Decision makers prioritise opinion over fact when it comes to making purchasing decisions. A survey of 1,200 IT and marketing decision makers revealed 99% seek out opinion-based material when searching for a new vendor.
The findings, from Hotwire’s ‘Changing Face of Influence’ research series, a joint report from Hotwire and Vanson Bourne that examines where senior decision makers in IT and marketing look for information.
It found that just 58% of marketers indicated they search for factual information.
• 99% of decision makers want opinion-based material when searching for a vendor
• 49% expect to use LinkedIn more to help with buying decisions over the year ahead
• Nearly half of decision makers say incorporating research is the best way for vendors to make their content as useful as possible
Buyers want human voices – case studies and analyst research reigns
Over of half decision makers surveyed reported searching for customer case studies and analyst research when first considering a purchasing decision. Both vendor thought leadership and external/internal peer opinion followed at 44 percent.
With 49 percent of the panel saying they expect to use LinkedIn more to help with buying decisions over the year ahead, it’s clear peer opinion continues to grow in importance.
Matt Cross, UK MD, Hotwire said, “Marketers love facts because they are straight forward – you show people a number and tell them what it means. Historically it has been harder for an audience to reject facts. At the same time we’ve worried they’ll dislike our opinions and so we’ve kept our views to ourselves.
“But if the past 12 months in politics have taught us anything, human voices are a lot more powerful than facts and figures. We need to abandon the misguided assumption that B2B purchasers are as technical and methodical as their products and services and instead treat them as humans who want to be given a rounded view of a situation, warts and all.”
Technical sites key source of expertise
Despite the preference for opinion-based content, the popularity of technical information sites, such as Stack Overflow and Scribd, as a key source of information grew to 26 percent among IT decision makers. This is a marked increase on 2016 (at 21 percent), and double that of LinkedIn, the closest rival as a source of “expertise”.
Similarly, nearly half of decision makers (48 percent) indicated that incorporating research was the best way that vendors could make their content as useful as possible, up 15 percent on last year’s findings.
Other key findings from the research include:
• Video soaring in importance among senior executives – YouTube is now second in importance to Facebook, with video content viewed as more relevant than eBooks, whitepapers, traditional media and newsletters
• Facebook retains dominance as most influential social channel for purchasing decisions – Among both IT and marketing decision makers, Facebook soars ahead of LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and Google+ (21 percent, compared to 12, 9, 7 and 6 percent respectively)
• Decision makers want vendors to make it easier to find relevant content – Nearly half (47 percent) agree that dedicated topic websites would make a vendor’s content more accessible to them
• Expert opinion provides essential reassurance when making purchasing decisions – 47 percent of senior marketers believe vendors should increase the amount of independent opinion from analysts and consultants in their marketing content