February 9, 2016
Delivering credible, objective, and engaging content is a must for today’s B2B marketer as prospects discover, explore, and buy your solution. But what attributes and sources make content credible and objective to B2B buyers? This is a common question asked of my consulting team, and in the age of the customer — where empowered buyers rely on multiple content sources before talking with a sales team and 50% of buyers say much of the content they receive is useless — the answer is more important than ever.
To get answers to this and other key questions we receive from content marketers, Forrester surveyed over 200 IT and LOB technology buyers and influencers. I address three of the common client questions below:
Question One: What are the top three attributes of credible content from the perspective of a buyer/influencer?
WIM: Marketers should audit their existing content assets against these attributes to ensure their library is stocked with credible content. With nearly two-thirds of respondents indicating that vendors give them too much material to sort through, authorship by a qualified expert/analyst allows content assets to stand out and get noticed. Including data in your assets gives them factual grounding and signifies that the information being shared is not simply opinion or conjecture. In fact, 47% of respondents rated papers (content) backed by data as high value, compared with only 11% who said the same thing of papers not backed by data. Finally, be selective in when and where you include product or brand mentions in your content. Including them in too many of your content assets, especially thought leadership pieces, can undermine the credibility of your content.
Question Two: What content types are most valuable for IT and LOB professionals as they explore and make technology buying decisions?
WIM: It’s no surprise that customer, industry, and peer case studies top the list. Buyers and influencers take confidence reading or seeing what other organizations have done. Leverage your customer base to showcase best practices and success. The vast majority of technology investments require some type of business value justification. Don’t make your prospects do all the work. Empower them with a spectrum of business value/ROI content, from high-level value metrics that attract interest and set the stage to detailed analysis they can use to build their own business case for your solution. And don’t forget papers with supporting data. Why? See the answer to question No. 1 above.
Question Three: Are short-format content pieces such as infographics and blogs more credible when linked to more detailed reports or studies?
WIM: This shouldn’t be surprising. Buyers and influencers want to know that content is written by a qualified expert and grounded in data. That may not always be apparent in short-format content pieces. Linking these assets with more detailed reports or studies allows you to showcase additional influential insights while improving the credibility score of your short-format content.
About the data: These data points come from the Forrester Q1 Content Objectivity survey of 210 US and European IT and business decision-makers and influencers.