We recently conducted research to understand how the buying process has changed and how decision-makers rely on technology to find potential solutions to their problems; narrow down potential vendors; and select the short-list of those lucky enough to participate.
We surveyed 500 business people across industries to find out how they use the Internet when selecting vendors. The context of the research and this report applies to consumer behaviour on many levels, but has particular relevance to the B2B buying process. This research is not about eCommerce, but rather how technology has changed the dynamics between buyers and vendors.
Here are some of the key highlights from our study about buyer habits and preferences:
- 92% of buyers prefer to do research online before talking with a salesperson
- 73% rely on organic search to guide them to potential vendors
- 74% ignore pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
- 71% already have a vendor in mind before they start searching
- 85% use the Internet for comparison shopping when they are about to buy
- 32% connect with others through social media when looking for a vendor
In the earlier days of marketing, most of the energy and budgets went into advertising and brand building. Awareness is still critically important, but today people can easily get to know a company and their offerings on the Internet in less time than it takes to drink a cup of coffee. This has presented amazing opportunities for marketers to reach more people, in more meaningful ways, for a fraction of traditional advertising costs.
What are the Implications?
The results from our research help reinforce what most marketers already know, or are starting to quickly realize. The key implications are as we view them are:
- Early awareness is critical. Studies show that 65-90% of the buying process has already been completed before a buyer even talks with a salesperson.
- Most marketing activities today try to drive a target audience to the company website. This means the site better be the best your company can afford. It must be relevant to your prospects, easy to use, engaging, crisp and clear.
- You need to understand the inter-relationships between your organic search, pay-per-click and social media and make sure they are a significant part of your marketing program.
- ure, they are challenging to manage and take time – but, when done well, you will attract the right people to your brand and close more business.
- Although most people have a vendor in mind when they are ready to buy, comparison shopping is easier than ever and if people only find you as they start to short-list, doing a good job on point #2 becomes even more important.