2015 B2B Buyers: A Content Marketing Crash Course

15 B2B Content Marketing Tips For End User Buyers

2015 B2B BuyersNewsflash: B2B buyers are living, breathing human beings, not machines.

While this may sound obvious, the reality is that many B2B marketers overlook this key fact when marketing to business buyers. Often, they’ve skipped crafting a marketing persona and related analyses.

Translation: B2B marketers must sell to real people. When making business purchases, their buyers employ the same online shopping techniques they’ve learned, used and expect as consumers.

As a result, expectations for today’s B2B content marketing is significantly higher than many marketers anticipate. (Here’s the inside scoop on 2015 B2B content marketing with tips.)

Fear not—help is on the way.

2015 B2B buyer

To better understand the 2015 B2B buyer and improve your content marketing’s ability to generate leads and sales, here is the information you need. (BTW–Here’s more information on the 2015 B2B purchase decision process.)2015 B2B Buyers

It’s based on Intershop’s August 2014 global research by Forrester Consulting; 1,500 buyers at companies with 500+ employees were surveyed.

  • 85% of B2B buyers from staff level to vice president make purchases at their desk during business hours.
  • 25% of business end user buyers make their purchases on consumer websites.
  • 52% of respondents purchased online business-related product for 6+ years.
  • 64% of respondents purchase at least monthly without going through procurement.

2015 B2B Buyer-ChartB2B buyers anticipate making more work purchases online with larger average online purchase size. Employees, especially those who work remotely, tend to have limited if any support. They tend to handle their own needs such as supplies and travel.

B2B buyers, like consumers, use multiple devices to research and purchase business items.

  • 90% of end user buyers feel secure using their desktop/laptop.
  • 69% of end user buyers feel secure using a tablet.
  • 51% of end user buyers feel secure using smartphones.

BTW–Here’s what B2B buyers read on their mobile devices according to IDG.

B2B Buyers -Mobile IDG-2014

The 2015 B2B buyer bottom line: The B2B competitive market landscape has changed. In 2015, B2B marketers now compete with a broad array of direct-to-customer manufacturers, online retailers and B2C companies in addition to other B2B suppliers.

B2B marketers must deliver a quality product or service at the best price, with useful technical information and great customer service.

Do you enter the 2015 B2B buyer’s research set?

While this question may seem obvious, the results aren’t. Astute marketers take note and adjust your content and marketing plans accordingly.

Understand that, if you’re not in the initial consideration set, you may not get a chance to make the sale.

  • 35% of B2B buyers begin their research on search engines. While this seems logical, the question this data raises is why don’t more buyers start with search? The answer: they’re going straight to specific resources they know and trust.
  • 27% of B2B buyers begin their research on manufacturers’ websites. This is good. You don’t have to pay to drive prospects here. This is part of every B2B content marketer’s core digital offering. Helping former customers, social media and word of mouth drive traffic home.
  • 18% of B2B buyers begin their research on consumer sites. This response is totally a surprise. Roughly 1 out of 5 business buyers goes straight to a site they know as a consumer!!!

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Optimize your content to appear on search for your key words, phrases and locations. Use both paid and organic search.
  • Use an easy-to-remember URL. Don’t expect your prospects and customers to remember a URL that’s only remotely connected to your brand or company. With the array of new top-level domains, you should be able to get something that works well.
  • Encourage social media sharing with all of your B2B content. This includes email. Your goal is to reach your prospect when they’re looking for your offering.
  • Be prepared to handle business-related needs on consumer-oriented websites. Depending on your product array, you may be attracting business buyers without being aware of it. Ask customers post-sale if the purchase was for personal or business use.
  • Provide for bulk purchases. Allow customers to buy in large quantities. Of course, this means that you have to have the appropriate controls in place for payments and shipping.

Attracting the 2015 B2B buyer

Since the 2015 B2B buyer thinks like a consumer, their purchase decisions are based on similar criteria.

  • 35% of B2B buyers seek brands they know and trust. Realize that trust may be built through consumer use.
  • 28% of B2B buyers seek the lowest price. This is the power of online purchasing. Don’t assume that business buyers are price insensitive or you may find yourself priced out of the market. Further, price trumps for on-going relationships.
  • 28% of B2B buyers seek technical knowledge. This is where your content marketing can shine and set your offering apart.
  • 27% of B2B buyers seek fast customer service. Time is money for B2B buyers. Consider providing social media customer service to supplement other options. 54% of end user buyers are loyal to online suppliers that provide a good experience.
  • 27% of B2B buyers seek information on additional costs. Your audience wants and needs to know the fully loaded cost. These expenses are part of their cost calculation.

Intershop-2015 B2B Buyer-Supplier Attributes-1

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Offer a B2B brand that’s consistent with your consumer brand where appropriate. Test whether your B2B buyers care about your business brands as much as your consumer brands.
  • Price your products competitively. Consider your competitive set broadly including top consumer options and offshore sellers. Include customer service and shipping expenses in your calculations.
  • Take the Marcus Sheridan approach to content marketing. They ask, you answer. Answer every possible customer question on your blog or website. Jay Baer considers this Youtility.
  • Provide the best possible customer experience. Remember customer service can be a deciding factor for B2B buyers, especially if they’re also the end-user.

Make your online experience emulate a consumer one. Provide the expected B2B content marketing and supplement it with additional content that’s optimized for consumption by real people who need to use your products.

  • 61% of 2015 B2B buyers will seek technical brochures and specification sheets. This is traditional B2B content marketing. Given the strong consumer bent of these buyers consider reimaging this information for easier consumption and distribution. (Check out Kelly Services’ case study on SlideShare.)
  • 46% of 2015 B2B buyers will need instruction manuals. Walk in your buyers’ shoes, they want to do more than kick your “tires”. They need to be able to use your products effectively. Here’s where your content marketing has to shine.
  • 38% of 2015 B2B buyers will watch videos. Think “show me how” content. Understand that your buyer also may be your user and needs to see it to use it. (Here’s how to become a video content director.)
  • 31% of 2015 B2B buyers will use case studies. This is traditional B2B content marketing. Give your information a fresh look and broader appeal as an ebook or presentation on SlideShare.
  • 30% of 2015 B2B buyers will watch webinars. Think of this as low cost person-to-person presentations.
  • 25% of 2015 B2B buyers will use infographics. This is a sexy version of a case study. Most infographics either present useful data or how tos.  
  • 25% of 2015 B2B buyers will use social media. These buyers leverage their connections to get help for buying.
  • 22% of 2015 B2B buyers will use mobile. Understand that mobile is on-the-go shopping. While it’s growing for consumers, the chances are it’s not as likely for B2B buyers since they’re already at their computer doing other work.
  • 21% of 2015 B2B buyers will use events. This number seems low since this is a traditional method of sales. The size may be the result of using other online alternatives.

Intershop-2014 B2B Buyers-Content Marketing

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Create social media persona. Know where your buyers spend their time on social media. Is it just LinkedIn and Twitter or are there other options?
  • Provide the information that your buyers need to convince their bosses. In addition to the meat and potatoes of B2B content marketing, create epic content that supports your offering.
  • Develop a set of online training materials. Be the Khan Academy of your niche. Create technical information videos like YouTube rockstar Michelle Phan.
  • Leverage the power of your employee base to connect with prospects. By getting your entire team on social media, you can extend your reach exponentially.
  • Extend your live events online. Enable your target buyers to attend your events remotely via webinars and videos.

Beyond this, 2015 B2B buyers expect all of the same options they get on consumer commerce sites. This includes product comparisons, 360-degree views, customer recommendations, ratings and reviews, and quality content including video.

No surprise–pricing trumps everything else. Remember your buyer must make a case for the purchase!!!

Intershop-2015 B2B Buyer-Information-1

B2B marketers beware!!!

2015 B2B buyers are savvy online shoppers. They’re experienced and know what they need to make a decision.

To get the sale and retain the customer over time, you have to provide the quality information B2B buyers seek and need. Further, you have to be able to compete on the fully loaded price (including delivery) and customer service.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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