B2B Purchase Process 2014: What You Need To Know!

Search, Content Marketing & Social Media Make B2B Case

Boy makes B2B purchase case B2B purchases have big price tags.

As high consideration purchases, the B2B purchase process is complex.

B2B purchases requires time, research, analysis and corporate buy-in.

Therefore as a B2B marketer, you must provide the information your prospect needs to make their business case before they even contact your firm.

To this end, DemandGen’s 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey found that you need search, content marketing and social media to streamline the B2B purchase process for your prospects.

2014 B2B purchase process

As major investments, B2B purchases require more in-depth research and support.

  • 68% of respondents used more sources to research and evaluate purchases, relatively flat with 2012.
  • 58% of respondents spent more time researching purchases, up from 48% in 2012
  • 53% of buyers relied more on peer recommendations, up from 19% in 2012
  • 37% of buyers spent more time researching solutions on social media, up from 20% in 2012.
  • 51% of buyers performed a more detailed ROI analysis before finalizing their decision, up from 30% in 2012.

B2B purchase process takes teamwork.

  • 55% include 1-3 people
  • 37% include 4-7 people
  • 8% include 8+ people

Buyers pay more attention to budgets for B2B purchases.

  • 34% of respondents’ purchases were initially unbudgeted and allocated funds after building an internal business case, down from 48% in 2012.
  • 14% of respondents pre-approved their purchase budget at the beginning of the fiscal year.

Actionable B2B Marketing Tip: B2B purchasers do their homework before contacting vendors. Make sure that you provide the quality content they need to answer their questions, show that you’re a thought leader, and help them make the business case.

Social media in the B2B purchase process

72% of respondents used social media to research their B2B purchase, flat with 2012. Specifically:

  • LinkedIn was senior executives’ top choice.
    Actionable B2B Marketing Tip: Provide useful content on LinkedIn and get your senior executives active on LinkedIn.
  • Facebook was executives’ bottom choice.
    Actionable B2B Marketing Tip: Be present but it’s not going to get you the sale!
  • Blogs were non-executives’ top choice.
    Actionable B2B Marketing Tip: Provide useful, easy-to-find and research information that answers your audience’s key questions on your blog. 

Social media is where B2B buyers do research.

  • 22% ask for recommendations.
  • 22% connect with potential suppliers.
  • 23% seek expert advice.

Use of Social Media in B2B Purchase Process 2014

 

Actionable B2B Marketing Tip: Be present on the social media platforms where your target audience seeks your information. Distribute the key information B2B buyers seek there to ensure that you’re not missing out on potential opportunities. Also, build your community to ensure that they are answering your prospects’ questions with useful information. Understand that they are social media savvy and know how to use these platforms. 

Content marketing in the B2B purchase process

For B2B marketers, content marketing can facilitate customer selection. You must provide the information they need to say yes and build their corporate case. Content Marketing In the B2B Purchase Process 2014

  • 61% of respondents agreed the winning vendor delivered a better mix of content appropriate for each stage of the purchasing process. Actionable B2B Marketing Tip: Use your content marketing to answer your buyer’s questions and overcome their potential objections.
  • 66% of respondents agreed the winning vendor provided higher-quality content. Actionable B2B Marketing Tip: CONTENT QUALITY counts! You must answer your prospects’ questions or they’re NOT buying.  The number of pieces of content didn’t matter, the information provided did.
  • 63% of respondents agreed the winning vendor’s content helped build a business case for purchase. Actionable B2B Marketing Tip: Make it easy for your customer to say yes by providing them with the information to make a case to select your firm. Give them the resources to make the case for your firm. This is particularly important if your solution is more expensive than your competitors.

B2B purchase process specifics

B2B purchasers don’t just seek information; they want quality content.

  • 46% of buyers use search engines to start their purchase research. They then turn to vendor websites as a next step in the process. Actionable B2B Marketing Tip: Make sure that your products, company and brand are findable for the words your target audience seeks.
  • 37% of respondents rank non-promotional, general educational content including white papers and infographics to be the most important information featured on a vendor web site. Actionable B2B Marketing Tip: Create quality content your buyers need. Further, ensure they can find it from a search engine, your website and social media!

In light of increasingly complex buying process, here’s what buyers want:

  • 76% of respondents considered timely vendor response important.
  • 71% of respondents considered relevant information important.
  • 66% of respondents considered industry peer reviews and references important.
  • 61% of respondents considered vendor reputation as industry thought leader important.

 

The B2B purchase process starts with research. Therefore, provide the information they seek and make it findable across platforms—search, your website and social media. It’s important to be visible, available and respond quickly. This applies to your entire team including senior executives, sales and marketing.

What are your thoughts with regard to these issues?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies. You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/philscoville/19694766/

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  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    Great post, Heidi. I think you’re right on the money with these tips. I think it’s crucial to provide potential customers with enough information for them to make an informed decision one way or the other.

    I know sometimes brands think that arming the person with too much, but I think it’s up to the user to assess whether they want to make that initial contact point. Because people can discover so much on their own, brands need to have a great product as well as a great team in order to make the sale.

  • http://www.rparkerconsulting.net/ parkerconsulting

    Impressive statistics. Unbudgeted spending is down 14% from last year. Indicating an even greater importance in starting B2B relationships early and presenting your case early during the budgeting process to gain more sales