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One thing is certain in marketing and sales:  what worked last year may not work today.

Indeed, the methods we use to get prospects to say “yes” keep evolving. Nowadays, prospects are more skeptical of sales pitches, even jaded by them.  On the other hand, they are hungry for information.  They research companies and products of interest, and buying decisions hinge on what they read.

In fact, 79% of B2B buyers typically view 3+ pieces of content prior to engaging with a salesperson, according to the 2016 Consumer Preferences Survey by DemandGen.

That might explain why 88% of B2B marketers in North America now use content marketing as a way to promote themselves to prospects and clients, according to the Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs 2016 Report.  These companies are proactively producing and sharing content such as articles, blog posts, videos and infographics via newsletters, blogs, email, their websites, and media outlets.

That tactic is working.  According to content marketing industry specialist Curata, 74% of companies indicate that content marketing is increasing their marketing teams’ lead quantity and quality.

So what’s the best way to execute content marketing?  What yields the best results?


What Prospects Want

First, let’s focus on what content is moving the sales needle.  According to DemandGen, B2B purchasing decisions made in the past 12 months were based on a variety of mediums.  White papers were cited as the most-used vehicle to make a decision, cited by 82% of respondents.

  • White papers (82%)
  • Webinars (78%)
  • Case studies (73%)
  • eBooks (67%)
  • Blog posts (66%)
  • Infographics (66%)
  • Third-party/analyst reports (62%)
  • Video (47%)


Distribution Methods

Just how are companies sharing their content?  According to IMN, 92% of respondents cited social media as one of the top B2B methods of distributing content.  Other top distribution mediums were as follows:

  • eNewsletters (83%)
  • Articles on the company website (81%)
  • Blogs (80%)


Frequency and Length

How regularly should companies communicate?  To make an impact, communicating with prospects and customers is something you need to do frequently, or at least once a week, most studies agree. That includes blogging, posting content on social media, distributing newsletters, publishing articles or perhaps a combination of all of those things.

When it comes to blogs, length does matter.  Studies by Curata have found that long-form blog posts—or those of 1200 words or longer—generate nine times more leads than short blog posts.


Style of Content

According to DemandGen, the style of content preferred by readers was prescriptive content, in which they are provided guidance and tips, such as “7 Ways to Increase Sales” or “3 Must-Have Loan Origination Tools”.

This is how readers ranked their preferences for content style:

#1:  Prescriptive content (“3 Must-Have Loan Origination Tools”)

#2:  Predictive content (blueprints, toolkits)

#3:  Foundational content (executive Q&A)

#4:  Benchmarking tools (“The Future of…”)

#5:  Conversational content (assessments, calculators)



Not all content is created equal. Data shows that producing quality content for prospects and customers is of critical importance.  With more content to view online these days, readers are getting selective.  You won’t get results by having a staff member write a dull or overly technical piece. Hardly anyone will want to read it.

Eighty-seven percent of B2B marketers surveyed by research and advisory firm Forrester struggle to produce content that truly engages their buyers.  Lack of time or bandwidth to create content is cited as the top content marketing challenge, followed by difficulties producing enough content volume and variety, and producing truly engaging content.


The Future of Content Marketing

It’s clear that companies are realizing the benefits of creating and distributing content, as content marketing budgets are soaring. Currently, 28% of B2B marketing budgets go to content marketing, according to Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs. That number is expected to keep rising as more companies use marketing experts to produce content that their target audience will want to read. In fact, content marketing budgets are expected to double by 2017, a report by PulsePoint showed.

If your company is not actively looking to generate and publish content, your sales are likely to suffer. But if your company is like most, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is in producing relevant content on a continual basis.  That’s where we can help.

With a talented team of industry writers and social media experts, we can provide your company with an ongoing stream of relevant content.  In addition, we’ll identify great placement vehicles for your content and create a content marketing schedule that makes sense.  For more information, reach us at

By Rosalie Berg, President, Strategic Vantage