Vital statistics for now

Vital statistics for now

2021 is the time to be a B2B brand that really understands what’s going on and what it means for your buyers, your business and your marketing.

It’s an opportunity to adjust what you do and the ways you engage. To stay relevant. To be valued. To be indispensable.

These are the facts, the need to knows, for every B2B Marketer right now.

Brought to you by Earnest.

Go the distance

The buyer journey has changed.

Remote-first, digital-first interaction is the order of the day.

It’s impacting how you reach, engage, sell and service your buyers. Not just now, but seemingly for good.

Experts predict 80% or more of the sales cycle is set to go digital and remote.

Because 3 out of 4 buyers see this new way of doing business as more effective.

It’s also safer, more convenient and saves cost.

And with more than a third of people likely to continue working from home post-pandemic, you need to be sure remote doesn’t mean your brand becoming more distant.

Especially when only 20-30% of B2B buyers say they’ll want to interact with sales reps in person post-Covid.

90% even say they’ll be willing to digital self-serve – end-to-end – to make a B2B purchase.

Are you ready?

Don’t run the risk

So what do you need to know about the changing behaviour of your buyers?

Unfortunately, the crisis is amplifying uncertainty and risk.

72% of businesses are keen to preserve cash.

53% of people are worried about job security.

Decisions are also coming under real scrutiny.

The average buying group now comprises 11 active members and up to 7 occasional participants.

It’s elongating the sales cycle – and making defensive decision-making rife. For too many buyers, it’s not about making the best possible decision for the firm, but the one that is likely to have the least worst-case consequences for them personally.

Ask yourself, is your brand the least risky option?

Can I trust you?

With more perceived risk, buyers are gravitating to brands they trust.

70% say trusting a brand is more important today than in the past. It’s apparently the second most important factor after price (personally, we think it’s the first).

75% say they’ll stay loyal to brands they trust – even if it’s not the cheapest.

60% say they’re more comfortable sharing personal details with trusted brand – and will pay more attention to their communications.

So how do you build trust?

85% want brands to solve their problems

69% want a dependable provider

64% want a reliable source of information

In short, it pays to be the most front-of-mind, helpful and informative brand at every stage in the buying cycle.

Are you their go-to source?

Buyers are doing their due diligence – engaging with more digital content on the path to purchase.

They’re viewing 40% more content assets than pre-Covid.

However, it’s not always helping. Buying groups are spending on average 15% of the buying cycle reconciling different information sources.

Only 17% rate the quality of the thought-leadership they read as very good or excellent.

It’s an opportunity missed – especially when 49% of decision-makers believe thought-leadership can be effective in influencing their purchase decisions.

And 88% believe it can be effective in enhancing the perceptions of their organisation.

Do it the way they prefer

It’s time to tune into new buyer preferences and consumption habits, especially with more people working remotely and spending more of their time on their screens.

Buyers are watching more:

59% of senior executives say they now prefer videos to text format.

72% of buyers prefer learning about a product or service by watching videos.

Covid-19 may have put in-person trade show on hiatus yet webinar consumption has risen by 293%.

No surprise 93% of event marketers plan to invest in virtual events moving forward.

Social media usage is on the up:

44% of people are finding themselves on social media now, more than before, since the Covid-19 outbreak.

On average social media users are spending 2 hours and 24 minutes per day ‘multi-networking’ across an average of 8 social networks and messaging apps.

Content shared on LinkedIn is up 50% year-on-year. 66% of B2B marketers say it’s the platform that’s generated the best overall content marketing results.

However, with 74% of brands admitting they’re posting less on their social accounts, there’s a real opportunity to win share of voice.

It also pays to have a visible search presence, given there’s been a 27% increase in B2B brand page views from organic search traffic.

Email has had a resurgence:

44% more emails are currently being sent than before lockdown began.

Email open rates have increased on average by 28%.

BTW. In case you were wondering, 9am is the most popular open time in the UK (it’s 10am in the US).

Decision-makers are also open to interacting in new ways:

There’s been a 90% increase in live chat usage by buyers.

But B2B brands beware, many still need to get their house in order when it comes to digital engagement:

A massive 7 in 10 B2B buyers are thinking of shifting their preferred vendor to a competitor due to frustrations with the digital purchasing experience.

Savvy marketers are finding new ways to win hearts and minds:

Influencer marketing spend has increased by 70% year-on-year.

89% of marketers consider influencers comparable or superior in ROI to other popular marketing tactics.

57% of B2B marketers say influencer content outperforms their own brand content.

Finally, spare a thought for your audience:

People are reportedly working for two more hours a day since lockdown.

Nearly two-thirds are reporting symptoms of digital eye strain.

36% say their mental health and wellbeing had suffered as a result of working longer hours during lockdown.

Think about what you can do to lighten the load – and support their well-being.

Why not try to give them a break from the screen with some informative or entertaining audio content?

Especially when 18% of adults now tune into podcasts every week.

And 54% of podcast listeners say they are more likely to consider the brands they hear advertised on podcasts.

Whatever you do, one thing’s for sure, it’s time to adapt.

67% of marketers say changing communication style and messaging has already worked well for their business.

But that will only take you so far.

In this new era of the digital first buyer, it’s time to look at how you reach, engage and serve your audience afresh – to make every interaction truly count.

Because in today’s every changing world, standing still is not an option.

Photo by Bruno Wolff on Unsplash

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James Wood

Head of Earnest Labs

I'm the Head of Earnest Labs. My job is to eat up the whole internet and digest the most interesting bits for our clients.