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Insights - September 2017

By Sarah Thorp |
Insights - September 2017

On Wednesday, I joined a panel discussion to launch our second annual research project with Hotwire looking at what influences enterprise decision makers in their purchasing decisions.

Joining me on the panel were Delphine Reynaud from Traackr, Joe Wiggins from Glassdoor, Matt Cross from Hotwire, and the discussion was moderated by Hotwire’s Andy West. As this was the first time this new research has been raised in public, there was a lot of lively debate about the results and what this means for marketers.

Here’s a short overview of the discussion, including some key points from the research.

Are executives more sceptical of opinion?

In last year’s report, Facebook was the main channel of influence when it came to making a buying decision. Since that time there’s been a dramatic shift towards technical information sites, suggesting that executives are looking for detail not opinion.

The panel didn’t seem surprised by this initially, until we talked about why decision makers say they are mostly influenced by fact. We discussed how the research shows that many are looking for opinion over fact, and that perhaps it's not a need solely for facts, but facts at the right time. If anything, people are being more responsible about what they consume online and are being sceptical of channels like Facebook.

The importance of opinion

The research shows that almost everyone looks for opinion when shortlisting vendors, much more than those who look for facts.

The panel found this unsurprising, but it led onto a discussion about the relative importance of opinion and fact, and how to ensure that any opinion that’s presented is appropriate and convincing. Joe highlighted that user-generated content and reviews are more popular than ever before, and Delphine said that LinkedIn has become really engaging recently because it’s increasingly a community of people like you.

But opinion online can be faked. We talked about the rise of bots - I mentioned recent reports of bots that are able to automatically and almost undetectably create reviews, and Joe mentioned that if opinion-based content is too polished, it looks totally false.

I flagged that this is potentially why the importance of Facebook has gone down.

Decision makers want opinion, but they need to trust that opinion. That’s why more than anything else, the research says that there’s a need for more market research content in order to make a buying decision. And that’s not fake news!

The rise of video

We moved onto a discussion about how the research clearly shows the importance of video for this audience. Decision makers expect their consumption of video-based content and channels like YouTube to go up over the next year, and it's already increased year-on-year. Why?

Matt said that because everyone has a video to serve you, audiences are now more comfortable to watch them and are now almost beginning to expect them. But those videos need to be authentic, and Joe said that in his experience recording people’s reactions and vox pops at trade shows creates a more authentic message than an overproduced corporate video.

We then talked about another change over the past year: the rise in the simplicity and availability of livestreaming video. This is becoming an increasingly common part of the marketing toolkit.

Wrapping up

The event highlighted a few key points:

  • Fact is still important, but needs opinion-based content to make sure it seems true
  • Any opinion needs to be authentic and true, otherwise it feels hollow
  • Market research is a great way to get opinion-based facts
  • Video is more important than ever

For me, the event really brought the research home. The central message is that fact is one thing, but having an opinion based on fact makes the topic all the more compelling. By getting experts from different parts of the marketing industry together to debate the data based on their experiences, the story behind the data became much more real.

I’m very grateful to everyone involved in this week’s event. The team from Vanson Bourne often speak at webinars and presentations about the results from our research, but we rarely get to debate survey data in such an open discussion.

If you missed the event and want to know more, a video will be published shortly. In the meantime, the full report can be downloaded from Hotwire’s website.

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