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Social media grow in importance for B2B purchasers

22 November, 2013

Business-to-business (B2B) decision-makers are increasingly using social media – in particular, LinkedIn – when making purchases, according a new US study. The survey of 443 people working in American industry reveals that 25% of them use LinkedIn to gather information when making purchasing decisions, compared to 12% in a similar survey in 2011.

The survey, conducted for the marketing agency TriComB2B, reveals that price is still the most important factor in making a purchasing decision, dominating 55% of purchasing decisions, compared to 57% in 2011. More than half of those surveyed (51%) indicated that the total cost of ownership was an important factor in at least 60% of their purchasing decisions.

Running costs play a significant role in 64% of purchasing decisions (up from 61% in 2011), while the importance of potential energy efficiency improvements has declined from 69% in 2011 to 62% in 2013. Almost half (48%) of those surveyed said that information from other users played a significant role in their purchases, while a similar number cited maintenance support as being an important factor.

Safety factors are considered an important differentiator for 60% of purchasers. Only 32% of those surveyed rate a “green” supply chain as being an important factor.

The benefits that a product offers are the most important factor when choosing equipment according to 51.4% of those surveyed – compared to just 12% who rated the brand as being the most important factor.

As well as the 25% of purchasers who use LinkedIn in their decision-making, 30% say that they follow industry-related discussion forums, 25% use smartphones (mainly for Web access, email and texting), 19% follow industry-related blogs, and 9% listen to podcasts. Just 6% use Facebook to help when making purchases, and 3% use Twitter. Slightly more than half (57%) of respondents have watched online videos to gather information as part of the decision-making process.

Despite the growing importance of social media, the most important source of information for 78% of purchasers is still technical data sheets (up from 74% in 2011), followed by suppliers’ Web sites on 46% (52% in 2011). The lowest-rated source of information is email marketing with just 6% of purchasers rating it as being important.

Price is still the most important factor for B2B buyers
Source: TriComB2B

Most respondents (84%) attend at least one trade show a year, with 83% of them rating these events as being “helpful” in making purchasing decisions. Senior executives and those responsible for purchasing were more likely to have visited trade shows than average respondents.

Some 69% of those surveyed had watched a Webinar and, of those, 70% found Webinars helpful. Almost a third (30%) of the respondents view three or more Webinars per year.

“The results suggest business people will still pay attention to a product difference that influences cost in the long run if they can get the information on that product difference,” said Richard Stock, director of the University of Dayton’s Business Research Group, which conducted the study.

All of those surveyed were either decision-makers or influencers in the purchasing process, with 46% of them being engineers and 18% involved in operation.




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