The use of the World Wide Web
for Business-to-Business Marketing

Report of a market research study carried out in Western Europe

For comments to or questions about this page or the report, please contact PRC.

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Internet and World Wide Web home pages are booming. A very large number of businesses have decided to set up home pages on the web since the start of the year, and many more are considering doing it. Still, many have questions on how to do it, what content to put in and what level of investment/resources should be devoted to this new type of communication and of doing business.

Our purpose is to offer a study that answers these important questions. It is targeted at companies selling services or products to other companies.

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Main issues covered

The main issues covered were:

Size: 49 pages + 27 pages annexes, total 76 pages.

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Who made it ?

The study was conducted by Yellow Window, Belgium with three partner companies:

All 4 companies are members of Growth International EEIG, a formal network of international business consultancies in Europe, and specialists in international business-to-business market research.

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Danish kroner:

Other Currencies:

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Available from / How to order

  1. Find the relevant distributor below.
  2. Send an e-mail with your company name and address. For Yellow Window, click the link to Yellow Window and fill in a form.
  3. VISA/MasterCard are accepted: Include your card number and expiry date with the e-mail. Otherwise you will be instructed on how to make the payment in advance or that it will be send "cash on delivery", depending of the country you live in.
Denmark + outside Western Europe
(in English. The French, Flemish, Dutch, or German version is available on special request)
PRC Consultants
Aerenprisvej 27
DK-2820 Gentofte.
Tel: 39 652 632. Fax: 39 652 632.
(in French)

Head Office :
23, boulevard Amélie Gex
F-73100 Aix-les-Bains
Tel : +33-(0)4-7935 0845 - Fax : +33-(0)4-7935 0759

Lyon Office :
21, avenue Jean-Jaurès
F-69007 Lyon
Tel : +33-(0)4-7272 0228 - Fax : +33-(0)4-7272 0971

United Kingdom
(In English)
Wavehill Consultants
London, UK
Belgium + the rest of the Western Europe
(= excl. Denmark, France and U.K.)
(in French, Flemish, Dutch, English, or German)
Yellow Window
Bruxelles and Antwerp, Belgium

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Table of contents







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Executive summary


This study is based on data collection using three different market research techniques :

Motives to start a web site

The main motives at the moment are :

The 3 first motives are the most frequently mentioned (by 25 % of the respondents each).


A standard web site usually consists of a number of main elements. The table hereunder shows for some important elements the percentage of sites where we found this element present. The basis for these results are the 1000 sites observed.


general presentation or brochure
possibility for feedback
catalogue - product literature
links to other sites
news on the company (press releases, company newsletters, ...)
free information (not directly linked to the company but of interest to the visitor)
technical support
possibility to register
possibility to purchase on-line
private/secure part for dealers/clients/staff

Based on the experience gained in observing 1000 business-to-business sites and on the 302 answers received to our questionnaire, we consider there are 3 main 'dimensions' to categorise business-to-business sites :

Presence of free information

Just over 60 % of the respondents to the survey consider they offer 'free information' on their site. ('Free information' is information of interest to the visitor which is offered for free in addition to the information provided on the company and its product or services.)

This compares with the 20 % of the web sites observed by our team (see table above).

On-line commerce

The actual selling of products or services through web sites is at the moment still limited, but the trend is growing : · 16 % of the respondents to our survey said to offer the possibility of purchasing at the site, but only 1 in 4 of them have the actual payment done at the site (via credit card). The others confirm the transaction by fax or send an invoice by normal mail; · 26 % of the respondents said they would certainly or probably have direct purchasing from their site in the future.

Promoting the site

The two promotion techniques that are most often used are : · mentioning the web site on all existing communication means (letterhead, business cards, brochures, ... ); · registering with search engines.

Still, there is a lack of knowledge about what actually works to promote a web site. Registration with search engines seems to be the most efficient technique according to our sample of respondents; followed by adding the URL address on all sales and promotional literature; and advertising through other media than the Net.

It is clear from the survey that many site publishers have actually done very little to promote their site.

Budgets invested

The large majority of web sites is developed and maintained completely in-house (75 %). The use of external services is, however, more common with the largest companies (50 % of companies with more than 500 employees).

The financial barrier to a web site is very low as was confirmed by all experts. It is possible to be on-line with a decent web site hosted externally for budgets below 5000 ECU. The responses to our survey confirm this fact as a majority of budgets for the design of a site was below 2500 ECU and as investment in person-days of personnel was less than 10 for 47 % of the sample.

Budgets for maintaining the site during one year are probably higher than for the development. Out of pocket expenses and depreciation seem to be lower but the time spent is significantly higher than for the development.


For 35.4 % of the sample the site has generated a direct revenue. For the majority (52.3 %) of those 107 respondents, however, the site generated in '96 less than 5000 ECU, which is not very much. Still, 14 % of the sample (which corresponds to 15 companies) answered that the site generated more than 25.000 ECU for their company in 1996.

Asked whether sales leads were identified through the site in 1996, a small majority (54.3 % of the sample) answered positively. For 71.2 % of these 164 respondents less than 25 sales leads were identified; for 46.8 % even less than 10 which is not an important number. 3.8 % (or 6 companies), however, reported that more than 500 sales leads were generated through the site in 1996.

Satisfaction levels for the quality of these sales leads are clearly higher than for the quantity of the sales leads.


Learning to use the WWWeb as a new tool for B-to-B marketing starts slowly.

Significant expansion and improvements are planned.

The future looks however much better as the B-to-B site owners are using their experience to expand and will not quit the Web.

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Approximate ECU rates:

1 ECU = 0,47 UKL
1 ECU = 2,2 NLG
1 ECU = 40BEF
1 ECU = 8,4 SEK
1 ECU = 8,1 NOK
1 ECU = 7,4 DKK
1 ECU = 200 ESC
1 ECU = 1900 ITL
1 ECU = 163 PTA
1 ECU = 6,5 FRF
1 ECU = 2 DEM
1 ECU = 1,18 USD

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