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How the right digital strategy will help you to stand out from the crowd
Rising above the noise
I was curious to know how many ‘start-ups’ are founded each year, and after a quick search on Google, I found the Business Statistics report produced by Parliament. Since 2000 there has been a staggering 63% increase in the number of UK businesses. In 2018 there were 5.7 million private sector businesses in the UK which is an amazing 2.2 million more businesses than in 2000.
This means that it gets harder and harder as each year passes to stand out from the crowd because there is so much choice available and this goes for both businesses and consumers.
We as consumers are faced with an extraordinary choice every time we enter a supermarket. The same goes for when we are wearing our B2B buyers hats, except it’s not just your children you’re letting down when you buy the wrong kind of cereal or your husband if you buy the wrong brand of coffee, it’s your team and company if the CMS system you trial and implement doesn’t do what it says on the tin.
Is this a contributing factor when researching a new product or service, and how can you ensure as a supplier or vendor that when the research phase starts you’re in the mix?
The buying process
Let’s take a look at the B2B buying process and how much this has evolved over the years. There are now many more decision makers involved, as well there are so many more products and services available to choose from. In addition, we now rely on content and social media to help us with those decisions.
I’ve not yet mentioned the wealth of content available at our fingertips to research ourselves, it’s been reported that 82% of buyers are now spending more time evaluating products and services and are spending a lot longer in this particular phase of the buying journey.
The recent and quite drastic changes to the buying process mean that we all have to get on board and work together to drive new strategies and initiatives like video marketing, the use of LinkedIn and not to mention the way we are searching for suppliers and vendors.
Demand Gen Report has been running its annual Buyers Survey since 2012, according to their 2018 report, B2B buyers behaviour has also expanded to include key characteristics such as:
- The desire to self-navigate the decision-making journey.
- A demand for more relevant, contextual content.
- The importance of social media, ads and peer feedback in the decision-making journey.
Looking at this report there are a few stats that I feel stand out as ones that can’t be ignored when it comes to evaluating how you are promoting your products and services.
First things first
- 62% of B2B buyers stated that a web search was one of the first things they turned to when deciding on a new product or service.
- With 71% of B2B buyers starting with a generic search, this backs up the fact that they are researching the various options available rather than typing in a specific company name.
- In fact, 94% of buyers reported using online research at some point in the purchasing process.
The number of searches has also increased.
They are conducting an average of 12 searches before engaging with a specific brand’s site, which backs up nicely that B2B buyers are now spending a lot longer in the research phase of the journey and comparing more than just a couple of options.
Content matters in social
Content is no longer limited to your website: A strong social media presence helps buyers conduct their research. According to Demand Gen Report, just over half (53%) of B2B buyers are turning to social media to make buying decisions.
A website is used by a company to promote their products and services, however, social media is a way of other people promoting your company, products and services which is no doubt one of the reasons it’s fast becoming so important in a B2B buyers journey as it gives an impartial review. This is a great way of increasing your CDD (customer due diligence) and adds an additional layer of trust in a brand.
The strongest link
LinkedIn is also having a huge impact on the research phase of the buying process. 81% of respondents replied to say it was very important or somewhat important.
As of 2018, there were 562 million users on LinkedIn, you would be mad not to tap into that audience, and over 40% of them visit at least once a day. When it comes to delivering content and securing audience engagement, LinkedIn is the most effective social media platform.
Video killed the radio star
Since Google absorbed YouTube, videos are playing an increasingly important role in the B2B buyer’s journey.
60% of respondents ranked them very important or somewhat important.
According to the marketing statistics report produced by Hubspot, product videos can increase purchases by a staggering 144%, and Google has reported that nearly 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store.
Buyers are actively seeking out content
To link back to my earlier introduction about the rapidly changing buyer’s journey, content is playing a critical role in the buying process.
The obvious plus points of using content in the right way would be increased visibility through organic rankings, but in addition, it helps to improve conversions because it allows you to connect and educate your audience.
Demonstrating your credibility as a company is vital these days because if you’re not, your competitors are.
There are many ways of doing this. To mention a few – testimonials, reviews and case studies are a great way to get this message across and give your audience social credibility from their peers.
This allows you to build trusting relationships but can go along way to maximising conversions as the buyers will have the information available to make an informed decision.
You’ve got to be in it to win it
So to summarise, the B2B journey has changed dramatically, to be in with a chance of winning business against your competitors you need to be using every tactic and channel available to you because if you’re not, your competitors will be.
If any of this resonates with you but you’re struggling with your strategy, please feel free to contact the Digital Clarity team, we’d be delighted to help.