Best Practices

The Marketing Leaders Have Spoken: New Research From Heinz Marketing and PathFactory

Odds are you’ve experienced being part of a buying committee at one point or another. Ever wonder how your process compares to others? Our recent survey with Heinz Marketing unpacks this question. Specifically, how marketing leaders (VPs, CMOs, C-Suites) engage in the buyer’s journey, interact with content, and make decisions.

The survey reveals key trends and opportunities for marketers to improve the buying experience. Especially when it comes to the most influential decisions makers. Here I highlight 3 eyebrow-raising findings.

Majority of buying committees are between 1 and 10 people… that’s a lot of content!

Over 80% of respondents reported a buying committee of either 1-5 (62.3%) or 6-10 (20.1%). For larger companies, this number can soar past 50. The trend is showing buying committees increasing in general. According to Harvard Business Review, the average buying committee rose from 5.4 (in 2015) to 6.8 (in 2017). Marketers, brace yourselves.

People need to consume several pieces of content to become sales-ready. And it’s a marketer’s job to provide this educational content. To do this, marketers need a clear picture of personas across a buying committee. This way they can ensure content meets everyone’s needs at every stage of the buying journey.

Not sure where to start? Create a content audit including personas and buying stages. This gives you a great birds-eye view of the buyer’s journey and if your content covers each persona at each stage and will also highlight any gaps.

Marketing leaders are very involved at the beginning of the buying process

A whopping 93.6% of marketing leaders are very involved at the beginning of the buying process, regardless of company size. But they aren’t often the ones to highlight the initial challenge.

Notably, the larger a buying committee, the more the marketing leader tends to be personally involved. There are a couple of reasons why this might be:

  • With more moving parts there are more approvals required.
  • Larger buyer committees represent larger companies with bigger budgets. And solutions often have a wider organizational impact.

Leaders lean on the broader buying committee to pursue solutions after initiating the buying process. Their main preference is to have team members conduct research (57.8%). Throughout their research, the content formats that make the most impact are third-party sources like analyst reports, executive summaries, and research reports. It’s clear marketers rely heavily on unbiased sources during their decision-making process to contrast and compare solutions.

Content is falling short

Vendor content is essential throughout the buying process. 92.2% of marketing leaders rely on vendor content to make decisions. Yet only 37.7% say content is relevant to them in various stages of the decision-making process.

This represents a huge missed opportunity for vendors.

Digging deeper uncovers the main culprits of this irrelevancy:

  • It’s not high quality: Over 50% say it’s full of fluff and/or jargon
  • It’s not personalized: 34.8% say content isn’t personalized to their stage in the buying process
  • doesn’t solve their problems: 47.5% report that content received doesn’t help them solves their main challenges
  • It doesn’t apply: 41.2% say the content they receive isn’t even relevant to their company

With the technology marketers have at their fingertips, there’s no excuse for all the above. Today, marketers have access to firmographic, psychographic, and geographic data to make the buyer’s journey a lot more relevant.

Two words: buyer enablement

Relevance is key to buyer enablement. And buyer enablement is the only way to improve the buyer’s journey. There’s inspiration all around us in our B2C lives–whenever Netflix recommends another series or Spotify creates a custom playlist based on my music taste. To enable buyers, all content experiences must be as relevant, barrier-free, and on-demand as they are in their B2C experiences. That’s a lot to get right! But it’s possible and it’s what buyers have come to expect.

At PathFactory, we enable buyers by packaging sequences of content including third-party sources into Content Tracks. We distribute these Content Tracks wherever our buyers are engaging with us. This means they are never left asking “what next?”. There is always an easy next step offered on their path-to-purchase.

To dive deeper into survey results and insights, read the full report: Inside The Head Of A Marketing Leader: The Buyer’s Journey.

Report & Results: Inside the Head of a Marketing Leader: The Buyer's Journey, with a PathFactory and Heinz Marketing Logo on the bottom right