In the age of information overload, C-level officers are turning to publishers for help sorting through the vast quantities of content coming across their screens — to find the information and insights that will help them do their jobs. That’s according to a new survey of C-suite executives, the State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey – Professional Services Edition, conducted by business-to-business public relations firm Greentarget.
The survey asked executives about their content consumption behaviors and preferences, seeking to help professional services marketers better understand an audience that in many cases drives business-to-business purchasing decisions.
The results depict a C-suite in search of expert curation that can help them quickly locate and consume content they find useful.
“The strain of information overload is apparent in our data,” said John Corey, founding partner of Greentarget. “Professional services firms have a clear opportunity to help executives sort through the noise – by carefully creating and curating the most relevant, useful information and delivering it through the C-suite’s preferred channels.”
We found that:
- C-level officers want content that helps them do their jobs. Nearly three quarters of executives say utility is the attribute that most attracts them to content they consume most frequently.
- The C-suite relies heavily on email and traditional media. More than half get their content in each of those places every day. By contrast, only 35 percent say they turn to social media for content daily. The clear implication is that executives want help sorting through the vast ocean of content, and they rely on curated email and professional editors to curate the information and insights that matter most.
- Email works, but the content needs to improve. Articles, alerts and other email mechanisms still present the best opportunity to reach C-suite buyers. More than half of executives say they get content from email daily, more than any other channel. Only 19 percent, however, consider the content they get in emails “very valuable.”
- Social media fails to deliver. The amount of time executives spend on social media is vastly greater than the value they get from it. About a third of C-suite officers say they use social media every day, but only 17 percent consider the content they find there very valuable – and 10 percent say it has no value at all.
- Branded publications an opportunity. Executives see value in firm publications, if the publications are planned and executed well. Half of C-level officers say they find value in vendor publications such as PwC’s strategy+business or Berkeley Research Group’s ThinkSet.
- C-level officers also like content that’s visual and interactive. Forty-four percent of executives say they prefer to get content in the form of infographics and interactive charts. In-person events also rank near the top of the C-suite’s preferred channels.
- Professional services firms must raise their content games. Only 31 percent of C-suite officers rate the content created by those firms as “very good,” and 38 percent find it barely satisfactory.
The report, produced for the first time in 2018, also draws insightful comparisons to Greentarget’s 2018 State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey, which analyzes the content consumption behaviors and preferences of in-house counsel.
Compared to their colleagues in the legal department, C-suite officers prefer more visual and interactive content, find email less valuable and are less interested in podcasts. These differences may reflect the unique nature of legal work, which leans on words for analysis of legal concepts as they relate to peculiar sets of facts; CEOs, CFOs and other C-suite denizens, by contrast, more often seek insights and conclusions drawn from large data sets, and frequently demand crisp, bottom-line answers that skip the deep context and reasoning.
The report also breaks down the attributes that executives value most, and least, among various content vehicles. While executives want to read articles that are relevant, educational and timely, for example, when they attend events they prefer an interactive component in addition to relevant and educational content.
For nearly 20 years, John has focused on conceptualizing and executing marketing strategies for financial, professional and other service businesses.
Devoted to his family, John enjoys traveling, playing golf, spending time outdoors and watching his kids play sports.