According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, B2B marketers are now spending 26% of their budget on content marketing.

What happens when someone downloads or accesses some of the highest value and most in-depth content marketers are offering? Today, many large B2B marketers are putting a stop to the conversation and cutting off prospects ability to continue finding additional information when potential customers get to their best content.

Best Practice: Enable Self-Directed Research

Many B2B websites enable prospects to find the information they need, and they should. Multiple research reports have shown B2B buyers conduct more than 70% of their research before engaging with sales. Providing access to a range of content that allows potential buyers to continue their research is critical.

This practice should not stop at your website. It applies anywhere prospects are engaging with your content, from Facebook to PDFs of research or whitepapers. If your audience is engaged with your content, give them an opportunity to stay engaged!

The Reality: Marketers Are Pushing Away Prospects

Yet when buyers get to some of your highest value content, marketers act like they should be done with their research. Instead of giving them the opportunity to continue their research, you give them a dead end, with no paths to additional content.

I reviewed white papers from 10 large B2B marketers, mostly downloaded through third party sites (paid placement with publishers). On third party sites, content from competitors is just one click away, and frequently offered in an Amazon-style “you might also like” module. Clicking to a competitor is an easy way for prospects to continue researching, making it even more critical for marketers to include navigation in their own content to keep prospects engaged.

Of the 10 white papers reviewed, here is what I discovered:

  • Only two white papers included a link to an additional piece of content, and one of those had a single somewhat random link only.
  • Only one white paper included a link to a topical page where content published since the white paper could be available.
  • Five white papers did not include links to an appropriate product page for more information. Instead they only linked to a homepage or very broad page covering a significantly wider range of topics than the white paper.


B2B marketers need to revisit content assets to ensure they enable prospective buyers to continue researching the same way their website does.

By adding links to related content and to content destinations that will have more recent information, marketers can provide paths for buyers to continue their research.

Your Turn

With the focus on content and inbound marketing, who do you think B2B marketers are not implementing these practices in their content? Share your opinion in the comments or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

White papers from the following companies were included in this review: AT&T, Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and VMWare.