Business leaders reveal preferred content formats

10 July 2020 | 5 min read | News
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins

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We recently undertook a significant market research project which involved over 500 CEOs, C-suite executives and other key decision makers, and we asked them what format of content they most prefer and when they are most likely to access this content.

Here’s what they told us:

“What time of day are you most receptive to the content you consume?”

32 per cent of respondents told us they prefer mid-morning but 16 per cent favour first thing – before normal office hours. 20 per cent of business leaders tend to consume thought leadership content in the afternoon, while just 6 per cent do so in the evening.

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So, if we were to take a typical business leader, it follows that they will likely consume content in three stages during a typical day: the early morning commute on the train, later that morning around the ‘elevenses’, and some point immediately following lunch.

For distributors of such content, this should be a consideration when scheduling the time for distributing your thought leadership across your social media channels.

While a lower number than the above, 1 in 5 (18 per cent) of content consumers turn to physical newspapers and magazines for their thought leadership intake. As someone who worked in newspapers and magazines for over a decade before transitioning into PR some 15 years ago, this is as heartening as it is surprising.

Indeed, much has been debated around the future of print as a media and at the height of the coronavirus pandemic this became increasingly so. But in the view of this author, print is not dead and will continue to be an important platform from which to distribute sound thought leadership content.

As Simon Fox, Chief Executive of Reach Plc – Britain’s largest newspaper owner with titles such as Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Daily Record, Daily Star, OK!, Manchester Evening News and Liverpool Echo – quipped when I interviewed him: “Mark Twain famously said that reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated, the same applies to print.”

“What devices do you use most to read the content?”

More than three-fifths (67 per cent) of business leaders prefer to access a piece of content via their laptop or desktop computer, 1 in 3 (31 per cent) use their smartphone device, and 28 per cent favour their tablet.

What has become increasingly clear is that everyone has their own preferences for how they consume content and it is important to cover all the bases.

For example, in addition to uploading a podcast to your website, include a transcript on the same page. This not only boosts SEO, it also appeals to those who have little liking for podcasts as a media and prefer to read the content instead.

“What is your preferred form of content (e.g. podcast, article)?”

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Contrary to what many may assume, email marketing in the form of subscribed newsletters ranked highest with 1 in 3 (32 per cent) business leaders and decision makers favouring this form of communication. The assumption is that since the General Data Protection Regulations came into play in 2018, individuals now have greater control over what content we want and don’t want to receive. And so, it follows that those organisations who think creating content in the form of newsletters is too time consuming will now begin to think otherwise!

1 in 3 business leaders rank newsletters as their number one preferred content format

28 per cent of respondents in our study placed webinars as their second preferred format, and this is closely followed in joint third by a preference for long-form over short-form articles (27 per cent), magazine subscriptions and newspapers (27 per cent), and social media sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn (27 per cent).

Online video (26 per cent), whitepapers (22 per cent) and podcasts (19 per cent) ranked fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. On the latter, podcasting is seeing a boom right nw, but the rate at which new podcasts are being launched with very little to differentiate them from what is already out there runs the risk of creating audience apathy and could devalue this as a medium. To gain traction, the podcast has to be something really special.