If there’s one thing B2Bmarketers can be sure of these days, it’s that engagement needs to be at the heart of B2B marketing strategy.
In this brave new world that Forrester Research CEO George Colony describes as ‘the New Age of the Customer’, customers are now engaging with companies all the time, moving across various touch points from physical locations to mobile technologies and social. According to a survey conducted by the Acuity Group, 71 per cent of B2B buyers said that they would change suppliers if the overall digital experience were better at another organisation.
The question is how do businesses create this better experience when engagement is such a complex and often cumbersome undertaking.
The answer is tools. Businesses that have shown early signs of success in B2B customer engagement have those who have invested in the right B2B engagement marketing technologies and tools. Some of these tools are things you’re probably already using like social and email. Others have warm fuzzy names like ‘customer advocacy software’. And others, like new platforms that effectively collect and manages billions of pieces of data per day, and can handle enquiries at dizzyingly fast speeds, are still evolving.
If you’re ready to join the B2B customer engagement movement, it’s probably time to invest in new tools of the trade like these.
B2C companies were relatively quick to catch on to the potential of social media to create customer engagement. But B2B companies have been a lot slower on the uptake. However, with the growing tendency for B2B customers to conduct research on a company before deciding to make a purchase, it pays to have plenty of inbound links from social media. In short, more social media links mean better search results, and this is crucial when you consider that around 94 per cent of B2B customers say Internet search is an important part of their buying process.
There is a range of useful tools that can help B2B marketers make the most out of social media. Tools like HootSuite can save time by automating social media posts, and allows for stats and tracking. Mashable has a list of useful tools they recommend for b2b businesses here.
One of the simplest B2B engagement marketing technologies is email. Most companies already use some kind of email marketing. And using email as a way to get customers to sign up for a free trial, white paper or report is a great way to get customers into the engagement process. But this is where a lot of companies stop.
Companies such as Digital Marketer and Crazy Egg take email step one step further by segmenting their email lists and putting every potential customer on an email drip sequence according to which action they take. So if they choose a lower-priced product, or a particular plan, their journey starts with that product or plan, and they are seamlessly led down a particular path without receiving messages that aren’t tailored to their stage of the journey.
These emails demonstrate the product’s value, and create pathways from initial sign-up to closing the sale to possible up-sells. Metrics on open rates, click-through rates, etc. are monitored and adjusted accordingly.
Fortunately, email marketing software you already have like MailChimp, and AWeber have improved their capabilities and allow you to segment, and drip. So make sure you’re making the most out of your email marketing software and incorporating better engagement principles into your email campaigns.
Data Management Tools
When it first burst onto the scene, big data was big news. And no wonder. It allowed us to develop predictive models, find unexpected relationships between variables, and point out potential pitfalls, all of which seemed like a marketing department’s dream.
But, as companies quickly discovered, not all the news is good. As they attempt to harvest data from the ever-increasing range of non-traditional touch points, they are discovering that they simply don’t have the handling capabilities for it.
For many large companies, the number of touch points per day that they have to monitor could be well over a billion, and without a roadmap, they just end up with a fragmented universe of data of little value to their marketing efforts. In other words, data has gone from being a tool in itself to something that requires a tool to make sense of it.
Customer Advocacy Software
One of the more recent B2B engagement marketing technologies is customer advocacy software. As more customers rely on peer reviews to drive their purchasing decisions, many of today’s leading B2B technology companies are leveraging the power of peer reviews and endorsements by using customer advocates to enhance B2B customer engagement and build their brands.
Developing an advocacy program involves finding influencers in your sphere like bloggers, or those who are active on forums or social media to effectively become an evangelist for your brand.
According to a new report from Forrester’s Vice President and Principal Analyst, Laura Ramos, such programs “have a measurable, positive effect on your business, and fostering advocates is essential to becoming customer-obsessed.”
New advocate marketing technologies like Influitive’s AdvocateHub incorporates customers into the content management process, encouraging them to write reviews and post them on social media, come up with referrals from their own networks, and collect feedback. B2B companies that have started using these platforms have reported great successes.
Mobile and social technologies may have handed the power over to the customer, by putting them in control of their own experience with your brand. But with the use of the right B2B engagement marketing technologies and tools, navigating this new terrain, and taking back your power just got a whole lot easier.