For many, the last few months have opened up and given us a taste of a return to normality, whatever that means. When most people say normal, they mean comfortable.
The pre-pandemic business world was both a convenient and dangerous place. Since the pandemic, there have been many changes, from digital transformation in all aspects of the business to changing customer expectations. Companies and their marketers must adapt to these changes to survive and thrive in a post-pandemic business environment. Companies that have not adapted, adapted and swung over the last year and a half are not doing as much business as they could.
One way customers are changing is that B2B customers expect more digital experiences. Expectations of experience are becoming so high that our traditional means of customer service are not sufficient. Recent research shows that 90% of B2C buyers will turn to competitors or suppliers if digital channels do not meet their needs. This expectation goes beyond service.
Former Salesforce marketing chief Kraig Swensrud, co-founder of Qualified.com, says B2B marketers should prioritize personalized real-time experiences that appeal to digital decision makers. Marketing is no different, but the experiences that companies make through their marketing are more important than ever. Studies show a strong correlation between the linking of brand experience, customer experience and employee experience. There are important links between the changes that have emerged from the pandemic and the trends that B2C brands need to be aware of as we move into the next phase of commercialization in 2H 2021-2022.
B2B digital first B2B buyers expect continuity across all channels and the information they seek as they make their conscious and deliberative decisions throughout the sales journey. The best solutions for your customers are content that is comprehensive, relevant, engaging and actionable – which is more important than ever in the face of increasing competition for digital attention across all B2B communications channels. B2Bs brands that adapt their marketing to digital first-time buyers need to provide the best answers and experiences that are recoverable and credible.
Optimize the best response, content and experience by making it easy to find relevant information. Many B2B marketers are addressing this with a renewed focus on SEO. This is a great start, but finding something that is trustworthy is even better.
It is time for B2B marketers to integrate efforts to optimize the findability and credibility of content by engaging influencers. In our study on the state of B2C influencer marketing, we found that over 50% of the surveyed B 2B marketers integrated influencer marketing with SEO. We found that there is a link between increased credibility of content from trusted industry experts and experience in brand-focused B2Bs. Many successful B2V marketers have made this connection between SEO and influence by creating content and experiences for customers.
Buying interactions are driven by content. The average number of purchase interactions increased from 17% to 27%, with 60% of purchases made with at least 4 persons involved.
As B2B marketers shift much of their marketing efforts to digital media, content plays an important role in providing information and experiences that satisfy buyers “intentions. Involving more buyers in the process creates more reasons to produce relevant, engaging, and trustworthy content. Although many marketers are challenged to create enough content, our research has shown that partnerships with industry experts and the credibility of content to achieve these goals can influence this. 70% of B2C marketers say influencers can improve the credibility of brand content and 75% say they can help spread more views of brand content.
The transformation from B2B to digital means that B2C marketers do not approach content alone. Salespeople are recognised as thought leaders in their field and contribute to digital conversation in a new and provocative way. Partners, who are voices of trust and customer attention in the industry, help to create quantity and quality with credibility and reach that brands can hardly achieve on their own.
The value and influence of B2B brands is not limited to sellers. In fact, the value of executives standing up to the public within B2C brands is growing, as they influence the industry and help drive revenue and results. Many B2Bs important opinion leaders and experts within companies have no sales responsibility, but trust in their expertise helps to create trust in the brand and the task of sales.
B2B marketers in this area have experienced an increase in lead generation and turnover through cooperation with industry influencers. Our survey of hundreds of B2B marketers found that 53% of them increase their leads by working with an influencer.
Influencing or cooperating with external influencers is of limited value. Do not develop influence without appropriate experts and executives within the brand.
Indeed, many B2B brands are finding that partnerships with outside industry experts can facilitate the combination of developing their executives “social influence. Whether it’s collaborative content creation through LinkedIn live events, webinars, Twitter space, clubhouse chats, podcast interviews, or recorded videos, there are many ways for B2C brands to create mutual value and elevate their leaders through partnerships with industry experts, giving them more leverage over prospects and customers. With the transformation of the B2B marketing business into the digital, there are currently more than enough emerging technology trends.
The human side of B2B marketing has been overlooked in the past. If there is one thing the last 18 months have taught us, it is that we have become better acquainted with our business and our customers than ever before and that human connection, customer experience, value of content and the power of our leaders are more influential than ever and will play an important role in connecting with customers as they expect and when they need to.
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