B2B Technology Buyers Prefer Blogs and White Papers for Pre-Sales Decision-Making

download-buttonThe Eccolo Media B2B Technology Content Survey reveals that small business, mid-market, and enterprise technology decision makers prefer to read blogs and white papers during the pre-sales cycle. While the study reveals a number of nuances between small and large business decision makers, there are also noteworthy differences between the content consumption preferences and behaviors of technical purchase influencers versus decision makers.

For example, mid-market company technology buyers are more likely to receive vendor content via Facebook than LinkedIn while enterprise buyers are more likely to consume vendor content via LinkedIn. Furthermore, small business buyers don’t believe that post-sale vendor content is as important as large company buyers do. Overall, technology buyers who want to receive ongoing vendor content prefer white papers (98%), case studies (66%), and technology guides (37%).

However, content preferences (presented in 16 categories, including blogs, white papers, case studies, videos, brochures, data sheets, podcasts, infographics, email newsletters, and more) vary based not only on business size but also on roles (purchase influencer vs. decision-maker) and where the buy is in the sales cycle (pre-sales vs final sales process). For example, decision-makers consume more vendor content in 15 of 16 different types of content than influencers. Eccolo Media highlights the following findings from its survey:

  • Small Business: Influencers rely primarily on infographics and video during the pre-sales process while decision-makers rely mostly on blogs. During the final sales process, decision makers rely primarily on technology guides.
  • Mid-Market: Influencers consume all types of content equally and at greater rates than decision-makers during the pre-sales process. Decision-makers also consume all types of content equally during the pre-sales process. During the final sales process, influencers rely on technology guides.
  • Enterprise: Influencers and decision-makers rely mostly on blogs and white papers during the pre-sales process. During the final sales process, decision-makers rely on technology guides and infographics.

Not only does the individual’s role and the company’s place in the sales cycle effect how technology buyers use content but the level of interactivity of that content can also impact purchase decisions. Two-thirds of respondents to the survey indicated that they will interact with content to get more information from vendors and they very often click on links in content to get more information. However, mid-market and enterprise survey respondents were more likely to click on links in vendor content (63%) than small business respondents (43%). When asked why they don’t click on links in vendor content, respondents said it was because they weren’t sure where the links would take them (37%) or whether the link content would be relevant to them (36%).

Content marketing can play an important role in building relationships and trust before, during, and after a sale is made. Technology buyers want access to useful and relevant content in a variety of forms. With these research results in mind, create a B2B content marketing strategy that is highly targeted by segmenting your audiences by role and placement in the sales cycle to continue moving them through the cycle to making a purchase or repurchasing. The type of content you send and when you send it can make a significant difference to your sales success.

Image: Ariel da Silva Parreira

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
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