Business-to-business purchasing habits have changed, moving in a direction where online marketing will play an increasingly important role. A growing number of buyers are using the Web as not only a tool for discovering potential vendors and partners to work with, but also a platform to make purchases.
Currently, 68 percent of B2B buyers carry out business transactions for goods, which is more than a 10 percent jump over figures for 2013 (1). What's more, 57 percent of B2B customers have spent $5,000 or more on a major purchase online during the past year.
How are B2B buyers discovering vendors and suppliers?
There's roughly a 50-50 split between purchasers buying items directly from a supplier and going through a third-party site, including Amazon Supply, to select items. With this in mind, there's a strong link between online research and purchasing behavior. A heavy majority – 94 percent – of buyers said they research purchases ahead of time using the Internet, and as many as 55 percent do so for half of all their business transactions.
Price comparison and product research is most commonly performed on Google, where buyers seek out customer reviews and other content that is independent from the supplier's website. Vendor sites are the most common sources for product information that buyers refer to when conducting research. However, just 37 percent of them said these were the most helpful resources for investigating a product or service.
What does this mean for B2B marketing efforts?
Because buyers aren't devoted to a single channel for both research and purchasing, it's important for marketers to leverage a few online marketing strategies. First, search engine optimization is particularly useful for companies looking to gain recognition among buyers researching new products through Google, Bing or Yahoo. Accordingly, keywords play a central role in directing traffic to a company's website. Ensure the terms are relevant to the purchasing audience, whether they're short or longtail.
At the same time, product landing pages should be integrated with all other content marketing deliverables. In doing so, a B2B company can present a first impression among purchasers that's consistent across multiple channels (2). This includes making sure the brand is clearly displayed with regard to design and voice. More importantly, get the most interesting or compelling information across to potential buyers as quickly as possible.
Research can be a painstaking process for people in need of finding a solution quickly, and the Internet can sometimes seem overrun with information of varying degrees of value. Connect with B2B buyers using their preferred channels and make a compelling argument quickly.