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The Role of Search in the B2B Technology Purchase Decision

By | January 18, 2013

Search plays a very influential role in a B2B tech buyer’s path-to-purchase.  Because a  purchase can take up to six months or longer, it’s important to fully understand how search can facilitate the final purchase decision. I will break down the three simple steps these decision-makers take—research, consider and commit—and how search fits into each according to Google’s study “The Evolving Path of Today’s Tech B2B Customer.”

Step One of The Purchase Funnel: Research

A majority of B2B tech customers said that they turn to search engines to help them understand which brands offer the product or service they are looking for. They usually want general information and almost half of these searchers discover brands they weren’t initially aware of.  There are two main goals B2B tech buyers want search to help them accomplish during their research: compare prices and features across brands. Ensuring they see your company’s prices and features could be a key differentiator from the competition. Specifically, what type of searches will lead tech B2B buyers to visit your company’s website?

  • Referrals to Tech B2B sites from non-branded searches account for 78% of all search referrals (ex: disaster recovery, virtualization, networking)
  • Paid or sponsored search listings triggered 47% to visit the website of the advertise

Step Two of The Purchase Funnel: Consider

Almost half of tech B2B customers said that search engines help them narrow down the list of brands they were considering purchasing from. These customers also use search engines to discover brands they were aware of but hadn’t previously considered. Your brand’s presence on search results could be the reason you are in a buyer’s consideration set.

During the consider stage, these buyers need relevant, valuable content. Having detailed information accessible through search can help them validate the decision and sell internally to purchase influencers. B2B tech buyers are using search engines to find the following types of content:

  • Pricing information (73%)
  • Peer testimonials/reviews of a product (60%)
  • Professional publications or white papers (54%)
  • News or press releases for a brand or company (51%)

Paid or sponsored search listings can assist overall consideration of you brand and the customer’s ability to recall your product. Google found that paid or sponsored search listings triggered 43% of B2B tech customers to consider the brand that was advertised and helped 44% recall paid search ads while shopping for technology products.

*Notice nurturing occurs throughout the funnel!

Step Three of The Purchase Funnel: Commit

The next step B2B technology buyers make is choosing their provider. Search referrals play a significant role in conversions:

  • 41% of conversions on Tech B2B sites are from organic non-branded search referrals (ex: server downtime, software license, data migration)
  • 31% of conversions on Tech B2B sites are from organic branded search referrals
  • 16% of conversions on Tech B2B sites are from paid non-branded search referrals
  • 12% of conversions on Tech B2B sites are from paid branded search referrals

 

The end goal of any marketing strategy is to make sure B2B technology customers choose your brand over the competition and make the ultimate commitment by purchasing your product or service.  Now it’s time to ask yourself, is your company available and easy to find in every stage, from when B2B tech buyers begin their research to when they finally commit?

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About Melissa Mathews

Melissa Mathews is a marketing communications specialist at Fathom. She is a graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in advertising. She currently works with Fathom’s internal marketing team, leading social media communications and online advertising. A Marketo-certified expert, she is also instrumental in helping the company generate and nurture sales leads through marketing automation.

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