Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "Data Drives the Future of B2B Marketing," focuses on the evolution of B2B marketing and why older B2B marketing strategies are generating subpar results.
It should come as no surprise that traditional strategies and tactics are failing to capture the level of engagement and sales results marketers expect from their efforts. In the post-digital age, B2B marketers must look to their B2C counterparts to understand what is taking place. To succeed in the new era, marketers should understand how B2C purchase funnels and journeys are altering the B2B landscape. In short, B2B marketing must adapt to include some B2C concepts.
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Note: Before we dive in, one area that is vital for both B2C and B2B is the following: The 2019 Small Business Marketing Survey states; direct mail and social media generate more sales and higher ROI than any other marketing channel!"
How B2C Marketing Can Help B2B?
Similar to the B2C model where consumers are now accustomed to spending less time in the journey, so it is with B2B. B2B customers want their time back. They, too, require quicker turnaround times, thus affording the marketer less time and attention. That said, B2B customers still expect exceptional customer experiences. In short, the new B2B customer is demanding a different buying experience over those of the past.
As with B2C's personalized buying experience, the B2B customer also expects the experience to be personalized. However, the personalization aspect of the buying experience can only be achieved by incorporating data points that can understand and anticipate a customer's specific business challenges or needs. B2B organizations that embrace the new data-driven dynamic have a higher probability of success, rising above competitors, and ultimately increase sales numbers.
In recent posts, we have referenced the various channels available for both B2C and B2B marketing. To that point, the terms multichannel and omnichannel have become a mainstay in both digital and traditional arenas. 2019's word of the year, "personalization," continues to be at the forefront of all marketing endeavors.
However, Moira van den Akker of Forbes states: "Forget multichannel or omnichannel marketing—the channel doesn't matter. Marketers today need only be concerned with one-to-one personalization at scale." Notwithstanding the term personalization as the single inclusive element for all marketing concerns, ignoring the use of multichannel or omnichannel strategies could be a risky proposition.
In our view, multiple channel offerings are available to marketers because mass marketing in a single environment is no longer effectively possible. There are too many niche groups, and keep in mind that this is a numbers game. Regardless of how personal a message might be, you still need to ensure that the messages are reaching people at the right time in the right channel.
B2B Personal Habits and Expectations
Mitt Romney, the former GOP Presidential nominee, once stated, "Corporations are people too." That comment raised eyebrows at the time; however, he's right. People man corporations. These people sit inside a corporate entity, where they execute the mission of the organization.
Every day, B2B customers purchase a variety of items, including clothing, groceries, and household products. They also order movies, broadcast streams, and other services via apps and digital destinations. In effect, these B2B consumers who also operate in the workplace have come to expect the same level of service that they receive in B2C channels.
The inevitable expectation is that the same level of personalized, tech-enhanced experiences that they enjoy and experience in the consumer environment should also be available in the business environment. This behavior represents a historic shift. Today, consumers, regardless of the sales channel, have certain expectations that must be met, irrespective of the channel. As marketers, we have to change too.
The Data Puzzle
B2B marketing initiatives are no longer able to satisfy customer experience expectations with ancient mass marketing techniques. Consumers are savvy, and they want organizations to engage them. Data means that successful B2B marketing is more complex, collaborative, and unpredictable.
As a result, more data resource technologies and data mining organizations are speedily disrupting the marketplace. So B2B marketers must shore up their data tools to arrive at better decisions given that the data and tools are available. B2B organizations that strategically and collaboratively utilize data with various departments, especially sales, do much better crafting solutions that are specific and personalized.
The New B2B Buying Journey
The new B2B journey consists of four main areas for B2B buyers. They are (1) Problem Identification, (2) Solution Exploration, (3) Requirements Building, and (4) Supplier Selection. Further, when all four steps meet or exceed the expectations of the buyer, a purchase decision generally follows.
Today, B2B buyers perform most of their product research online, and as a result, generally, only engage sales reps when they can't find information or when they are ready to make a decision. In effect, the self-discovery process that answers buyer questions reduces steps in the buying journey. Therefore, successful B2B marketing campaigns that can reduce a buyer's interaction time ultimately improves the process. By limiting buyer interaction time with data-driven tactics that contain targeted, personalized content, marketers can align with sales and improve engagement as well as results.
Gartner's take on the New B2B Buying Journey states, "In today's world of B2B buying, there is no handoff from marketing to sales, or digital to in-person. It's a parallel process, not a serial one." The conclusion is that B2B buyers' purchasing habits are more in line with B2C customer expectations. B2B buyers have come to expect the same level of personalization and efficiency that the B2C sector provides.
Further, data capture and management is an essential tool that can make B2B buyer journeys appealing. Expect to see more B2B organizations adopting B2C strategies and tactics to make the purchasing journey more satisfying, seamless, and personal. Thanks for reading," Data Drives the Future of B2B Marketing"!
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