In recent years, digital engagement has blurred the lines between individuals’ personal and professional online presence. Following this convergence of the public and the private sphere, B2B marketers must adapt to the changing ways their target customers interact in the online world. B2B PR pros would be well-advised to adopt these three best practices from their B2C counterparts that reflect the changing ways businesses make their purchasing decisions:
1. Harness the power of influencers
Influencer marketing has gained a firm foothold among B2C marketers. Now more than ever, consumers look to the opinions of industry experts before making a purchase. When it’s done well, the tactic yields powerful results: a recent study by NCS and Tapinfluence showed that influencer marketing earns eleven times the ROI of all other digital campaigns. “We know the B2B buyer journey has significantly changed, and buyers are reaching out to their social networks for consultations,” said Kim Babcock, director of customer engagement at TrapIt. “They look to industry leaders and trusted advisors on social media before making decisions.” B2B marketers can capitalize on this trend by becoming subject matter experts in their industry. Trade publications, industry associations, pundits, analysts, and other trusted voices have become the B2B equivalent of celebrity endorsements and mommy blogger reviews. Remember that credibility is key: purchase decisions are driven by the perceived authority of each information source.
2. Make data-driven decisions
According to a 2016 Hubspot study, 43% of marketers say their biggest challenge for 2017 is demonstrating the ROI of their marketing activities. B2C marketers have long enjoyed larger marketing budgets than their B2B peers, which means sophisticated data analysis has been limited to major consumer brands and agencies. However, the emergence of martech tools and compelling data visualization platforms means companies no longer need an in-house data scientist. For B2B companies with smaller budgets, a service like Klipfolio can aggregate analytics from several common tools like Mailchimp, Google Analytics, and Moz, to build real-time dashboards that require no data manipulation. For those with little to no budget, a powerful combination of time and determination can yield similar insights. Overall, the availability of data analytics tools means B2B companies well versed in marketing and content automation applications can now make better informed decisions on how to effectively track their marketing spend.
3. Prioritize the customer experience
The experience of a customer who frequents a B2C brand has always been a determining factor in the credibility of the brand and its success at large. With the dawn of social media in the last decade – giving a mass of customers a voice instantly – the experience of the customer became more important than ever. Tesco chairman Sir Richard Broadbent Sir Richard Broadbent said, “The company that provides the best relationship with the customer will win — not through product, but through the best experience.” This viewpoint comes into focus for B2B marketers with the increase of subscription-based products and services. In a business model with high churn, B2B companies must satisfy their customers or quickly lose them. But this threat also represents a great opportunity: Happy customers become a company’s best advocate, which makes assuring customer success a great revenue model.
By borrowing from conventional B2C wisdom, B2B marketers can take advantage of shifts in the marketplace to more effectively engage their target audience. Brand credibility is the uniting force behind each of these three guidelines: whether you’re selling to a consumer or a company, authenticity is key.
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