The results are in for the first Lidar News Media Survey and it looks like social media is playing an important role in purchasing decisions along with an organization’s website. We had 475 people take the survey with over 180 responding to all of the questions over the ten-day period. Nearly 60% of the respondents were middle managers or above within their organizations.
Thank you to all those who participated. We are making this available to the general public.
In addition to the social media questions there were also a few regarding office operations and technology. Let’s start with those.
- Looking at the importance of hardware and software approximately 70% thought that having the latest technology was important to their business. I think this is an indication of how fast the technology is changing.
- Senior managers are making the large purchasing decisions with middle managers and owners equally weighted in second place. This would likely vary with the size of the firm.
Media and Marketing
- Nearly 40% of respondents use social media for work-related tasks on a daily basis, with another 25% + using it weekly. A full 20% do not use social media at all.
- Surprisingly LinkedIn ranked lowest in platform importance for work, with Facebook claiming the top spot, although in general the differences were quite small if you take out LinkedIn. This suggests that you need to have a presence on multiple platforms in order to cover all the bases.
- The purpose of work-related social media visits were also tightly clustered with the most searching for a person, followed closely by product and company. More than 20% were searching for something else.
- The importance of social media when deciding about which products to investigate was less than 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the least. Although when ranking social media against seven other forms of sales and marketing efforts (in a later question) it came out on top.
- When searching for a service company websites ranked close to an 8 out of 10.
- It was essentially the same for product searches on vendor sites. The importance of an up-to-date, informative and attractive website is critical to providing a positive first impression.
- Customer testimonials received a value of 6 out of 10. These are not used nearly enough, but they need to be properly crafted so as not to be seen as marketing hype.
- The two items of note concerning frequency of visits to competitors’ websites is slightly more than 50% visit monthly and almost 30% never visit.
- As noted in number four above social media was ranked the highest in terms of its ability to affect purchasing decisions when compared to seven other influencers. It was closely followed by sales presentations and good old advertising. Prior experience with the vendor came in last with word of mouth second to last. So much for customer loyalty. The competition is fierce.
- In an increasingly digital marketing world the value of print media received a 5 out of 10. It will be interesting to track this over the next five years.
- The value of promotional webinars ranked just below 5 out of 10. There doesn’t seem to be as much effort being put into webinars lately. There’s a certain level of impersonality to them, but from the host side it can be a cost effective way to reach a large audience of potential buyers. The content makes the difference.
Surveys like this can provide an immediate benefit, but in many cases it is the repeated use of a survey that can identify more interesting trends that can only be seen over time. If the interest is there which it seems to be, Lidar News will continue to host this media survey as well as others from time to time. Please let us know if you have any ideas for future surveys.
A couple of final observations. It seems that there is no doubt about the importance of websites and social media, but at the same time there is a solid minority (between 20 and 30%) that has never visited a competitor’s website or a social media platform. Change does not come easy to some.
I left one question for the very end. You know the one that it always comes down to – money. When asked what impact cost had on purchasing decisions it was ranked 7 out of 10. So that means the product or service has to be priced right, or at least have a return on investment that can lead to a reasonable profit.
Technology is changing so fast that hourly rates have to be constantly analyzed and adjusted. A well-crafted marketing campaign can do a lot to educate customers about the value of your product or service. Instead of fixed hourly rates looking at the value you create for your customer might be a more profitable business model.