When English fantasy author Neil Gaiman said, “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one,” it was before the pandemic. True or not, what is known is that more than half the B2B buyers (51%) surveyed increased their use of search, according to data gathered by Google.
Why Is This Important?
As a result of part one of a three-part study this June, Google found that marketers veered from sales and offline marketing channels and redirected their efforts to digital. Online marketing, they said, jumped up 88%, of which 45% of the 600 B2B buyers and marketers surveyed were first-time digital users.
Google summarized B2B digital results as follows: social-and email — 51%, display — 48%. Video — 41% and webinars — 40%. Overall, print, TV and radio rose 35%, and sales reps increased their usage 45%. Of those surveyed, 77% reported “much better or slightly better” returns on their online marketing efforts in May, which was 25% better than their offline marketing results.
What these findings reveal is that difficult times sometimes call for drastic measures. Around one-third (30%) of B2B buyers revealed that they added a new supplier within the past month while another 59% admitted that they would likely switch in the next 30 days. Collectively, that’s 89% of buyers who have or were likely to change suppliers!
When broken out by size, smaller companies were less likely to switch with only 34% indicating such a likelihood. However, 67% of midsized company buyers said they would probably switch suppliers in the next 30 days.
In digging deeper with B2B marketers, Google found that 46% said improving relationships with current customers was their top priority. Another 45% named generating new customers as a priority, while 40% said increasing their brand’s digital presence was another.
Yet another interesting find is that respondents cited emotion as the most important factor in a good customer relationship. Google concluded that this is more important in B2B relationships over B2C because much more is at stake.
Pressures because of the pandemic may be the reason why 83% of B2B buyers ranked customer support as important or very important. That number rose dramatically from a 2018 Google survey when only 29% ranked it as important.
Similarly, 81% of buyers now expect to receive some level of personal service when they’re ready to make a purchase even though 75% say self-service is important in making a decision. What’s important to 82% is a user-friendly website. Another 74% want an optimized mobile experience, 70% now want an online or app-based chat, and 66% wish to see one-click checkouts.
The remaining major discovery in Google’s study is that many B2B buyers were unhappy with their suppliers. They feel they’re delivering below expectations. Google reported that more than a third of buyers were also dissatisfied with their website experience. Another 25% cited their mobile experience as being below expectations.
Broken out by generation, dissatisfaction was highest among millennials whom Google identified as being one of the largest groups in the decision-making category. It added that almost half of those 26 to 34 years of age said their B2B website experience was below their expectations.
B2B brands wishing to improve and even increase their customer base need to seriously consider investing in digital programs that will help and accelerate customer experience. A purchase decision is determined on several factors, many of which brands have no control over. However, they can and should be concerned about the following findings.
80% of B2B customers told Google they are concerned about the speed of installation and delivery. Another 75% have a deep concern in wishing to see a variety of communication options, 75% agree that warranty and refunds are important and that payment flexibility is key, and 68% expressed an interest in trying a product before purchase.