Stats Show Millennial Influence and Power in B2B Buying is on the Rise

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More than a quarter of Millennials are considered “influencers” in B2B buying, and 13 per cent are now the actual decision-maker, according to research presented at Content Marketing World on Wednesday.

Commissioned by SnapApp and conducted by Heinz Marketing, the survey, called The Millennials Are Here!, shows a generational shift where Millennials are involved in every facet of B2B buying. This includes “researcher” at 38 per cent and “project manager” at 17 per cent.

The survey, based on responses from more than 500 marketers collected this past June, also showed differences in what kind of content and approaches resonate with Millennials vs. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Personal relationships with a vendor employee was the highest-ranked source to evaluate solutions by 14 per cent of those polled, far above assets like case studies, which came in at four per cent. Nearly nine per cent of Baby Boomers, however, cited case studies as important.

“We’re definitely seeing a need to segment audiences here,” said Matt Heinz, president at Heinz Marketing and author of Full Funnel Marketing. “Millennials abhor the free trial. It’s usually the first thing offered, but it was ranked by less than two per cent.”

Heinz said it’s important to recognize that content marketing needs to address multiple generations, given that buying committees can include anywhere from three to eight people. B2B brands also need to create content that gets past the “sales avoiders” who can block the desires of the person often considered the decision-maker.

“If you’re selling software to an HR manager and you can’t get the CFO on the phone, how do you teach the HR manager to speak the CFO’s language and arm them to have that conversation internally? Those are the biggest opportunities,” he said. “Content marketing is not only about reaching people directly. It’s about managing the conversations inside the buying groups with people you don’t have access to.”

One way to get better at that is to pay greater attention to online conversations that suggest someone may be experiencing a problem that a decision-maker could act on, Heinz said.

“You’re not going to see a CIO go on social and say, ‘I want to buy an enterprise Wi-Fi solution. But you may see people complain about the Wi-Fi at work. That’s a buying signal,” he said.

Heinz also presented data from the 2017 CEB Digital B2B Buyer Survey that showed 27 per cent of B2B professionals are researching products and services independently online, but the time spent offline not much less, at 18 per cent. Another 22 per cent of their time spent meeting with the buying committee.

“Our assumption is that we need content primarily at the top of the funnel. The reality is  online channels and content exists at every one of the stages,” he said adding that late-stage content that deals with critical details may be overlooked by many firms.

“Those objections that sales hears at this stage — they’re not objections, they’re stalls,” he said.

Content Marketing World continues through Friday.

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.