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B2B Buyers Prefer Short Content; Rely Heavily on Google Searches

by Ayaz Nanji  |  
November 19, 2013

Almost three quarters (72%) of buyers planning to purchase a business product begin their research with a Google search, according to a recent report by Pardot.

After an initial search, 70% of buyers then return online 2-3 times to do additional research, and 12% return online more than three times. Just under one in five (18%) do all of their online research in a single sitting.

Besides Google, B2B buyers also use personal networks (15.5%), Yahoo (5.5%), Bing (2.7%), and LinkedIn (2.5%) as starting points for their research.

Below, additional key findings from the report, which was based on data from a survey of 400 B2B buyers.

Content Preferences 

  • 76% of B2B buyers surveyed prefer different content at each stage of their research process.
  • 89% agree that the cost of the item they are purchasing affects the amount of research they do.
  • 98% say their search terms usually become more refined as their research deepens on a purchase.
  • 70% of buyers say written B2B content such as whitepapers and case studies should be under five pages.
  • 2% prefer content longer than five pages, and 28% think the content should be as long as it takes to inform.

About the research: The report was based on data from a survey of 400 B2B buyers (53% employed by small businesses, 22% by mid-market companies, and 25% by enterprise companies). The majority (75%) of respondents were not marketers.

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Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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  • by Bart De Pelsmaeker Tue Nov 19, 2013 via web

    Hi Ayaz - thank you for highlighting those points from the research. I was wondering if the research revealed any trends as to when the product research was taking place and on which device?

  • by Bob Bly Wed Nov 20, 2013 via web

    The flaw in your research is that you value what people SAY will make them buy vs. what actually makes them buy.

  • by Jim Logan Wed Nov 20, 2013 via web

    Very interesting information.... more than ever, there's a compelling reason to demonstrate thought leadership and engage in content marketing.

    One thing I'd like to comment on is copy length:

    The problem with content length discussions are they often spur misleading conclusions and actions. It's like saying there's a preference for books less than 200 pages or movies less than 1.5 hours long. No one should write a book or produce a movie based on survey data like that. Nor should a copywriter limit a white paper to five pages or less.

    Regardless of what's surveyed as a preference, it's proven the number of words or pages doesn't matter -- if anything, longer copy wins more often than short copy. The reason is short copy often falls 'short' of creating a compelling reason to act.

    Copy length should be driven by the need to communicate and compel action, not artificially limited to a pre-predetermined number of words or pages.

  • by Bob Bly Wed Nov 20, 2013 via web

    Jim is totally correct in all he says.

  • by Chris Richardson Wed Nov 20, 2013 via web


    I disagree that length needs to be driven by content. One of my best profs in college (a humanities prof at that) would only accept 1 page responses, as his opinion was that nobody outside of academia will read more than one page of your opinion. While I agree that content is king, and that overly technical documents should be made available, as a sales guy, what I send out needs to be short, while I can show a customer where they can find additional information. Short, relevant and honest with an easy path toward deeper discovery is my course of action. Great Article.

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