The buying process has fundamentally changed.
Business to business (B2B) buyers are increasingly going online to make decisions about product and service providers. Studies indicate that up to 90% of buyers are starting the buying process with online searches, and one third of them are using web and social media sites to gather product/service information and to read reviews or testimonials.
Consumers (B2C) are exhibiting the same type of behavior when it comes to making important purchasing decisions or when trying to locate and assess local businesses. Studies show that two thirds of consumers are initiating the buying process online.
In both B2B and B2C situations, not only are buyers using search engines to find potential providers, but they are also being influenced in their purchasing decisions by information gathered from websites and online conversations.
According to the National Retail Federation, although only 10% of retail sales are transacted online, 50% of purchases are influenced by online research.
This trend is not going to reverse itself; in fact, it is only going to become more pronounced. The proliferation of mobile technology and a generation of buyers who have grown up online means the use of online mechanisms will continue to get even more influential in buying behavior.
What this Means for Your Business
If your business is not visible online when people are looking for what you do, in the minds of your prospects you do not exist – resulting in missed sales opportunities.
If you are not willing to engage in online conversations and offer insights about your areas of expertise, you will not be viewed nearly as favourably as competitors that are engaging with your communities of interest online.
Therefore, if you don’t commit yourself to online marketing and take full advantage of its significant possibilities, you are at risk of being left behind. You must make it a core element of your day-to-day operations if you want to create a distinct competitive advantage.
Online marketing has become foundational to all things marketing, and must be an integral part of any organization’s marketing mix.
If you are not consistently engaging in online marketing, start planting the seeds today so that your business remains relevant over the long term. If you are already immersed in online marketing, make sure you continually refine and optimize your efforts.
The bottom line: don’t ignore it, fight it, or approach it haphazardly. Embrace it – there’s tremendous upside. You don’t want to be left behind in a business environment that’s becoming increasing dependent on online means to make buying decisions.
In our next blog, we will provide information on “How to Get Started”.
Ben Molfetta is the co-founder of Core Online Marketing. He helps small and mid-sized businesses grow by planning, implementing, and executing winning online marketing strategies. Visit coreonlinemarketing.com or email Ben at [email protected].