THE TOP TECH CONTENT MARKETING TRENDS

Tech B2B buyers rely heavily on content to influence their purchase decisions, but what types of content work best?

Over recent years, tech B2B buyers have seen an unprecedented pace of technological change. From IoT to machine learning to blockchain, they are being forced to upskill even as they make crucial purchasing decisions.

 

Buying habits – and the tech B2B purchase cycle is changing significantly. Tech purchase decisionmakers are under more pressure – and scrutiny – than ever to ensure they get it right and the solutions they pick deliver ROI.  And this means they need to get up to speed fast on new technologies, new approaches, new solutions and more.

 

The good news is that there is plenty of help around in the form of content. We’ve observed that content is playing a more and more important role within the overall tech B2B purchase cycle, and we know that B2B decision makers are spending more than 70% of the purchase cycle engaging with content before they ever reach out to sales representatives.

 

We wanted to understand what the picture was in tech B2B specifically. This summer we spoke to tech B2B influencers and decision makers in Europe and the US who play a role in purchasing decisions, from IT Managers to VPs. (Good news: 57% of these critical decision makers were women!).

So, what are tech B2B buyers really looking for from content?

We decided to speak to tech B2B decision-makers to understand how they consume content.

1. What type(s) of content do you find most useful?

VIDEO CONTENT IS KING

53% of respondents said that video was the most useful form of content.

While video’s popularity in B2C is unquestioned, it is interesting to see that video is becoming more and more important among tech B2B buyers too. They aren’t all serious engineers who want to look at pages of text and graphics! A 2019 report on Video in Business by Vidyard found that: businesses in high tech and professional services industries are publishing the highest volumes of new videos on a monthly basis.

Video was followed closely by case studies. Content marketers must incorporate the case study into their marketing mix, even though they are notoriously hard to develop, requiring both internal and external approvals, plus the involvement of multiple teams that range from sales to legal.

  • % of Respondents

Isoline Top Tips: 

  1. Include case studies within the sales contract
  2. Incentivise salespeople who persuade clients to agree to case studies
  3. Explain to clients what is in it for them and the details of the value exchange
  4. Make it a win-win for clients by giving them exposure
  5. Keep it short and compelling. Focus on results.

2. What type(s) of content are you most likely to share?

IT'S VIDEO AGAIN!

Looking for content that’s most likely to go viral – focus on video! Tech B2B buyers said they were most likely to share video content – another point that leads us to conclude that video is undoubtedly the direction that content marketing is headed in.

The biggest barrier to increased video use, in our experience, is the misconception that video is expensive and time-consuming to produce. While video development does require a slightly different expertise and mindset, it’s a lot easier to use than one might think.

  • % of Respondents

Isoline Top Tips:

  1. Explore different video formats – chalk talks, webcasts, talking heads, demos, webinars
  2. Share videos: email, social, client presentations and trade show booths
  3. Make it a win-win for clients by giving them exposure through video case studies

3. How have your content consumption habits changed over the past year?

PEOPLE TRUST WHAT THEY KNOW

46% of our respondents said they tended to stick to the sources they knew and trusted.

What this means, especially for startups and challengers, is that it’s not all about sales enablement – thought leadership to build trust and your positioning is an essential first step.

As a content marketing agency focused on tech B2B, we see companies focusing on sales enablement content with the goal of converting as many buyers as possible, as soon as possible. This often takes the form of e-mails and other content aimed at setting up evaluation and sales meetings. This approach is short-sighted.

By taking the focus away from immediate conversion and instead focusing on building their positioning over time, companies can establish themselves as a leading voice in the industry and pave the way for long-term sustained growth.

  • I tend to stick to sources I know & trust
  • I prefer credible content from industry influencers
  • I prefer to access content on my smartphone or tablet
  • I have regular 'go-to' sources for content
  • I prefer shorter formats
  • I consume more interactive content

Isoline Top Tips:

  1. Think long-term: nobody can build a trusted expert positioning overnight
  2. Make sure your social channels are active and well populated
  3. Let SEO guide your content strategy – align it with what people are looking for

4. Before contacting a supplier, how many pieces of content will you typically consume?

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

53% of those surveyed responded that 3-5 pieces of content was typical before contacting the supplier.

Tech B2B content marketing is a long game. Buyers undertake a lot of research during the initial awareness and consideration phases before they consider reaching out to a smaller bank of suppliers to take the conversation to the next level.

It is important to have a wide range of content to appeal not only to different audience preferences but also to build a coherent content journey for each audience member. Mix it up – not only in terms of content type (white papers, case studies, testimonials, video, blog posts and social media) but also in terms of the message and information conveyed.

  • 3-5 Pieces
  • 1-3 Pieces
  • 5-7 Pieces
  • More than 7

Isoline Top Tips:

  1. Think in terms of sub-campaigns under your overarching content strategy
  2. Create a few diverse content assets under each sub-campaign
  3. If your resources are limited, launch one sub-campaign per quarter
  4. Repurpose content and refer back to other content assets within each piece

5. What is the role of content in your purchasing process?

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

66% of respondents were aiming to learn about technology and deployments.

The largest percentage of respondents use content to educate themselves about the options they have in the marketplace prior to speaking with a specific vendor. They are looking for current, relevant information about different technology options on the market now and what is poised to emerge in the near future.

And there you have it from the lips of your readers. In tech B2B, the awareness and consideration phases often overlap with the search for technical insights. Companies that are generous with their expertise and awareness of the industry will engage audiences better than those that are solely focused on sales messages.

  • % of Respondents

Isoline Top Tips:

  1. Case studies are invaluable tools
  2. Use cases and deployment tips are essential as well
  3. Collaborating with industry experts like analysts and other influencers can offer a new perspective

6. Are you spending more or less time researching potential suppliers than you were 12 months ago?

CONSUMPTION OF CONTENT IS ON THE RISE

37% of respondents are spending more time on research.

70% of those who responded are spending the at least as much, if not more, time reading and understanding content than they were just one year ago. This is good news for content marketers: while buyers are busy and have a lot of pressure on their time, buyers are willing to invest the time needed to understand and evaluate.

  • % of Respondents

Isoline Top Tips:

  1. Put a content strategy in place
  2. Assume that your audiences will engage with your content several times
  3. Always ask – will this content adds value to my audiences, or is it just self-serving?

7. How much time are you willing to invest in consuming content related to a potential purchase?

THE MORE TIME YOU PUT IN THE MORE YOU GET OUT

34% will invest 30-60 minutes reading content, with 26% spending as long as it takes if the content is great.

More good news for tech B2B content marketers: tech B2B buyers crave information and are happy to put in the time needed to gather the answers they seek. They are willing to search out quality content that will make their buying journey easier, quicker and more informed.

  • 5-10 mins
  • 15-30 mins
  • 30-60 mins
  • 60 mins
  • If the content is engaging as long as it takes

Isoline Top Tips:

  1. Create a combination of short-form and long-form content that cover different aspects of the solution
  2. Invest in a comprehensive resource centre on your website
  3. Ensure all content is SEO optimised for sector-related search terms

8. What is your primary device for consuming content on?

MOBILE IS ON THE RISE

Mobile users should not be overlooked. While the vast majority of tech decision makers still look at content on their desktops and laptops, the proportion of those who do it on their mobiles is too significant to ignore: and set to increase. So whether you’re producing video content, graphics or text-based content, ensure it is easy to consume on mobile.

  • % of Respondents

Isoline Top Tips:

  1. Ensure video, graphics or text-based content is easy to consume on mobile
  2. Keep emails simple and text-based and use links liberally so your users can read it quickly on their mobiles
  3. Incorporate voice search into your SEO strategy for the ‘OK Googlers’

9. In your opinion, what is the most trustworthy content?

PEOPLE TRUST THEIR PEERS

60% of respondents said peer reviews/user-generated feedback are the most trustworthy form of content.

Peer reviews and user-generated feedback led the pack when it came to most trusted content sources. In a tech B2B space, user reviews might sometimes not as simple to generate as leaving a review on Trustpilot – which is why case studies are so important. Content marketers must think of as many ways as possible to incorporate user feedback into their campaigns.

  • % of Respondents

Isoline Top Tips:

  1. Case studies are time-consuming but you can get creative with testimonials on websites or sales presentations, awards etc
  2. Explore the possibilities of collaborative content with peers, independent experts and even clients
  3. Webinars and joint presentations are easy ways to incorporate peer endorsements into your campaigns

10. How could technology vendors improve the content they produce?

NUMBERS DON'T LIE

51% of respondents said vendors should use more data and research to improve their content.

Tech B2B buyers audiences demand attention to detail and facts to back up any assertions that content might make. Tech investments take a lot of time, mandate in-depth knowledge, require a lot of energy, and even more money. These buyers want to learn about a company’s offering but need the information to be backed up by data, especially during the final evaluation stage of a purchase.

  • % of Respondents

Isoline Top Tips:

  1. Surveys (like this one!) and test results in different deployment scenarios are all great ways to provide data
  2. ROI calculators are an essential tool to address the CFO and other financial decisionmakers
  3. Analyst reports and partnerships help move the burden of data generation to create something quickly

11. How do you keep up to speed with relevant content from potential suppliers and influencers?

KEEP YOUR WEBSITE UP TO DATE

76% said they keep up with websites/blogs.

Tech B2B buyers seem to like staying in touch! They tend to go back time and again to company websites and blogs to stay updated. So content marketers need to stop thinking of their websites as static online brochures and instead treat it like a living, breathing company asset, frequently updated and ensuring repeat visitors stay interested.

  • % of Respondents

Isoline Top Tips:

  1. Publish a blog a week on diverse topics
  2. Ensure your LinkedIn feed is updated daily
  3. Regular newsletters on an opt-in basis with relevant and helpful data

Adapting future strategies to produce high quality content that increases conversions

What Should Tech Companies Do?

Ultimately, it is clear that tech B2B buyers are placing content at the heart of their decision making process. While buyers are willing to put in the time that’s needed to read the content that matters, a crowded arena and time pressures have created the need for highly targeted and thought out content. Making it more important than ever that content marketing strategies are focused on providing target audiences with relevant information based on facts, along with a deep understanding of the issues these buyers face daily.

So, there you have it. We hope you found the results and insights useful to inform your content marketing strategy moving forward.

If you would like to discuss our findings or need help on creating a highly effective B2B content marketing strategy, please get in touch at [email protected]

2019 Content Marketing Trends

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