The internet has reshaped the way we communicate, and in terms of business, this means that sales have become a solely personal experience for the buyer. From locating the right website for a possible supplier, searching for the right product, and navigating through the interface of that website, it comes as no surprise that a digitized buyer’s journey is crucial to a company’s success.
In a recent study on the State of Marketing to Engineers by GlobalSpec, sixty-two percent of respondents said they completed more than half of the buying process online. Beginning with researching what products need to be procured and ending with the final decision of an actual purchase, a huge chunk of this process goes without engaging with anyone from the company. For younger respondents, these numbers are even higher. Engineers 45 and younger spend 70 percent or more of their time online before making a purchase.
This trend of a highly independent buyer shows us that the role of the B2B marketer is to create a space where a potential buyer will be able to navigate their website with as much ease as possible. In a recent blog about the importance of technical search, we can see the many different ways the right feature shapes the experience of a buyer on your website. Does it make it too difficult? Too complicated? Too messy? If so, a buyer is inclined to just move on and go to that next site that comes up in a search, which is what we want to avoid.
So how do we actually provide value to engineers who are in the middle of their buyer’s journey on your site? You give them what they want. In the same study by GlobalSpec, engineers are placing the most value on case studies, white papers, and product demo videos. The research also notes that engineers are even willing to provide contact information for the truly valuable content, like white papers and CAD drawings, as well as video tutorials, webinars and product configurators. Providing value by offering highly accessible content and an intuitive user experience ensures that each and every potential buyer finds what they are looking for.
And, once all online decisions have been made and an engineer is ready to speak with a company representative, most will prefer either email or on the phone, at a combined 81 percent of respondents. Ultimately, a huge chunk of the buyer’s journey happens online, but it still ends up with a human to human interaction, and therefore is essential that we look at this process holistically, from beginning to end.
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