Two recent research studies have caused me to rethink my views regarding the role and value of third-party content in the marketing efforts of B2B companies. I have always argued that most of the marketing content resources used by a company should be developed internally or with the assistance of outside professional content developers. Either way, the "authorship" of the content is attributed to the company or to an executive or other internal expert. With third-party content, another person or firm creates the content and is shown as the author.
The ultimate objective of content marketing is to cause potential customers to view your company as a trusted resource for valuable information and insights and as a capable and reliable business partner. To accomplish this objective, most of the content you publish should be "yours." It must communicate your company's expertise and capabilities. As a general rule, third-party content just isn't as effective for those purposes.
While I still say that companies should rely primarily on content they create, I also now believe that many companies can benefit from using third-party content on a selective basis. My reasoning is based on two recent research studies that provide important insights regarding the types of content that B2B buyers trust.
The CMO Council recently published a white paper - Better Lead Yield in the Content Marketing Field - that is based on a survey of more than 400 B2B content consumers. When survey participants were asked what types of content they most value and trust, vendor-created content came in last.
As the table below shows, survey respondents said they value and trust professional association research reports and white papers, research reports and white papers created by industry groups, customer case studies, reports and white papers written by analysts, and independent product reviews more than vendor-created content.
The 2013 B2B Content Preferences Survey by DemandGen Report showed similar results. In this survey, B2B buyers were asked which of four types of content they give more credence to. The table below shows that vendor-branded content doesn't fare as well as third-party content.
It seems clear that potential buyers are inclined to trust third-party content more than content created by potential vendors, and B2B marketers should take advantage of this inclination. Content authored by a third-party expert and sponsored by your company can be particularly effective for persuading a potential buyer to begin a relationship with your company. This type of sponsored content can include white papers, eBooks, and research/analytical reports. It could also include a webinar sponsored by your company and presented by a third-party expert.
Content that you develop should always play the predominant role in your content marketing efforts. There are several ways to make your content more trustworthy and credible to potential buyers, and I discussed this topic in an earlier post. However, the right third-party content used in the right ways can be a powerful addition to your content marketing program.