The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and NetLine Corporation recently put out a report (via MarketingProfs) finding that customer content sharing circles strongly impact pre-sale vendor selection. More and more, "insight-hungry" businesses are relying on trusted third-party information to make their decisions.
It also found that buyers are often clustered in "distinctly different content sharing circles".
The report is based on data from 352 business buyers during January. Participants came from all executive levels across 30 different industries. It identifies three primary types of sharing circles:
These circles are being powered by three segments of content personas, the report suggests:
According to the report, the web is the main place business buyers begin their path to purchase with 68% starting at search engines. It also found that while buyers are seeking out input from trusted third-parties, facts and data-driven insights from vendors are the second most valued source of content in purchasing decisions.
“B2B marketers annually invest an estimated $16.6 billion in digital content publishing to acquire business leads, influence customer specification and consideration, as well as educate and engage prospects,” says Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council. “Despite spending about 25 percent of their marketing budgets on content creation, most companies lack the necessary strategies, competencies and best practices to effectively engage their markets, and very few have content performance metrics in place to measure effectiveness and calculate ROI.”
As far as the actual reasons buyers are using content, the top five were: identifying best practices/best-of-breed solutions, determining where competitive differentiation can be achieved, clarifying the position of a specific vendor or partner, setting the strategic agenda and assessing areas of need and prioritization, and providing perspective from trusted/neutral sources.
You can find the complete report here.
Image via CMO Council