Get this: Millennials now make up 60% of B2B buyers in the technology industry, according to the marketing experts at TrustRadius.
With the explosion of online reviews, powerful search engines, and in-depth product websites, Millennials are entirely in control when it comes to buyer decisions. But, unlike generations past, millennials bring a new and independent buyer journey. The question your business needs to be asking is: How can you reach and influence this self-sufficient market when they’re completing a product evaluation before even contacting a vendor?
How Can You Influence Your Millennial Market?
As Vinay Bhagat, CEO of TrustRadius explains during our Spotlight On Marketing session, millennial buyers are typically 57% of the way through their purchase decision before engaging with vendors. This approach is different from that of previous generations, and has meant that vendors are kept in the dark throughout much of the customer journey.
The key to achieving success with this independent market lies in fostering trust and connection with this demographic. “It’s clear the world of buying and B2B has transformed. The buyer is clearly in control; they’re educated… and don’t want to be sold to,” Bhagat states. As millennial purchasing patterns move away from the “hard sell” and towards a more crowd-sourced, research-heavy approach, it is imperative that you begin to emphasize “social proof” within your online presence. Failure to do so could very well mean surrendering this coveted demographic.
Therefore, your social proof strategies need to be well-thought-out and embedded throughout your sales content. Some of the key steps you need to take are:
- Employing an excellent content engine — the occasional blog post just won’t cut it anymore. Make sure to publish content on a regular schedule, and have a rich multimedia presence — podcasts, webinars, and product animations should all be incorporated.
- Thought leadership is key — in order to establish trust, you’ll need to convince potential buyers that you know what you’re talking about. But don’t just feature your own team: include case studies for work you’ve done with clients, or interviews with other industry leaders. One of the best ways to establish your own credibility is to cross-promote with other credible people or businesses in your space.
- Using intent data to decide strategies and discover in-market buyers.
However, even the best content can only create so much trust. Ultimately, millennial customers are going to seek out information from external sources to validate your claims. This is where reviews come in. If you want to convince a millennial buyer, you’ll need to master the review process, and solicit positive external feedback at every stage of the customer journey. During our Spotlight on Marketing, Rowan Tonkin, CMO of Planful sums this up succinctly: “Buyers are too educated and smart these days to take you at your word. They’re always looking for ways to validate what you’re saying is true.”
Employing Multiple Review Platforms
The number of review platforms your company should use will vary, and requires a delicate balance. On one hand, maintaining a single platform requires less effort, and might make sense for smaller companies with fewer staff and resources. The drawback is that you’re missing opportunities to promote your product, and of course, it becomes more likely negative reviews will go undetected on other platforms. Managing multiple review sites is a resource-intensive exercise, but will give your team considerably more reach, and provide more opportunities to cultivate your online presence.
While millennials are certainly not a monolithic group, it’s clear that they’re making purchasing decisions in ways that deviate from those of previous generations. As this demographic continues to make their presence felt throughout the economy, and B2B technology industry in particular, companies will need to follow the money. Your credibility begins and ends with your online presence, and cultivating an ecosystem of positive reviews is a surefire way to fill your sales pipeline.
Want to learn more about how to cultivate the millennial buyer? Register for our Marketing Webinar on March 24th, or our upcoming Spotlight on Marketing on April 13th.