A new study by Research+Data Insights highlights the increasing importance of word of mouth from expert peers when it comes to making B2B technology purchases.
A total of 86 percent of respondents said that word of mouth from peers was the most influential factor in narrowing their options for potential vendors. In a distinct change from a similar study performed in 2012, word of mouth had equal impact on both ends of the funnel – lead generation and deal closure (83 percent cited word of mouth as the primary driver of final selection of a vendor and solution).
Though in-person conversations were still influential, digital channels have increased in importance for both information and expertise sharing. A majority of respondents (59 percent) said they share content and insights over email, but 78 percent said they share information over social media (i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, Twitter).
“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 and thus word of mouth has become a primary purchase driver,” wrote the authors of the study.
Marketers Investing More in Influencer Engagement
This new research jives with how marketers are planning to allocate budget. A June 2015 study by Augure found an increasing focus and spend on influencer engagement.
About 75 percent of respondents say that influencer engagement is effective in lead generation, while 76 percent claim that it’s efficient in terms of gaining customer loyalty. In terms of marketing and business, influencers are the individuals who have the power to impact purchase decisions. This is typically through their position, knowledge or relationships with other professionals in the industry.
The research found 74 percent of marketers planned to increase spending on influencer engagement in 2015.