SDG__Landing_Page_ThumbThe marketer’s toolset and the consumer’s mindset are inextricably linked, and yet even with the growing number of tools at our disposal, we don’t always understand what’s going on in our customers’ heads. Buyer preferences are changing rapidly, and marketers are expected to be able to cater to these preferences without missing a beat.

This is true with content marketing, demand generation, email marketing — you name it, and your buyers expect you to be on top of it. But how can marketers stay up to date on the latest buyer preferences and best-of-breed marketing techniques, especially when they have so much on their plates as it is?

The answer is research. Pardot’s 2013 State of Demand Generation report takes a look at all of the questions above and more to determine the following:

  • Which best practices are top-performing companies using?
  • Which industry standards should become benchmarks?
  • What types of content are consumers searching for?
  • What are the future best practices for demand generation?

The study surveyed the demand generation habits and practices of 400 B2B buyers and 138 B2B companies in four verticals: SMB, mid-market, enterprise, and SaaS. Wondering what the report found, and what the implications are for your marketing strategy? Here are a few highlights (and you can download the full report by clicking here or on the banner at the end of this post):

  • 72% of consumers start their research on Google. The meaning here is fairly obvious: if you’re not dominating search results or search ads, you need to be.
  • 76% of buyers prefer different content at each stage of their research process. Stage-based marketing is growing more and more important as buyer preferences change, meaning that marketers need to start creating content for each stage of their sales funnel.
  • 70% of respondents say that they’d prefer content under five pages. Buyers are looking for content that’s easy to digest, and sometimes, long-form content like an eBook just doesn’t fit the bill.
  • Only 25% of B2B enterprise companies, 22% of mid market companies, 48% of SMBs, and 53% of the top SaaS companies are using forms to support their lead generation efforts. Forms are key for any online marketing strategy due to their ability to collect important lead information. Companies who aren’t taking advantage of them on their website are missing a huge opportunity!

The main lessons of the State of Demand Generation research? Shorten your forms, ask only for what you need, and tailor your content to each stage of the sales cycle. Take a look at the full report for even more information on the demand generation best practices of best-in-breed B2B companies.