According to previous research, B2B buyers are still looking at a wide range of information sources during the buying process. The “2018 B2B Buying Disconnect” report from TrustRadius discovered that buyers look at an average of 4.9 different information sources while shopping for products and solutions, but why?
Furthermore, what types of resources are marketers providing to cater to their target audiences?
To learn more, we spoke to Julie Neumann, former head of content and brand marketing at TrustRadius for additional insight.
According to the report, B2B buyers consult an average of 4.9 different sources of information during the buying journey — why do you think this is the case? Do you see this number increasing or decreasing in the near future? Why?
This number has stayed consistent between 2017 and 2018, and we certainly don’t see it decreasing. Buyers continue to do more independent research during the buying process, and that includes turning to resources that aren’t controlled by vendors.
Buyers prioritize getting a complete picture of the product. As one put it, “I want real use cases in the reviews I read. I don’t want hyperbole. I don’t want marketing- or sales-speak. I want the good, the bad, and most importantly the ugly. The most valuable reviews for me and the ones that include a healthy dose of cons to balance the pros. I can read about the pros for days on the vendor’s website. I need to understand if the cons are large enough to dismiss the solution from consideration, not relevant to my use case, or small enough to not be a problem.”
To get these types of insights, buyers need to reference multiple information sources, but they also need to find the right kind of information sources. The challenge for vendors isn’t about creating more assets per se, it is finding ways to connect buyers with the content they are searching for, and incorporating that content into their standard marketing and sales process.
More than 60 percent of people said they use product demos to make their decision. What can marketers do to make their demos resonate more with their target audience?
The more you can personalize your demos, the more helpful they will be for buyers. In their qualitative answers, buyers specifically called out demos that were customized to their use case or leveraged their own data.
They also want to see real-world demos that reflect what it is like to use the product day in and day out, versus staged demos that aren’t in a live environment. It all goes back to painting that realistic picture for the buyer.
Almost 50 percent of respondents said they rely on user reviews. In your opinion, do user reviews work for or against marketers? What can marketers do to better leverage reviews?
User reviews are being written and read every day, regardless of what marketers do! The most innovative marketers are embracing this trend and using it to their advantage. Given that buyers don’t trust vendor-produced content, and that traditional customer content like case studies require significant resources, user reviews provide a unique opportunity for vendors to create a steady stream of scalable and trusted content.
First, take control of your review presence. On TrustRadius you can claim your profile for free, and you should do that on all applicable reviews sites. Create a compelling profile and ensure you have a handful of reviews wherever your buyers might find you.
Then, focus on building a strategic review program with a site the focuses on content rather than lead generation. Your goal should be to scale reviews that are in-depth and tell your unique narrative. This will ensure you are developing the type of content buyers are looking for on reviews sites, plus you can use that customer-generated content in your own marketing and sales channels.
We see vendors putting using review quotes as social proof on landing pages, to highlight competitive differentiators in campaigns, for objection handling in sales emails – basically, anywhere you want build trust and give buyers genuine product insights, reviews can help.
The majority of B2B buyers said they rely on their own prior experience with a product before making a purchase decision. How can B2B marketers enhance the customer experience?
Actually, only 28% of buyers were able to rely on their own prior experience. Of course buyers who did have prior experience with the product ranked it as the most influential and trustworthy resource.
But the reality is most of your buyers won’t have that background.
As a marketer, you need to replicate that for them. How do you show a prospect what it will be like to use your product every single day? Where does it excel, and where does it fall short? How can you build confidence that this product will work for their use case? That is where free trials, personalized demos, honest references and user reviews come into play.
Let your product speak for itself, whether that is through first-hand experience or unbiased user insights.
What was the most interesting finding/statistic in the report, in your opinion?
How significant the trust gap is between buyers and vendors. According to our survey, 85% of vendors really do think they are being open and honest about their products. Yet only 37% of buyers thought the vendor delivered. Marketers have a lot of work to do to close that gap, and part of that is learning to let go.
Pitch-perfect messaging and polished case studies might sound good, but they don’t come across as genuine. Plus, most B2B buyers realize that no product is perfect – these are complex pieces of software built for complex use cases, not a pair of shoes.
So what are you trying to hide? Don’t be afraid to let your customers speak for you, share their real-world experiences and lead your buyers in the right direction.
About Julie Neumann
Julie Neumann is the former head of content and brand marketing at TrustRadius. She developed and led a cohesive brand and communications strategy for the trusted B2B review platform. She also helped grow the business 100% YoY by defining a new market, increasing awareness, engaging our target audiences, driving qualified demand and enabling sales.