“Without a strategy, marketing is just stuff. The world has enough stuff, be intentional.”
I recently read this quote from Kurt Uhlir, and couldn’t agree more. As a marketer, before you can even think about a successful strategy, you must first identify and fully understand the target audience.
Without a clear understanding of who it is you’re selling to, your marketing team’s initiatives will likely be released into a deep abyss of information, and turn into “stuff,” especially online. However, most marketers will agree understanding today’s audience is easier said than done.
With this challenge in mind, I’m going to share some of the traits (backed by data) that I believe will help paint a clear picture (one that will hopefully be more accurate than Tom Brady’s courtroom sketch) of today’s B2B buyer.
1. B2B Buyers Do More Research Than Ever Before
The data: Two-thirds of today’s buyers rely more on content to research and make purchasing decisions than they did a year ago, according to Demand Gen’s “2015 Content Preferences Survey.” Further, data from Eccolo Media shows us that the average B2B technology buyer in 2015 reads between two and five pieces of content before making a purchase.
The content shouldn’t stop flowing once the purchase has been made, as 80 percent of tech buyers said it’s important to receive content after a purchase. This data is consistent with figures from our Usability Report, which shows that 37 percent of survey respondents will visit a vendor website three to five times before contacting them.
Action marketers need to take: Marketers must understand that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach when preparing content for today’s B2B buyers. Offering a wide range of content such as white papers, webinars, e-books, case studies, infographics, and product videos (to name a few) will give your brand a better chance of keeping buyers on your site (as opposed to going to a competitor’s site for more information).
Additionally, the more content you have on your site, the better the chances are that you will lure a buyer in through search. “When asked where they go to begin the process of researching a buying decision, a general Web search is still the starting point for 61 percent of respondents,” wrote the authors of the 2015 Content Preferences Survey report.
2. B2B Buyers’ Time is Precious
The data: According to our “2015 B2B Web Usability Report,” today’s B2B buyers really dislike distractions. In fact, when we asked buyers “Which website elements annoy you or cause you to leave a website?” a Lack of Message (46 percent), No Contact Information/ Phone number (44 percent), Animated Ads (that crawl across the page) / Popups (42 percent), Poor Design or Navigation (37 percent), and Video or Audio that Plays Automatically (33 percent) topped the list of responses.
Action marketers need to take: These stats tell us as marketers that we need to establish trust and present buyers with uninterrupted information they need in order to begin the decision-making process. Be sure your website clearly explains what it is you do, how you can help solve the problems they’re facing, and how they can get in touch with you. Additionally, make sure your site is easy to navigate (don’t forget mobile!).
3. B2B Buyers Want to Interact with Sales Reps at Every Stage of the Journey
The data: According to SiriusDecisions survey data we covered in a news story, human interactions between B2B buyers and providers generally increase as the price of the solution rises. However, even at lower price points, there is evidence that these interactions are taking place. In fact, the highest level of human interactions occurred during the “education” phase of the purchase process.
Action marketers need to take: Marketers need to remember that just because digital has come to the forefront, the need for human interaction has not disappeared. Simply the way we have these human interactions is what has changed. Attending live webinars, industry conferences, sales events and meeting with sales reps are still valued by today’s B2B buyers.
4. B2B Buyers Listen to Their Friends
The data: Figures from Research+Data Insights recently showed us that 86 percent of B2B technology decision-makers believe word of mouth from peers was the most influential factor in narrowing their options for potential vendors. Additional data shows that 30 percent of martech buyers stated that they learn about new marketing technology solutions from their peers.
Action marketers need to take: Word of mouth (WoM) marketing has been a buzzing topic of late, and for good reason. “With the rise of social networks, the phenomenon of the ‘expert peer’ has come into play; while professionals in an analog world relied on aggregators of peer knowledge, it’s much easier to find peers now with relevant experience,” wrote the authors of the Research+Data Insights report.
These expert peers make it more important than ever before to make a lasting impression whenever the opportunity presents itself. Positive customer experiences (in person and across digital channels) could very well lead to more business down the line.
5. B2B Buyers Aren’t Alone in the Process
The data: More than half of today’s martech buyers say there are three to five people involved in the buying decision. Taking this even further, about 66 percent of have reportedly led the decision-making process for at least one purchase in the past three years.
Let’s not forget about the complications that exist when it comes to what age groups are making these purchases, either. As I noted in my “Marketing to the B2B Millennial: 6 Things to Remember” post, by 2018, Millennials will have the most spending power of any generation.
Action marketers need to take: “If your marketing content is focused on engaging the decision maker and/or economic buyer, what about the other 3 – 7 (or more) people who can argue against the decision and stop it cold? What are we doing to convince them that making the decision is the best answer to their problem, issue or achieving their objective?” This is a question that Ardath Albee often asks of B2B marketers and it’s very important to consider. Marketers need to identify a problem or issue that the entire buying organization can relate to. If your content can’t be understood and well-received across a number of decision-makers, you’ll likely get passed over.
As digital technologies evolve and buyers continue to ride in the driver’s seat, marketers need to make sure they understand their audience now, more than ever. Hopefully these traits will help you on your way to building out detailed B2B buyer personas in the near future.
What are some of the B2B buyer traits you’ve come across in 2015 and how are you addressing them with your marketing strategy?
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