B2B buyers are increasingly relying on third-party information to help make purchasing decisions, according to new research from the CMO Council.
The study, conducted in partnership with NetLine Corp., surveyed the online content sourcing and sharing behaviors of 352 business buyers worldwide. It found that the sourcing, sharing and consumption of content occurred mostly among three types of informally structured buying groups within organizations.
The three primary content sharing circles include:
· From the middle out (35%): Content sourcing and purchase decisions are driven by tactically focused executives, but senior management are in the loop.
· From the bottom up (30%): Junior or mid-level managers source primary content and share upstream to senior management, who make purchasing decisions.
· From the top down (29%): Senior management consumes content, sending information down the chain for product identification and purchasing.
The personas in these circles include:
- Researchers, who seek out contents, focusing on industry reports and research to learn about new solutions and trends
- Influencers, who are interested in both broad thought-leadership from third parties and vendor-branded technology information and case studies, with a particular interest in summarized content like infographics, videos and blogs.
- Decision makers, who look for information through research and analyst commentary, as well as other data.
“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,” notes Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council. “Despite spending about 25% 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.”
According to the research, the Internet is the primary place where business buyers begin the path to purchase. Some 68% start their content sourcing at search engines and portals, 40% go to vendor websites, and 25% begin with an email from a trusted source or peer.
Buyers are seeking thought leadership from third parties but still expect facts and data-driven insights from vendors to help make critical vendor selection decisions. Forty-four percent see technical details and specs about products as the second-most valued source of content across their buying journey. The top five most sought-after types of content include surveys, technical details about products/solutions, analyst reviews/recommendations, expert bylined content and content from third parties.
The complete report can be downloaded here.