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Netline 2022 B2B Content Consumption report

This Just In: NetLine 2022 State of B2B Content Consumption

Just out in April 2022, the sixth annual report from NetLine is a whopping 65 pages.

As you may know, NetLine is a B2B IT content syndication service owned by Informa PLC.

Based in London, Informa is a sprawling company that runs publications, sponsors events, and does research.

The same company now owns the Content Marketing Institute.

NetLine’s report is based on analyzing the 4.6 million B2B leads generated by its content in 2021.

Here are some nuggets I picked up from this report:

Webinars doubled in popularity in 2021: That’s no surprise when trade shows and in-person events were canceled left and right.

• E-books were downloaded 4.8 times more than white papers last year. NetLine advises marketers to “pivot away from white papers and focus exclusively on e-books for text-based content.” (page 53)

• IT pros much prefer “special reports” over any other format.

• “Guides” that walk through a topic step-by-step are also very popular.

The problem, as usual: The definitions of these formats remain nebulous.

So why call it a white paper?

Here’s an obvious conclusion that I’ve been suggesting for many years: Call your new B2B content an e-book, special report, or guide rather than a “white paper.”

But wait, there’s more! Prospects close to making a purchase prefer white papers over any other format.

In fact, NetLine developed the following table comparing different formats.

Netline 2022 content format with buyer intentions

Formats on the left are denser, while those on the right are lighter.

That means the prospects closer to buying look for richer content, while prospects further away from a decision choose lighter content.

And while e-books are popular, they fall midway down the list of lighter formats.

And that means fewer downloads of white papers by more serious buyers may generate more revenue than more downloads of other formats by less-serious buyers.

Interesting, huh?

Keep it brief and answer your reader’s questions

While we ponder that, here’s some choice advice from NetLine (page 9) on how to create effective content:

  • Simplify the complex without talking down to your audience.
  • Leverage the 7 Key Questions: Who, What, Why, When, Where, How, and How Much? in your titles.
  • Be thorough without being overbearing or verbose.
  • TL;DR needs to be the epicenter of your content strategy.

I concur, absolutely.

All these millions of data points just confirm this timeless advice about clear communication.

Use plain language. Don’t waste words. Answer your audience’s unspoken questions. Cut anything that doesn’t add to your message.

There’s lots more in this very substantial report. I’ll be looking for it every year from now on.

You can get your own copy of the NetLine report here:


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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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