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Forrester report says content from agnostic industry experts best way to reach B2B buyers

A new Forrester Research report reveals the best way to reach B2B buyers is with content written by unbiased third-party industry experts.

The report, “Use Third-Party Content To Attract And Persuade Elusive B2B Buyers,” surveyed in January 210 IT and business decision-makers at companies with 500 or more employees. Forrester also interviewed eight vendor companies, including Adobe, DocuSign, Linkable Networks and SIM Partners. The survey found 31 percent of B2B buyers’ rank third-party content as the No. 1 type of content they rely on to help explore and make technology-buying decisions. The No. 2 type of content is information, news, and product reviews from technology information websites or portals (19 percent), followed by white papers or published articles (11 percent), general internet search results (10 percent) and business or industry printed publications (9 percent).

Moreover, 62 percent of B2B buyers find content authored by a qualified expert/analyst to be the most credible, followed by data-driven content (60 percent) and brand agnostic content (48 percent). So ditch the sales pitch in your content.

“Business buyers invest in solutions to their problems, not in a particular product or set of capabilities,” wrote Laura Ramos, VP-principal analyst and author of the report.

B2B buyers also want less, but more targeted content, according to the report. Half of respondents said vendors give them “useless” content and two-thirds (64 percent) said vendors give them too much of it.

“With content marketing expected to consume, on average, 12 percent of B2B program dollars this year, marketers would be better off cutting back on volume and delivering more targeted and personalized substance over style,” Ramos wrote.

Case studies are the most valuable kind of content when it comes to making a purchase decision, according to 54 percent of respondents. Next in line is business case/ROI content (51 percent), white paper with supporting data (47 percent), product-specific content (42 percent) and technology trends/forecast content (41 percent).

“Repackaging third-party data and content as SlideShare presentations, infographics, or an interactive tool gives your customer champions the building blocks they need to develop a winning business case quickly,” Ramos wrote.

B2B tech buyers also respond more to short, digestible forms of content. Sixty-nine percent prefer articles, while 68 percent like four to five page reports. Interactive ROI tools are also favored by 56 percent of respondents, and 55 percent want presentations like SlideShare.