Remember the Basics
The first important takeaway from this research is that companies should keep the basics in mind when designing their website and developing website content. When survey participants were asked what kinds of information they want to see on a website home page, the top three responses were:
- Product and service information (86% of respondents)
- Contact information (64%)
- About us/company information (52%)
Survey respondents were particularly concerned about the availability of thorough contact information - a telephone number, an e-mail address, and a mailing address. For example, when survey participants were asked what types of content were missing on company websites, 51% of respondents identified a lack of thorough contact information. Fifty-four percent of the survey respondents said that a lack of contact information reduced a vendor's credibility, and 44% said they would leave a vendor website that lacked thorough contact information.
Frankly, I find it surprising that any company would fail to include complete contact information on its website and make that information easily accessible. I don't encounter this problem very often, but it appears that others do.
The Impact of Social Media
The authors of the survey report state that the impact of social media on the buying journey is not as significant as marketers have assumed. I interpret the survey findings a little differently.
The survey included specific questions relating to the effect of social media on three phases of the buyers' journey - discovery, establishing credibility, and the impact on the buying process.
- When asked if social media aids them in the vendor discovery process, 59% of survey respondents said "Yes" or "Sometimes."
- When asked if social media activity helps establish a company's credibility, 57% of respondents said "Yes" or "Sometimes."
- When asked how much a company's social media activity impacts their vendor decision-making process, 3% of respondents said "A lot," 20% said "It's important but not a deal breaker," 30% said "Neutral," and 46% said "Not a factor."
These results suggest that social media does play a fairly significant role in the earlier stages of the buying journey. It should not be surprising that buyers rely less on social media during the later stages of the buying process. Also, we know that the use of social media varies by age. Fifty-eight percent of the respondents to this survey were over 50, and another 22% were over 35. So, given the age profile of these respondents, this survey actually shows that social media plays a relatively important role in the buying journey.