Marketing Tips: B2B buyers are using the internet before buying

Chauncey: Welcome to the Being Found Show, the local business guide tot being found online by more buying customers. We’re talking about insights that will help you serve today’s B2B buyer. “B2B”, for those of you who don’t know, is “business to business” and B2C is “business to consumer.”

This article that we’re talking about that’s on think with Google, the article is called “3 insights that will help you serve today’s B2B buyer” Although I don’t think that the article title is very good. I think that there are much more than three insights shared in this article, although they give themselves three headings.

“B2B buyers express their curiosity online: A majority of offline purchasers are influenced online, and they’re doing vast amounts of independent research. Before making a purchase, today’s typical B2B shopper might consult online catalogs, perform multiple Google Searches, or visit branded websites. They look for product specifications and brand comparisons, and they try to figure out where to find the best deals or promotions. Only then will they head offline to make their purchase.” Think with Google

Think with Google is a great site, it’s Google taking all the statistical data that they’ve acquired over the years and now and, and sharing it with people so that they can better market their business or their clients business. Jake, is that a good explanation?

Jake: That’s a great explanation and a great tool.

Chauncey: B2B is traditionally much more difficult to market online for several reasons. One is the obvious one. There’s a lot less of them. There are a lot fewer businesses than there are consumers. There are $300 million-plus in the United States, and I doubt there are 300 million-plus businesses. As an SEO from an SEO standpoint B2B is extra difficult.

There is an interesting paragraph at the beginning of this article, and I’ll read it here;

“The way B2B buyers research and shop has changed dramatically in the last five years. The days when buyers would simply visit their local B2B store, talk with their sales rep, or order through a catalog are disappearing. With digital at the helm, most buyers are starting their purchase journey without setting foot in a store — even if they ultimately purchase offline.

Chauncey: But you know, this article makes a good point that a B2B needs to be much more immediate. It’s important that businesses are getting the point of immediacy across to people. My stepfather is a mechanic that fixes the magazine presses that almost every major magazine uses in the country and magazines have deadlines. If you’re printing press is broken, you don’t reach your deadline. Instead of ordering the part from somewhere in Europe, they charter a plane to retrieve it so it can arrive in time to make the deadline. We’re talking about thousands and thousands of dollars to make this happen. Hopefully, this illustrates the point of when you’re dealing with B2B; you have to do what you need to do to fulfill the needs of the business with urgency because their time is worth money.

A main theme from the article was that in the case of B2B customers, a lot of the research about products and services done is online, but most of the purchases are still in stores.  We live in a world where so much has changed online, so that is shocking. We were talking about statistics, and 68 out of 100 people have made an online purchase in the last 30 days, and 98 percent of them have made a purchase online at some point. That’s like practically everybody, or at least everybody old enough to have a credit card. That doesn’t even include the dark web.

I think this is a good illustrating point for branding. At first, branding was all about buzzwords, attractive fonts, and logos. It became a joke over time. In B2B, branding is a great place to make that happen practically. You don’t need an appealing way to draw the eyes of the customers towards you. You need to sell your mission statement together and prove to the businesses that you follow through with it.

“For example, 58% of B2B industrial manufacturer purchasers start online research with a product (for example, lawn mower, tire, or sprinkler) then follow up with a brand.

Basically what this is saying is sales reps are out. These businesses are doing the same thing that everybody else used to do when they’re trying to undercut their costs. So if you’re a B2B business, I think the real takeaway here is that you shouldn’t fire your sales reps, but make sure that your sales reps are all in line with each other online.

I’m constantly hearing frustrations about sales reps not being available or that they just made the purchase and took the money and now they’re gone. Make sure that your sales reps are in line with your websites. It could even be as simple allowing somebody to log into your website and having a form where they can select that rep and send them an email immediately or send them a message that’s also cc’d to their higher-ups.

Jake: I think the statement you made a minute ago, online research tends to be broad and exploration of what’s out there rather than the targeted search. B2B customers are researching you per se, but your product before they’re making the decision of who to buy from. So if you can get them to your site while they’re doing that initial research by using onsite SEO, that’s a big deal. It means you’re the one controlling the flow of information to them about the products they’re looking to buy. They’re much more likely to look at you when they decide on their product and have to find their B2B supplier.

Chauncey: I think a good tactic there would be to sort of exploiting the B2C audience by being available during that research phase because during that research phase you can set up both B2B and B2C and provide that research information without really worrying about these sorts of big bounce rates and stuff like that.

They’re just doing their research and then basically they’re going to search for bulk items and will, at that point, follow the brand to the purchase because you planted the seed and offered them the information they were looking for. So, keep in mind many B2B shoppers the last point of influence is online.

Tips for B2B digital marketing according to Think With Google: Optimizing for long-term growth

The challenge lies in measuring the impact of digital across online and offline channels so it’s clear what’s working. Here are three ideas to get you started:

“1. Work toward a single, company-wide goal. Align all teams and metrics (online and offline) against the singular goal of driving sales. After all, B2B buyers don’t differentiate between channels, so neither should you.

2. Test, learn and iterate. There’s no silver bullet for measuring the impact of digital on offline sales. Start simple with matched market testing and basic correlation modeling, then advance toward a combination of more advanced tools (like data-driven attribution, marketing mix modeling, and direct match back). This will enable a better mix allocation and ongoing performance optimization.

3. Regularly revisit data to inform decision making. Establish regular check-ins with key stakeholders to review real-time data, then optimize spend across online and offline channels based on what’s working right now — and what’s not.”

Thank you for listening to this segment of the Being Found Show, to hear the full show listen here: Being Found Show Episode #54 or subscribe to our podcast.