Monday, September 17, 2007

Transcript of B2B Search Trends Podcast Based on Enquiro's Survey Findings

Edited transcript of BriefingsDirect[TM] podcast on B2B search usage, trends and future direction with host Dana Gardner, recorded June 26, 2007.

Listen to the podcast here
. Watch the video here. Sponsor: ZoomInfo.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you're listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast. Today, a discussion about online search and its role in business-to-business (B2B) activities, particularly the research and acquisitions process for people who are in businesses trying to find goods and services. They seem to be using search more than ever.

We're going to look at a survey conducted last March, a fairly recent look at B2B users, their relationship to search, and how search is shifting based on the findings. Joining us to discuss this we have the originator of the survey, President and CEO of Enquiro Search Solutions, Gord Hotchkiss. Welcome to the show, Gord.

Gord Hotchkiss: Thank you.

Gardner: Also joining us to add some analysis and perspective on where search for B2B activities is going is Bryan Burdick, COO of ZoomInfo. Welcome, Bryan.

Bryan Burdick: Dana, thanks for having me.

Gardner: It seems that people, whether they're buying consumer goods, small business supplies -- anything from Gorilla Glue to guided missiles -- are using search at some point in this process. Some people start and end with search. They actually buy the products through a search process. I want to start by understanding a little bit about the survey itself and the fact that it’s the second survey that’s been done on this B2B search activity, the first being in 2004.

So, let’s go to Enquiro with Gord. Tell us a little bit about the history and some of the major bullet points of this particular survey?

Hotchkiss: As you said, we did the original survey in 2004 and, at the time, there wasn't a lot of research out there about search in general, even on the consumer side. There was virtually nothing on the B2B side. We knew search was important, just from what our clients were saying and the results we had had, but we hadn’t done anything extensive enough outside our client base to start to quantify how important it was.

The first survey was an attempt to do that. It certainly proved that search was important. We found that online activity, in particular that connected with search activity, was consistent in a large percentage of purchases. In 2007, we added more insight to the methodology. We wanted to understand the different roles that are typical in B2B purchases -- economic buyers versus technical buyers versus user buyers. We also wanted to get more understanding of the different phases of the buying cycle.

We structured the survey so that we could slice the data based on those parameters and get more insight into those areas. As far as the main takeaways from the study, obviously online activity is more important than ever. In fact, we asked respondents to indicate from a list of over 30 influencers what was most important to them in making the purchase decision. Online factors, such as interaction with the vendor Website and interaction with the search engine were right up there with the traditional winner, word of mouth. What we see is a real link between those and looking for objective information and specific detail.

A lot of that search activity happens on specific properties, and we’ll be diving into that a little bit later in the podcast. We did notice an evolution of behavior as you move through the funnel, and the nature of the interactions with the different online resources changes how you navigate to them and how you go to different sites for information. But, online research was consistent through the entire process, from awareness right through to purchase.

There’s a lot of back and forth. Offline factors influence online activity and vice-versa. So, we saw a merging of the online and the offline worlds in making these decisions and trying to come to what’s the right decision for your company or what’s the right product or service.

Gardner: Tell us a little bit about Enquiro. You are a marketing, consulting, and research firm. Is that correct?

Hotchkiss: Yes. We work with clients in putting together their search campaigns in the B2B space, but we also have an active research arm. So, we're continually doing research primarily on the usability and qualitative analysis side, but we do survey work as well. The purpose of that is to provide more insight into how consumers use search and how businesses use search to make buying decisions.

Gardner: Three years between these surveys is probably not a lot for many businesses, but it’s a huge amount of time in the search industry. What would you say was the biggest difference in your results and findings over this three-year period?

Hotchkiss: Surprisingly, we didn’t notice huge trend differences in the three-year period. If anything, we saw increased reliance on online factors and probably just more activity online and more interactions with sites, but it was the continuation of a trend we saw in 2004. We didn’t see any big shifts. We just found increased reliance on online to do that research.

When we say "increased reliance," we're probably talking 10 percentage points up over the three years. So, if 65 percent of the people were doing it in 2004, 75 percent of the people are doing it now. That’s primarily where we saw the trends going.

Gardner: And, you say that that you're also seeing search applied to this process in different ways and different facets. For example, word of mouth would tip someone off to go look for something, and the first way that they look for it is by using search.

Hotchkiss: Yes. When we looked at the different phases of the buying cycle, it starts with awareness. You become aware that you need something. There was a high percentage of people -- in the high 60-percent range -- who said, "Once I become aware that I need something, the first place I'm going to go is the search engine to start looking for it."

A lot of that traffic is going to end up on Google. It was the overwhelming choice among general search engines for B2B buyers.

But, as you move through the process, you start doing what we call a "landscape search." The first search is to get the lay of the land to figure out the information sites that have the information you are looking for. Who are the main vendors playing in this space? Where are the best bets to go and get more information to help make this purchase decision?

So, those first searches tend to be fairly generic -- shorter key phrases -- just to get the lay of the land to figure out where to go. As you progress, search tends to become more of a navigational shortcut, and we’ve seen this activity increase over the last two to three years. Increasingly, we're using search engines to get us from point A to point B online.

As you get into the buying process, you’re familiar with the vendor site. You’ve been on the site. You’ve checked different product information pages. As you come back to that research process, you say, "I really want to find that product spec sheet that I saw on this vendor site." A lot of that navigation to those specific pages happens through a search engine. So, there are multiple touch points through the process.

Gardner: Now, you did this search in March, and you surveyed 1,086 people, North Americans, mostly women -- 63 percent -- average age 43 years old, with 67 percent of them having at least attended university.

Hotchkiss: Right.

Gardner: Can you tell us little bit more about these people? Are these people that you acquired through strictly business activities? How did you know that they were in a purchasing mode?

Hotchkiss: When we structured the study, we used our sampling partner, Survey Sampling International, for access to their B2B decision-maker panel. In two different parts of the survey, we asked, “Are you currently considering a purchase in excess of a thousand dollars?” That was a qualifying question. If they answered yes, they got to continue the survey.

That’s how we determined what role they were playing in this purchase that was happening right now. What were they considering purchasing? What was influencing them? We wanted to use a purchase process they were in the middle of, because it would obviously be fresh in their minds and they could really tell us what they were going through, as far as what influenced them.

We also wanted to get a retroactive view of a successful transaction. So, in the second part of the survey, we asked them to recall a transaction they had made in the past 12 months. We wanted to see whether that initial search led to a successful purchase down the road, and, at the end of the road, how the different factors influenced them. So, we actually approached them from a couple of different angles.

Gardner: Now, 85 percent of these people say they're using online search for some aspect of this purchasing process. It strikes me that this involves trillions of dollars worth of goods. These are big companies and, in some cases, buying lots of goods at over a hundred thousand dollars a whack. Do you concur that we're talking about trillions of dollars of B2B goods now being impacted significantly by the search process?

Hotchkiss: Absolutely. The importance of this is maybe the most mind-numbing fact to contemplate. Traditionally, the B2B space has been a little slow to move into the search arena. Traditionally, in the search arena, the big advertisers tend to be travel or financial products.

B2B is just starting to understand how integral search is to all this activity. When you think of the nature of the B2B purchase, risk avoidance is a huge issue. You want to make sure that whatever decisions you make are well-researched and well-considered purchases. That naturally leads to a lot of online interaction.

Gardner: I suppose if I am making a $100,000 purchases, and I make a mistake, I am not going to be around for long. Right?

Hotchkiss: Exactly. The other thing is that we don’t tend to be as emotionally involved with the B2B purchase. Things like branding play different roles than when you're doing consumer purchases. The brand affinity is something you might have if it’s an area where you don’t have a lot of experience. It may be a new need that’s coming on the horizon for your business. You are really starting from Square One, and that’s the perfect place for search to plug in and be the solution when you start researching those purchases.

Gardner: Right. These folks are looking for practical approaches and real information. Let’s go to Bryan Burdick at ZoomInfo.

This is growing quickly as an overall trend, but ZoomInfo, which is focused on business search, is growing much more rapidly. What’s driving your growth at ZoomInfo, and how does that relate to this B2B search activity?

Burdick: The business information search is a primary factor driving our growth. Our company right now is growing on two fronts. One is our traditional paid-search model, where we have subscription services focused on people information that is targeted at salespeople and recruiters as a source for candidates and prospects.

The more rapidly growing piece of our business is the advertising-driven business information search engine, which I think is a really interesting trend related to the concept you guys were just talking about. Not only does the B2B advertiser spend lots of money today trying to reach out, but the B2B searcher has new tools, services, and capabilities that provide a richer, better, more efficient search than they’ve had through the traditional search engines.

Gardner: By far, the largest player in this is Google with, according to the Enquiro survey, 78 percent use by this group of respondents. Way down the line was Yahoo!, and then far below that was MSN. It strikes me that Google is a general search engine, and yet we are asking for very specific business information.

Bryan, do you expect that we are going to see some sort of a specialization or a cleaving between general search and more vertical specialized search?

Burdick: Absolutely, and, in fact, that’s really ZoomInfo’s mission -- to do for the business-information search world what the Expedia or Travelocity did for travel search. When you think about it, you can actually go to Google and find an airplane ticket, but why would you?

It’s so much more efficient to go to one of these vertical search engines that are looking at the databases, looking at the data, and indexing it in a much more efficient way. You're starting to see that in a lot of other verticals. Travel has been the quickest to adopt that, but everything from business information, like ZoomInfo, to podcasts with Podzinger, and other types of vertical searches, have been focusing on a niche and organizing the content more efficiently.

Hotchkiss: One thing we found in the survey is that there's a natural evolution through the process. Although you might start on Google as you are trying to find those information sites, quite often it’s the verticals that people work into as they are starting to look for specific, more granular information on the companies they're thinking of doing business with. That’s where ZoomInfo and other vertical players fit a need.

Gardner: I suppose another thing that seems the same from 2004 to 2007 is the importance of a supplier’s Website. According to your survey findings, people are very interested in word of mouth. They use the search engine to move from that point to gather more information, but they're very quickly interested in solid, simple, straightforward, text-based information from the suppliers themselves. I suppose that underscores the need for sellers to have a very strong Website.

Hotchkiss: That was a really strong finding, and not really surprising. It made sense, but I think how important the straightforward information was to the people doing the research was somewhat surprising. It’s one of those things where you get findings in research and then afterwards, when you apply common sense to it, you say, "Yeah, that just makes sense."

But, remember these searchers are out to gather information for an organizational buying model. They are gathering information that will, in a lot of cases, be passed on to other individuals to help them make the decision as a group.

You don’t necessarily want to sit through a linear presentation of information, like an online video, or even a podcast, if your intent is just to pickup specific data and pass it along. Now, if you are the user, and this is that something you are going to be using, you may be a lot more open to a linear how-to demo. But, it’s important to match the content on your site to the types of buyers and individuals who are gathering the information.

The takeaway we got from this was to make sure you're covering the basics first. Make sure that you're getting the clear concise product information out. In a lot of cases, you know you are going to be compared to the competition. Why not enable some of that to happen on your site and make the buyer's job easier by arming them with the necessary equipment.

The number one thing that came across as desirable was pricing information, which is really tough for B2B marketers to put on the site, because in a lot of cases these are complex solutions. But, what the buyers are looking for is qualifying it in a budget range.

Is this a $10,000 purchase, a $100,000 purchase or a million dollar purchase? I need to know that to qualify, so I can move on. Please give me that information. It can be ranges. It doesn’t have to be specific, but I need to be able to qualify it.

Burdick: Dana, I would add that some of the typical mistakes that a B2B marketer will make from a search-engine marketing perspective is jumping too quickly or focusing too much on the actual advertising piece. They need to do that, but sometimes they forget about the search engine optimization. Very often, they leave that up to the technical team, which may optimize the search or the site in ways that aren't optimal from a marketing perspective.

Then, as Gord was saying, they get the user, or the potential customer, in there and the customer gets lost on their own site, searching for the type of information that they're looking for. It’s not like a consumer model, where the consumer already knows, in most cases that they are looking for a DVD player or whatever it is. They may even have a model number, and they're looking for the best price online. It’s much more of an information-gathering process in the B2B case.

Gardner: Perhaps the takeaway here would be that people want to get just the facts upfront and they want a ballpark figure, but they also want to be able to use search to get to that information fairly quickly.

So, if you’re going to optimize your site, your key information can’t be 18 pages deep into the search process, but you also have to consider that factual information needs to be as accessible as your main branding page.

Burdick: Absolutely.

Hotchkiss: One more point on that. A lot of B2B marketers like to capture as much information about a lead as early in the process as possible, so it can be handed over to the sales department, which can close the sale.

But, what happens in a B-to-B purchase is that the first touch point with your vendor Website is typically not the decision maker, the ultimate decision maker? It tends to be somebody who is gathering information to help arm the company to make that eventual purchase decision.

So, if you push to establish contact with that person, they're not ready to establish contact with the vendor, because they don’t have the buying power. Even if you do push to get it, your salespeople are spending a lot of time following up on leads that aren’t qualified buyers. They have to retrench down the road and try to re-establish connections with the person who has the economic power.

So, it’s really a "date," and, in a lot of cases, it’s a long series of dates. If you push too fast you are just going to push the prospect away.

Gardner: You don’t want to propose on the first date.

Hotchkiss: Yeah.

Gardner: On the other hand, one of the findings from the survey was that 50 percent convert to a sale online. So, that means that when the research, winnowing, triage, and the comparative shopping are over, the economic buyer, who is empowered to make a decision, will go back online and consummate the deal. Does that make sense?

Hotchkiss: Yeah. Here's some further insight into that, because we saw that number surprising when we did the overall data. When we pulled the data apart, we found that a lot of those purchases tended to be things like computer systems, where they might have been buying through a Dell or someone like that.

Gardner: The direct model.

Hotchkiss: We thought that was a really high online conversion rate. As we looked at the data a little more, we saw that in a lot of cases it was smaller software purchases or system-based hardware purchases. That made a little more sense, as we went down that road. There was a fairly strong manufacturing component, where people were buying parts and different things. In those cases, a lot of those purchases are made through an electronic marketplace. We're seeing that as an increasing trend too, e-commerce-enabled market places.

Gardner: I suppose it's also logical that when the price or the total purchase price is less than $50,000 or closer to $10,000, they’ll be more likely to do that online confirmation and make a purchase. To me, this says that small- to medium-sized businesses selling small types of goods should be very focused on search and B2B online activities. Does that follow?

Hotchkiss: Everybody needs to be focused on search. I can’t see an exception. You mentioned the percentage that said they would go online. We segmented out the group that didn’t indicate they go online to see what was unique about them.

The only thing unique about them was their age. They tended to be older buyers and tended to be with smaller organizations, where the CEO was more actively involved in the purchase decision. That was really the only variants we saw. If it’s a generational thing, then obviously that percentage is going to get smaller every year.

Burdick: Dana, could I ask Gord a follow-up question to that?

Gardner: Of course.

Burdick: I'm curious whether, as you dug into the data, you saw any differences between online follow-throughs to purchase on hard goods versus services. I'd think that people buy computers online, but if they're buying services from a B2B company, that tends to be offline.

Hotchkiss: When we were looking at influencing factors, B2B services was the one where word of mouth edged out online factors by a significant margin. When you're trying to retain a service, word of mouth is still very influential. In pretty much every other category, online was right up there with word of mouth, in some cases edging it out as an influencing factor.

Gardner: Okay, another number from this was that 95 percent said they use search to find what they want at some point or another, but 37 percent were still seeking other sources. There seems to be a recognition that search is very powerful, that it’s a tool that shouldn’t be ignored under any circumstances, but that it's not getting the entire job done. Bryan, I wonder if you could respond to that. What else needs to happen in order for these people to get what they need?

Burdick: The short answer is they just need to come to ZoomInfo.com. Seriously, I don’t think it’s a matter of needing more information, but, in some cases, finding better information. When you think about the traditional search engines -- the Googles and the Yahoos! of the world -- there are so many consumer-oriented search transactions on a day-to-day basis that they have optimized their experience with the consumer in mind.

Search engines like ZoomInfo and some of the other business-information search engines are taking a different approach and optimizing the search experience, and therefore the relevance of the results, with the business-information searcher in mind. You can much more efficiently and quickly get to the information you're looking for.

The simple example that I like to use is that if you search for "enterprise routers" on Google, you are going to get 32 million results that will include everything from Enterprise Rent-A-Car to the latest episodes of Star Trek. Search for that on a business search engine like ZoomInfo and you'll get 150 companies that sell enterprise routers or manufacture enterprise routers. It just becomes a much more efficient process.

Gardner: Well, even the alternatives cited in this survey are still very general. There was Business.com and Thomas Register. This is every good under the sun. It might as well be a general search. KnowledgeStorm was also mentioned, but it's very specific to IT. It seems like there’s a whole category that needs to be filled here around vertical business search.

Burdick: The original survey that Enquiro did for us in 2004 was a key factor in our decision to move to more of a search-engine model, because what we see happening is the same kind of evolution that happened with the big search engines way back. It’s happening now in the vertical-search categories, where search engines started out as directories or, if you think back to Overture in their early days, totally paid listings.

Eventually those two forces came together to provide a best-of-both-worlds situation, where you’ve got not only great relevance on the results, but also great relevance on the targeted ads, and now that’s starting to happen in the verticals as well.

So, you’re starting out with some of the business-directory sites or the business paid-listing sites, because those are easy to do. As the technology gets more sophisticated and you can provide more relevant results for the business information seeker, you are delivering the value that the information seeker is looking for. Plus, you can target the ads better and provide an overall better experience.

Gardner: Let's go back to Gord on that. The survey found a larger percentage of people looked at the organic results on the left, but they were pretty much limited to the top four. A smaller percentage, about 12 or 13 percent, said that they look over to the right-hand side for the ads. That 13 percent might sound small, but compared to a click-through rate in a Web advertising model of usually less than 1 or 2 percent, 13 percent is still a pretty large chunk of people. What’s your impression of the impact of the advertising model in search for B2B activities?

Hotchkiss: Those percentages, by the way, aren’t that different from what we've seen in consumer-based research. Those breaks between organic and sponsored tend to remain fairly consistent across a number of different channels. One thing that’s just golden about search is it will connect a motivated and engaged user with the content they are looking for.

If that content is provided by a relevant ad, then they're open to that. In fact depending on where they are in the buying cycle, they may even be biased toward that, because they are ready to get information from somebody who is trying to provide them what they need to decide whether this is the thing they need to buy.

There's a totally different interaction when you're on a search engine actively engaged in a task and actively looking for information. You're far more receptive to messaging at that point. You're actively looking for it. And this seems to be slowly breaking into the consciousness of most advertisers. They're getting it, but they're getting it slowly. Anyone who moves into the search space, if they do search in a smart way and they capitalize on the potential of it, is just amazed by the return they get on this.

Gardner: Let’s beg a little more from these results than was intended. I started to see in the findings some patterns about typical processes, about how people would go about this activity -- the awareness, the research, the purchasing, and so forth. It seemed to me that there was, on one hand, a pattern of word of mouth that led to a search, that led to a Website, that then led to a refined search based on what they found, which then led to a hand-off to a purchasing activity by maybe a different department or individual.

There also seem to be offline influences, perhaps trades shows, perhaps traditional sales calls and activities, but that also took into consideration word of mouth that then identified what to search on, and so on. Am I reading too much into this, Gord, or were there patterns of process around the use of search in the purchasing activity?

Hotchkiss: It goes back to what I said before. Search tends to be the thing that connects you, as you move through the buying process, and it’s used in different ways and places as you progress through that. As far as identifiable patterns and usage behavior, if you did an end-up study of a large enough dataset, patterns would emerge. They always do emerge, but I'm not sure we would be confident enough diving into this particular dataset to try to tease that out of it.

What we did see is that B2B buying decisions are tremendously complex when they are compared to an individual consumer buying decision, where you have one person going through all the phases. You have multiple individuals influenced by different factors going back and forth.

What is consistent in that is whatever is influencing you -- whether it’s online or offline, a discussion with a colleague or a recommendation by a paid consultant -- there tends to be a mirror activity, in which whatever happens offline generates some kind of online activity that typically is initiated through a search engine. Then, you pull that information back, and it dances back and forth between the online and the offline world.

Gardner: So, there’s a barrier here in some senses. I'm sure most companies, especially the larger ones, have a standard operating procedure about how purchases will happen. It will be form x, y, z, and it will go through process review a, b, c, and then we’ll have to get signatures from individual g, b, h. How can we bridge this value that people see in search, and somehow bake that into a procedural process inside of an enterprise. Or are we asking too much here?

Hotchkiss: One of the interesting things, being both a researcher and a vendor, is we get to see both sides of it. We have access to more information than ever before, and buyers out there are armed with better information before they ever initiate contact with a vendor. They are gathering a lot of information and then they are trying to cram it into an existing buying process, whether that’s an RFP process or whatever.

So, like most things with the Internet, the traditional systems are being challenged by this new access to information that we never had before.

Over the next two to three years, what we're going to see is organizational buying processes being streamlined and being able to incorporate the fact that you have better informed buyers than you may have had before. The whole RFP process was to eliminate risk. The reason was make sure that you are considering alternatives and to make sure that you are almost forced to gather the information you need to make a dispassionate judgment about what was the best choice.

Now, in a lot of cases, the decision is already 80 percent made before the RFP process ever begins. Somebody has researched a vendor, has a very strong feeling about the vendor but now has to try to fit that into the established procedure, and they say, "Okay, now we've got to go out and find two or three more alternatives."

Heaven help the other two or three alternatives that are getting involved in that process. They have to go through the whole dance, but usually the preferred vendor on the front end gets the business on the back end. The other two or three players are just used as negotiating chips to try to get the price down. It’s interesting to watch how information from the Internet is changing virtually everything out there. This is no exception.

Gardner: This might be a little bit out in the future, but the role of search could morph into the role of auction and brokering activities. Does that make sense?

Hotchkiss: Yes, and for players in the space -- I suppose ZoomInfo as well -- if we can streamline the marketplace, if we can take this access to the information and make the buyer’s job easier, that’s a tremendous saving. I would hate to think of the number of man-hours that are invested internally in an organization for a fairly major purchase decision. How much more efficient you can make that process by simply empowering them with the information that they are going out to look for anyway?

Gardner: Bryan, you said that the Enquiro survey in 2004 made an impact on ZoomInfo in terms of its direction. Have the findings from 2007 had a similar influence? What new directions might you be heading in?

Burdick: As Gord had said earlier, the findings in 2007 reinforced what they had already learned three years ago. So, in one sense, it confirmed our own strategic direction as well. We re-launched the ZoomInfo.com site back on April 1, and moved into more of a traditional search-engine model, where all of the content, all of the search capabilities on ZoomInfo.com are free and subsidized by advertising.

We’ve seen that piece of our business take off like crazy in the last couple of months. Search traffic has grown dramatically. We’re up to close to 5 million unique visitors a month doing about 16 or 17 million searches a month on our site. All that is really driven by this need, this desire, among B2B buyers to find a more efficient process to get at this type of buying information.

Gardner: What advice would you have for those folks that are on the selling side of this? What should they do to position themselves in order to take better advantage of what’s occurring on the buyer side, particularly, in their use of search?

Burdick: There are a couple of landmines or traps to avoid. The first is to try to avoid competing with the consumer brands, either on the traditional engines or with the same types of keywords. If you are buying the same keyword as a consumer brand is buying on one of the traditional engines, you are typically going to get drowned out by the noise.

The other thing is to make sure that your own search marketing is coordinated with channel partners. I’ve seen lots of examples where the manufacturer is buying a set of key words and their value-added resellers are buying the same keywords. They end up bidding up the same keywords just to attract the same eyeballs. At the end of the day, the manufacturer is going to direct them to one of the resellers anyway.

Gardner: So that leads to confusion, rather than streamlining that particular process.

Burdick: Exactly. The other key thing, which we already touched on, is leveraging not only on the marketing side, but the search-engine optimization of your site in general, and optimizing the search-for-information experience that the buyer has once they get to your site.

Hotchkiss: One thing I would add on a more fundamental note is to make sure that the perspective you are using to evaluate your search strategy is the customer’s perspective and not your internal one. One of the common pitfalls we see is companies get into a bad case of "internal think." They look at everything from their internal perspective, and they are not shifting the looking glass 180 degrees and looking at it from their prospect’s perspective.

It’s amazing how enlightening it can be, when you start looking at what types of sites they are going to. You need to catch their attention, and know what kind of messaging you have to present and what kind of onsite experience you have to present, once you are successful in capturing the click. If you can force yourself to see from that perspective, you're going to do more to improve the effectiveness of your campaign.

Gardner: Well, thanks very much. We’ve been discussing the recent survey by Enquiro Search Solutions. It was Enquiro’s 2007 B2B search survey, and to help understand it better we’ve been joined by Gord Hotchkiss, the president and CEO of Enquiro. Thanks, Gord. Is there anything meaningful in the survey that we didn’t cover and that you think we should?

Hotchkiss: The original release covers the high-level findings. What we're working on now are three follow-up white papers that will be available on the site through the next three to four months. We're going to take each of the three buying roles that a lot of people within the survey fell within -- the economic buyer, the technical buyer, and the user buyer.

We're going to do insight from that particular buyer on how to search more effectively, plod through the process a little bit more, and how those hand-offs happen from role to role. I imagine there are going to be new insights out of that. We're taking different slices of the data. So, for those of you who are interested in that, keep checking out on Enquiro.com and we’ll ping you as those white papers become available.

Gardner: Terrific. And we’ve also been joined by Bryan Burdick, the chief operating officer at ZoomInfo. Is there anything that you’d like to cap the discussion with, Bryan?

Burdick: Only that I think from a vertical business information search perspective, that we’re really in the first inning here. A lot of interesting trends and enhancements are going to be coming down the road. One in particular that may have an influence in the next year or two is the community aspect within the search.

Gord, talked earlier about how there are multiple people that influence the B2B buying decision. I think that you’ll start to see a marriage of, not only B2B search, but also online community and a factoring into that whole process. Then, who knows where we’ll go from there? But I appreciate you having us on.

Gardner: I suppose that this notion of word of mouth being so important in shaping people’s direction that you might use search to find the word of mouth.

Burdick: Right, the word of community.

Gardner: There it is. Okay, well thank you, Bryan. This is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. You've been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast. Thanks for joining.

Listen to the podcast here. Watch the video here. Sponsor: ZoomInfo.

Transcript of Dana Gardner’s BriefingsDirect podcast on B2B search usage, trends and future direction. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2007. All rights reserved.