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WOM, Forums, Blogs Top Influencers of SMB Buyers

August 9, 2011

Though word-of-mouth (WOM) recommendations still have the greatest influence on purchasing decisions among small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners, online forums and blogs play a huge role in the process, too—and a more influential one than advertisements or consultations with salespeople, according to a new survey from Ivy Worldwide.

Asked to rate the importance of various factors on technology purchase decisions, surveyed SMB owners and purchasers cite recommendations from friends and colleagues as the most influential (rating it a 3.71 on a scale of 1 to 5), followed by blogs and online forums (3.52) and optional trial periods of products/services (3.38).


Among SMBs, consultations with salespeople (2.40) and advertising (2.26) are less influential to the purchase decision.

Below, additional findings from a survey of 1,000 SMBs worldwide, employing fewer than 500 people.

Top Triggers for Future Purchases

When considering future purchases, sales relationships, marketing messages, and green products are less important than reviews from trusted sources and enhanced features and quality.

Asked to rate the degree of influence that various factors would have on future decisions to purchase a product/service for their company, SMBs report the following top 3 triggers on a scale of 1 to 7:

  1. Stronger feature than current solution: 6.38 
  2. Level of quality promised greater than current solution: 6:31
  3. A detailed review from a trusted source illustrating pros and cons of product/service: 6.0

Surprisingly, stated ROI is only moderately influential to SMB buyers (4.80), while strong sales relationships and marketing messages are even less important, 4.70 and 3.67, respectively.

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  • by Briana Tue Aug 9, 2011 via web

    In the "About the Data" section, B2B is listed twice. I think one is meant to say B2C. Can you indicate which is which?

    Thank you for the great article!

  • by Lenna Tue Aug 9, 2011 via web

    Hi, Briana. Thanks for calling out that error! Here's the correct breakdown: 47% of respondents were from B2B companies and 53% were from B2C.

  • by Briana Tue Aug 9, 2011 via web

    Thanks! We are B2B so it's great that the survey included that metric.

  • by Debbie Fri Aug 12, 2011 via web

    Great information that reinforces the changing marketing landscape and the move towards education based marketing. You mention that this survey was for technology purchase decisions, is there any research on other types of SMB purchasing decisions and factors that influence?

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