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Trust issues: the one reason buyers give B2B content a letter grade of “D”

71% of B2B marketing prospects are disappointed in the content they’ve traded their contact information to obtain at least some of the time, which leads to trust issues

B2B marketing can hit the right target with the right message and still fall short of moving a sale along if the prospect doesn’t trust you. That challenge is fairly pervasive across B2B marketing, according to a new survey.

The 2023 Informa Tech Trust in Marketing Index by Informa Tech found that “B2B technology buying decision makers’ trust in marketers is at a 61 on a scale of 1 to 100.” That’s a letter grade of D and shows, “just because marketers know how to effectively drive accurate content marketing to the correct audiences doesn’t mean they’re giving their target audience what it needs.”

When asked “Why?” the single most common answer (42%) was “the content was too general.” This is especially true for gated content. The poll revealed that 71% of respondents are disappointed in the content they’ve traded their contact information to obtain at least some of the time.

Other reasons that sow distrust in marketing content include:

  • 33% said content with dated or often-repeated information;
    29% said content that leads with a sales pitch;
  • 26% said continued targeting with ads for the same brand’s product after purchase (or decision not to buy); and
  • 22% said phone calls after filling out a form to receive content.

None of these should be any surprise – yet it’s clear that some B2B marketing teams engage in these sorts of shenanigans – and it just makes marketing harder for everyone.

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3 ways B2B marketing can build trust

The survey didn’t dwell on what marketers do wrong alone – it also allows respondents to share how B2B marketing can build trust. Below are three statistics that stood out.

1. Foundations of trustworthiness in B2B content

Respondents were asked what factors in content are indications of trust:

  • 61% said content is from trusted publishers;
  • 60% said content with a high level of detail; and
  • 46% said content that is shared by others I trust.

Comment: If you aren’t a trusted publisher already – this is a sign to get PR involved in content marketing. Next, focus on producing content with details, which typically requires more experienced marketers. Third, activate your community; you have to engage on social media to get engagement back – the same way you have to make deposits to the bank before you can make a withdrawal.

2. Be specific and relevant with B2B content

Respondents were asked what approach B2B marketing can take to build trust; here are the top responses:

  • 42% said provide case studies;
  • 35% said provide current, actionable data;
  • 35% said provide access to experts; and
  • 29% said create messages and content that solve their specific problems.

Comment: These points are about B2B content relevancy. Think about what a case study provides: it shows a prospect of how a similar company in the same industry implemented a solution. These allow prospects to “see themselves” in the problem and offer tangible and social proof of your ability to execute.

3. Why decision-makers engage B2B content

Lastly, the survey also asked respondents why they engage with B2B content. Here’s how the answers stacked up:

  • 67% said staying up to date on industry trends;
  • 39% said comparing product solutions;
  • 33% said seeking out new business strategies;
  • 28% said broadening or adding to your skill set; and
  • 17% said sharing with team.

Survey respondents said they regularly engaged in that sort of content on these channels:

  • 55% said B2B news publications;
  • 52% said social media;
  • 47% said industry newsletters;
  • 45% said industry events (in person);
  • 45% said industry events (virtual);
  • 45% said brand partners’ websites;
  • 37% said industry podcasts;
  • 33% said industry magazines;
  • 31% said research consultancy websites (i.e. McKinsey, Omdia); and
  • 26% said mainstream news publications.

Comment: This too is instructive as to why PR should be involved: the number one reason to engage with B2B content is to stay abreast of industry trends – and B2B news publications are their top source. I’ve always found tech companies tend to be very internally focused and PR brings situational awareness – and spots opportunities.

* * *

Informa Tech is a publisher and produces dozens of technology trade publications and conferences including Industry Dive, Information Week and the Black Hat conference. They polled 150 senior executives based in the US and UK. The full report covers much more and is available for download here: 2023 Informa Tech Trust in Marketing Index.

Image credit: DALLE, “an impressionist painting of a newspaper blowing through Times Square

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