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Curious about the latest trends and statistics on how content marketing is affecting the decision process in 2017?

If so, then the Content Marketing Institute is definitely one of the best resources to pay attention to! They’ve recently teamed up with SmartBrief on a joint research project, and you can read the full report right here.

Don’t have the time? We’ve compiled some of their key insights below in this blog post, and explained what they mean for you.

And the best bit? Instead of focusing on marketers, they’ve actually looked at the people who are involved in key purchasing decisions, the type of content they find most influential – as well as how they perceive that content.

Plus more besides!

Key decision-makers are looking to you for credible info

Most of us know by now that people do a LOT of research before making any big purchasing decisions. So, it won’t come as much of a surprise that 81% of the respondents in the survey claimed they conducted research before contacting a B2B vendor to discuss a project.

However, what may surprise you is that out of that 81%, the majority (40% in fact) don’t really care where they get that information – as long as it’s credible. Further to that, 24% ideally want the information they need to come from a vendor they’re actually considering.

Seeing the benefit of content marketing yet? If you’re trying to reach those big decision-makers, following a good strategy that answers their questions, challenges and concerns WILL pay off, mostly because they actually WANT to hear from you.

It also gives you a great opportunity to show just how knowledgeable and authoritative you are about your industry.

original content marketing research

Original research can really pay off – and it doesn’t have to take hours

In terms of influential reach, word of mouth/peer-to-peer recommendations still comes out top. However, second on the list came original research, which beat a variety of other types of content, such as product reviews, demos and reviews from third parties.

When we say “original research”, that may make you flinch. After all, conducting your own research and compiling statistics may sound like a lot of work – but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. You can easily look at the buying behaviour of your clients, and glean some statistics from there. What’s the most popular service or product they go for – can you rank them?

Alternatively, you can conduct quick two or three question surveys via phone or email – just don’t make it a chore for people to fill out.

There are so many other insights you can glean from your own clients and data. Present you’ve gathered in a fun, colourful infographic and share it to your social media channels, and in your blog!  You could even include some industry factoids, or history that people might not even know.

Email is topping social media as a way of sharing key info

Sure, social media shares are nice, but they can also occasionally be viewed as a bit of a vanity metric. For instance, just because you’ve got 700 likes on something, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to get you any extra leads or sales.

The survey results underline that in another way, by revealing that 82% of decision-makers send key information regarding purchasing decisions via email, rather than social.

The caveat to this is that it sounds like they’re at least at the consideration stage of their journey at that point, if not the decision stage. So, in terms of awareness blogs that answer the questions they’ll be asking, we can’t write off social just yet.

We tend to refer to email, instant messages and Twitter DMs as ‘dark social’. It’s very hard to track, and this study from RadiumOne makes a good point about 84% of the sharing taking place being from that particular avenue. It means that you’re possibly only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of social monitoring.

However, when it comes to making key decisions, is it really that surprising that people are sharing info via email? After all, it’s easy to miss social media notifications. If it’s important, email will probably still be most decision-makers’ first call.

So, if you can, think about ways you can encourage more people to share your content via email – or at least make it easier for anyone who might want to.

Key takeaways

If you were ever in any doubt that your key audience wants to hear from you, this research should hopefully set your mind at ease, and inspire you to get out there with some great content!

And remember; Decision-makers are looking to YOU for guidance. Original research doesn’t have to take hours. Don’t be disheartened by a lack of social shares, and if you can, find ways to make your content more shareable via email.

Don’t forget, you can check out the full report from SmartBrief and CMI right here!

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