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Social Proof in the B2B Purchase Experience

Posted on  30 September 10  by 

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In scouring B2B-related social media factoids for an upcoming webinar (see bottom of this post for registration details), three data points have stood out to me in the story they tell collectively.

  • Social media represents 45% of total media consumption among professionals, compared to 29% for editorial and 26% for vendor content (Source: Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index, Wave VI)
    • Implication: our B2B target audiences are present in social media
  • Nearly 50% of B2B buyers indicated they determined “the potential impact through other adopters and built a business case for immediate adoption,” then received approval although the project was un-budgeted. (Source: “Inside the Mind of the New B2B Buyer,” DemandGen Report and Genius.com)
    • Implication: buyers look to other users to make the fast-turn business case—this is a telling stat in a very tough B2B sales environment right now
  • One professional services firm estimated that its typical number of touches with a potential client across the purchase decision is between 5-8; social media can cut that to 3-5 (Source: MLC Social Media breakfast, 2009)
    • Implication: B2B purchase funnels stand to be 40% more efficient through clever use of social media

What’s the thread? These stats suggest that “social proof”—the decision-making confidence that we humans draw by seeing our peers before us making the same decision—can play a very powerful role in the B2B purchase decision.  We see two primary effects as we talk to leading B2B social marketers.

Effect #1: Greater purchase efficiency—I won’t belabor this, since the third stat above covers it.  When a buyer gains a sense of social proof for a supplier’s solutions, the number of touches required to close the buyer falls.  Other users of the supplier’s solution are doing the work of marketing and the sales force.

Effect #2: Greater purchase velocity—where social proof is at play, buyers tend to move through the purchase funnel more speedily.  Social proof delivers purchase momentum, as illustrated by the second bullet above.

So, what should B2B marketers do differently?  Well, that’s what we’re covering at the social media webinar, Influencing B2B Buying Decisions Through Social Media, on October 4th.

Joining us to talk about how B2B marketing efforts have changed as a result of social media will be two of the sharper B2B marketing practitioners on the topic: Anne Plese, Senior Manager of Marketing Management with Cisco, and George Krautzel, President and co-founder of Toolbox.com.

MLC members, please register here.

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