Our colleagues at Demand Gen Report (DGR) just released the 5th Annual B2B Buyer’s Survey Report, which takes a deeper dive into how B2B buyers move through the buying journey. As always, this year’s results were packed with new insight into some of the trends that ultimately affect B2B buying decisions.
One of the most noted trends to come out of the survey is the significant effect that peers and industry analysts have on buyers as they research buying decisions.
When asked to rank the first three resources that informed them about a solution they were considering, 21% of respondents cited industry experts/analysts, followed by 20% who cited peers/colleagues and 17% who cited web search.
As far as what motivates buyers to seek out this type of third-party perspective when conducting research, it’s the desire to self-educate anonymously before connecting with a sales rep. Respondents also cited a desire to accelerate their ability to narrow the list of vendors as a motivating factor.
Also, online watering holes, such as LinkedIn and Quora, play a huge role in facilitating the exchange between buyers and industry analysts and peers, which ultimately influences buying decisions.
In regard to the role that social media plays in the research process, just about three quarters (73%) said they browse existing discussions on social media to learn more about a topic; this is certainly the case as more and more Millennials take on decision-making roles. Forty-three percent said they connected with individual thought leaders to ask for their opinions and 38% asked for suggestions and recommendations from users through social media sites, such as LinkedIn.
But Content Is Still King, And Buyers Want More
While the research suggests that peers and expert opinions significantly influence the early stages of the buying process, it’s content that still plays the most important role when making a selection.
According to the survey results, an overwhelming 83% of respondents indicated that the winning vendor’s content had a significant impact on their buying decision, while just 16% said that content did not sway their decision. When asked for which specific types of content trigger their purchasing decisions, 86% said vendor-focused content, such as case studies and product data sheets.
Thought leadership content, such as white papers and infographics, were among the top pieces of content reviewed by 75% of respondents during the buying process.
And lastly, it’s clear that buyers want selection. It’s something that we tell our clients all the time and it certainly was apparent in the survey results, as more than half of all respondents (52%) indicated that they view two to four pieces of content from the winning vendor. More than a quarter (28%) view five to seven pieces, while 10% view eight pieces or more.
For more insight into what this all means for your business, be sure to check out DGR’s recent webinar Buyer’s In Context: Key Findings From The 2015 B2B Buyer’s Survey, which is now available on-demand.