Study: Marketers find b-to-b engagement more complex than b-to-c

Marketers are still grappling with what types of content and channels are most effective to convert global b-to-b decision makers into advocates for a brand, according to a study from Text100.

NEW YORK: Marketers are still grappling with what types of content and channels are most effective to convert global b-to-b decision makers into advocates for a brand, according to a study from Text100.

The firm’s Influence Index: Paving the Path to Advocacy report, conducted with its partner Redshift Research earlier this year, was based on interviews with 1,900 IT decision makers from eight countries. It is focused on the content-consumption habits of an IT decision maker.

Overall, the study found that the b-to-b decision-making audience is much different than the consumer audience, according to Jason Clarke, Text100’s VP of marketing and business development for North America.

"How to use a consumer audience to become brand advocates is a bit more obvious to marketers," he said. "Converting business audiences into strong brand advocates is more of a challenge and is something marketers need to take a closer look at when considering the types of content and channels they are using to engage those audiences after the sale has already been made."

The firms mapped the study’s findings to show each stage of the buyer’s journey: awareness, intent, action, confidence, and advocacy. At each level, the survey focused on four key factors: the type of decision-makers involved; decision-maker influencers; channels used to engage decision-makers and influence their behavior; and types of content that resonate with decision makers.

The survey found that, on average, six people are involved in the purchasing decision-making process in businesses globally. Of those people, only half have technical roles.

"We think the results show that technical providers need to communicate to a wider audience with messages and benefits that are less technical and more business-focused," said Clarke.

Further, before deciding which technology solution to buy, 34% of decision makers use a search engine to get more information about a product or brand; 43% look at information on the supplier’s website; 27% read online endorsements, reviews, or recommendations; and 28% cite email newsletters as an information source, according to the study.

Only 15% of IT decision makers use Twitter as a source when looking for a new tech product. Instead, they use forums such as Quora, LinkedIn, and blogs.

"More than two-thirds of decision makers reach out to people they are familiar with – suppliers, colleagues, professional experts, and peers – when faced with a business challenge," Clarke said. "This group of trusted advisers rated highest for most important information source at each stage of that buyer’s journey, ahead of secondary sources, including supplier websites and analyst reports."

Yet ultimately, at each stage of the purchasing process, global b-to-b decision makers who are considering buying technology products, services, and solutions, care about cost more than any other factor, the study found.

Text100 previously conducted two other global influence indexes on the energy sector and travel and tourism sector, and one regional influence index on consumer electronics in APAC.

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