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How Buyers Research Complex Product Purchases


We know that the internet is a source of consumer product information and guidance, but how are marketers helping B2B decision-makers . According to the latest assessment by eMarketer, buyers investing in high-cost complex product or service purchases require extensive research and consideration.

Typically, these buyers will search for meaningful content online, select a short-list of vendors and solicit peer advice -- in order to finalize their purchase decisions.

That said, survey findings from TriComB2B and the University of Dayton School of Business Administration suggest that these buyers are now using their smartphones to gather purchase information.

In fact, their market study revealed that 59 percent of B2B purchase decision-makers and influencers had used a smartphone to gather information -- indicating there's a significant group of buyers seeking content sources such as websites, catalogs and insightful blogs.

But data indicates few product and service vendors are actively catering to this audience. According to a recent study by Google and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), only a third of U.S. advertisers had mobile-optimized websites.

Even fewer (19%) had a mobile app -- that's unfortunate considering 52 percent of U.S. executives had already used a paid for or sponsored B2B mobile app to gather business information as of October 2010, according to Forbes Insights.

eMarketer believes that though mobile-optimized websites or apps might not make sense for every B2B, marketers that do gain site traffic from these sources, particularly technical or industrial firms, would benefit from enhancing their online locations with mobile device usage in mind.

Moreover, the important information for buyers researching complex product purchases online included very detailed content -- such as technical data sheets. Peer advice from industry contacts was also very important to 54 percent of buyers -- with 46 percent regularly following industry discussion forums to gather information, and 35 percent leveraged LinkedIn to seek peer recommendations.

I've previously shared my observations about LinkedIn. Enough said.

Overall, the study confirms that numerous online sources are used by B2B buyers to inform their purchase decisions -- including social media, traditional websites and mobile-optimized sites. Clearly, by providing useful content and engaging with industry peers, marketers can better meet the procurement needs of these B2B purchasers.

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