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B2B behavioral research study reveals most effective messaging to engage early-stage buyers

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The Marketing Practice (TMP) and B2B DecisionLabs share their findings from their research into communications effectiveness

The Marketing Practice (TMP) and B2B DecisionLabs today announce the results of research into communications effectiveness with early-stage buyers. Results of the behavioral study, conducted by Dr Nick Lee of Warwick Business School and carried out with 500 B2B professionals, revealed that messaging that uses both quantified impact and emotional language is most impactful, and including contrast led to better recall than a lack of contrast.

The goal of the behavioral research study was to determine the best way to frame a business challenge to early-stage prospects to build interest in a B2B solution. Specifically, researchers tested three messaging variables across five different test messages to determine the most effective combination.

Messaging variables:

  1. Including unquantified v quantified business impact

  2. Using rational v emotional language

  3. Adding contrast by including the current risk in addition to future benefits

Test messages:

  1. Unquantified emotional – using emotional language without quantified business impact or contrast

  2. Quantified emotional – using emotional language with quantified business impact, but without contrast

  3. Quantified rational – using rational language with quantified business impact, but without contrast

  4. Quantified emotional with contrast – using emotional language with quantified business impact and contrast

  5. Quantified rational with contrast – using rational language with quantified business impact and contrast

Participants’ responses clearly and consistently showed using both quantified impact and emotional language is most impactful in your early-stage prospecting messages, and including contrast led to better recall than a lack of contrast.

Taken together, the results showed that the quantified emotional with contrast message overperformed the quantified rational message in every major category. For example, when participants were asked how large a problem they had after reading the email, there was a 23% difference in favor of the quantified emotional message with contrast compared to the quantified rational message without contrast.

Participants felt more urgency to act after reading quantified emotional messages than other messages in the study. The quantified rational message provided the least urgency by a difference of 17.3%.

David van Schaick, chief marketing officer of TMP, said of the findings: “There is often an assumption in B2B that decision makers will be driven by purely rational imperatives when choosing a solution. We were keen to test that hypothesis through behavioral research and are delighted that this study has generated findings that will help B2B companies produce more effective communications.”

Doug Hutton, senior vice-president of products at B2B DecisionLabs, added: “We saw some fascinating results from this study, which should help shape the way B2B marketers and salespeople frame the business challenge in their demand gen messaging. Selecting the right language – quantified, emotional and with contrast – directly impacts not only how likely a prospect is to take a next step, but how urgent they consider the issue raised to be.”

The two companies will be sharing the research findings in more depth in a live discussion on September 2.

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