New B2B Research Reveals What Content Manufacturing Buyers Want Most

Two new reports struck us as especially interesting this month - one reveals what content manufacturing buyers want most and the other shows a strong business outlook in North America. Here's our take on both and links to the studies so you can view the full detail too.

1. What Buyers Really Want - A new study of over 6000 buyers, salespeople and marketers in 7 countries, published this month by LinkedIn, gives results on what B2B Buyers want most, when they want it in the buying process, and the extent to which buying is a team sport!

It may not be what your intuition is telling you! If so, consider re-tuning your intuition for today's market. For example, marketers and advertising agencies have long disparaged promotion of features over benefits. But LinkedIn's research shows today's audiences "crave technical details about products and how they work" - buyers primarily want product feature information as they perform their online research.

In the study buyers, salespeople, and marketers each chose their top three content preferences and the study compared how closely sales peoples' and marketers' intuition came to what buyers really wanted. Buyers most often selected “product info, features, functions” (35%), followed by “demos” (31%). As LinkedIn put it, "it’s not you, it’s your content" that they want! CDS customers will know that we've always recommended detailed individual product pages with downloadable product data sheets and 3D CAD models for industrial products.

Most Effective B2B Content for Sales and Maketing

Marketers believe the case studies are the most effective content, 27% scored case studies in their top 3 but only 19% of buyers did the same. Similarly 23% of salespeople are big believers in peer testimonials but only 16% of buyers did the same. Clearly buyers want a range of content types and we should 're-tune' our intuition to what the market wants today.

Channels Preferred at Each Stage of Funnel Buying Process The research also studied what content channels buyers use at different stages in the buying process. The top of the funnel behavior is very broad, encompassing social media, information sharing across the buyer’s organization and online search. Of course, to be considered, your content must be found in at least one of those searches - the content and it's SEO and SEM are all vital! CDS customers will know that we've always recommended detailed individual product pages under your company domain to maximize SEO of each individual product.

B2B Buying Complexity is highest in Manufacturing SegmentLinkedIn also reports that, "the B2B buying process is extremely collaborative: It is a team sport." Buyers consult their peers and colleagues both inside and outside their companies to gather information about products. This is especially in Manufacturing, with the highest cross department involvement compared to other industries and segments. The take away is that suppliers can’t be content providing information only to the main decision makers – it has to be delivered throughout the organization to reach the entire buying team - especially in manufacturing! Our take is that providing the information online in a readily searchable catalog is the obvious way to achieve this.

2. Strong Business Outlook in North America - Deloitte's Q4 2015 survey of CFOs says, "in North America, CFOs remain optimistic this quarter—just a little less so. This quarter’s net optimism index of +10.7 may be the 12th consecutive positive reading, but it is below last quarter’s +14.2 and now sits at the lowest level in three years. But in contrast to their declining sentiment, CFOs’ expectations for revenue, earnings, and capital spending growth are up from their 2Q15 lows. CFOs again voiced concerns about China. Overall, though, there seems to be a belief among many that North America (and the US in particular) can continue to shoulder the burden of economic growth again in 2016 — despite interest rate increases and the election.."

So, how are N. American industrial suppliers reacting? We noticed that Chicago, IL-based Grainger CEO Jim Ryan told MDM, "investing in the business now is critical for success when the climate improves later this year. Like other industrial suppliers Grainger is cutting costs in some areas so it can build the company’s infrastructure, e-commerce, supply chain and IT systems. It hopes to have those capabilities strengthened when the economy and the industry rebound later this year. “Those capital investments are really tough to make when you’re looking for ways to get costs back out of your business when revenue is down,” Ryan says. “Many companies, we found, will take a timeout on those more capital-intensive investments in down economies. But this is not only an opportunity to be different; it’s an opportunity to move forward faster.

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