As e-commerce continues proliferating across all sectors, more and more B2B companies are using the Web not just to provide their prospects with an online corporate brochure and product catalogue, but also as a way to establish and nurture customer relationships, in combination with traditional channels, while driving business.
Marketing leaders at B2B companies that are making the shift to a more Web-centric business model must place greater attention to their clients’ online behaviour in order to gain insights into how prospective buyers choose to interact with them when deciding if and what to buy.
To better understand the Web behaviour of B2B buyers we considered the case of Software Advice, a US-based, 3rd party Website offering small and medium business buyers comparative information for buying a full range of enterprise software solutions (e.g. Telephony, CRM, HR, Supply Chain, etc.).
Examining the data of over 6 million user interactions* collected between Jan 2008 and August 2013, Software Advice identified several interesting user trends.
(* Data only includes US-based visitors)
B2B purchase interest is highest during the first 5 months of the year
As prospective Software Advice users research possible software solutions, they are given the chance to configure an adapted solution, while requesting additional product information, demos and pricing. To do so, each user is asked to answer a series of simple, preliminary questions, and ultimately provide their contact information. By analyzing the users who submitted contact information, Software Advice was able to quantify the number of user conversions.
In particular, by analyzing the conversions by the month in which they occurred (Figure 1), above-average conversion rates were observed during the months of January to May, with a peak in February. Conversely, the lowest conversion rates were observed in December.
These results suggest that potential B2B buyers are more active in the early parts of the calendar year, following the Christmas and Western New Year’s holidays season. This is the period when many US corporate budgets have been renewed, opening the way for research into new projects and investments, prior to the summer holiday period
While such seasonalities may be specific to every business and country, B2B Marketing and Sales leaders should assure that updated market awareness and customer demand generation programs are in place before the peaks in buyer activity.
More prospective B2B buyers are qualified during the middle of the week
When a site user provides his/her contact information this is the trigger for a Software Advice client representative to call the prospective buyer to further assess the opportunity and see whether it qualifies as a business lead. That is, a buyer with the authority, impending need and budget to make a purchase decision.
Analyzing the qualified leads by the day of the week (Figure 2) shows that potential buyers are twice as likely to be active on Tuesday through Thursday, than the either Monday or Friday.
While there are different possible explanations for these results, B2B Marketing and Sales leaders must assure that they have sufficient client representatives and sales staff to deal with higher volume of qualifications during the middle of the week.
Contacting B2B buyers within minutes results in more qualified leads
Analyzing the qualification rate by the time taken to recontact a prospective buyer (Figure 3), the folks at Software Advice also uncovered some interesting client insights.
With each minute that goes by there was steady drop in the qualification rate of prospective buyers. The highest qualification rate occurs within 1-2 minutes from when a user submits his contact details, falling steadily until reaching the average rate, about 5 minutes after the user entered his contact information.
These results suggest that for best qualification rates, a B2B company client reps must react as quickly as possible to the further requests of its prospective buyers. Ideally this means contacting potential clients within minutes, if not seconds after they request follow-up information. At the same time, other variables like the nature and value of the project may influence this ‘lead time’ and therefore the number of qualified leads.
For additional insights into Software Advice’s user behaviour, check out their infographic ‘Timing is Everything’.
To maximize profit and sales, B2B companies must strive to understand their buyers’ online behaviour
The example of Software Advice shows how understanding and adapting to the specific behaviour of business buyers enables B2B companies to design an engaging Web presence supported by client-centric processes that help maximize client engagement and qualified leads.
Exploited correctly, and assuming a company has compelling client propositions and relevant, supporting value-driven content, this will ultimately help companies improve their top and bottom lines. Companies who fail to do so default to the “spray and pray” approach where some interested B2B buyers end up falling through the cracks of their Websites, taking their business elsewhere.
To see how we can help you create value for your customers and generate added growth, visit us at: merkadoservices.com