13th time lucky

How many pieces of content does it take to convince a potential customer to try out a new B2B product or service?

You might have already figured it out from the title. According to market research firm FocusVision, the answer is 13. That’s eight vendor-created pieces and five from third parties.

The survey was completed by marketing executives at companies with at least 500 employees and $50mn in annual revenue who had purchased a martech solution in the past year.

In perhaps reassuring news, vendors’ websites ranked as the top source of content, showing that vendors still have a lot of control over their messaging and how they’re perceived by their prospects.

Search also ranked highly, demonstrating the importance of good SEO practice, while social media ranked as the third most referenced source of content for B2B buyers. Though vendors should of course have a presence on social media, it’s also where existing and past customers are likely having conversations about your brand. Therefore, your company’s reputation and existing customer care will have an influence on the type of content that appears across social media platforms.

However, content touchpoints don’t stop there. Content can be anything from videos and blogs, to white papers, customer testimonials, software reviews and analyst reports.

When reviewing your strategy, you’ll need to think of the content hosted on your own site and social media channels, as well as how your business is represented on external sites. You also want to make it as easy as possible for prospects to find relevant information relating to your brand, so they hit that magic number 13 as soon as possible.

Create regular content addressing topics that are pertinent to your prospects and ensure it accurately represents your brand, whatever format you decide to use. For example, whether you’re posting a video to YouTube, creating a paid LinkedIn campaign or banner ad, or writing a blog for your website, make sure the tone of voice, look and feel are consistent. 

Then, if possible, try to drive your engaged reader or viewer to the next applicable piece of content with a strategic link or reference.

You could also think about how to improve your representation on third-party sites. Whether through PR or by submitting requests, many companies and publications are happy to update their records, host branded content, or link back to your site where appropriate. You may want to engage in review and messaging forums such as Quora, where people sometimes post to ask their peers for product or service recommendations.

However, if you do decide to chip in, try to respond in a way that’s suited to the platform – i.e. don’t post a heavily promotional message on a site like Medium. You may be able to get away with that on your own site where people have actively sought you out, but posting like that on third-party sites – particularly those with an editorial focus – will quickly start to look like spam.

Yes, 13 sounds like a lot, but there are loads of ways you can reach your future customers. Focus on your website, search engine presence and your social media channels first of all, then try to branch out with more diverse content hosted across a range of platforms. Who knows – if you add value, and structure your content strategy well enough, you may be able to cut that number in half!

Who are you trying to reach with your content? Download our guide to see who’s involved in a typical B2B tech-buying decision.