The Marketing Strategist:

Research Highlight: Buyers Want to Talk to People and Stare at Screens

November 21, 2013

We’re enmeshed in a web of connections through email, social media, and the web. But those links could also be seen as walls separating us from genuine relationships. Digital connections are seldom sufficient to move us to action—especially when that action involves a massive purchase decision. Emotional resonance occurs with our eyes, ears, and skin. Screens and keyboards are barriers to be overcome. Personal connections don’t occur through a search engine. They occur when we look across a table, hear a voice, clasp a hand. And it’s not just emotions that flow from personal interactions. It’s the precise information that prospects and customers seek. No search algorithm can match the response of a subject matter expert. In quantity of results, certainly; in keyword matches, no doubt. But inquiries from a person contain context that cookies do not know (or know in only a fragmentary and incomplete way). Psychologist Albert Mehrabian broke communication down into three Vs: visual (55% of the information), tone of voice (38%), and words (7%). The web offers only words. People communicate with words, but also the other 93%—which ensures that their conversational partners have a rich context to interpret their queries. Buyers spend almost half their time talking to people ITSMA Research Highlight Chart November 2013 The 2013 How Buyers Consume Information Survey backs up this truth. Despite the rich information available online, buyers spend almost half their time getting information from people. This doesn’t mean that solution providers need to meet all of the buyers in person, but it does mean that customers engage when they link to a named person with a point of view and a reputation. Digital alone won’t make the sale. As the chart shows, buyers spend only a third of their time online during the earliest stages of the buying process. Person-to-person is still where ideas hatch and relationships form. Download an Abbreviated Summary (PDF 657KB)

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