Word-of-mouth is a key purchase influencer for consumers, and it appears to also have a strong sway over purchase decisions for business software, according to recent research from HubSpot. Indeed, respondents to HubSpot’s survey ranked word-of-mouth referrals as their top information source when making business purchases.
Customer references followed as the next-most commonly used source of information, per the report.
Business decision-makers’ reliance on recommendations and references has been found in other research, too. Data contained in MarketingCharts’ B2B Digital Marketing Insights Report, for example, indicates that recommendations are a top-3 purchase influence across generations of B2B buyers.
The report also shows that articles and blogs from industry experts are also important sources of research for B2B buyers, and that theme also emerges in the HubSpot research. Media articles were the third-most cited source among respondents, ahead of vendor-authored materials. In fact, when sorting by respondent title, the HubSpot survey results show that media articles are the second-largest source of information for C-level executives, behind only referrals. Media coverage is less important to VPs, though, who are comparatively more interested in analyst reports and recommendations.
Meanwhile, the salesperson isn’t a key source of information, per the report. Even so, it’s worth keeping in mind other research showing that buyers’ most important content asset is the sales presentation.
Turning to business communications, the HubSpot study finds that – unsurprisingly – email is the channel of choice, with a majority (55%) preferring to communicate through email. Face-to-face (45%) and phone (43%) are also popular, with social (38%) and video (37%) yet to achieve quite as much uptake. Although email is the preferred mode of communication for business purposes, sales respondents separately reported that the phone is the most successful channel for sales representatives to connect with prospects.
Finally – and also as expected – LinkedIn is the most popular social network used for professional purposes, aligning with other research on this topic. Facebook and Twitter are next, followed by Google+.
About the Data: About the Data: The HubSpot State of Inbound Report for 2016 is based on more than 4,500 respondents hailing from marketing backgrounds in B2B, B2C, small and mid-sized businesses. The vast majority (85%) of respondents are not HubSpot customers. Marketing agencies (17%) and IT & services (13%) were the most heavily-represented industry. The largest number of respondents came from LATAM (1,805) and EMEA (1,228), with 704 based in North America, 606 in Southeast Asia and 243 in Australia and New Zealand.