• October 1, 2018
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

The Four Stages of Content Consumption

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With 88 percent of B2B audiences reading business content online at least once a week to stay informed and make purchasing decisions, businesses can tell a lot about their customers’ intentions based on the types of online content they read, Clutch Research concludes in a recent report. 

The channels they use to review that content also demonstrate the benefits of strong search engine optimization (SEO), the study suggests.

The report identifies four stages in the sales funnel where content-seekers might find themselves, and each has unique needs or wants when it comes to online content.

Business-to-business audiences in the “awareness” stage of the conversion funnel consume content to stay informed about business or industry trends (45 percent) or to learn how to approach a business challenge (16 percent). This group is most likely to read blogs or articles (42 percent).

Those in the “interest” stage of the conversion funnel prefer to consume content to research a company’s products or services as a way to learn all they can before investing or making a financial commitment. They typically read product descriptions (28 percent) more often than reviews (27 percent) or blogs/articles (18 percent).

When it comes to the bottom of the conversion funnel, identified as the “decision” and “action” stages, nearly one-third (32 percent) of B2B audiences prefer to read reviews to determine whether a supplier’s products or services are the best fit for their companies.

But overall, 87 percent of all B2B audiences find business content online through search engines. Other sources of online business-related content include social media (85 percent), companies’ websites (75 percent), and companies’ email newsletters (71 percent).

These findings illustrate the value of SEO services, especially content marketing, for businesses looking to engage B2B audiences. Without prominent visibility in search engines, people are less likely to find a company’s website or content.

“SEO remains an important way for B2B audiences to find content,” says Kim Moustos, vice president of editorial for the Content Marketing Institute.

And then it’s also important for businesses to engage their audiences through a diverse content portfolio. Blogs or articles that provide insight about companies and their products are the preferred content sources for 33 percent of B2B audiences, the survey found. B2B audiences, however, also read reviews (25 percent) and product descriptions (16 percent) to learn about companies and their offerings.

So just how valuable is the right online content? Very much so, Clutch Research indicates in another report. In its 2018 Consumer Content Marketing Survey report, the company notes that 82 percent of consumers bought a company’s products or services after interacting with its content online, 53 percent said they were more likely to revisit a company’s website after consuming its content, and 50 percent said they were more likely to research a company’s products or services after consuming its content.

In general, 67 percent of consumers said they believe content marketing is useful and valuable, compared to just 33 percent who believe it is biased and unreliable.

And consumers can tell the difference between content marketing and other forms of information. In the same report, Clutch finds that 60 percent of people identified the online business content they most recently encountered as content marketing, taking special notice when content is published on a company’s website, when content links back to a company’s website, when content authors include their companies in their bios, and when content mentions a company’s products or services.

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