The B2B technology market has a long sales cycle, multiple stakeholders involved in buying decisions and lots of content. That’s according to a survey by Spiceworks Ziff Davis.
About half of B2B technology decision-makers (47%) say they consumed 11 or more pieces of vendor content over the course of a year. Another 13% say they consumed 20 or more pieces of content, while still another 13% consumed 50 or more pieces of content.
Spiceworks is a niche forum and social network for the IT community which has been the source for a range of reports the company has published over several years. Spiceworks was acquired by Ziff Davis, a publisher of technology publications including Mashable, PC Magazine, MarTech Advisor and HR Technologist.
Types of content that draws buyer engagement
What types of content are B2B tech prospects engaging?
Webinars draw the most interaction by far. That’s fitting given live events were largely derailed by the pandemic in 2020. That’s followed by several categories of content that draw similar interaction rates.
Here’s what the numbers look like broken out:
- 68% of B2B tech prospects have engaged with webinars
- 45% videos
- 43% in-person events
- 38% white papers
- 36% blog posts
- 32% advertisements
- 25% infographics
- 24% social media, and
- 17% eBooks.
Here’s what that looks like graphically:
Content consumption continues to grow
The volume of content decision-makers consume has continued to grow every year. From time to time, I see skepticism about such figures. There are only 24 hours in the day, and people have only time for so much, or so goes one argument.
But it can and continues to rise.
Marketing in B2B tech is unique because these are typically complex products and involving multiple stakeholders and a long sales cycle. Content has never been more accessible, and it’s reasonable for a buyer about to commit to a high-value software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscription, to take their time in coming to a decision.
Another argument that I find interesting, is the idea that this content consumption is coming after the purchase. In other words, consuming content is a way to rationalize a purchase and validate that you made the right decision. Like content aimed at customer loyalty and retention, this is a category of content worth adding to your mix.
Publishers of content, not marketers of content
Fifty pieces of content seems like a lot at first pass, but it’s not when you consider the approach. The prospect that subscribes to a vendor blog, and makes a purchase a year later, will have easily received 50 pieces of content if you are publishing content consistently.
The big mistake too many marketers commit in content forgetting to offer a standalone subscription. They think of themselves as marketers of content, instead of publishers of content, as Stephanie Stahl wrote for the Content Marketing Institute. Yet the latter is much better suited to the consultative sales cycle many B2B tech companies espouse to employ.
Content is a long game, but an effective one
A few years ago, I championed a corporate blog that was managed like a media site. It proved to be a measurable touchpoint on the sales cycle for about one-third of deals closed for a SaaS product with an ASP of $1.3 million.
That analysis came about by comparing the email addresses associated with deals closed with their origin among potential marketing touchpoints. Importantly, the success didn’t come quickly. It took three years to get there with interim metrics to demonstrate progress – but once it gained a level of traction, it compounded.
If you use any of the major marketing automation tools, you can gather your own data with a little effort. Look to see how many touches were involved – and role content played – in the deals you closed. Chances are good that your date will show it requires 11 piece of content or more.
A version of this post was first published on Sword and the Script.