While difficulties brought on by changes in Google’s algorithms may have led more marketers to focus on social media to connect with customers, research from Clutch shows 87 per cent of B2B audiences cite search engines as their No. 1 way of discovering business content.
Washington-based Clutch, which offers reviews and ratings as well as research, published its report, How B2B Audiences Engage With Business Content Online, on Tuesday. While social media was only two percentage points behind in terms of an important source, the study suggested firms should be taking a second look at their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts on content marketing assets and their own web pages, especially since 75 per cent cited company sites as their third most important source of information.
According to Grayson Kemper, senior content developer and marketer at Clutch, the research was a way of confirming both the ongoing value of SEO and the notion that organic social media traffic may be affected by recent issues around privacy at Facebook and other services.
“At least through search you can be more certain that you’ll be given business results if you’re searching for business topics,” he told B2B News Network. “On Facebook, a lot of what you’ve seen is that people can essentially block or design their profiles to avoid encountering anything they would consider ‘business content’ from their friends.”
Other data in the Clutch survey suggested B2B marketers should fine-tune the content they create based on where buyers sit in the funnel. Those in the “interest” stage, for instance, showed greater a likelihood for reading product descriptions, at 28 per cent, versus reading blog posts (18 per cent), which might be better suited to the “awareness” stage.
“Once you get at the bottom of the funnel, it’s easy to assume they’ll convert,” Kemper said. “The truth is, those are still only potential customers. They’re still in the funnel. It’s important to follow through with content that those groups can engage with.”
At the “decision” stage where a buyer might choose a particular vendor or product, meanwhile, 32 per cent said they look closely at reviews. Kemper admitted that while reviews represent a core offering at Clutch, the survey data speaks to the fact that buyers are weighing their options until the very end.
“We’re very aware people are not clicking on just one company (review). They’re looking at multiple,” he said.
Out of the 380 business employees surveyed, 88 per cent said they look at some kind of business content at least once a week. Technology was the dominant subject matter at 45 per cent, followed by small business content at 24 per cent and workplace/personnel content at 21 per cent. Kemper said marketers should also bear in mind the increased size of B2B buying teams as they’re optimizing SEO, which may account for the high degree of engagement in content overall.
“There’s no discrimination based on title or position,” he said. “If an associate comes across something about marketing automation software and thinks would fit in their business, they have the wherewithal to say so to the CMO.”
Whether driven through SEO or social, 45 per cent of B2B audiences said they primarily look at content to stay on top of trends, with only 20 per cent saying it was actually used to decide on a purchase.
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