Last week I stumbled upon an interesting study by our friends over at NetLine Corporation entitled, “2019 State of B2B Content Consumption and Demand.” It laid out some interesting trends that, quite frankly, I wasn’t aware of or even considered. The results are from first party data YoY with B2B professionals across over 300 industries, various company sizes, and titles.
According to Google’s ZMOT, the average consumer needs 18 content touches in order to become a customer. This obviously varies across industries, B2B, B2C and others. Nonetheless, as content marketers, we know we need multiple content touches over time in order to nurture those folks into customers. Add to that, today’s content marketing adoption level by brands is pushing 90%.
Because of this the amount of content on the Internet grows YoY and target audiences are getting flooded by most industries. According to the study, this is impacting the time it takes for a content consumer to move between content touches. Meaning – it’s taking longer for them to come back for more content. The study says this means, as content marketers, we need “to have impact with relevance, usefulness, and readability” with our content.
% Increase in Days Between Content Requests (YoY 2017-2018)
Takeaway: Quality over quantity is what defined content consumption in 2018 Source: Netline Corporation
So, if we need X amount of content touches to turn someone into a customer the above means that our B2B sales cycles, overall, should be a little longer than what they were a year ago. That’s not a good thing. So how do content marketers overcome this issue of prospects taking longer and longer to come back for a second, third, fourth touch, etc.?
We must take our content to them. Yes, having a hub of helpful owned content is a basic standard for content marketers today, but we can no longer expect that hub and emailing our lists to get the appropriate amount of content touches we need for producing a customer in the timeframe we’re used to. Instead we must use content amplification to put our high-quality content in front of our target audiences where they hangout and frequent the most online and doing so in an uninterruptive format.
Content Marketing and Amplification
Today’s content amplification isn’t what it used to be. It’s artificial intelligence (AI) driven and has targeting capabilities like never before. That’s why eMarketer is predicting $40+ billion spent in the US this year on native advertising alone. In addition, content marketing and its amplification decidedly outperforms the interruptive media buys brands have been doing since last decade.
Content Marketing Out-Performs Interruptive Ads
The technology, for the first time ever, is allowing content marketers to scale the native ad unit creative (headlines, images, copy, etc.), targeting demographics and interests, and dozens upon dozens of social and native networks at the same time. These capabilities can literally take four articles and create over 170,000 native ad units in real time.
From there the AI optimizes the ad units so to only show those permutations that drive content engagement. This bodes well for the content marketers who leverage this new powerful technology in order to amplify content.
The Netline Corporation study is the first to make me realize that for B2B content consumers the amount of time between content touches with the same brand is growing YoY. Since we know that most industries (especially B2B ones) require a certain amount of these touches before a prospect becomes a customer the logical assumption is that sales cycles should be getting longer YoY – albeit in days, not months.
In order to fix this problem B2B content marketers need to take their content to the consumer using the amplification technology described above.