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How “Vendor-Neutral” Content Influences B2B Purchase Decisions

Posted December 20th, 2013

A new benchmark report, The 2014 B2B Buyer Landscape, came out this week. The report focuses, in part, on how content assets like eBooks, white papers and infographics influence buyers’ purchase decisions.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority (82%) of senior executives who took the survey that served as the basis for the research said that content is a big driver of their buying decisions. The report also found that two-thirds (66%) of buyers agree that the winning vendor in a competitive buying situation provided higher-quality content than did the others. Most survey respondents also agreed that the winning vendor’s content was more conducive to building a business case for making the purchase.

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According to the report, winning vendors deliver a better mix of content appropriate for each stage of the purchasing process. “This variety enables the vendor to touch on as many issues as possible that may capture a potential buyer’s interest in a solution,” write the authors, who note that vendors have to “hit the right chords with potential buyers” when it comes to content production before those buyers are willing to take further steps.

At the same time, however, nearly half of survey respondents neither agree nor disagree with the statement that the winning vendor provided more content during the purchasing process. This finding suggests that when it comes to content assets, it isn’t necessarily a case of the more the merrier.

In truth, quality trumps quantity. Companies should strive to feature at least a couple valuable pieces of content on their websites, and more than half of respondents said they viewed 2-4 pieces of content from the winning vendor. That said, one completely unbiased and highly relevant content asset like a Smart Decision Guide is all that is required to fuel a successful content marketing campaign.

Another interesting finding concerns the research process. According to the report, 46% of buyers use web search engines as their “first source” when starting their research. This speaks to the need for a next-generation inbound marketing campaign infrastructure, along with sizable investments in paid search and SEO, to ensure that content assets can be readily found by the target audience. After web search, vendor websites are the leading choice for both the second and third source among buyers. Having reached the vendor web site, prospects expect to be able to access valuable information to guide their buying decision.

“More than one third of respondents (37%) ranked general educational content such as white papers and infographics to be the most important aspect featured on a vendor web site,” note the authors, who define general educational content as “vendor-neutral” content that “focuses particularly on the industry itself and how solutions provide some sort of assistance or convenience to the user.”

“Individuals wading through this process aren’t looking for a sales pitch, but rather are seeking generic information to help them get up to speed,” they write. We couldn’t agree more, based on our own experience.

Published by DemandGen Report, which provides a rich source of information on lead generation strategies, the report includes responses from more than 150 respondents actively involved in purchasing a business solution within the last 12 months. The report can be downloaded here.


 

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