According to a recent study by LinkedIn, buyers crave information, but the information they’re getting from marketers and salespeople is not necessarily the most useful and effective content in the buying process. The research shows that buyers want detailed product information as they perform their own online research, craving technical details about products and how they work. In identifying the three types of content they preferred, buyers most often selected “product info, features, functions” (35%), followed by “demos” (31%).
The content buyers say they want differs from the content marketers and sellers believe is effective, says the report. For instance, only 24% of marketers believe product info makes for effective sales content, which is 11% percentage points lower than the opinion of buyers. Similarly, just 18% of marketers say that demos are effective, which is 13 percentage points lower than buyers. Salespeople are more in alignment with buyers: off 4% percent age points on product info content and 8% percentage points on demo content.
Marketers know that they generate massive downloads from thought leadership and educational content, so it’s clear that buyers do want this kind of upper funnel content from their vendors. The bottom line is that buyers want both product information and thought leadership content, says the report.
As Marketing Charts reports on the “The State of Marketing,” almost half of B2B buyers believe their relationships with vendors are getting either stronger (15%) or slightly stronger (33%) over time. Based on the LinkedIn survey of more than 6,000 buyers, marketers, and salespeople from mid-size or enterprise companies across 7 countries, the study reveals that trust (52%) was the top-cited reason for strengthening relationships, with personal relationships (45%) and responsiveness (45%) next.
Notably, while responsiveness was a key reason for stronger relationships, lack of responsiveness figured even more prominently in the list of reasons given for weakening relationships. Of the 3% of buyers who reported weakening relationships, 31% pointed to lack of responsiveness, followed closely by financial terms (30%) and speed of delivery (28%).
Why B2B Buyers Report Stronger Relationships with Vendors
% of Respondents Reporting Stronger
Value for the money
Source: LinkedIn, February 2016 (Lack of responsiveness top cited reason for those reporting weakened relationships)
When it comes to the most important factors for buyers’ willingness to engage with a vendor, the report shows that knowledge is key, with 4 reasons tightly bunched at the top, says the report:
That aligns with research contained in a MarketingCharts report on B2B digital marketing, in which buyers said that salespeople are most likely to earn their trust by demonstrating high levels of knowledge about their products and services (74%) and the buyer’s organization (52%).
As content marketing is important in the context of thought leadership, the LinkedIn study indicates that for buyers, product info, features and functions are considered the most effective type of sales content, followed closely by demos, ahead of best practices, and case studies.
Most Effective B2B Sales Content Types (top 3 for each group)
Type of Content
Source: LinkedIn, February 2016
In terms of the content channels used by buyers, information sharing across the organization was the preferred channel buyers use across all stages of the funnel. It was joined at the top by social usage only at the awareness stage. The report notes that social media usage tends to dwindle as buyers progress through the stages of the funnel:
Finally, in other results from the LinkedIn study:
For additional information from the LinkedIn report, please visit here.