Search, Content Marketing & Social Media Make B2B Case
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.
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
- 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?
Join me at Social Media Marketing World this coming Spring in sunny San Diego, California, where I'll be presenting a session on Blogging.
Free eBook —
The average piece of content takes 20 hours to create and costs approximately $1,200 to produce. The problem here is pretty clear — in order for B2B marketers to maximize their content marketing ROI, they’re going to need to figure out a more effective way to increase content consumption and engagement.
How can you improve your content’s performance when no one can find your content in the first place?
Enabling content discoverability is key for generating results from your B2B content. In this eBook, you’ll learn:
- Why and how your target audience is seeking your content
- How to organize and assemble your blog or resource center
- How to build a content experience that enables content discoverability
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