Market Shift Confirmed: Customers Use Virtual Communities + Online Content to Inform Purchase Decisions
It’s official, and what we suspected is confirmed:
Customers & Prospects Are Using Virtual Communities and Online Content to Inform Their Purchasing Decisions
We saw it coming, and SAP is ahead of the pack in responding to this new trend, both for the health of our own business and for the benefit of our customers’ businesses (so they remain “best run” companies).
CMO Council Research Study Confirms Findings
A lot of research is being published on how customer behavior is changing in today’s digitally connected world. A new report from The CMO Council furthers this discussion by examining the role that online content plays in purchasing decisions. The CMO Council report can be downloaded here and includes several insights that SAP has applied to our own marketing and product efforts.
The following statement summarizes the main conclusion, which resonates with how SAP is rethinking the customer experience.
“BtoB buyers and influencers are turned off by self-serving, irrelevant, over-hyped and overly technical content. They’re migrating to peer-based communities and new sources of trusted, relevant and credible content and conversation.”
Key stats from the study include:
- 87% of B2B buyers say online content plays a major to moderate role in vendor selection
- How SAP supports online content: Of course, a hallmark of the SAP Community Network (SCN) over the past 10 years has been to foster valuable content and discussions between our members. In addition, on SAP.com we use sophisticated A/B testing to determine the most effective content based on real-time user behaviors.
- 28% say they share content with over 100 colleagues, while another 31 percent share it with 25 to 100 people.
- How SAP facilitates content sharing: On SCN we’ve embedded social media sharing buttons, and we encourage the community to curate content via widgets (Top Liked, Most Viewed, Popular) which are based on actions such as likes, ratings, views, and bookmarks.
- Peer-powered organizations are the most trusted and valued sources of online content
- How SAP supports peer-powered engagement: Naturally SCN is a peer-powered community with most of its content generated by non-SAP employees. We also highlight great non-SAP content on SCN, on SAP.com, and though our social media channels. Going forward, our vision for our “official corporate website is to have 50% of SAP.com content be user-generated rather than company-generated.
- 41% use smartphones to access content, and 30% use tablets
- How SAP is supporting mobile experiences: We launched an SCN Mobile app for on-the-go access to the community, and SAP.com has gone mobile with m.sap.com as more and more consumption happens on smartphones and tablets in different form factors.
- Registration requirements are the biggest turnoff to content
- How SAP is supporting customers: We don’t have many registration “gates” on SCN, and SAP.com has un-gated a large portion of its content (so you don’t need to fill-out a form to gain access to “the good stuff”) since early this year.
Finally, the report’s main themes of peer-based communities and credible conversations is why SAP is investing so heavily in social solutions such as SAP Jam for collaboration, Social Media Analytics by NetBase for listening, and SAP Cloud for Social Engagement.
Below is a summary infographic although the full 10-page report is worth a quick read as well.
Do these findings seem accurate from your own experience? Is SAP addressing the issues properly? Let us know how we can do better!