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Power Up Your B2B Content With Trustworthy Stats

Power Up Your B2B Content With Trustworthy Stats

Including statistics in your B2B content can help convince buyers that your brand is a trustworthy source for information. It shows that your business is committed to providing accurate and reliable content. But it’s only effective if you use statistics responsibly.

By using statistics responsibly, you’ll:

  • Build buyer trust
  • Enhance your brand’s reputation
  • Be seen as a credible authority in your industry

In contrast, being careless with statistics can erode your company’s credibility. By extension, prospective customers may question doing business with you. As you develop marketing content, follow the eight best practices below to ensure your brand is aboveboard.

1. Get statistics from reputable sources.

Share and cite information from recognized and vetted groups, businesses and subject experts. For example, McKinsey & Co., Gartner and Forrester are well-known, credible sources for research. But what about lesser-known companies?

First, check their websites to see who they are and what makes them reliable. How do they know the information they’re sharing? Can you verify their statistics elsewhere? Next, check one of these resources to help you determine source reputation:

  • SEO Review Tools’ Website Authority Checker. This free tool ranks a website’s domain authority from 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest score. The higher the score, the better. A general rule of thumb is that a score of 50 to 60 is good. In this case, the source is probably reliable. Anything above 60 is excellent. The tool also ranks page authority. You can check the score for a webpage, where you found the information for your content.
  • Moz Link Explorer. Moz also provides domain and page authority from 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest score. The tool allows 10 queries per month for free.

2. Cite statistics from original sources.

Be sure to cite original sources for your information. A common mistake is to list sources that are several steps removed from the original ones. For example, if you find a Forbes article that references a Gartner study, don’t cite and link to Forbes. This practice is risky because you don’t know if the information is accurate. You could end up repeating incorrect data.

Instead, do your homework. Look for the Gartner study and cite it. If you can’t find the native source, don’t use the information. The statistic that follows is classic example of why it’s so important to use original sources:

“93% of B2B companies say content marketing generates more leads than traditional marketing strategies.” 

A Google search for this stat reveals that many B2B marketers are using it. Those who cite sources credit Marketo (now Adobe Marketo Engage) and Forbes. Good luck finding the statistic in either place. A couple of years ago, I found a Marketo blog post that cited Forbes as the source. But Forbes credited Marketo for the information. In short, there was no original source. And that’s the case today.

Another example where marketers often fail to cite original sources is infographics. Many infographics combine information from multiple places that aren’t native sources. Even when marketers cite sources for the statistics, I find they link to non-native content. In addition, the content doesn’t provide dates. As a result, the information may be old and inaccurate.

3. Scrutinize all research.

Before you cite data, statistics and research, ask yourself if the sources benefit from promoting the information. Are they biased? What did they omit? Do other reliable sources challenge their data?

For example, a human resources (HR) software firm benefits from promoting studies on HR software’s talent recruitment advantages. In contrast, a neutral source that wouldn’t gain anything from sharing its research wouldn’t have that inherent bias.

Let’s say you’re looking for statistics that show a direct return on investment from content marketing. They’re not easy to find. That’s why many marketers cite this Demand Metric statistic:

“Content marketing generates approximately three times as many leads as traditional marketing.”

What’s the problem? Demand Metric sells marketing software and solutions. The business benefits by promoting this information.

Moreover, the Demand Metric statistic comes from an infographic that seems outdated. The infographic lists four sources at the bottom. They either don’t work or go to pages that don’t have the stat above.

So where did the information come from? Who knows?

4. Use data, stats and research that are no more than two years old.

Always look for recent data. If the research is more than a year or two old, it will be less relevant than fresh content. This is especially important for topics that are evolving rapidly. These include generative artificial intelligence, renewable energy and global trade.

Some businesses and groups update their research every year. If you find a statistic that’s two or more years old, look for its more current counterpart. Industry associations and Google Scholar are great places to start your search.

5. Check the sample size.

Without knowing the sample size, you can’t establish the data’s significance. For example, if an article reports that 88% of executives agree that AI is an effective hiring tool, it’s unclear if the percentage is meaningful. A survey of 200 executives isn’t sufficient to predict the opinion of a group of 2,000 executives. Studies and reports include sample sizes, selection processes and any limitations.

If you’d like to learn more, SurveyMonkey explains the basics of sample size analysis. For a deeper dive, enter “sample size calculations for studies” in Google Scholar.

6. Provide the full data picture.

It’s misleading to use statistics without context. For example, don’t shortchange your audience by using statistics without comparable periods. If you wrote that B2B businesses increased their marketing spend by 60% in 2023, you’d leave buyers hanging. This begs the question, “from what?” Was it a 60% increase from the prior year or was it from another period?

Similarly, cherry-picking data that supports an agenda is deceptive. If you only select data that supports your conclusion, you’ll lose all credibility. You might as well hawk “cures” from a covered wagon.

7. Don’t use data from surveys or studies that paid participants.

Paying survey and study participants introduces the perception of bias. In addition, it can inflate the number of participants and influence their responses. Have you filled out a survey to receive a free Visa gift card? Then you know what I’m talking about. If someone paid participants, you might find this information in the fine print at the end. Instead, try to find alternative sources to support your content.

8. Fact-check everything.

As a former journalist, I don’t shirk fact-checking. In fact, I’m a stickler for it. Think of it as quality control for your content. If your B2B business makes equipment, you can darn well bet someone is responsible for quality control in the manufacturing process. Or if you work for a marketing firm, at least one other set of eyes reviews your content before you publish it.

When you fact-check, verify:

  • Spellings of people’s names and companies/organizations
  • People’s titles
  • Place names (cities, states, etc.)
  • Dates

Look for the information on social media profiles, bio pages, company websites, and relevant professional association/membership sites.

Finally, follow the journalists’ credo: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out!”

Embrace transparency

Statistics are a cornerstone for establishing credibility and authority in B2B marketing. By adhering to best practices and sourcing information from reputable sources, you can strengthen your brand’s reputation and elevate your content.