B2B Buyers Hold the Whip

In October 2013, Dianna Huff of DH Communications, Inc., and Derek Edmond and Casie Gillette of KoMarketing Associates, with the help of Liza Semenova, a student at Northeastern University, issued a survey to customers, prospects and others involved within B2B marketing, to determine what buyers do once they get to a vendor website; which elements increase a vendor’s credibility in the mind of the buyer, which detract, and which cause them to leave the website. And how well do B2B vendor websites help buyers take the next step in the sales process.

The first annual B2B Website Usability Report revealed that buyers approach vendor websites with one thought in mind: qualifying a vendor in order to begin the process of moving toward a purchase.

Qualifying a vendor should be a straight forward process, opines the report, at least in the eyes of a buyer. Buyers, who are busy and efficient, head directly to the products and services pages when they arrive at a vendor website. They thoroughly dislike website elements that waste their time or distract them.

They need specific types of information in order to take the next step in the buying process; when asked what types of information vendor websites “must have,” buyers indicated the following:

Must Have Content

 

Content

% of Respondents Saying Must Have

Pricing information

43%

Technical information

38%

Case studies/white papers/articles/blog posts

38%

Shipping information

37%

Source: Huff/KoMarketing, March 2014

 

When asked “What do you want from your website?” the vendor answer is almost always “more leads and sales.” But, respondents indicated that vendor websites lack the crucial information they need. When asked, “What types of marketing collateral do you find to be lacking on most company sites”, respondents replied: 

Content Lacking On Vendor Websites

Content Lacking

% of Respondents

Case studies / white papers / articles

54%

Pricing

50%

Product reviews

42%

Details about technical support

42%

Testimonials/client list

31%

Source: Huff/KoMarketing, March 2014

In addition, buyers need another important piece of information in order to move forward with a vendor: contact information! According to survey respondents, 68% said that “Company Address and Contact Information” is critically important. Even more telling, survey respondents indicated they prefer to use email and the phone to contact vendors (81% and 57% respectively). Yet, vendor websites often lack this information – with vendors often forcing people to complete “contact us” forms rather than providing email or phone information. 55% of buyers indicated they’ll leave a vendor website if it lacks contact information, says the report.

Social media activity has minimal impact on the buying process, finds the study. When asked, “How much does a company’s social media activity impact your vendor decision making process?” only 30% stated it was “important but not a deal breaker.”

Social Media's Impact On The Buying Process

Impact

% of Respondents

A lot

6%

It’s important but not a deal breaker

30%

Neutral

26%

Not a factor

37%

Source: Huff/KoMarketing, March 2014

Buyers come to a vendor website with a stated purpose, says the report: to gather information, research a vendor, make a buying decision, and annoying elements interrupt buyers’ train of thought. Elements that cause buyers to leave vendor websites due to annoying them include video or audio that plays automatically (93%) and animated ads that crawl across a page or pop up (88%).

Additional elements cause buyers to leave a vendor website. Anything that prevents them from achieving their purpose; from wasting their time, interrupting their train of thought or reducing a vendor’s credibility frustrates them.

One of the questions asked was, “When you’re on the home page [of a vendor’s website] what information do you want to see available?” The overwhelming majority of respondents indicated they want to see “Products and Services” information. Buyers also want to see “About” or company information  “Marketing Collateral” and “Testimonials.” This information is a form of supporting validation. Few buyers looked for “Social Media Buttons” or a blog.

B2B Web Buyers Look at Products & Services First

Website Information

% Considered Important

Products and services

90%

About

61

Marketing collateral

37

Testimonials

36

Social media buttons

14

Blog

22

Source: Huff/KoMarketing, March 2014

To determine what types of content and information B2B buyers want to see on vendor websites, respondents selected items based on four objectives: “Must Have,” “Somewhat Important” “Not Important,” and “It Depends.” While B2B buyers clearly know what they want from vendor websites, the information they need to make purchasing decisions is clearly lacking.

 “Must Have” Collateral Required By B2B Buyers

Collateral

% of Respondents Must Have

Pricing

43%

Details about technical support

38%

Case studies/white papers/articles/blog posts

38%

Shipping information

37%

Testimonials/client list

36%

Product reviews

28%

Online ordering

28%

Locations in my city

22%

News releases/media mentions

11%

Cad drawings

6%

Source: Huff/KoMarketing, March 2014

 

Marketing Collateral Most Lacking On Vendor Websites

Collateral Missing

% of Respondents

Case studies / white papers / articles

54%

Pricing

50%

Product reviews

42%

Details about technical support

42%

Testimonials/client list

31%

Shipping information

20%

News releases/media mentions

17%

Locations in my city

17%

Cad drawings

13%

Source: Huff/KoMarketing, March 2014

Overwhelmingly, people prefer to contact vendors through email, with the phone being the second choice at. Over one-third of respondents indicated they prefer to use a contact form.

Buyer Contact Preference

Contact

% of Respondents

Email

81%

Phone

58%

Contact form

39%

Live chat

17%

Schedule an appointment (example: timetrade)

11%

Social media platform (facebook message, twitter reply, etc.)

9%

Source: Huff/KoMarketing, March 2014

Over half indicated they would fill out a form in order to receive trial offers, research, white papers, and webinars. 50% of survey respondents indicated they visit a vendor’s website three to five times before contacting a vendor, with 46% indicating they visit just one or two times.

Over half of buyers indicated they’ll leave a website to research third-party references and information.  For the respondents who checked that they prefer to contact a vendor through a contact form, the majority indicated “excessive form requirements.” would deter them from filling out a form.

Personal Information Buyers Prefer Not To Release In A Form Submission

  • Phone number    60%
  • Address information    53%
  • Role / title    27%
  • Company    19%
  • Last name    14%
  • Other    14%
  • Email address    13%
  • First name    9%

 Clearly, once prospects reach the website, they want to see information that supports the product and the company, concludes the report. It also appears from the data that prospects want to learn as much about the people behind the company as well as the solutions it offers.

Contrary to accepted belief, social media activity, press releases and media mentions all play a lesser role in helping to establish credibility. Third-party validation of these types is simply not a factor when a prospect is viewing a vendor website.

For additional information from KOMarketing, please visit here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 comments about "B2B Buyers Hold the Whip ".
  1. Mary Farrell from Mintz & Hoke , March 24, 2014 at 1:19 p.m.
    Thanks very much for sharing this survey. Do you have any information about the survey methodology and sample size? Any breakdown of industries respondents came from? Would appreciate any info you can provide. Thanks, Mary
  2. Jack Loechner from Mediapost Communications , March 25, 2014 at 6:21 p.m.
    good questions,Mary... Visit KOMarketing here for the details of the work... http://www.komarketingassociates.com/b2b-web-usability-report-2014/