Four key elements B2B marketers can’t ignore

B2B marketing can at times be more complex than B2C, with different motivations, more intricate products and multiple decision makers to take into account. In order for B2B marketers to create an effective and sustainable marketing strategy, here are four key elements you can’t ignore.

Great storytelling

Great B2B brands have the ability to tell engaging stories that trigger awareness of and desire for their products and services. In the B2B world, we know that differentiation at a product level is a tough challenge for all but the few innovators in every market sector. Business need to find new ways to set themselves apart, instead of just competing on price point. A few of these areas are customer service, the customer experience and trust, social purpose and compassion. Storytelling has emerged as a way to encompass all of these areas in brand marketing. A well thought-out brand story is able to touch on each area and deliver a message that not only gets your customers attention but also keeps it.

Shareable content

In order to keep reaching new potential customers, marketers need to create great content that gets shared. To create shareable content, each piece should have a purpose to fill the needs of your customers. You need to know your audience, what they are looking for, what they need and want and how to reach them. A lot of B2B selling is complicated with long selling cycles. The best marketers are creating content that explains the work companies do in a way that educates the potential buyer, gains interest and goes mainstream into consumer channels.

Make sure to create an original eye-catching headline, use high-quality imagery and focus on quality over quantity. B2B marketers know that social media plays a huge role for business today. We as marketers need to know which content gets shared the most and on which platform it will perform best. In short, when creating shareable content for your next marketing campaign: know your customer and know your platforms.

Holistic user experiences

Marketing today is as much about user experience as it is about products and services. Marketers need to ensure the flow of interactions between customers and service providers is as seamless and painless as possible. Focusing on user experience is an important way B2B marketers can stand out from the competition. At Motorola Solutions, senior VP-Marketing Eduardo Conrado’s aim is:

Working together on this front with [the marketing information and technology teams] teams, developing strategies and getting user-experience experts to collaborate—not just on the digital experience, but on product design and the entire user experience, across hardware and software—this will rise in importance for marketing teams."

Designing for a holistic customer experience means designing from within. Although we can’t define or control the experience 100%, we must still do our best to understand it, design for it and influence it. Delivering a holisticcustomer experience means ensuring everyone in your organization has a deep understanding of the customer and the desired customer experience, and is empowered to act on it. As we aim to create more and more touch points for our business a holistic experience becomes an even more vital factor.

Mobile

As we approach 4.77 billion worldwide mobile phone users and 2.03 billion smartphone users this year (“Smartphone Users Worldwide 2012–2017” from eMarketer), it is safe to say that mobile is another important area you can’t ignore. At the rate smartphone use is growing, marketers should make mobile a key component to the user experience. From wearables to the use of beacons, there are a plethora of new opportunities for marketers in the mobile world.

In the B2B space, marketers need to remember that people expect the same quality of experience from their desktop to their mobile as they receive in their private interactions. We can’t afford to think of mobile as an afterthought; it needs to be at the core of our planning processes. Not only does it need to be in place, it needs to be seamless when moving from one device to the next. As a B2B company, you may not be aiming to create direct sales through your mobile marketing efforts, but you should still be using it to inform, educate and inspire your potential buyers to engage with you and move them through the stages of the buyer’s journey.

The age of data-driven marketing innovation

In 2014, every minute, Facebook users shared nearly 2.5 million pieces of content, Twitter users tweeted nearly 300,000 times, and Instagram users posted nearly 220,000 new photos. Each minute of the year. So maybe you can begin to imagine the vast amount of data we are currently producing. It is almost too much to understand how big "Big Data" really is. Maybe because of this overwhelming scope, many marketers are only now waking up to the importance of this data and what it means to their brand and business.

Recognizing what data is valuable is only the first step in the process of data-driven marketing innovation. After we are in a position to collect such vast amounts of data, we need to make sense of it all. We need to understand what it means to individual customer interactions and to our business generally. Once we have those two steps in place, then we can start to apply it in innovative ways to improve customer experiences, build loyalty, and drive sales.

Enhancing customer experiences with data

Data should be at the heart of every customer experience. Every time a customer interacts with your brand whether online or off, we can use data to enhance that experience. For example, with basic loyalty card data, a business can know what items customers are buying, which store they are buying from, and the days and times they buy. A savvy marketer can use this data to make some simple improvements right away, like offering customized discounts based on items purchased and location. This data can even help our business maintain inventory of popular goods during peak shopping times.

Starbucks’ great idea

The data collected from loyalty cards can also help drive improvements wanted by your customers. Let the customers themselves vote for what’s important to them. Starbucks has taken this idea and run with it to create Mystarbucksidea.com. Customers are able to share, discuss, and vote on the ideas and improvements that are most important to them and how they interact with Starbucks. This innovative idea meshes data from social media, loyalty cards, and other sources, to drive improvements that Starbucks’ customers will always be happy with.

Data drives sales for Burberry

Another example of a great brand that has embraced digital and data is Burberry. Burberry is able to keep track of what their customers are buying all across the globe. This way when that customer returns to a Burberry store even half way across the world, the customer service can always be spot on. Staff are able to serve that customer based on their own individual style and interests, all from past purchases online or off. Burberry is also able to make more educated predictions on what the customer will be interested in next and market accordingly.

For a more general example, consider a person purchasing a digital camera. Based on that single piece of information, you can easily see that they will need a memory card and possibly a carrying case or bag specific to their camera. A person buying a higher-end digital camera could be interested in different lenses or faster and higher-capacity memory cards. We are able to market the products specific to the customer’s needs if we analyze the data we collect.

Social and mobile put data into overdrive

Data tied with mobile opens even more doors. Geolocation and the use of mobile beacons give you even more marketing power. As your customers walk by or near your store, you have the ability to give them a special offer for that area or simply ask to come by and see the new inventory.

Data tracking paired with social media helps you keep track of positive and negative experiences your customers are having. Tracking certain key words will help you solve problems and reward your brand advocates.

Conclusion

Data and its uses are growing at exponential rates and will continue to do so as we create new innovative ways our customers can interact with us. The more data we are able to collect and understand the more doors it will open to marketers to better serve our customers and create stronger and longer-lasting relationships.

7 Key principals to a Customer Centric Model

Social media and the free flowing access to information, such as product and service reviews, are giving more power to the consumer that previously was not available. Thus creating more informed and demanding customers. With the advances made in technology and communication, combined with vast amounts of data and information created daily, we have empowered the consumer to the highest level.

Truly understanding the consumer is one the most important attributes for making sense of their purchasing process and decisions. A clear understanding of customer needs, wants and pains across the whole organization will help drive profitable growth strategies. Developing a customer-centric model, applying advanced segmentation with data analytics to design an effective customer experience, along with harnessing the power of digital and shifting to a new culture of about the customer for the customer will drive great growth and competitive advantage that is now key for the future of all business.

Transforming to this business model was never going to be a easy transformation. There was always going to be bumps along the way when looking to change a culture that has been in place for some time now. The importance is building that foundation for the future keeping the customer in mind in every business decision we make going forward.

7 Key principals to this culture are:

Process - Avoiding the product push idea and tailoring product offerings based on specific customer segments. Tied with the use of real–time customer insight to support those process and products decisions. Using predictive analytics to adjust offers and service actions according to each customer meeting their behaviors and buying preferences

People - A Customer centric culture is embraced at all levels of the organization. Customer insight is a key component of the company’s strategic agenda.

Technology - A unified vision for data management across the whole enterprise. Data is managed as a corporate asset. As this data will be key going forward proactive measures need to in place for ongoing data quality improvements.

Brand and market position - A need to create a high brand recognition and strong positive associations among target customers, based on real evidence and reputation for customer focus

Customer Segmentation - Clearly defined target segments based on strong understanding of current and potential customer lifetime value. Tied with the in depth knowledge of customers behaviors.

Service – Ensuring that all contact is relevant and value-adding customer contact through variety of media including phone and online self-service tools and information. Not just the transactional and admin driven reasons for contact.

Culture - Customer lifetime management is every so important a clear focus on meeting needs of profitable customer segments across their whole life cycle.

After reading a Ernst & Young report on The journey toward greater customer centricity. I wanted to share some of my key findings with you.

2016 the importance of the Customer Experience

In the year 2015 with all the digital advancements we have seen over the last few years. It is becoming even clearer that the customer experience is something all business need to take a very close look at. Over the last few years we have seen an emphasis put on the use of personalization when it comes to digital. The companies that have been quick to adopt the customer centric approach have been able to capitalize leaving competition in the dust. Increasingly customers now look for each interaction with their company of choice to be about them and their needs. How can this company solve my wants and struggles? Digital technologies are changing the game of customer interactions every day with new rules and possibilities that were unimaginable only a few years back. Now we can finally hear the voice of our customers without the need of surveys, simply by the use of social media. We can be where ever our customers are when they need us with the use of mobile computing tied closely with geolocalization. Now with analytics we can deliver a personal experience based on data driven predictions. Each one of these solutions is great on its own, but the true trick is how companies can combine all of these digital technologies into one seamless experience. Using these digital technologies we can get even closer to our customers with the aim to build long lasting relationships. Delivered properly marketers help drive retention and customer loyalty to a greater degree. Now this is no simple task to be able to customize a different user experience for each and every customer no matter where they are but it is something we need to aim for. Over the course of the year and years to come customers will continue to be the key drivers of change on how we deal with their demands. Despite the tough challenges this leaves for most companies it is one that is sure to deliver big time rewards for those who get it right.