A recent report from IDG Research Services got me thinking about this, and I thought that if it was interesting to me, it might be interesting to you as well. The IDG report looks at the influential factors of social media, mobile and video and surveyed more than 2, 200 visitors to IDG sites in July and August 2012. The study revealed that while search is an important tool for discovery, trust in the source drives more engagement. The vast majority (88 percent) of buyers say they’re more likely to click on a link from a familiar and trusted source, 93 percent strongly prefer unbiased product test/reviews/opinions and 86 percent relevant content.
We talk with clients a lot about trust and how working to build trust in various ways–-including building strong networks in social media channels, developing great content and sharing that content through trusted friends and networks–helps customers and prospects get to know you and your company. It builds trust. And trust helps them feel comfortable working with and potentially buying from you. The findings in this report very much bear this out.
Here are some other highlights from the report:
Sources of tech information: We all have favorite sources of info and content, and tech buyers are no exception. Ninety-two percent rely on technology websites, 60 percent use tech vendor websites and 58 percent go to technology-related print publications when making purchase decisions.
Social media: The survey found that social media is becoming an increasingly important source of information for tech buyers throughout the purchase process. Fifty-six percent point to social sites as resources for product information, while 55 percent seek out product reviews before buying.
Forty-three percent of respondents said tech marketers’ presence on social media positively influenced their likelihood to purchase from and to recommend a company, while 45 percent felt that a social media presence favorably influenced their satisfaction with the company. It probably goes without saying that if you’re in the business of selling tech products or services and you’re not actively using social media sites (especially LinkedIn), that you’re missing opportunities with at least 50% of your prospects.
And customer service? It should be online, too. Fifty-four percent of respondents want tech vendors to respond to questions or concerns using social media networks—and it’s pretty safe to say that number will only go up from here.
Mobile: Use of mobile devices is pervasive—no surprise, right? Seventy-five percent of tech buyers said that they own or regularly use at least two smartphones and/or tablets. And the vast majority use the devices for everything from email to apps to content consumption. What’s more–they use their mobile devices as purchasing tools, too. Thirty-six percent of buyers clicked on a mobile ad for a technology product, while 41 percent purchased a product within six months of seeing an ad on a mobile device. In an interesting note on mobile to retail store conversions, 40 percent looked for a product in a store after seeing a mobile ad.
Video: Viewing tech-related videos positively correlates with purchase behaviors. And tech buyers don’t just watch videos for the heck of it. Nearly 75 percent of respondents use video to research an item, while 46 percent purchased a product after viewing a related video. This particular type of rich media content drove nearly half of respondents to visit a vendor site, contact a vendor for more information or look for a product in a retail store, behaviors that signal the potential power of video not just to entertain, but to inform and, ultimately, influence. Not yet using video as part of your integrated marketing efforts? Maybe it’s time to rethink that.
Although this particular survey is geared specifically to B2B tech buyers, the results correspond with purchasing behavior we’ve seen in other industries, too. Creating content (especially video) and cultivating a social media presence wield more power than informing and connecting with your audience—these factors can help you sell more products and services, too. And just as important? Creating and maintaining a mobile experience that quickly and efficiently gives your customers what they want so that they can more easily make purchase decisions—or, in the case of some of the survey respondents mention above, use information they’ve gathered from their mobile device to make an in-store purchase.
It’s likely no surprise that tech buyers are particularly in tune with digital sources of information, advertising and resources—yet consumers in other industries are increasingly turning to online sources to help make their purchasing decisions, too. Research results such as these are a clear signal of what consumers want and how they prefer not only to get information, but to interact with a company, too. Paying attention to this sort of data—and tailoring your online approach so that you’re serving your audience what they want and need—will go a long toward not only building a loyal network of customers that will contribute to your long-term success., it’ll also help you sell more stuff to more people.
And selling more stuff to more people—isn’t that what we’re all in the business of doing?