The Next Big Thing in Your Company’s B2B Marketing Strategy
B2C-Style Customer Engagement — the Next Big Thing in Your Company’s B2B Marketing Strategy?
If your clients are mostly business customers, you’d know that marketing to them is different from marketing to the consumer market. They’re more likely to be driven by rationality, want technical details, and be on a much longer buying cycle.
On the plus side, they’re also more likely to want to form a relationship with you as a trusted supplier, one they can keep coming back to, especially if you make them look like a rock star for their excellent purchasing decisions.
So yes, you’re right in thinking there are big differences between the two. However, a recent study by Forrester Consulting revealed that business buyers are increasingly imitating the habits of consumers in their movement toward the digital sphere.
Which is why you need to get on board with making customer engagement a big part of your B2B marketing strategy.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an IT service provider or in the financial industry, if you’re in the B2B market, you already have an advantage over those selling directly to consumers. And that is the potential for customer retention. In fact retention rates are said to average 70 per cent to 80 per cent in b2b, versus 30 per cent to 50 per cent for b2c companies. (http://www.dmnews.com/marketing-strategy/what-b2b-marketers-can-teach-their-b2c-counterparts/article/300865/).
With this in mind, doesn’t it make sense for B2B marketers to create a higher level of engagement that creates positive impressions at all stages of the buying cycle?
The answer to this should, of course, be a resounding yes. So why are so many of them so slow on the uptake?
Old School B2B Marketing Strategies Don’t Cut It Anymore
Well, a couple of key things need to be addressed. The first one is that many larger companies tend to operate in silos. This more often than not results in inconsistency both from the user experience perspective, and in terms of follow up.
Another key problem is the proportion of the budget that is spent on improving the efficiency of the sales force, rather than being invested in potentially more profitable digital channels.
The solution may come from an unexpected source — B2C marketing.
Incorporate Some B2C-Style Customer Engagement Into Your B2B Marketing Strategy
One industry that has been a leading light in the transition to making engagement marketing a cornerstone of their B2B marketing strategy is the software industry.
Taking a leaf from B2C e-commerce’s book, some companies have managed to segment their prospects into different groups based on things like geography, industry, job title, and source of referral. With each segmented group, they can then create separate offers and entry points using unique selling points that appeal to that particular segment.
Incorporate a predictive model into your digital sales analysis and you have the tools to know which customers will be interested in a particular product, and prepare your sales staff to target these customers when the likelihood of purchase is high.
This information can also be the basis of customised social media posts and email messages designed to target different audiences at their particular point of interaction.
You can eliminate the ‘silo effect’ by collecting and analyzing data at various different touch points, and then sharing this data around the company, so that everyone has a more holistic view of a client’s buying patterns, and individual attributes.
Using Your Product or Service as a Lead Magnet
One trick that has been used by B2C marketers for decades is the ‘trial period’, where you get a month’s free subscription to a product or service before the paid period kicks in (free month of Reader’s Digest anyone?). Brian Stafford of McKinsey recommends doing the same with your product. Creating trial versions of your product, or allowing clients a subscription-free period, can result in 30 per cent conversion rates.
According to McKinsey’s SaaS benchmark database, companies that have started introducing B2C-style customer engagement into their B2B marketing strategy have reported double revenue growth rates, triple the number of customers, and lower customer churn rates.
To many B2B marketers, making a transition into the more B2C world of engagement marketing may feel strange, and even a little counter-intuitive at times. But if results achieved by software companies are anything to go by, the rewards are definitely out there.
Originally published at blog.thebrandmanager.com.au.