Bredin Report: The best content formats across the sales cycle

Bredin’s recent SMB Pulse survey revealed that articles are the most popular content format for small and midsized businesses (SMBs) to first learn about and research products and services for their businesses. Videos are the most compelling format when SMBs are making a final purchase decision.

The survey of 500 U.S. SMB principals also found that SMBs consume significantly more content during the awareness and research phases, and less when they are deciding on what to buy. This means it’s critical to engage SMBs at the awareness and research stages of the sales cycle.

At the learning stage — when SMBs first become aware of a product or service — articles and email newsletters appeal to businesses of all sizes. One-off emails are slightly less popular, except among small businesses (SBs, with 20 to 99 employees). Midsized businesses (MBs, with 100 to 500 employees) are much more likely to favor webinars as a way to learn about products and services.

Here is the percent of very small businesses (VSBs, with fewer than 20 employees), SBs and MBs that use different content formats at the top of the sales funnel:

When SMBs are researching products and services for their businesses, SBs and MBs are most likely to use research reports. These reports can communicate the business-building value of your product or service through peer insight and value-added/how-to advice. Articles and videos are also important at this stage.

Conduct research - company size

Finally, when SMBs are deciding on a specific solution to acquire for their business, they rely most on videos on your website — regardless of company size. Note that content consumption at this stage of the funnel drops off significantly, so getting the format right here is critical. Checklists and interactive tools are also effective, especially for MBs. This type of content typically helps SMBs gain tailored insight into which of your offerings is best for them, and how specifically they will benefit or best implement it. Guides, handbooks, case studies and webinars are popular at this stage among larger SMBs. Including results, customer stories and sales claims in this content is a best practice.

Make a purchase decision - company size

Bredin’s research also reveals some differences in how SMBs in various industries use content to learn and make buying decisions. For instance, manufacturers are most likely to use email newsletters and interactive tools such as calculators to conduct research on your offerings, while professional services firms favor e-books, guides and handbooks.

For more detail on our recent survey, watch our webcast. You can also visit our site to see how Bredin’s agile, actionable research can keep you current on SMB needs, preferences and concerns; and support the development of uniquely valuable content.

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