The changing nature of buyer behavior, particularly in today’s online jungle, is a challenge that B2B marketing and sales teams must address with dynamic strategies and flexible mindsets.
The truth about the modern digital consumer atmosphere is simple: The customer is in charge. Buyers are no longer dependent upon vendors to inform their purchasing decisions. Now, the Internet allows them to find all the details they need.
Therefore, to improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and gain greater marketing ROI, it behooves us to recognize and respond to these 4 new dynamics in the buyer community.
1. Attention Scarcity Online
Buyers have shorter attention spans than ever before. A recent study conducted by Akamai Technologies found that of over 1,000 web users surveyed, 75% said they would not return to a shopping site if it took longer than 4 seconds to reload. In other words, businesses can lose an interested buyer at the speed of a click.
This makes it clear why the best demand generation strategies employ not only well-executed content, but sites that can deliver that content, either in text or mutli-media formats, immediately after a single click.
2. Fragmented Media Consumption
The Internet has afforded marketers more avenues than ever before, but the flip side of that is the disjointed nature of the web’s landscape.
Each month, consumers visit hundreds of sites and spend millions of hours surfing, investigating, reviewing and querying other options. In a monthly view of U.S. Internet activity, The Nielsen Company found that the number of those actively using the Web grew 3.8% in January 2010 alone, to slightly more than 203 million users.
Content can be found on websites, often in channels such as Facebook or YouTube, and most of it is delivered through search results. As Google incorporates more information into its search results page — now, not even a click is necessary to find key website information, such as what’s new in Twitter Streams, stock prices, phone numbers or directions — marketers will have to evolve too, by creating destinations that offer a compilation of content that can’t be found together elsewhere.
For this reason, lists such as the AdAge Power 150 continue to play well among audiences. The authors of such content end up receiving valuable traffic because they did the legwork so their audience didn’t have to.
3. Peer-Powered Decisions
“Like” buttons, discussion forums, comment columns and sharing opportunities have placed even more ammunition at buyers’ fingertips for rating, reviewing and influencing other people’s purchasing decisions.
The same Nielsen study mentioned above found that the average time people spend using Facebook per month grew nearly 10% monthly over a year, topping seven hours at the beginning of 2010 and apparently not having slowed since. With this type of presence on social networking sites, peer reviews have never carried as much weight as they do now.
This makes it crucial to incorporate social media into marketing initiatives, to ensure your content is visible in the streams where your target audience is searching for and sharing information. To make sure you are taking advantage of peer-shared content, be sure to add social sharing options to the content you publish.
4. Third Parties First, Vendors Last
Additional Nielsen data finds that 64.6 million home and work Internet users visited at least one eBay-owned site or launched an eBay-owned application during January 2010. Each person spent, on average, a total of 1 hour, 9 minutes and 32 seconds at one or more of these sites or applications. This supports the notion that consumers are visiting numerous informational and social sites before they finally make a purchase. Tapping into how buyers use the Internet when shopping can shed light on how to tailor your campaigns.
To stay ahead of the curve, marketers need to keep on top of their own mix and how it aligns with changes in buyer behavior. The best practices are those that combine lead generation, scoring and nurturing, and marketing analysis. Take a second look at your strategy to see if it keeps up with the customer in charge. For easy reference, we’ve constructed a Changing B2B Buyer Cheat Sheet that includes basic and advanced lead generation techniques to engage the empowered B2B buyer.