16th Aug 2017
Research shows that B2B (business-to-business) companies are far behind their B2C (business-to-consumer) colleagues when it comes to embracing digital. The few that have embraced it have seen greater efficiency and are reaping the financial benefits.
So, what’s holding back B2B digital marketing?
By reviewing the fundamentals of B2B, you will be able to identify why and how digital can enhance your sales and marketing efforts, rather than disrupt them.
The main difference between B2C and B2B marketing is the complexity of the path to purchase. B2B usually involves more stakeholders in the decision-making process, higher investments, and binding contracts. These factors mean B2B often has higher stakes and higher perceived risk.
When the stakes are high, the key to success is trust.
Trust in business has always been forged through relationships. This is why B2B success has always been – and will always be – heavily reliant on the people within your organisation to build and maintain that trust.
How can digital attempt to replicate this? By empowering your people with the right digital tools so that they can work a little smarter.
According to Smart Insights, “only 27% of your B2B leads are sales-ready” when they first become known to your business.
Traditionally, your sales team would be responsible for progressing these prospects – a conversation via a scheduled follow-up call, for example. But what about digital?
Cue the power of data collection and automation. The ability to track and retarget your potential customers online means that these conversations are ongoing, and happen at scale.
This isn’t simply following a potential customer around the internet with a display ad. Marketing automation needs intelligent UX design, customer insight and high-quality content to build a connection with your audience.
Learning more about your customer through data collection should be part of every business strategy, even if automation software is currently not in your scope.
As a starting point, do a quick audit of your data:
Collating this information in the one place means you can begin to form a better picture of your customer. The more you understand your customer the more likely you will be able to create a meaningful connection that’s built on trust.
Overcoming the multiple stakeholders in the mix is an enduring B2B challenge, no matter what product or service you are selling. Making an impact on others in the business is just as important as targeting the key contact at the company to which you’re marketing.
Content marketing is perfect for this purpose. It could be firing through a research paper with key stats, or holding a live webinar to answer key questions. Arming your contact with the information and resource they need to influence others is important.
Broaden your thinking to consider your customer’s customer. This can show that you really care about your customer’s business, and give you that edge over your competitors.
A nice example of this is the now iconic Volvo ‘Epic Split’ campaign.
“Truck buyers are surrounded by a lot of influencers, and the largest group is truck drivers,” said Björn Engström, senior partner at Forsman & Bodenfors, the creative agency behind the work. This content not only caught the attention of the buyers but also the end users of the product.
Of course, you don’t need to book Van Damme for your B2B digital marketing campaign. Your content could be as simple as an online survey of end users, delivering insights to your customers that they might not have known.
Logic dictates that it should be easier to retain a customer than find a new one because the relationship already exists. Despite this, marketing to existing customers is often forgotten. In fact, something that both B2C and B2B share is the perception of poor customer service.
Technological innovations mean that customers have more control than ever before. End users already demand tailored experiences, at a time that suits them – and now, personalisation and convenience is something that businesses are beginning to expect as well.
There are many ways to use digital to increase the transparency and convenience of your product or service. For example, you could develop an app that tracks the status of delivery, create a client-only area on your website or send out a personalised email with content that’s relevant to them.
The more value you are adding for your customer, the stronger their trust in you will become. And the more trust there is in your relationship, the more likely it is that your customer will become loyal to your business, and share their good experience with others.
Find out how Further can create and deliver a successful B2B digital marketing campaign for your business by contacting us today.