B2B Articles - September 13, 2017
The B2B buyer today has an unprecedented amount of control of their buying journey. They have the option to peruse Google, white papers, Linkedin, referrals, research organizations, provider websites, forums, specialized directories, trade publications, Twitter, and the like before reaching out to a sales team.
Technology empowers buyers with information quite literally at their fingertips. This change in the buying process forces companies to build a bond with B2B customers very early in the decision process and on the buyer's terms.
The B2B buyer is influenced and educated far before the moment they reach out to a salesperson.
Engaging customers in valuable, relevant interactions, can generate and nurture leads and drive increased sales and revenues. Marketo labels this digital marketing mindset “engagement marketing” and provides a concise list, the ABC’s of connecting with people: “As individuals, Based on what they do, Continuously over time, Directed towards an outcome, Everywhere they are.”
Building a bond with customers relies on serving up the right content, to the right audience in the right context. These strategies can help.
Personalization is a pivotal approach in inbound marketing and account-based marketing. It’s as simple as using a first name, dear reader. But personalization is a spectrum. This might range from referring to a previous action the user took to providing dynamic content based on the buyer's preferences, history, or stage in the buyer’s journey.
As BrightInfo CEO, Boaz Grinvold, suggests, personalization rests on relevance. With relevant content, the brand can transform the potential customer’s attention to appreciation. This, in turn, generates trust, drives them to consume content, and can assist in conversion.
Personalized CTAs convert 42% better than generic CTAs. — Hubspot
Approaches for content personalization:
Repeat customers spend 67% more than new customers
Forrester research suggests today’s buyers don’t want marketing or sales teams to interrupt or intercept them. Successful inbound marketers nurture relationships and with customers at all stages of the buyer’s journey--top, middle, and bottom of the marketing funnel. According to Bain & Company, repeat customers spend 67% more than new customers. Loyal customers can advocate for the brand and help create new business opportunities for the B2B organization.
Build the bond by first not forgetting about a customer once they have converted. Especially in B2B, when buying lifecycles can be longer and can require more than one individual’s buy-in, maintaining a relationship is important. Avoid the mistake of "dropping" a lead because they weren't ready or because they didn't respond to a salesperson's request for a demo. This amateur mistake can deprive a business long term revenue as they seek short term gains.
Avoid the mistake of "dropping" a lead (labeling them "cold") because they weren't ready or because they didn't respond to a salesperson's request for a demo. This amateur mistake can deprive a business long term revenue as they seek short term gains. Create content that influences, educates, inspires, and helps buyers wherever they are in the buyer's journey.
Prospective customers also need attention, of course, but be prepared to shift gears when the customer converts. This is a good time to offer content related to getting the most out of a product, explaining a process or even inviting participation in a survey of what the next product release might add to best address their business needs. New buyers can be a powerful source of referrals or testimonials.
In building a bond with the B2B customer, it helps to give that buyer a clear path to follow and speak their language. At each step of the journey, from awareness to consideration to decision, as the customer moves from potential lead to brand advocate, provide focus around their needs, pain points, and aspirations.
Don't talk only about yourself, your products, and your capabilities. This is a grievous error that harms a B2B organization's long-term growth prospects. Speak about the buyer's needs, pain points, and ambitions.
And, in doing so, speak plainly. We face thousands of decisions daily. Avoid analysis paralysis and build trust with B2B customers by streamlining communications. This means:
As Google puts it, people are more likely to buy from brands that engage their passions and interests. Turn the path to purchase into a “path to purpose.”
Customers want to be able to check out a company’s offerings while using a mobile device and waiting for the subway, scanning their email on a laptop, or visiting a web page from their office desktop. Plus, they want to see what the brand says and shares on social media, third party websites, in narrative content, and with demonstrations of capability. The buyer wants proof now, not later.
Look to Aberdeen's research for proof. In 2012 they found 58% of companies were using at least four channels to interact with customers. Then, in 2016, they found 58% of companies were using at least eight channels. An advantage for the marketer from this? More channels mean more data, influence, and immediacy.
Marketing software and customer relationship building tools provide business intelligence into buyer behavior, interests, user provided info, attribution, and actions. The resulting reams of data can be used to shape content for both marketing and sales. Don't overlook actionable insight generated from these tools or risk missing deeper relationship development or acquisition opportunities.
Of course, the expectation is that the company’s marketing and sales teams are working with information the prospect has willingly provided. Once that is established, target the data that can help the team:
Use available data to determine B2B customer needs, pain points, and challenges. Then use this understanding to provide timely and relevant content providing value and building trust.
Greater understanding of the buyer comes from gaining more insight into their behaviors, wants, and needs. This greater understanding also arises from sharing information between marketing, sales, customer service, and product development teams. Maximize the ability to make nimble choices, plan ahead, and avoid duplication by coordinating collaborative efforts to build that B2B buyer-to-customer bond.
With all these elements in mind, the B2B marketer can develop and publish well-crafted content. Again, looking to Aberdeen Research, those with intentional, data-driven strategies for customer engagement see 18% greater ROI, retain 2.1 times more of their customers and grow revenue 4.6 times more than other businesses.
Generated qualified leads, increasing sales opportunities, and powering growth are critical goals that Ironpaper clients care deeply about. Fostering B2B buyer loyalty, engagement, and advocacy are key components to growth and may act as a divining rod to improving growth habits within an enterprise.
Aberdeen Group (2016). Customer Lifecycle Management: How to Navigate the Road to Advocacy. https://services.aberdeen.com/KB-14134
BrightInfo. (2016, October 27). How to Personalize Your Content [Webinar].
Bulbul, C., Gross, N., Shin, S. & Katz, J. (2014, June). When the Path to Purchase becomes the Path to Purpose. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/the-path-to-purpose.html
Marketo. (2016). The 5 Principles of Engagement Marketing. https://www.marketo.com/ebooks/elements-of-engagement-marketing
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