B2B brands would be well advised to feature third-party experts in their marketing, judging by a survey released Thursday by Gartner.
The study focuses on social media, but it could just as well apply to email and website creative. It does not use the term “influencers,” but it could just as well do so.
“Buyers want to feel confident throughout their purchase journey, and third-party sources can help get them there,” says Rick LaFond, director analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice.
B2B buyers say that these social media platforms have informed recent B2B buying decisions:
Yet CMOs for most B2B businesses are “probably not tapping into the return of third-party interactions despite the weight they carry in serving as information sources for their buyers,” LaFond says. However, LaFound notes that social channels "are extremely under leveraged platforms for B2B brands. Marketers can go beyond using social channels for flashy short-form videos promoting brand values to truly demonstrate how the brand supports different customer needs and pain points across various stages of the buying process.” Then there is this: “While third-party interactions are top of mind for B2B buyers, a supplier’s digital channels still can have a large impact on the purchase process,”
LaFond adds: “When asked to identify which digital supplier interactions were engaged during a purchase decision, B2B buyers identified a supplier’s website as the most leveraged channel, followed by the supplier’s social media channels, an online search for the supplier and the supplier’s interactive tools (e.g., product recommenders, price calculators).”
What can brands do? A bit of everything.
“Brands do not need to have their social strategy solely rely on third-parties,” LaFond says. “The data clearly shows that buyers are approaching social from a holistic buying perspective.”
But LaFond concludes, “Brands' digital experiences must improve if they are so far down the list of what customers value.”
Gartner surveyed 771 B2B buyers late last year.