How to React to a Changing B2B Marketplace
The B2B marketplace is changing. New technologies, processes, and demographics have significantly altered how B2B buying decisions happen – from researching to decision-making. Technological advancements also enable new ways of doing marketing that can become game-changers for the industry. It is imperative for your company to keep up with these changes and tailor your marketing strategies.
B2B buying behavior is no longer what it used to be. The purchase journey is no longer a face-to-face journey conducted by a senior executive who talks to one of your sales personnel. Rather, it has become a long online journey carried out by multiple people in varying positions. Let’s examine some trends that have altered the B2B landscape and their resulting implications for marketing:
B2B buyers are increasingly younger. A 2014 study conducted by Google/Millward Brown Digital found that nearly half of all B2B researchers are millennials. This 18-34 year old demographic are digital natives. They have grown up immersed in technology and as a result, expect content and channels to be accessible, engaging, and personalized. As a B2B marketer, you need to give them the content they have come to expect. Brands should be approachable and relevant, with a buyer-centric content strategy informing your marketing actions.
Your B2B marketing strategy shouldn’t just focus on the senior executives. 81% of non-executives influence purchasing decisions (Google/Millward Brown Digital), with 24% having final authority. If your voice is aimed solely towards those at the top, you will overlook your target audience. Think of multiple buyers with many different perspectives – your marketing content should be relevant to many different roles.
Influence and decision making are occurring early on within the purchasing journey. 71% of B2B researchers begin their research with a generic online search, and they do an average of 12 searches before engaging with a specific site (Google/Millward Brown Digital). Thus, a generic search strategy is increasingly more effective than a branded one, which shows how important search campaigns and SEO efforts can be. They have the power to draw potential B2B buyers towards your products and services. You should ensure that your value is presented to potential customers much earlier in the selling process than contact with your sales personnel. After all, 90% of a B2B buyer’s journey may be complete before they ever reach out to a sales representative (Forrester).
Lately, there has been huge growth in the usage of mobile devices for B2B purchasing. Half of all B2B buyers use a mobile device during the purchase process (Google/Millward Brown Digital). Mobile drives an average of 40% of revenue in B2B organizations (Google/Boston Consulting Group), with buyers using them for work and multitasking across multiple screens. 50% of B2B search queries are on smartphones, and this number is expected to increase to 70% by 2020 (Google/Boston Consulting Group). The role of mobile devices within the B2B buying journey is significant, and it is only going to grow further, driven largely by the millennial generation. This change means that you need to tailor your content to mobile devices and provide rich mobile experiences. Mobile optimization is essential for B2B, especially as search engines increasingly factor mobile-friendliness into their rankings.
Does your marketing content consist solely of blogs and articles? If so, you may need to reconsider your strategy, as 70% of B2B buyers watch videos throughout their entire purchasing path (Google/Millward Brown Digital). It’s not just a few seconds either – almost half are viewing 30 minutes or more of B2B-related videos. Leverage the power of visuals and video content in your marketing – it is engaging, informative, and entices potential customers to look for further information and visit your website.
Aside from changes in the purchasing journey, advances in technology have created new marketing technologies that are significantly altering the B2B landscape. New tools can seem daunting at first, especially when faced with uncertainties about their usability or reach. However, innovations in marketing technologies often bring about big improvements in marketing effectiveness and capabilities. Let’s look at a few of these game-changers:
A 2016 survey showed that most marketers are behind in automation (Lander). Marketing automation has a wide scope. It can be used to generate and nurture leads, drive e-commerce revenue, accumulate customer intelligence, and manage cross-channel campaigns. It allows marketers to shift their focus to the best possible prospects that can convert to sales. Learning who is visiting your website and the type of content they are interested in is incredibly valuable information. Marketing automation technology allows you to develop your marketing strategy to include tailored content and personalization, aspects that are highly valued by the emerging B2B demographic.
Some of the biggest recent advancements in technology are in artificial intelligence (AI). AI enables machines to use algorithms to mimic human cognitive functions. When applied to the field of marketing, it allows for increased access to the amount of data that can be analyzed and used to tailor marketing strategies to various customer segments. Essentially, AI will let you get more insight into your potential customers, be more efficient, and increase ROI. Better decision-making results from more accurate data and personalized approaches to content strategy will be made easier by AI technology. Be on the lookout for advancements within AI and don’t be afraid to adapt and harness the powers of these technologies for your marketing activities.
Be Proactive with B2B Changes
The B2B marketplace is changing rapidly. New technologies and demographics have altered purchasing behavior and ways of doing business that have strong implications for marketing. And B2B marketing is as steady as ever, with growth expected at a 13% annual growth rate through to 2018 (Lander). Be proactive with the changes in B2B marketing. Rand Group’s digital marketing specialists can assist you in creating the right marketing strategy to reach your goals and objectives. Contact our team today.