When searching the Internet for suppliers, B2B buyers follow a process comprising three main consecutive phases: Exploration, Solution analysis, and Detailed search & comparison of offers. To better meet buyers’ expectations, the B2B marketer must use the channels suited to each of these phases. Here we look at the actions to be carried out, taken from Europages’ recently published white paper.
- Exploration phase. During this first phase, buyers have not yet scheduled their procurement, but use a broad spectrum of information sources to conduct an extensive search for solutions, products, trends, and sometimes to simply stay informed of new developments within a given sector or market. During this phase, buyers will tend to favour neutral online sources that present information in a factual manner rather than from a promotional perspective. For this purpose, professional directories and portals are often consulted. Social networks are also an important source of information, depending on the country(ies) targeted.
Action to be carried out by the marketer: Content marketing, i.e. leveraging the value of the digital content on the marketer’s website and social networks by addressing the concerns and issues faced by potential users of his or her company’s products and services.
- Analysis of the solutions. In this second market analysis phase, buyers run highly specific searches to quickly find the relevant information. They are especially likely to use general-purpose search engines (Google, Yahoo, Baidu, Yandex, etc.), as well as professional directories and industrial portals. Here, the marketer must bear two keywords in mind: visibility and specificity.
Action to be carried out by the marketer: Inbound marketing, i.e. making sure that the search expressions associated with his or her company’s products/services are included and correctly structured within the company’s website and digital documents (SEO). Given that professional buyers adopt so-called long-tail searching techniques, i.e. long search expressions containing more than four words, here, making sure that the company’s content can be readily found is all-important.
- Detailed search and comparing offers. Once business buyers have identified certain suppliers which they now consider as potential partners, they will run a more detailed search on the technical specifications and performance characteristics of the products to see how they compare with one another. In this phase, interpersonal contacts will be necessary, and the marketer must get organised to facilitate direct dialogue (i.e. in the real world) with a competent person.
Action to be carried out by the marketer: Landing page. The marketer must ensure that his or her company website includes a page for contacting the company, with a dedicated form. This strategic page should give the contact details of the persons concerned (sales contact, technical contact, R&D contact, etc.) and all the information needed to allow the prospect to contact the company.
To find out more, download our white paper: B2B digital marketing for SMEs: using digital marketing techniques to develop your company’s activity.
You can also download our previous white paper: The online B2B purchasing process.