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The 6 Top B2B Content Formats Buyers Find Most Valuable

Research reports, cases studies and webinars are among the content formats B2B executives say are most helpful to them when researching a purchase

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of B2B buyers say they consume three or more pieces of content before engaging a salesperson, according to a survey by Demand Gen Report. More respondents (42%) put that number at between 3 and 5 – than any other option.

It’s a far cry from the 11 or more pieces of content other surveys have identified, but the general trend remains the same: customers are consuming a lot of content before they talk to sales. For those in B2B marketing, that means they want those pieces to count.

The survey had insight here too. It asked respondents which content formats they found most valuable in researching B2B purchases. The survey listed 16 possible formats and here’s how the most valuable format stacked up:

  • 43% said research or survey reports;
  • 40% said case studies;
  • 40% said webinars;
  • 37% said B2B media and news;
  • 34% said white papers; and
  • 34% said ebooks.

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The survey drilled into this idea a bit more:

“When asked what makes a piece of content memorable and triggers buyers to take a sales call, respondents again voiced the importance of research. More than half (51%) said the content should use data and research to support its claims, while 41% said the content itself should be research-based.”

It also asked about content formats by stage in the buying process:

  • Top of the funnel. “Among the most popular content formats for early-stage research were infographics (62%), blogs (58%) and podcasts (56%).”
  • Mid funnel. “Meanwhile, assessments (49%), webinars (48%) and case studies (44%) dominated the mid-stage.”
  • Bottom of the funnel. “For late-stage research, buyers cited user reviews (29%), third-party analyst reports (29%) and ROI calculators (26%) as the most useful.”

Interestingly, when asked directly, just 20% of respondents want B2B vendors to organize content by stage in the buying process. Far more respondents had stronger preferences.

B2B buyers want vendors to organize their content as follows

  • 52% said by pain point;
  • 51% said by topic;
  • 46% said by vertical;
  • 42% said by business role; and
  • 26% said by the size of the organization.

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This suggests B2B buyers don’t need vendors to guess what they need to know at any given point in time. Instead, start with their problem and show them how to solve it.

Two other interesting points stood out to me in the survey.

First, when asked what they suggest vendors do to improve their content, the top answer was “curb the sales messages” (39%).

Second, when asked what the biggest change was in their content consumption habits, the top answer was, “I place a higher emphasis on the trustworthiness of the source” (41%).

* * *

The survey polled 174 B2B executives. It was commissioned by ON24 and conducted by The Demand Gen Report. I first learned of the survey from Marketing Charts and the full report is a quick read and can be downloaded here: 2022 Content Preferences Survey.

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Image credit: Unsplash and respective report

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