Focussing on a B2B target audience, what type of online content do people want from brands?

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Focussing on a B2B target audience, what type of online content do people want from brands?

Hello! Thanks for your question on what type of online content people want from brands, with a focus on B2B audience.

OVERVIEW

The short version is that based on DemandGen Report’s content preference survey, the content B2B consumers use in making purchase decisions, in their exact order of preference, are white papers, webinars, case studies, e-Books, blog posts, infographics, third-party/analyst reports, video/motion graphics, and interactive presentations.

What follows is a deep dive into my findings and how I came about this answers.

METHODOLOGY

I searched for, found and reviewed many articles, reports, white papers and infographics from authoritative sources. I then developed an answer by going through resources that focused on German B2B consumers. Having understood the German B2B audience, I used findings from the likes of Accenture, Hybris, HubSpot and other authority sources to build facts-based and thoroughly verifiable answers to the question asked.

BACKGROUND

The demand for content is almost always directly tied to challenges or desires (think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). In that light, I researched for the challenges and desires that German B2B consumers have.

What follows is a highlight of some of the key challenges and desires of B2B consumers in Germany:

Key trends, challenges and desires of German B2B Consumers

1. Collection of Payments

A study by Atradius showed that 93.0% of survey respondents in Germany experienced late payment of invoices by B2B customers over the past year 2015/216—in spite of very strict payment terms.

2. Digitalization Challenges

Germany has less than the European average for broadband connection. Also, internet usage between people for communication is below average.

In Accenture’s comparison of digital density among countries like the USA, UK, Sweden, South Korea, Germany, and others, Germany is well behind, narrowly passing the average digital density score. Digital density essentially measures how digitalized a country is.

In Germany, mobile broadband is expensive, a factor that deters consumers from consuming content on their mobile devices. According to Rewheel, a Finnish telecoms consulting firm, Germany charges 50x the rate of internet connection in Finland, 40x time rates in Estonia, 20x UK rates. In Germany 35 EUR of internet as at July 2015 covers for only 1 gigabyte of data.

3. Need for convenience:

B2B consumers’ need for convenience is just as important as in the B2C world.

Based on a thought leadership paper commissioned by Accenture and Hybris, and delivered by Forrester, almost 78% of B2B customers say fulfillment options – such as next-day delivery – are important or very important, while 72% would value self-service access to accounts and orders.

4. German B2B e-commerce is NOT generating enough income online:

Only 1% of the 870 billion Euros generated by B2B e-commerce is generated online. This is the case in spite of fact that B2B e-commerce accounts for more than 95% of the entire e-commerce market volume. This information is based on a study by IFH in 2013.

Of the €870 billion generated from e-commerce, manufacturing holds about 50% of turn over, and wholesales holds over 30%. Only 4%, that is, 35 Billion Euros is generated via online shops.

Here’s a breakdown of e-commerce spend in Germany in 2013

E-commerce over all: €870 billion

B2B website/marketplace: €136 billion

B2B online shops: €52 billion (including services)

B2B online shops with wares: €35 billion

5. For B2B marketing, online marketing budgets, especially for SEO, content, and email marketing, are increasing. Meanwhile, budget for offline events and prints are decreasing. 77% of marketers increased content production in 2015, as against 2014. And 42.5% of companies are hiring more content marketing staff in 2016.

SOLUTIONS FROM B2B MARKETERS

B2B marketers are already beginning to find solutions to satisfy B2B consumers. According to B2B International, 3 key areas for marketing strategies that are being adopted right now are:

1. Branding,
2. Value marketing
3. Customer satisfaction

These 3 areas have also been confirmed by Curata. Curata says that the top three content marketing objectives (for B2B marketers) are:

1. Drive sales and/or leads (value marketing)
2. Engage customers/buyers/influencers (customer satisfaction)
3. Boost brand awareness (branding)

LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community also weighed in on this. They reported that the top 3 goals of content marketing are:

1. Lead Generation 59%
2. Thought Leadership/Market Education 43%
3. Brand Awareness 40%

However, only 54% businesses have a B2B branding program in place for measuring brand perceptions.

B2B CONTENT THAT PEOPLE WANT FROM BRANDS

There’s huge potential for content creation. According to Curata, 51% of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make B2B purchasing decisions than they did a year ago.

Based on identified challenges, trends and desires of B2B consumers in Germany, and also drawing solutions from the 3 key marketing strategies identified above, the types of online content that people would want from brands would be:

1. Tutorials and step-by-step guides:

Tutorials and step-by-step guides should help businesses put programs in place for measuring their brand perception, since about 46% of businesses are not doing this now.

2. Case studies:

Since only 1% of German e-commerce trade generates money through online stores, businesses need to see how the online shops that generate money do so consistently. Case studies will help in this regard.

Case studies also help in establishing trust and authority status. B2B consumers relate well with content that shows them that their problems have solutions, and that that solution is accessible something best done using case studies.

3. White papers:

White papers are in-depth and authoritative reports based on research that provides solutions persuasively. This kind of content supports data-driven decision making. Company executives and key decision makers regularly read white papers, so providing this kind of content will be of value to them.

This is particularly powerful, following that 80% of decision-makers prefer content to advertising, according to Mashable.

The German website, Handelskraft, which focuses on e-commerce and B2B enterprises already does this. The author regularly invites readers to download white papers at the end of each highly valuable, information laden article.

Inviting readers to download high value resources has proven to be effective in building email lists, engaging an audience, and eventually monetizing that audience.

4. Listicles:
Listicles (i.e. articles written in a list format) can be awesome for making a complex subject matter into digestible bits; brands can even use articles like this to easily win trust. Listicles help readers digest information faster and easier. And when targeting B2B consumers, speed is always of essence.

Another benefit of listicles is that they get shared by readers often. This shows that people resonate with lists a lot.

5. Visual media:

If not for anything else, these 3 reasons from the Boston Global Business Hub might justify using visual content:

i. Posts with an album or photo drive up to 180% more engagement than those without.
ii. Viewers spend 100% more time on web pages with videos.
iii. Viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video.

It’s not an accident that YouTube is producing celebrities who are now more known than traditional TV stars. Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook influencers, i.e. people with high social media following, have become key in driving sales for businesses.

More than 6 in 10 brands, including the likes of Coca-Cola and Toyota embed YouTube videos on their sites.

Since the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, it makes all the sense in the world to create visual content. Based on these facts on ground, helping B2B consumers understand the power and impact of visual media, for sales and marketing, should not feel tedious.

RANKING FOR TYPES OF CONTENT

First, content should be original. 61% of content consumers want original content, which is apart from the fact that original content the number 1 of the 9 ingredients of great content. Original content is not all that matters, details also matter. Long form content performs better than short form.

Based on DemandGen Report’s content preference survey, the type of content used in the past 12 months to make B2B purchasing decisions are:

1. White Papers 82%
2. Webinars 78%
3. Case Studies 73%
4. EBooks 67%
5. Blog Posts 66%
6. Infographics 66%
7. Third-party/Analyst reports 62%
8. Video/Motion graphics 47%

SUMMARY

Germany has great potentials for content, especially because B2B e-commerce accounts for 95% of the entire e-commerce market volume there. The demand for online content is rising and print media is on the decline.

Of all the content demanded, white papers rank at number 1 with a score of 82% for engagement and readership, out of 9 types of content that drive B2B purchase decisions—this is good news since most decision makers prefer content to advertising.

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