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Prospective technology buyers who consume whitepapers and other types of tech content say they perceive marketing collateral to be more influential when it displays a social sharing option, or when audio or video content is embedded within it, according to a survey from Eccolo Media.

As the variety of content formats expands, new features such the "share this" button hold increasing sway in the tech marketplace.

More than one-half of surveyed senior tech buyers say they have encountered social sharing buttons; among those buyers, three in four say they perceive collateral as much more influential (28%) or somewhat more influential (49%) if they are given the option to share the content on a social networking site.

Only 20% say the inclusion of a social sharing option does not influence their perception of the content.

Below, additional findings from Eccolo Media's fourth annual Tech Collateral Survey based on a poll of 500 senior-level US tech buyers.

Interactive Content Gaining Ground, Influence

The use of collateral that includes embedded audio and video is gaining ground: 55% of tech buyers say they have consumed written collateral with embedded audio or video content, up from the 45% who said so in 2010.

Moreover, among tech buyers, the new format appears to contribute to the perceived influence of marketing collateral:

  • 83% say the inclusion of embedded audio content in tech collateral positively or very positively affects the overall influence of the written collateral. 
  • 92% say embedded video files positively or very positively affects the overall influence of such collateral.  

Collateral Going Mobile, Slowly

Most B2B tech collateral is still consumed at the desktop: 56% of whitepapers, 58% of case studies, and 53% of product brochures/data sheets are viewed at the desktop. Another quarter of tech buyers prefer to print out and read whitepapers (28%), case studies (23%), and product brochures (23%).


Far fewer tech buyers view all three types of collateral via smartphone and tablet device.

Even so, 37% of tech buyers report that have consumed B2B content via mobile device; among them, 33% reported viewing it via smartphone and 16% via tablet.

The New Content Landscape

Tech buyers are consuming marketing and sales content from a much broader variety of sources during the purchasing process. Across five major collateral types, product brochures and data sheets are the most popular (72%), followed by whitepapers (62%), videos and multimedia files (58%), and case studies (50%):


Content More Valuable Than Before

Overall, tech buyers are consuming fewer pieces of written content, the study finds, but the content they do consume is perceived as more valuable than it was in 2010.

For example, asked to describe the influence of a case study on the purchasing decision, 68% of tech buyers rate them as "very" to "extremely influential" in 2011, compared with 39% who rated them so in 2010. Whitepapers are a close second: 65% say such content is "very" to "extremely influential" to purchase decisions in 2011 (vs. 41% in 2010).


Podcasts have also become more influential: 67% of tech buyers rate them as "very" to "extremely influential" in 2011 (vs. 44% in 2010).

However, asked to compare the perceived influence of content types relative to one another, tech buyers still cite the whitepaper as superior to other forms of collateral.

Case studies are most frequently ranked as both the second and third most influential; videos and podcasts are most frequently ranked as the fourth and fifth most influential collateral types.

About the data: Findings are from survey of 501 C-level executives, vice presidents , directors, managers, developers/programmers, and technicians, all working for US-based companies. Eccolo Media collaborated with Global Marketing Insite (GMI), which fielded the online survey in June 2011.

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