There's a new B2B Buyer survey hot off the presses from Base One and B2B Marketing Magazine. Marketers will find a view of the big picture as the report shows an overlay of both online and offline informational sources in comparison to social media use. The report also breaks out the differences in informational use and reliance between buyers under 31 and those more mature. Some of the differences are not what you may think.
Although web searches and vendor websites remain two of the top methods for finding information, word of mouth holds a lot of influence throughout the buying stages. What's interesting is to note that although some of the sources drop off in influence as the buyer progresses toward purchase, social media remains influential from start to finish - for those who have embraced its use in their buying process.
You can download the report (direct link to PDF) and see the charts and breakouts for yourself.
I'd like to point out a couple of findings that B2B marketers should pay attention to:
"There is a notable decrease in the influence of supplier websites after the early stages of the buying process. At the need identification stage 58% described websites as influential or very influential, a figure that dropped to 43% by the final supplier selection stage."
This high influence for vendor websites at the beginning of the buying process indicates a need for educational and thought leadership content prominently displayed and easily accessible. Take a good look at the content your website provides and make sure it's primed and ready for early stage buyers.
Because web search is so highly relied upon (we know this, right?) it's imperative for marketers to ensure the content on their website is being indexed for search by keywords and phrases early stage buyers will use. Do you need more of a reason to get to know your buyers better?
In addition to buyers' predictions about changes to their future buying processes, the report also includes commentary submitted by buyers during the survey. Here are a few snips of buyer perspectives that marketers would be well served to consider:
"Probably blogs and online community websites will play a bigger part in the decision making process."
"Forums, panels and blogs are the way ahead, using Google for searches can be a tedious task, taking up too much time. Comparison websites are mainly useless and filled with unwanted information and supplier/manufacturer websites take up time. Going straight to user forums or specialized blogs saves time."
"I will always sample new methods but it's the reliability and context that is important in order to understand the accuracy of the information."
"I will utilize more web areas but generally be careful and limit to particular proven sources."
*"The survey was conducted online, administered and analysed by market research specialists McCallum Layton, among business respondents provided by online panel provider Toluna." The survey was conducted in March 2010 with buyers who had participate in the decision-making process for the purchase of a business product or service offering during previous 12 months of over £20,000.