Study shows, how B2B decision-makers consume vendor content

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Some weeks ago, we spoke about a study that described what B2B decision makers expect to read on vendor websites. Now, a new study of 352 buyers (predominantly large businesses) from The CMO Council and NetLine shows that the majority of organizations (94%) favors to curate and circulate relevant content in their organization before finally deciding to purchase B2B solutions and services. For years, marketers thought B2B buyers and influencers alike are simply using vendor-related content from time to time.

The study makes clear that there is no real sharing structure to be made out from company to company. However, there are three main patterns that the study highlights in their results:
From the Middle Out (35%): Execution-level executives search and find content about vendors/products and make the purchase. Senior management gets educated thorugh them why the decision was made.
From the Bottom Up (30%): Junior or mid-level employees find vendor-related content and share their discoveries with senior management. Then they make the final decision.
From the Top Down (29%): Senior managers find the content, then share it with lower-level managers for analysis and final purchase.

CMO Council Netline B2B content sharing

The same as with the sharing patterns, there are three key personas within the businesses who act according to their own behaviors, expectations and needs.
Researchers: Primarily focused on new industry reports/research to inform them of advancements in solutions, trends affecting the markets, and opportunities for improvement.
Influencers: Interested in both thought leadership found in trusted third-party channels and vendor-branded technology specifications, data sheets, and use cases. Their special interest is in summarized content, i.e. infographics, videos, and blog comments.
Decision-Makers: Want to stay informed through broad research reports and analyst commentary. However, they expect to have access to detailed data to enable better decision-making at the tail end of the purchasing funnel.

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The study reveals some further interesting insights. The vendor selection is major to moderate influenced by online content, find 88% of the B2B buyers and more than a third (38%) find that online content provides strategic insights and shapes the purchase decision. The content that is valued the most is research reports and studies (65%), technical spec and data sheets (50%), analyst reports (46%), whitepapers (35%) and posts on trade publishing sites (30%). The power of Google and the vendor website comes out as well: When more than two third state they start their vendor-related content sourcing with search engines and portals, it shows that the best training the marketers is to read the two B2B studies and draw some conclusion out of it for the future of your own content, PR and marketing acitivites. And if you cannot find a solution, we are happy to help…

Study: What B2B buyers expect to see on vendor websites

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Is it really still the phone number and the email address? Well, at least contact information should be easily accessible on B2B vendor websites. This is the main finding of a recent report from Dianna Huff and KoMarketing Associates.

The study, based on a survey of 175 B2B buyers, states that the majority of B2B buyers (68%) find the vendor’s address and contact information is mission critical information. Thus, 55% make clear they’ll leave the website if it isn’t accessible. For most B2B buyers (81%) want to contact vendors via email in the first place, phone comes in second place (58%). Furthermore, it is not only about accessibility. Credibility of a vendor’s website establishes for 51% of the respondents when contact or about information is displayed.

Huff:koMarketing 2014 - Content Assets Credibility

From a content perspective, 43% of buyers see pricing as a „must have“ content on vendor websites. Having worked with different b2b vendors in the last years, we know that the challenge for them is the indirect sales when partners have different levels of pricing models that often cannot be displayed public; however separate logins can handle that challenge.

90% of buyers expect to see product/services information on vendor websites. They also want to see about/company information (61%), marketing collateral (37%), and testimonials (36%). Although social media becomes more impact in our daily business, only 24% try to find social media add-ons (24%) or look for blogs (22%).

Huff:koMarketing 2014 - Website Info People want to see

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Although the contact form is the most common way to get in touch with the vendor, only 39% like to use it. This is critical as buyers usually do not take too much time to stay on vendor websites.

Especially when getting bored or when they click out of a website, buyers tend to leave. Another mismatch that makes people leave is when video or audio plays automatically (93%). Animated ads, like crawling banners or pop-ups are also a NoGo for 88%, and a bad positioning about company offers makes 83% move to the competitor sites.

Study: Value of social media analytics tools still not understood

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The findings of a study by Demand Metric and Netbase sound positive – but not on a second glance. Although most marketers seem to have understood why they need to work with social media analytics tools, they still haven’t figured out how it helps them to find the social ROI. At least, 61% of responding marketers use social media analytics tools, and of those 53% started working with the tools in the last two years.

The study based on 125 marketers (70% B2B-focused, 13% B2C and 17% split) shows that marketers find social analytics tools most valuable for helping with campaign tracking, brand analysis, and competitive intelligence. 60% of the reponsing people use social media analytics tools for campaign tracking, brand analysis (48%), competitive intelligence (40%), customer care (36%), product launches (32%), and influencer ranking (27%).

Demand Metric SM Use Case Optimization

It still surprises me that the majority of respondents (66%) states that social media analytics tools are most valuable to help assess and quantify the degree of engagement. Is there more in it like understanding where engagement of the company is needed, leveraging content for production and curation, spoting the mentality and value of influencers, identifying engaged communities or platforms, or detecting features and traffic of personal brand advocacy? Obviously, most marketers are still far behind in understanding how to use and leverage social media analytics tools.

Demand Metric ROI SM EffortsSpot On!
Although most marketers see the opportunities to leverage the social ROI, most are still in their infancy in converting data in findings, and leveraging social media in their daily business. The findings show that most of those marketers (70%) still cannot quantify their social media ROI. The question is why they cannot do so? Do you have any ideas or experience where the main challenges are? Is it a problem of resources, of technology misunderstanding, or simply not clear which social KPIs make sense to meet the overall business targets? Let us know what you think…

The answer to meaning in B2B marketing

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For years, I have been working in the B2B industry and have looked, maybe a bit envious, at those friends who were working for BMW, MINI, Red Bull, LVHM, going to fancy parties with the guys from GQ, or those who enjoyed other sexy lifestyle moments out there in the B2C universe. When I was telling stories about B2B channel strategies, brand campaigns of mainframe providers, B2B community communication, and even if it was around web TV in the year 2000 and around brands like IBM, HP, Intel or Avaya, nobody seemed to be excited about B2B marketing the way I was. Not many eyes smiling (only with a sense of sympathy maybe). Not many questions were raised or asked. Not much fun.

Being a B2B marketer can be a challenging and somehow self-motivating task. But there are reason why I have never lost the energy in being one. And the funny thing with user-generated content and storytelling is that I do not even have to write why I do what I do (maybe good and bad that is). I just had to listen to those like-minded souls out there on Twitter, expressing their inner feelings and their drive for the fun in a B2B world.

Dough Kessler really took his approach to „The Search for Meaning in B2B Marketing“ but I would sign this for my career as well… and just have to curate his great presentation in order to make people understand my career and my B2B marketing story.

THX Dough!

The Search for Meaning in B2B Marketing from Velocity Partners

B2B Study: Buyers behavior insights on conversion and engagement

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Are you planning your lead generation programs at the moment? Well, you better be quick then. Why? The conversion rates for B2B online lead campaigns generate the best results when the year starts – so now! The reasons are quite obvious: Budget are fresh or renewed. Funds are starting. Conversion falls below average in the Christmas month, probably as of intense planning activity and budget cuts. Not surprisingly, the summer months show a significant decrease in conversion activity.

The findings are coming from some recent analysis by Software Advice, based on data generated from over six million visitors to the Software Advice website in the last 5 years. Although this might be some very detailed experience for the B2B software industry, it is still valid and applicable for the whole b2b industry if they do lead generation programs.

Study Software Advice Conversion By Month

The report shows that B2B buyers were most active on the Software Advice website Tuesday through Thursday, with Tuesday being the most active day and Wednesday driving the highest conversion rates.

Study Software Advice Conversion By Day

Interestingly enough, traffic peaks in the first half of the day, and especially around lunch time. 53% more unique visitors showed up during work hours when compared with Software Advice’s unique visitor traffic.

Study Software Advice Conversion By Hour

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Comparing this with other engagement studies from the social media world (here and here), we see that the time around midday seems to be best to get people engaged in content marketing, social media and lead generation. Speaking from our own experience with silicon.de over ten years, I can say that the morning hours when people get their first coffee were also successful in lead and demand generation.

Study: B2B commerce moving from offline to online

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Most of us know that B2B is massively moving away from offline to online. But where is the proof? A recent survey by Intershop -based on a survey of 280 European and 120 US senior IT and business decision makers from merchants with a B2B focus and annual online revenues of $1 million to over $100 million- shows that with 57% the majority of B2B vendors sees B2B commerce fundamentally shifting from offline to online.

Intershop - B2B Business Shift 2013

The company manager that responded are aware of the shift (51%) and replied that they are changing their organizational structures and business models accordingly. Furthermore, 44% of those responsding managers find that B2B vendors adopt B2C best practices in order to improve their B2B purchasing processes.

Intershop - B2B Challenges 2013

The following numbers show what the main drivers of change seem to be. Most of the respondents (81%) found that changing consumer expectations are driving the changes in B2B commerce. And another 74% see new technology delivering new and unseen experience access.

Intershop - B2B Drivers of Change 2013

Still, not all is shining bright in the world of B2B commmerce. When 96% replied to be facing challenges in adapting to new B2B commerce trends, it speaks a clear message. Thus, the challenge is for…
– 50% to provide intuitive and user-friendly interfaces for multiple touchpoints (B2B online stores and mobile apps)
– 48% to manage complex organizational structures
– 47% to convince offline customers to use e-commerce and self-service channels

Spot On!
It is a good sign that almost all companies (92%) market their products on the Web and the rest is planning to do so. Even better is the fact that of those companies marketing their products online, 95% plan to boost the online part of their revenue in the future. This may be a wish, this may be a dream, this may be hope. However, the main issue in our eyes from several cases we worked on is an internal cultural challenge: Understanding that a shift to online is a personal and a leadership topic. If companies face it and get some good advice, the change to a new B2B commerce is not causing red eyes.

B2B: What data lead generation should deliver to marketers

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In an era where Big Data rules in many companies‘ marketing departments, it is interesting to see where pay-per-lead marketers see the best value in. A recent survey by Business.com conducted in May 2013 of 500 active pay-per-lead advertisers (with SMB market focus) states that most B2B marketers value a buyer’s purchasing time horizon as the most important data point they want (51%). The problem is: They often cannot get that data set.

The second most important data point for leads is the employee size figure of the buyer’s company (31%) which these marketers say would be extremely valuable to get. In the third place comes the industry sector (29%) and then the job title of the business decision maker (20%).

Business.com 2013 Content Marketing Leads
As shown here and here in different other studies, the survey concludes that content marketing becomes more and more valueable for lead generation.

More than half of the people responding (51%) the study said that leads generated via whitepapers are valuable or extremely valuable. Webinars are also on the rise with 34% responding that leads from hosted webinars that feature their company or products are valuable or extremely valuable. Leads generated via sponsored email still find their interest among B2B marketers. Still, 38% stated these are valuable or extremely valuable, followed by case studies (38%) and video (35%).

Business.com 2013 Webinar Leads

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If we think of the „old BANT process“, the study lacks some answers and findings in terms of making us understand the importance of budget in these days. Not surprisingly though, the study still mentions that 42% expressed strong interest in „hot transfer“ leads (connecting companies immediately with leads as they come in) which probably are most promising in terms of fast lead conversion. When 60% see lead scoring as essential for the lead generation process, individual leads still is assigned a score reflecting the likelihood of a response. Maybe this should serve an answer on the BANT budget topic. For me that was not quite clear though.

SO, what would be your answer: IS the BANT process still valid? And what data set would be important to your sales process?

ABM Study: The impact of B2B media on purchase decisions

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It is one of these questions many B2B marketers would love to get an answer: How many of the B2B business professionals that can be reached by B2B media and live events are involved in purchasing decisions or supplier selections?

Well, a recent study by American Business Media’s „Value of B-to-B“ report, which was based on 6,682 responses from business professionals, 74 marketers and 111 business publishers and released Wednesday, gives an answer: Of those purchase business decision makers responding to the survey 74% can be reached by B2B media and live events.

The web plays a critical role here. The study states that 87% of those use industry-related websites on their customer journey and research in the decision making process. What they predominantly use is print magazines (65%), industry conferences and trade shows (58%) and e-newsletters (55%).

ABM B2B Resource Usage 2013

However, we all think the world is completely digital these days, the study makes clear that 74% use both digital and traditional media to get latest best practices and get the right information for their business. The industry-related focus of the print publications is relevant for (68%) as they spend more time with those publications than with mainstream business or consumer publications.

PS: There are good signs for the media industry, too. Almost half of the responding marketers (45%) expected an increase in B2B advertising budgets for the next 12 months.

Study: Content Marketing – a challenge? B2B hiding behind false excuses…?

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We had written about a Curata content marketing survey some months ago. Now, I came across another research which is making it’s way through the web, and I am glad as I have been asked at a University St. Gallen event for some new insights on the topic today.

The Content Marketing Institute’s 2013 benchmarks shows what the challenges for marketers are: producing enough content (64%), producing the kind of content that engages an audience (52%), or producing a variety of content (45%).

Sounds like we have heard that before, right…?

If you think lack of budget is still the issue, you might find yourself being in the wrong corner. Just 39% of the respondents said that they lack budget. Furthermore, traditional restrictions and limits like buy-in/vision (22%) or finding trained content marketers (14%) is falling out; not even senior level buy-in is their biggest challenge (7%).

All lies? Well, seems like that… And when just 14% say, they are having problems hiring in this field, i would suggest some clever journalists or PR managers have found a way to market themselves.

Challenges For Content Marketing 2013So, a questions arises that also came up today in my moderation: What is the real issue, why marketers don’t challenge the content marketing business?

We have probably all heard what Outbrain told us today in their speech that push is the new pull, advertising becomes marketing, creation the modern editorial, campaigns are the always-on of tomorrow which makes sprints the new marathons. Still, the question is whether marketers understand why this should become the new budget engine for a change in an emerging shift towards content marketing and away from advertising?! Maybe marketers need to understand what makes them a media-house? Content curation, distribution and measurement might be more of a big bang theory to address…

Measurement for B2B Content Marketing Success 2013Spot On!
The challenge might actually arise in the definition where content marketing gets propelled. Many marketers see still search engine advertising (SEA) their wholly grail. If companies get turned around into SEO engines, the whole result-driven aspect of the fluid content marketing world would not be questioned any longer. It just depends on getting the right people engaged inside the office and to find the commitment that lets the formerly outsourced world stand in the shade. And have companies ever understood the value of content? Content is not a test budget! It is an attitude towards business, towards communication, towards social business. Or have you ever put into question why you send out newsletters, flyers, whitepapers, or even company brochures? Blogs, status updates, tweets… written in an intelligent way, is increasing the way your conversations will arise…

Are you really hiding in the content marketing fields, marketers – or is it a real challenge…?

Performance review of the top 5 social networks in 2012 (Infographic)

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After our input on Twitter’s growth yesterday, let’s have a look at the performance of the other social networking platforms: Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and… ok, again Twitter.

The guys from Pardot had a look at the changing social landscape and the challenges for marketers with respect to those social platforms in 2012. With many other challenges like lead generation, email marketing, offline activities or media, the selection of the right social networks becomes more and more difficult.

In order to offer some advice to marketer, Pardot created the following overview of each major social network’s performance in 2012. The ROI estimates are based on audience, growth rate, and audience composition, and are calculated to convey potential return for B2B marketers, says their blog post.

2012 Social Media Report Cards [INFOGRAPHIC] - Pardot Infographic

Embedded from the Pardot Blog

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