2018 State of B2B Content Consumption and Demand [Report]: Action-based Insights for B2B Marketers

by David Fortino, SVP of Product & Audience at Netline

[Editor’s Note: For the most current data, click here to check out the 2019 State of B2B Content Consumption and Demand Report]   

Cutting through the noise to deliver valuable data content marketers can use now

With the goal of empowering marketers, we compiled a new look at content consumption and demand using our vast and diverse data sets.

Rendering a vision of what’s really taking place throughout the content universe, the 2018 State of B2B Content Consumption and Demand Report for Marketers provides B2B marketers with data from thousands of real campaigns and millions of downloads over the past 12 months.

The report includes insights from consumption activity taking place across the NetLine Corporation network in the US. Combining two layers of data – that of the in-demand audience and realities of active audience consumption – marketers can derive tactics to assemble a comprehensive content marketing strategy.

According to Marketing Insider Group CEO, Michael Brenner, this report can “help marketers understand not just what kind of content to create but also how to design various touchpoints and follow-up strategies that can maximize ROI.”

What’s inside

Taking a fresh look at annual report style and value, we aggregated our unique data into a report that reads like a guide – delving into real statistics while delivering meaning to the B2B marketer that asks, “What does this mean for my organization?” As an evolution of the previous year’s data deliverable, this year’s 2018 report showcases the top-line data points that marketers can actually use. For those B2B marketers who’ve grown weary of the repetitive pontificating and hollow data sets from hand-selected audiences, this report hands over proprietary information to better empower marketers for success.

The report is broken into categories that get to the point – information broken down by the People, by the Company and by the Industry as well as curating audience insights from traffic across NetLine’s sites where professionals are obtaining content. Thematic content insights can give marketers valuable clues into what words make the difference to each audience; showcasing a sample of words from the top 100 downloads, it’s a quick cheat sheet for anyone seeking to optimize content relevance and demand.

Why NetLine shares this data

We say it all the time – we’re democratizing lead gen. That means empowering marketers to leverage their content using our lead generation technology to yield quality leads at scale. Thanks to the continued success of content syndication, B2B marketers are facing an increasingly competitive demand gen environment. Other vendors are pricing lots of marketers out of the game completely and delivering nothing more than impressions or vague levels of interest from less-than-ideal prospects. The 2018 report provides the information on how leads and active users alike engage with content, from the types of content they request, to time before actually reading it – this data supports tactical takeaways.

One such example is an interesting call-out about C-level consumption trends and opportunities to consider:

  • C-level takes 21% longer to read the content they’ve downloaded compared to Managers, but there’s an appetite that continues to grow.
  • C-level has the best intentions to consume content but requires more effort to read it.
  • Takeaway: marketers can transform this data observation into modified content types; keeping the long-form, data-heavy desirability that C-level craves, while developing the heart of the content to cater to readability and organization.

We also like to shed light on another little nugget of information we’ve uncovered and report on – time to consume. Ultimately, sales teams are looking to follow up with the contact that consumed their content. Eager to do so, a hasty phone call may land a sales representative in a voicemail box or engaged in a very uninformed conversation.

Why? Based on what we’re seeing, chances are that most users aren’t reading their requested content for at least a day. And, that window of time is getting wider and wider every year – we call it the consumption gap and it varies with each job level, industry and/or company size.

Brenner’s take on these insights: “Don’t assume executives aren’t hungry for detailed education, analysis and reports. We may file these things away for a rainy day. And we’re open to smart nurturing that understands our need to balance a desire for content with our busy schedule.”

Breaking down silos

Expanding on those tactical takeaways, the report extrapolates a greater schema around why professionals are choosing some content over alternatives, or why they are taking their time to read it. Much of the current landscape for content marketing is full of suggestions and philosophies on how to optimize reach – some suggest flooding the web with content because quantity is perceived as more important than quality. However, closer review of our data suggests that consumers of content are getting pickier through the wisdom that there is not only diversity in their options, but the awareness that their consumption is entering them into a sales cycle.

Industry-specific data and perspectives shed light on larger shifts or trends across business types:

  • Biotech and Pharma was the fourth most targeted industry and exhibited the greatest increase in consumption gap at 72%. What you can do to combat competition: make info easy to share.
  • The Consumption Gap for industries like Finance, Healthcare/Medical, Retail and Transportation & Logistics and Real Estate has decreased from last year – whether it’s by availability or quality, professionals in the Finance industry exhibited the greatest delta for time to dive into content.


Between the volume of in-demand Biotech and Pharma leads and the increase in time to consume content, these professionals are becoming more exclusive. Marketers can use this insight as a competitive advantage to deploy a mix of content optimization and targeting measures. For organizations targeting multiple industries, it presents an opportunity to scale back efforts; conversely, marketers can focus on hyper-targeting by adapting the company size, revenue, and job level insights.

The report takes the real data on those trends and posits to evaluate format, but to also cater to the human-professional that’s reading content – humanization of B2B content can go a long way to improve demand. Combine interesting, real content with hyper-targeting capabilities, and professionals are more likely to engage. Looking at some of the top content themes, it’s easy to see why humanization of content resonates.

Overall, NetLine’s 2018 State of B2B Content Consumption and Demand Report does more than show off data – through deep analysis and expertise, the report challenges marketers to take a new look at the professionals they’re targeting and develop a more calculated approach to reaching them. In doing so, professionals receive higher-quality content with more resonance for their task, goal, business objective or personal development. This report arms B2B marketers with information aimed at evolving content syndication results for all.

Brenner’s advice: “The buyer’s journey is nothing more than a series of questions that must be answered. Become the provider of the deepest insights for your audience!”

To download your free copy of the report, tap the above images or click here.