The power of web-enabled buyers

December 7, 2012

By: Trish Harriss

The digital revolution is transforming the marketplace as we know it and creating the web-enabled buyer.

Consumers now have the power to publicly comment on brands and organisations that serve them more than ever before through online channels.

They are also more cautious and prudent and look to take advantage of the wealth of information available to become more informed and empowered to receive the maximum benefits and money saving offers.

The B2B buyer has also been transformed by adapting to the current online environment. A new breed of B2B web-enabled buyers has emerged more connected and informed than their predecessors, due to the treasure trove of information available online.

While the web isn’t the only avenue available to source information about products and services for the savvy prospect, the internet is now a significant and recurring influence throughout the B2B buying process. The new species of B2B buyer is now physically and socially connected to the Internet.

Moreover, the B2B purchasing process neither starts nor stops at a brand’s website. It is more likely to begin at a major search engine, industry portal or social network.

If a brand wants their product or service to be considered, it’s critical that their content appears wherever the new B2B buyer visits online.

It isn’t enough to write a blog or make a white paper available for download on the website, because prospects might not be given the opportunity to read it if the brand does not have an online presence.

Internet fuelled purchasing continues to rise, as buyers take charge of the buying cycle on both a consumer and business level. The ‘shopping experience’ personally and commercially has moved from being simple to being highly splintered.

Pull push methods 

Customers have seized control of the marketing process and actively ‘pull’ to them. This behaviour is extremely important when considering touch points on the customer journey and converting these into sales.

McKinsey found that in the active evaluation stage, two-thirds of the touch points involved consumer driven marketing activities and only one third concerned brand driven marketing.

While this theory focuses on consumer purchasing, B2B buying also follows a similar process.

Digital adoption, creativity and advocacy all feed into a new way for marketing to adapt and evolve. Marketers need to change the way products are promoted to successfully reach these web-enabled buyers.

With the proliferation of marketing channels, multiple screens and social networks, target audiences are no longer moving in one direction between pre-prescribed phases or aren’t passively digesting paid media anymore, but engaging with content on their own terms far beyond the direct control of marketers.

Agencies need to evolve quickly as the world is at a digital intersection which is bringing society, communications, technology and humanity together.

In addition, how clients should be serviced and the way they talk to their customers should be considered. It is crucial that agencies become digitally native and cultured, as it should amplify through everything they do.

Innovation, creativity and a bold approach are what brands are currently looking for from their marketing agencies.

At a time when businesses need to directly engage with customers, rather than just pushing marketing messages, a culture of imagination and creative thinking is critical to success and achieving a competitive advantage.

Communication is no longer linear and media channels continue to fragment, particularly in the digital space, so advocacy and customer conversation are key.

Customers are increasingly cautious about giving away their personal information, yet they understand its value to companies, therefore, brands now need to earn data as we see a power shift in its ownership.

About the author: Trish is joint MD of DirectionGroup, and specifically oversees the B2B side of the business. She is a passionate and results driven marketing and communications professional with over 20 years experience gained on both client and agency sides. Follow her here on Twitter.

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