Why you should never underestimate the power of influencers

60 percent of Millennials avoid contacting potential suppliers in the middle of the purchase process, because they need time to do their own research. This means rather than reaching out to leads as soon as they fill out a form, we need to nurture them along the customer journey.

When reading a recent article by Google about the changing face of B2B marketing, there were a couple of stats that really stood out to me, about the increasing impact millenials are having in the workplace, and in turn, the importance of marketing beyond the C-suite to reach the ‘influencers’ in businesses.

So many of the marketers we work with so often focus on targeting purely the C-suite, which means they may well be overlooking an increasingly important sector of the workforce that has the power to not only influence, but also make decisions when it comes to B2B purchases.

Millenials so often get a bad name, and being a millenial myself, I am of course, an adamant believer that age shouldn’t hold you back in business, and so the reference to millennials being key decision makers was something that really struck a chord with me. 

Now I won’t say that this is the most impartial article I’ve ever read, with one of the key suggestions being to ‘spend more on paid search’ (shocker!), money straight into Google’s pocket. BUT, there are some really great take aways that are applicable not only to B2B marketing, but to ABM specifically as well.

For starters, the number of millenials researching ahead of key B2B decisions increased by 70% between 2012 and 2014 alone, making up almost half of those conducting the research. So, what this means is that, although millennials may not be signing on the dotted line when it comes to purchasing, they are researching into the best solutions and services that ultimately informs the direction a business chooses to go in.

A more recent study by Heinz Marketing found that 38% of millenials are involved in the pre-purchase research process. While the figures appear to fluctuate over time and between research bodies, we can still infer that ‘the millennial’ should not be overlooked when it comes to marketing tactics. 

By targeting only the C-suite we’d be overlooking a hugely important sector of business known as the ‘influencer’. They may not hold the purse strings, or have the authority to sign off on new purchases, but they certainly have the ear of those that do, and they are informing the key decisions that are made by a business.

The Google article highlights that beyond the C-suite, 24% of the non-C-suite also have the power to sign off purchases. These might not necessarily be millenials, but a more recent study by Heinz Marketing, in 2018, found that 13% of millenials make purchasing decisions, suggesting that millenials, and those outside of the C-suite have more power than most marketers give them credit for.

So what’s the key takeaway? 

That a relatively small percentage of millenials are physically signing off on purchases, while an even greater number are influencing the process through research.

So what does this mean for modern marketing?

Well first things first, it means we need to look beyond the ‘CXO’ band when it comes to digital advertising, Direct Mailers and event invitations. And it means we also need to look at how to effectively reach ‘the millennial’ as a group uniquely brought up with the internet and keen to use its power to research ahead of every purchase making decision.

According to the Heinz Marketing study; 60 percent of Millennials avoid contacting potential suppliers in the middle of the purchase process, because they need time to do their own research. This means rather than reaching out to leads as soon as they fill out a form, we need to nurture them along the customer journey. And disrupting that process will likely set you back further with your contact, rather than ‘warming them up’ to your proposition, as was likely the intention. 

Millennials also care more about a companies values and product quality more so than any other generation. Also, a whopping 45% of millenials go to social media to start the research process. With this in mind, organizations need to think about their organic presence on social media, and defining the company’s personality online, rather than focusing exclusively on the products and solutions on offer. Particularly when it comes to ABM, it can be hard to commit budget to things like social media, when this clearly reaches beyond target accounts, and it’s near impossible to measure engagement from target accounts. But, if we think about this as part of a holistic and integrated marketing campaign, and bearing in mind the number of millennials influencing decisions, and how they like to research, we need to consider changing and adapting the way we work to cater for changes in the target audience.

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