The purchase process for consumer electronics (laptops, tablets, and smartphones) in addition to high value items like automobiles is, however, very similar to the IT purchase process. Consider the following factors:
1. Length of the Purchase Process – The time invested in making a decision to buy a new car or laptop is often measured in months. This is the case unless consumers are forced into making a quick decision, (the transmission has fallen out of your old car or your laptop was stolen). The average purchase cycle reported for IT decisions has dropped dramatically in the past couple of years…to around 6 months.
2. Average Deal Size - Investment of hundreds or thousands of dollars makes consumers consider the purchase carefully before making a decision.
3. Number of Decision Makers – Few IT buyers makes a purchase decision without consulting business users. Like it or not, your spouse (or even your kids) may have significant influence on your next car or laptop. No self-respecting teen will support mom’s temptation to purchase another mini-van.
4. Higher Risk Decision – The purchase process for b2b and high tech consumer goods is longer because it is a higher risk decision. It the b2b IT decision maker makes a poor choice, it reflects poorly on him/her. Business users may point fingers. This is not so different than choosing what car to drive for the next 48 months. Who wants to listen to their spouse complain for 48 straight months. Who wants to live with a laptop that doesn’t meet your needs?
5. Role of Content Marketing is paramount in higher risk decisions. Shoppers will seek information from multiple sources to support their decision process. They will seek out expert commentary, independent comparisons, specifications, and pricing.
I spent nearly ten years in marketing at Nissan North America. We analyzed the purchase cycle for our products and those of our competitor’s. We had a plethora of syndicated data to analyze and learn from. We designed marketing campaigns to strategically “plug the leaks” in our purchase funnel. I applied the same principles in high-tech B2B marketing. Google analytics, CRM tools like Salesforce.com, and marketing automation tools give B2B users similar data. In a recent Pardot survey, many B2B marketers claim the lack of time and resources make tracking marketing performance difficult. The good news: 80% of B2B marketers claim that they will invest more time and resources in marketing metrics in 2012.