Searching for answers: reaching Millennials as influencers in today’s B2B decision-making process
With continued technology advancements and demands for faster results, as well as the constant need to stay relevant against competitors, traditional B2B marketing strategies won't be as effective in coming years as they were just two years ago. Why? Because those who are involved in the decision-making process have changed.
Typically marketers focus exclusively on the C-suite or other senior-level players, but while 64 percent of the C-suite have final sign off, so do almost a quarter (24 percent) of the non-C-suite, according to a survey fielded by Google and Millward Brown Digital.1 What's more, it's the latter that has the most influence; 81% of non-C-suiters have a say in purchase decisions. Targeting messages to the highest-level seems to make sense since—that is where the sign-off power seems to be—but if you're marketing only to the chiefs, you're overlooking the people who need to notice you first in many cases.
By 2025, Millennials, those born from 1980-1993, will make up about 75 percent of the workforce and play a strong hand in the direction of many B2B decisions. This generation is unlike any other that came before it. By the time millennials joined the workforce, half of all Americans were using email regularly, smart devices had been on the market for several years and search engines were already a part of daily life.2 To put it plainly, millennials are digital natives. They have never known a world without the internet, and understanding what solicits action from this creative, tech-savvy, always connected, thoughtful and socially and environmentally conscious generation is key.
It's not a secret that the Millennial B2B audience is online. Google’s survey with Millward Brown Digital cited 89 percent of B2B researchers use the internet during the B2B research process and— contrary to popular belief—that branded searches should be at the center of a search strategy, 71 percent of Millennial B2B researchers start their research with a generic search. In fact, search is their #1 resource for research; 90 percent of B2B researchers who are online use search specifically to research business purchases. Those involved in the B2B buying process are already 57 percent of the way down the path to a decision before they'll actually perform an action on your site.
It's not enough just to bid on your brand terms. Influence and decision making are happening earlier on in the purchasing path, even prior to brand awareness. Identify where you can be part of the conversation early on and throughout their searching.
The most important thing to be thinking about is whether or not you're providing meaningful decision-making information to this group of influencers. Millennials are not employees of the future, they are here today. This means stepping up the intensity in your search, lead generation and overall online efforts to provide them with the content they’re seeking through the channels they use. This means delivering content-rich experiences in format; think personable videos, infographics, e-books, story-telling. Millennials are curious, global explorers who value authenticity, connectedness and are fearless in their quest to make a positive change. They value their own experiences and your efforts to shape their journey towards your brand builds their influence on brand awareness, acceptance and adoption.