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B2B buying: Research reveals best practices that key decision makers love

by Phil Clayton

July 11, 2022

In recent years, consumer expectations have shifted towards personalized buying journeys. This shift includes the B2B space. Today, B2B marketers need to deliver relevant messages across the purchasing journey – and meet buyers where they are. Brand increasingly matters too, especially to younger buyers: rather than rely on poor creative, marketers can leverage video and layered messaging via a full-funnel approach.

To understand these shifts in B2B buying behavior – and methods for future success – Meta commissioned a study by research company B2B International. In total, 3,505 global decision makers spoke about their buying experiences across four industries: financial services, manufacturing, professional services and technology.

Together, these insights can help form best practices for marketers navigating the evolving B2B buying journey.

New connections

To connect with B2B buyers, brands increasingly need to meet them where they are. Often, this is being done digitally: while older clients still prefer traditional lines of communication, our research found that Millennial buyers’ top preference for receiving information from a B2B brand is via social media. This comes as no surprise, given 94% of Millennial B2B decision makers say they use social media for work, with 75% doing so at least weekly.

Although LinkedIn is often considered the most used B2B platform, buyers are most likely to recall seeing B2B marketing and communications across Meta technologies. In fact, 58% of respondents stated they saw messaging from their chosen brand on Facebook, as opposed to only 38% recalling seeing B2B marketing on LinkedIn.

Better creative

Video was also found to be a top communication channel for Millennial B2B buyers, behind only social media and in-person engagements. Still, the results showed that Facebook and Instagram were in the top three most recalled platforms for winning brands, with 75% recalling seeing their chosen brand across Meta technologies.

Given our study found the full purchase journey takes more than half a year, there’s a big opportunity for marketers. Through strong creative like video, it’s possible to create meaningful relationships with consumers – helping to influence purchase decisions.

The personal touch

Based on data showing what decision makers could recall in the six months before their purchase, it’s clear that winning brands interact across a greater number of channels. They also have more personal contact than brands with no recall. Much of the time, this is happening on Meta technologies. In fact, we found that winning brands were 65% more likely to have communicated to the buyer via social media during the decision-making process than others outside the consideration set.

The power of social media and online advertising has grown massively in recent years. According to this study, social media and online advertising was ahead of tried and trusted communication channels such as industry publications and events, webinars and sponsorship. Among B2B decision makers, Facebook was the social media channel they were most likely to have encountered a business before choosing who they would work with.

“I see Facebook and Instagram primarily for awareness and driving registrations. For one of our verticals, we’re also using WhatsApp, which has been quite effective for mid-to lower-funnel interactions. Messenger has actually been used to respond to organic social media enquiries at this stage, too: it’s a full-funnel experience” - Marius Ciavola, CEO, Tradeling

The full-funnel approach

The most successful B2B marketers know different communication channels play different roles across the buyer journey. Nearly 1 in 5 buyers only get in touch and speak to an individual at the final stage of the buying process. It’s imperative, therefore, that companies have a seamless digital journey that provides all the information the market needs – in both short- and long-form – while making it easy for buyers to get in touch.

Sage’s full-funnel approach

“For Sage it’s all about a ‘full funnel’ experience. In the beginning, we use in-feed video, Stories and in-stream ads for awareness, right down to lead-gen ads for demand capture. We’ve also placed Messenger at the bottom of the funnel to work alongside advertising as an informative tool, answering potential customers’ questions about what they may be looking for, from accounting to payroll or HR.” - Eleanor Lord, Global Head of Social Media, Sage–

As buying behaviors continue to shift, B2B marketers should aim to meet consumers where they are. The use of social media to get a brand’s message across is crucial. Given B2B messaging is more likely to get noticed on Meta technologies than any other platform, this can help marketers connect with decision makers across the purchasing journey.

To discover more about the shift in B2B buying behavior, download the full report, ‘Connecting You With Today’s B2B Buyer’ here.

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