By Michele Linn
Each year at CMI, we survey marketers about how they use content marketing and how they find success internally. The insights are useful, but what we also want to know is what’s going on in the minds of the people who consume the content?
So, we were happy to join forces with SmartBrief when approached about doing a joint research project on how content influences the purchasing process. The survey represents the views of 1,200 SmartBrief subscribers who are involved in the purchasing process. The research focuses on what type of content is most influential, how these decision-makers perceive content coming from a vendor, and more.
You can download the report or read on for a few ideas on what content marketers like yourself need to know.
Decision-makers rely on you for info
Perhaps not surprisingly, 81% of respondents conduct research before they bring you, the vendor, in to discuss a project.
But you may be surprised by how much decision-makers want to hear from you. The majority say they have no preference on where they get their information – including 40 percent who say the source of the content doesn’t matter, as long as the information is credible. And 24% prefer information to come from the vendor they’re considering.
YOUR ACTION: The data confirms something most of us know (although it’s good to share with any naysayers): Decision-makers want to hear from you.
You have a substantial opportunity to provide insights and answer questions – and doing so helps information-seekers find you.
While much has been written on how to answer your customer’s questions – and get found on search – I like this common-sense (yet often overlooked) approach from Andy Crestodina. He walks through how to better understand a user’s intent when searching – and how to create something that your brand will actually rank for.
Original research is considered highly influential
If you were to guess which source of information had the most influence on a purchasing decision-maker, you may hazard a guess that peer recommendations come in at the top – and you’d be right. But, right after word of mouth is original research.
Original research ranks as far more influential than many other types of content, including product-focused tactics such as product reviews, demos, third-party reviews, etc.
YOUR ACTION: I’m a huge fan of original research as I have seen tremendous results from the marketing side – and I was glad to see decision-makers look so favorably on this as well.
While tackling original research isn’t necessarily easy, it’s worth the effort – and it’s something I consistently suggest to people looking to build their audience. In a recent post about the challenges and opportunities facing professional services marketers, content marketing manager Christina Galoozis from consulting firm West Monroe Partners commented that these marketers consider research-based content the most effective content they produce.
Christina explains, “It’s because we have something original to say that the reader can’t get anywhere else. We are investing in more proprietary surveys this year than ever before.”
Research has played such a critical role in CMI’s growth that we have a full-time research director, Lisa Murton Beets. Our PR consultant, Amanda Subler, offers step-by-step instructions as she spreads the word about our research, which gets written about or quoted at least once (usually more) per day every single day.