News: Edelman and LinkedIn launch new study on thought leadership and buying behaviour

According to the Edelman and LinkedIn’s fourth annual Thought Leadership Impact study, the demand for B2B thought leadership has increased since the pandemic, but the market is oversaturated with poor quality content. The study is based on insights from nearly 3,600 business decision makers across a range of industries in the UK, USA, Canada, Singapore, Australia, and India. 

The pandemic has caused a permanent shift in how business brands reach customers and prospects whilst simultaneously creating a tsunami of new thought leadership content. Despite this, 38% of business decision makers say the market is oversaturated and only 15% rate the quality of what they see as good or excellent.

“Quality content that is grounded in fresh insights, demonstrates personality and puts people at the centre of stories is more important now than ever. Professionals are actively looking for information and advice that’s genuinely worth sharing with colleagues,” says Andrew Mildren, Head of Business Marketing, Edelman UK & Ireland. “The data shows that the short-term benefits are better engagement and performance, more effective media spend and a higher quality of leads and customer interaction. Longer-term, we’ve found it results in companies being considered for more tenders, closing deals faster and earning the trust needed to charge a premium for their services.”

Self-education among B2B buyers, a trend well underway pre-pandemic, continues to gain traction. Research from Gartner shows 83% of a typical B2B purchasing decision — researching solutions, ranking options and benchmarking pricing — happens before a buyer engages directly with a provider.

The in-person, one-to-one sales model is also fading away: B2B sales reps have access to just 5% of a customer’s time during their entire B2B buying journey. More decisions are being made digitally, and, according to McKinsey, 70-80% of B2B decision-makers prefer it this way.

Edelman and LinkedIn’s latest study also finds over half (51%) of c-suite executives are spending more time reading and watching thought leadership than before the pandemic began. The data reveals the important following preferences when it comes to highly valuable content: 

  • 81% of decision makers want provocative insights that challenge their assumptions rather than validation on their current thinking.
  • 80% want thought leadership that includes 3rd party data from trusted sources rather than just proprietary insights from the publishing company.
  • 77% are interested in hearing from deep subject matter experts delving into specialised topics over senior executives speaking to high-level business issues.
  • 64% favour a more human, less formal tone of voice rather than an academic intellectual voice.

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