B2B Behavior Changes Will Last

Over these past couple of months, your customer behaviors have dramatically changed, and the predictions are that your customers won’t be going back to their old behaviors.

Your customers have been forced to make any non-essential purchases online. That means that they’ve had to research products and services online, compare solutions online, and determine what companies they want to do business with online.

These behavioral changes are not just impacting businesses that sell to consumers (B2C). We are seeing these behavioral changes affecting businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B) as well.

According to McKinsey, the behaviors that your customers, business buyers, exhibited in the pre-Covid19 days will not be the behaviors that you will find them continuing in the post-Covid19 era.

Developing a clear perspective on what all of your customer segments will want will be crucial.

What They Want

First, a bit of optimism. In this same report, by McKinsey, we find that 45% of global business buyers are anticipating a rebound in the economy within 3-4 months from the end of April.

This is good news, for sure. However, if you’ve not been making strategic adjustments to your marketing and communications, during this time of transition, you could find yourself having to play catchup in a concise period of time.

The most often cited request that business buyers are making, across multiple surveys and reports, is that they want their vendor partners to increase the value of their website to the buyers. Your buyers want increased interaction with your company through your website.

In fact, when these business buyers were asked what they wanted from their vendor partners, by McKinsey, they said:

  • Self-serve: 39% of buyers surveyed want to be able to self serve. This is up from just 11% last year.
  • Sales Calls By Phone: 53% of buyers want sales reps to stop calling them by phone. This is an increase over last year when 33% of buyers didn’t want phone calls from salespeople.
  • In-Person Sales Calls: 47% of business buyers no longer want to see a salesperson in-person. This is an increase from last year when just 27% of buyers no longer wanted to see a salesperson.

It’s not just your buyers that are changing what they want from you. Across decision making and decision influencing job titles, people have an increased expectation of your use of digital channels when you work or communicate with them.

Personalization

Buyers also have expressed the desire to be spoken to in terms that are relevant to them. This means much more than simply putting their first name in the subject line of an email message.

B2B personalization is tailoring your advertising, product offerings, and communications so that they are highly relevant to the person that receives them.

Salesforce found that 83% of business buyers feel that being treated like a person (personalized communications) is very important to winning their business.

Furthermore, this Salesforce research found that 73% of business buyers say that their standards for a good experience, online, is higher than ever.

How To Personalize

The first place to start personalizing is your website.

There are a variety of strategies that will take from minimal effort to execute all the way to major technology initiatives to implement. When it comes to executing new strategies, it’s always better to walk before you run. Try some of these simple ways to personalize your website:

  • Personalized calls to action: Use the text that you use in your links and your buttons to address the user’s specific needs. Stop using the ubiquitous “Click Here” as your call to action.
  • Update Content: Have specific pages on your site dedicated to the segments of customers that your service and rewrite the content for each segment specifically for them.
  • Images: Have images on your website that are representative of your customer segments.
  • Chat-bots: We know that business buyers want to self-serve, but sometimes they just need a little helping hand. Chat-bots, when programmed correctly, will have a dramatic effect on the business buyer’s experience on your website.

The next place to start your personalization effort is with your marketing communications, and email is still the best channel for B2B communications.

  • Segmentation: Much like personalizing your website, personalizing your email marketing communications requires that you segment your audience. There are a number of ways that you can segment your audience. You can segment by geography, industry, position within the customer journey, etc. Regardless of the method of segmentation that you use, just be sure to use one that is going to bring highly relevant messaging to the recipient.
  • Content: Use content that will do two things; first, the messaging has to be about something that the recipient is interested in. Second, use content that will make the recipient feel that you are writing specifically to them. Words like “you” and “your” are much better than ambiguous words like “buyers” or “owners.”
  • Marketing Automation: Use a marketing automation system that will send highly personalized and relevant email messages based on the recipient’s behaviors. Various behaviors such as viewing a specific page on your website or downloading a resource from your site can trigger a specific marketing message.

Conclusion

According to Forrester, too many companies ultimately fail because they cannot or will not meet their buyers’ evolving needs. That risk has never been higher. If you’re not adjusting your marketing strategy to be more digital-focused and personalized for your customers, you will be seriously behind. And, it’s important to ask yourself, if your competitors make these moves and you don’t, what impact will that have on your company?

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