Content Marketing: What Really Matters? Part I

B2B tech vendors, take note: To successfully support Sales in closing deals and hitting revenue targets, don’t confuse hype with reality. Despite all the talk about new forms of content marketing, when it comes to driving sales decisions, the most important collateral assets are still data sheets, white papers and case studies derived from customer references. At least that is what a recently published survey suggests.

While keeping abreast of all the latest types of marketing content is important, all content is not created equal. The findings from a recent survey by Eccolo Media reveal that quality still beats quantity and the newest forms of marketing content aren’t particularly powerful when it comes to influencing the purchasing decisions. “Because content now plays a role at every stage of IT purchasing, its relevance and quality becomes paramount. Marketers who understand the phases of the sales cycle and correctly leverage content have tremendous opportunity to engage, connect, and build trust with customers like never before.”

For the report, B2B technology decision makers were polled regarding the types and quantity of collateral assets they viewed and the impact of those assets on their ultimate purchasing decisions. What is a collateral asset? Simply put, it is any marketing content from traditional marketing materials like white papers and brochures to social media posts, email, and multimedia presentations.

So what exactly did the survey say? The vast majority of respondents (73%) claim they only consume between two and eight “collateral assets” in the decision making process. That means line-of-business managers, IT implementers, and C-suite decision makers are only looking at a limited number of resources from the many provided by prospective vendors. It is probably safe to assume that the fewer assets used, the more in-depth those assets are likely to be. For example, it is highly improbable that a company would make a million dollar ERP selection based on an email and a couple of tweets. This is born out by the finding that show traditional in-depth content resources out weight other content types when it comes to what is viewed.

More importantly, the survey also discovered that the content viewed does not correlate directly with which content was found to be influential. Case in point, many respondents read the same number of emails as whitepapers, but the emails had significantly less influence on the purchase (15% for emails vs. 32% for white papers). Why? Perhaps because the email was light on useful information and, in fact, was a prompt to consume the whitepaper. Blogs, tweets, emails and LinkedIn updates are still relevant parts of a marketing communication program, but this survey suggests they are less likely to effect a purchasing decision.

Another interesting finding is that traditional marketing content including data sheets, brochures, white papers and case studies all were twice as influential as videos, webinars and emails. Interestingly, social content was only influential to 14% of the respondents.

What do we do with this information? Part II of this post includes some actionable ideas.

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