I came across some research done by IDG spread across two different posts that was pretty interesting. They interviewed over 100 information technology buyers about their content preferences from vendors. IDG noted there has been a 60% increase in content assets over the past five years. The rush is on to get in the content game and offer information prospective and current customers will find valuable and that will ultimately drive sales.

Only 39% of those interviewed said they find relevance in links offered to vendor content (though their expectation is only 50%). These same buyers say that if they find relevant content, it increases that vendor’s success rate.

The trouble may come when, in their haste, vendors don’t make the shift from promotional to educational content. Buyers want content that is relevant to their needs, and supports their decision making process. This means the content must have “meat” behind it and not just be considered marketing hype.

IDG asked IT buyers a series of questions about their content preferences from various social conversation channels. Here’s a brief recap of the top preferences by channels:

  •             Blog – case studies, ads, tutorials, seminar material
  •             Forums – tutorials, free event registration, evaluation versions, white papers
  •             Live Chat – free event registration, evaluation versions, white papers
  •             Microblog – ads, technical knowledge base, free event registration, white
  •             Social networks – free event registration, ads, ROI calculator, white papers
  •             Wikis – tutorials, white papers, case studies, knowledge base

To me, these seem more like expectations than preferences, and the study is really quite small. What I did like was their takeaway message.

Winners will be vendors that build a “relevant” content bridge to draw the conversation towards their own hosted platforms and insight.

This will motivate engagement, and build a sense of interest and reliance and credibility with buyers. The wrong content will damage vendor consideration within the ongoing conversation and beyond.