The global COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the effect of fatigue on people from all walks of life. We are feeling pandemic fatigue from vigilant following of guidelines. Business professionals are burning out from Zoom meeting fatigue. Our courageous frontline health care workers are nearing collapse from the fatigue of long intense hours. Single mothers and families are faced with virtual school fatigue. Fatigue, it seems, is everywhere.
A key buyer insight coming out of the pandemic is B2B buyers are experiencing content fatigue. Who as a group, are undergoing the greatest barrage of content since the digitization of content began. No doubt brought on by organizational anxieties to reach more buyers during the pandemic. With many B2B organizations tethered to activity-based metrics, the response is – you guessed it – more content marketing activity.
Layered on top of content fatigue is the growing proliferation of intent data and AI. Promising B2B organizations the ability to predict the intent of buyers and the content buyers will respond favorably to.
And for good measure, let us throw on top another layer. Content marketing as a field encourages thousands to – you guessed it – produce better and more content. Multiply thousands of content marketing specialists and agencies, each producing an x number of content pieces – well – you get the picture.
We cannot forget ABM (account-based marketing) either. Which is all about reaching buyers within target accounts with content. Consider that a potential B2B buyer can be the target of 15-20 seller companies. Add up the content.
All of these combined efforts, designed to reach and get the attention of B2B buyers, do have an impact. Including not a very positive one. Buyers are being subjected to an enormous amount of content and targeting daily, if not hourly.
This all leads to several buyer insight observations. Content fatigue is a very real phenomenon. Content marketing is out of control. Content engines are revved up high. Buyers are ignoring and ghosting.
B2B marketing and sales have a real issue on their hands. What the COVID-19 pandemic has given more leeway to is buyers just not dealing with it. Retrenched to working from home, there is unfiltered liberty to turn the content spewing spigot off.
A realization has to be met. There will be no return to normal. Or the way it was. Buyers are discovering that it is just fine to ignore an avalanche of content. Not that they weren’t before. The pandemic though has increased the “turn it off” mentality on the part of buyers.
This is unsettling for an important reason. Mixed in the enormous volume of content flooding B2B websites and email boxes is some very good and helpful information. However, it is being suffocated by the sheer volume and a high percentage of content that is of poor quality. Content that is of no value or relevance to buyers.
In a recent buyer interview, I wanted to understand this a bit more. I pushed back on one buyer, who I instinctively felt gave me a polite response to a question related to content. Then I got a more emotional answer:
“It’s so (expletive) annoying! If I want to find information, I go visit a few sites, right? Then I can’t close the chatbox. The cookies thing keeps popping up. Maybe I download something. Big mistake! All of sudden the next few days my email is dinging. It’s just too much!”
Based on qualitative buyer interviews, the growing annoyance is palpable.
I know you are all waiting for it. Just about right here. You know what I am talking about. The conventional prescribed responses that have become “speak” in B2B and in content marketing circles. Understand your buyer, blah blah blah. Create buyer personas, blah blah blah. Produce relevant content, blah blah blah. The buyer’s journey, blah blah blah. On and on, blah blah, blah.
It is okay to say we do not know. Or we do not have an answer. The issue is bigger than all the B2B “speak” put together.
As has been true for centuries and generations, to address a problem, it is first important to acknowledge it. Content fatigue in B2B is a big problem.
What should be done to address this very real thing?