But many B2B websites fail to deploy enough of the right content that engages customers, Forrester Research says.

Business buyers deciding what to purchase want information about what their peers at other companies are buying, and why, and they prefer short reports and infographic data displays to help them decide, Forrester Research Inc. says in a new study.

When Forrester asked buyers of business technology products to name highly valuable content for helping them explore and decide to make purchases, the content most often cited, at 71% of respondents, was “customer, industry, or peer case studies.” That was closely followed by “White papers with supporting data” (68%) and “Business case/ROI content” (67%).

Forrester also asked study respondents to name the most reliable sources of such content. The top three sources: Tier 1 analyst firms, cited by 63% of respondents; technology news and information websites (61%); and consulting firms (59%).

The report, “Peer Stories and Credible Data Attract and Engage B2B Buyers,” by Forrester analyst Laura Ramos, was based on a first-quarter 2017 survey of 214 business technology buyers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France.

Forrester also notes, however, that many business websites fail to provide compelling content that engages visitors. “A lot of business content simply fails to compel prospects and existing customers to take an interest in it,” Forrester says. In a prior study earlier this year, it found that 54 of 60 websites were lacking in valuable content designed to engage customers and prospects.

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In that earlier report, “Emphatic Content: The Key to
Engaging B2B Buyers,” released in March, Ramos and analyst Jacob Milender asserted: “To produce content that buyers find relevant and valuable, B2B marketers must shift from talking about what they do, to addressing why buyers should care. Creating content that addresses business challenges, builds empathy and encourages visitors to explore helps convert business faster and create long-term relationships.”

But the March study found many B2B site content focus “narrowly on what firms do, not on what helps customers.” It added, “In particular, site content from medical device, manufacturing, and semiconductor firms showcases products, features, and implementation choices. Important industry trends, customer stories, or relevant use cases take a back seat.”

“When considering purchase options, buyers want to hear most from current customers,” Ramos writes in the “Peer Stories” report. She adds that, when it comes to white papers, buyers value ones that have supportive empirical data twice as much as white papers without such data.

“When considering purchase options, buyers want to hear most from current customers,” Ramos writes in the “Peer Stories” report. She adds that, when it comes to white papers, buyers value ones that have supportive empirical data twice as much as white papers without such data.

The “Peer Stories” report found the following percentages of buyers citing the following types of content to be highly valuable—rated 8, 9 or 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most valuable:

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  • Customer, industry or peer case studies, 71%
  • Whitepapers with supporting data, 68%
  • Business case/ROI content, 67%
  • Product-specific content, 60%
  • Vendor/product comparisons, 58%
  • Technology trends/forecasts, 54%
  • Any content not backed by data, 31%
  • White papers without supporting data, 30%.

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