How can B2B marketers craft content that elevates, and what role do our preferred digital formats play in making it happen?
Recent study data looking at content formats has deep implications when it comes to creating online experiences that will not only be noticed, but delight the senses while also answering our most important questions.
Let’s take a look at how we process information, and how written, static images, video, and audio can work cohesively to create B2B marketing content that elevates with hope and delights with hyper-relevant answers delivered at the right time.
1 — Brain Science & Marketing Content Preferences: Formats, Styles & Relevance
Understanding the human brain, with its exquisitely complex computational and filtering mechanisms, can go a long way towards learning the types of content that can perform the best in B2B marketing.
The digital online content we experience everyday is in essence simply information that our brains process — swiftly weeding out data that:
- Doesn’t catch our attention
- Isn’t relevant
- Goes against our life values
Content that passes these initial filters in our brains then begins a second phase, where greater focus is given to information. During this round of consideration, we look at:
- Does this answer a question I have?
- Can this be useful to me?
- Can it be helpful to others I know?
If your marketing passes muster during this crucial moment, people will take action by interacting with your content in ways that include:
- Visiting a link to learn more
- Bookmarking or saving a digital asset for sharing or further study
- Sending a message to get more information
Survey data from three annual reports can help us learn more about marketing content preferences.
The volume of requested B2B content consumption grew by over nine percent year-over-year from 2020 to 2021, with total demand expanding by over 33 percent, while the average time professionals used to consume content climbed to 33.3 hours— an increase of over three hours. (1)
More people are consuming more content, and spending more time processing and taking action on what they take the time to engage with.
Among corporate executives, content consumption rose by 15.8 percent in 2021. (1)
Some 31 percent of content topics came from the information technology category, followed by finance with just over nine percent, and human resources with 8.8 percent. (1)
If you’re a B2B marketer working in the IT sector, you face the inherent challenge of having more content competing with yours, making it even more important to craft content that stands out to even get your foot in the door.
Some 62 percent of marketers said they rely more on content when it comes to researching and making purchase decisions than they did a year ago. (2)
44 percent of marketers consumed between three and five pieces of content before engaging with sales, while some 32 percent said they felt overwhelmed at the sheer amount of content available. (2)
2 — Written Information: Content Traditions
While video and static visuals have made huge inroads in being able to convey information, written content remains the most-used format overall.
eBooks were 4.8 times more likely to be requested than traditional white papers. While white papers represented over 20 percent of content, they drove just 7.4 percent of registration activity. (1)
Among those in immediate buying positions, the top content formats included white papers, survey reports, and research papers. (1)
Most other content formats incorporate written information, whether it’s text in videos or images, or transcriptions from podcasts and webinars — a telling sign of the enduring power of the written word.
B2B executives have said that research reports, white papers, and articles are the top content formats for those looking to buy within three months, while tips and tricks guides, eGuides and cheat sheets came out on top for buyers with timelines of a year or longer. (1)
3 — Static Visuals: Getting Deeper
Sitting firmly between written and video content, static visual content holds its own power to captivate and ultimately convert browsers into buyers.
Information technology professionals are 435 percent more likely to consume content when it’s in “special report” format, while 75 percent of those in all industries saw an increase in content consumption. (1)
A key element of reports and surveys is the visual presentation of information in easy-to-digest and share formats, which is why charts and photos are featured in successful marketing efforts in 2022.
When it comes to researching B2B purchases, 45 percent of marketers said that research surveys and reports were the most valuable content formats, followed by 42 percent who pointed to white papers, 40 percent for eBooks, and 35 percent for webinars. (2)
4 — Flowing Video: Making Marketing Memories That Last
When it comes to meeting advertising campaign objectives, digital video, paid search, and paid social occupy nearly 90 percent of the top eight media content types. (1)
As we’ve highlighted often in our own weekly TopRank Marketing B2B industry news, both the use and conversion power of video content has continued to grow in B2B marketing.
Some 48 percent of marketers say that they are not using their organization’s existing video content to its fullest potential, despite 88 percent of content marketers who use video reporting that their organization achieves either excellent results from video or results that met expectations, according to CMI data.
Webinars represent another increasingly important video content format.
Professionals registering for webinars are some 29 percent more likely to have a purchase decision within six months than for any other content format. (1)
57 percent of marketers said that webinars and eBooks were their top content format, followed by white papers at 55 percent, research reports at 52 percent, blog posts at 46 percent, and case studies at 46 percent. (2)
68 percent of content marketers said they used pre-produced video in efforts over the past year. (3)
5 — Listen Up: Audio & Podcasting In B2B Marketing
An analogy I’ve used for more that 30 years is that I’d rather listen to music I love on a cheap $5 transistor radio than music I hate in one of the most high-end audiophile listening rooms — and as a long-time owner of massive Minnesota-built Magneplanar loudspeakers, I really do believe this.
The same is true in marketing, where even brilliant no-holds-barred campaigns backed by practically unlimited spending can’t quite crack the nut if it’s promoting a dismal, shoddy product or service.
On the other side of the coin, savvy use of small campaigns with limited budgets that smartly feature the content preferences we’ve explored here can reach virtually unlimited heights when they are applied to a stellar, class-leading service or product.
Podcast advertising revenue is slated to top the $2 billion threshold by 2023, with more B2B brands turning to the format each year.
Additionally, some 40 percent of marketers said they listened to audio content during the past year, representing an increase of three percent from the year before. (2)
Elevate With Your B2B Marketing Red Balloon
Through a newfound understanding of how we process information and how written, static images, video, and audio can work cohesively, B2B marketers can elevate content to new heights — as we find our own red balloon of marketing hope and delight.
The marketing magic happens when you deliver the right information in the formats that people want, and the formats can often be changed to provide the same answers in a variety of formats.
“Reshare. If something was done really well in the past, remix it into a different format and share it,” Purna Virji, senior content marketing evangelist and content solutions consultant at LinkedIn* recently observed.
To learn more about elevating your B2B marketing efforts, check out our CEO Lee Odden‘s “Three Steps to Elevated B2B Marketing in 2022: Innovate, Collaborate, Accelerate.”
Creating award-winning B2B marketing that elevates, gives voice to talent, and humanizes with authenticity takes considerable time and effort, which is why an increasing number of firms are choosing to work with a top digital marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing. Contact us to learn how we can help, as we’ve done for over 20 years for businesses ranging from LinkedIn, Dell and 3M to Adobe, Oracle, monday.com and others.
- Netline’s 2022 State of B2B Content Consumption & Demand Report (1)
- Demand Gen Report’s Content Preferences Survey Report (2)
- Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends (3)
* LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.