Engaging the Modern B2B Customer – Part One
“Customers consult multiple digital channels and seek advice from colleagues, all before stepping into a showroom or engaging with a sales rep. Even after a sales pitch, customers return to digital channels and colleagues to validate a supplier’s claims.”
~ Jordan Bryan, Content Manager, Gartner
Increasing Engagement Across Channels
Connecting with customers in a way that feels genuine to them is both an art and a science. Much like the romantic idea of engagement, the B2B version encompasses all of the things your company says and does as you attempt to coax customers toward a lifelong committed relationship with your brand, products and/or services. However, nowadays the balance of power has shifted and your once loyal customers find themselves in the flattering position of being courted not only by you, but by your competitors, too. From chatting on social media and comparing online or in-app offers, to receiving calls, emails and invitations to events, etc. your customers have lots of options. So what will be the deciding factor for them? Valuable, personalized, omni-channel content that informs, nurtures and resonates is the irresistible enticement that will persuade your prospects and customers to become fully engaged and ready to commit.
Tools of the Trade: Did you know that 83 percent of B2B customers use digital channels in the early, middle and late stages of their purchase process? To accommodate this growing trend, you’ll need a few martech tools to support your omni-channel strategy. These tools include:
- Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) – This tool enables you to track customer interactions in real time across all channels.
- Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) – Make sure your MAP has omni-channel capabilities or the ability to integrate the channel plug-ins you want.
- Content Management Platform – This workhorse pulls content from sources throughout your company and organizes it for use in personalized campaigns. It makes personalizing your marketing pieces a much simpler and scalable endeavor.
- Marketing/Data Dashboard – Enables you to track campaign performance and course correct according to data insights.
The Content Combo: Style + Substance
In the not too distant past, marketers developed volumes of content because it was the way you got ahead in the information age. But customers soon learned to ignore the onslaught of self-serving articles, blogs and campaigns that were stuffed with keywords and sorely lacking in substance. As you are already aware, the modern customer is a discerning researcher whether by phone, tablet, laptop or desktop. To earn their interest, trust and dollars, your brand must develop marketing pieces that are as smart to the eye as they are to the mind. Customers want informative communications that demonstrate thought leadership and are genuinely helpful.
6 Rules of Engaging Content
Producing content of a higher caliber that resonates with a customer’s pain points, wants and needs requires a data-driven approach. When creating content for your customers make sure the information you provide is:
Address customer pain-points sooner rather than later. Make it clear you understand their needs. Then, and only then should you introduce your solution.
Speak the customer’s language clearly and concisely.
Use your CRM and content management tools to send the right message at the right time.
Treat jargon like the social pariah it is and banish it from all communications.
Know what’s on your customers’ minds and then become their thought leader by providing content that answers their questions.
Above all, honor their preferences. Use the channels they prefer and communicate with the frequency they request. In time, they will note and reward your willingness to genuinely listen to what they are telling you.
Be sure to check out Part Two of Engaging the Modern B2B Customer, where we will cover the role of personalization and sales enablement in fostering more rewarding customer relationships.
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