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The Netflix Takeover: B2B Buyers Demand Consumer-Like Content Hubs

Bingeing is no longer confined to weekend marathons of Netflix hits such as “Stranger Things” and “Orange is the New Black.” Instead, consumer preferences are quickly transforming the business world, and forward-thinking brands are racing to create on-demand content hubs that meet modern B2B buyer expectations and are ready for their bingeing pleasure.

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Experts Share What’s In And What’s Out In B2B Content Marketing

Shorter content is in, and longer content is out, according to 88% of the B2B buyers polled for Demand Gen Report’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey. But what other trends will we see in the industry this year?

I was able to track down some industry leaders to get their thoughts on the matter as they headed to Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio this week.

I asked them all the same question, which will likely come up repeatedly during the conference: “When it comes to B2B content marketing in the next year, what will rise to the top, and what will fall by the wayside?”

In other words: What’s in and what’s out in B2B content marketing? Here’s what they had to say: 

Amy Holtzman, Senior Director of Revenue Marketing, Conductor

AmyHoltzmanTwo main concepts come to mind. The first is that customer-centric content is in and business-centric content is out. The marketers that will succeed next year and beyond must put the customer first, eliminate company jargon and actually speak human.

The second concept is that marketers will start to realize the lifetime value of content, not just the value of it to a particular campaign. Us B2B marketers have spent years measuring content success on a campaign-by-campaign basis. That’s a very narrow view. Content typically has a shelf life far beyond the campaign it was created for. Smart marketers are figuring out how to really project and determine the true lifetime value of a piece of content, enabling them to prioritize and produce the best content to drive ROI for their business, not just a particular campaign. 

Avishai Sharon, CEO, TrenDemon

AvishaiSharonIn recent years, we saw more and more companies focusing on content marketing as a means to generate new business. The main problem is how blind so many companies are with the actual effect of their content and marketing efforts on sales. A big part of the problem is that, until relatively recently, the technology hasn’t made it so easy to map the full user journey and identify the most impactful touch points towards conversion.

The trickiest part is predicting what content is most likely to be useful to an individual website visitor and presenting it at the right time. There are so many different factors that can influence what content will resonate with someone, such as the stage of the funnel that they’re currently in, the source from which they arrived from, content they have previously consumed, and the device and size of the screen they’re using. Another challenge is knowing which content to promote on which channel.

In 2017, we’ll see a significant trend toward most companies using advanced technologies to help them uncover the real value of their content marketing efforts by mapping and visualizing the user journey, with a special emphasis on the perspective of content pages and assets. This will be done by using in-depth insights to improve website performance and customer journeys in real time. As a result, marketers will be empowered by actionable insights regarding which content they should promote on which channel to maximize their ROI.

Cynthia Price, VP of Marketing, Emma  

CynthiaPriceWhat has been in for B2B marketing (and will continue to be) is valuable, relevant content that’s about respecting where the customer is in their buyer journey or their relationship with your brand. It’s content that focuses on how to actually use all of that customer data you’re collecting to reach your prospects in more valuable ways. After all, your data means nothing if you’re not putting it to work.

What’s out? Broadcasting the same message to everyone (in any channel). It might save time, but it does more harm than good in the long run.

Jason Stewart, VP of Strategic Content, Annuitas

jasonstewartThe volume of content produced is going to come down. Companies are realizing that a full editorial calendar isn’t enough, and that scaling back on their content production while paying closer attention to the buyer, their pains and their priorities is the key to content marketing success.

Companies are finally beginning to get a handle on measuring the performance of their content and realizing that downloads alone are not enough. When they tie content engagement to revenue, they get a better understanding of the content that works so they can scale back production to focus on what is really moving the needle.

Effi Atad, CEO, Showbox

effiatadWhen it comes to B2B marketing, we are still marketing to people. It’s often easy to forget, but behind the titles, corporate email addresses, professional LinkedIn profiles, etc. there are real people waiting to have their attention grabbed by content that is actually worth their time. That can come in any form — funny, personal, emotional — as long as it’s relatable to the business person behind the screen.

With this personal, more casual approach in mind, we can assume that just like all other internet users, our potential business clients' attention spans are dropping. They quickly scroll through blog posts and E-books and expect to have content diced and fed to them. 

This explains a lot about the biggest B2B content marketing trend of the year, a trend anticipated to become even bigger in 2017: branded video content. As internet users — both business and consumer alike — shy away from long, attention-demanding written content, branded video content appears to be the ultimate solution for marketers to convey their message in the most hard-hitting, relatable fashion. On the other hand, lengthy and cold appeals to the business sector are officially out, replaced by a warmer, consumer-like approach to the traditional B2B marketing dynamic.


I want to thank these industry leaders for sharing their insights with Demand Gen Report. Please share your thoughts in the comments below, or, if you’re at Content Marketing World this week, track down some of these people to have an in-person conversation.

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It’s Time to Break Down the Gate


Editor’s note: As part of a special arrangement, the article below has been syndicated from the Content4Demand blog.

G3 Communications has been publishing Demand Gen Report for more than eight years, and from the first day there has always been debate about whether or not marketers should require buyers to fill out a form in order to access content.

This discussion was raised again during David Meerman Scott’s keynote presentation at last month’s Content2Conversion Conference in Arizona. To highlight the bigger potential impact of openly sharing content, the New Rules of Marketing & PR author pointed to none other than The Grateful Dead.

While most musical acts strictly prohibit their audience from recording live shows, Scott pointed out that “The Dead” has always allowed and even encouraged fans to record shows and share them with other Dead Heads. He argued that openly sharing recordings of their shows has helped the band create a thriving and loyal community that has flocked to their shows over the past 5 decades.

This example may seem like a stretch for a marketing executive on the hook for driving leads. For marketers, content offers are the currency that drives their campaigns, so making assets available without filling out a single field sounds ridiculous.

But Scott did share real-world B2B examples where removing the gate is having significant payoffs, such as MailerMailer, which saw 20x to 50x more downloads once it stopped gating its content.

Scott’s theory is also supported by several data points that came out of our 2016 Content Preferences Study, including:

  • 93% of buyers recommend that brands make content easier to access by using shorter forms.
  • Content is increasingly becoming viral, with 85% of respondents saying they share content via LinkedIn occasionally or frequently; and 78% say they get more of their content through social networks or peer recommendations.
  • A whopping 82% of respondents say they access business-related content on smartphones, and 56% saying they do the same on tablets. But the fact is that mobile devices aren’t ideal screens for filling out forms and downloading content for later viewing.

These new realities present a compelling case that encourages marketers to think through the traditional exchange that takes place between a brand and a prospective buyer. Marketers are increasingly accountable to show results and gather intelligence on their buyers, but they need to find new tools and platforms to gather these insights. The reality is they need to become less dependent on landing pages that require buyers to fill out 10 fields of information to access an asset.

As we established earlier, content is currency and there should be some value placed on the assets brands are creating, especially high-value assets that include proprietary research or original data. In fact, the 2016 Preferences Study validated that buyers expect and are willing to fill out forms in order to access high-value content. Here are some specific variances where executives are willing to pass through a “gate”:

  • 79% said they are willing to register for a white paper;
  • 77% for webinars;
  • 63% will register for E-books; and
  • 51% will register for case studies.

Conversely, while interactive content is growing in popularity, the expectation is that these assets should be ungated, with only 31% expecting to register for ROI calculators, 37% for infographics and 23% for videos and motion graphics.

The solution for dealing with this perfect storm for many B2B marketers is a hybrid approach, where high-value assets such as E-books and white papers remain gated, while short-form derivative pieces are immediately available to access and share.

We encourage you to access a copy of the Content Preferences Study, and see how it can help your strategy about whether to gate or ungate specific assets. After you look through the research, we want to hear from you: Has your business taken a new approach to content gating? Are you considering taking a different approach? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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DemandGen Report To Share Content Preference Survey Results At Upcoming Content2Conversion Conference

Today's B2B marketplace includes a host of new channels, offers and insights.  A new breed of empowered B2B buyers has significantly changed the marketing landscape. At the same time, however, executives have less free time than ever -- yet they are inundated with a growing list of responsibilities and decisions.

Given these shifts, marketers are challenged to create compelling content that reaches beyond their customary, product-focused comfort zones. The content they create must focus more on fostering thought leadership that can serve as a nurturing tool. They must create content with enough value to catch the attention of busy, distracted decision-makers.

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