It often seems that technology and innovation move faster than an industry is able to keep up. B2B companies are continually forced to reevaluate strategy in order to stay current and remain relevant with customers who are more and more conducting their own research in order to make more informed decisions. In order to remain profitable, B2B marketers must recognize that the landscape of B2B marketing is changing at a rapid pace.
A sophisticated audience demands content which grabs their attention, answers their questions, and provides solutions to their need. The changing scenery of B2B marketing requires industry professionals stay connected, stay engaged, and stay equipped.
The rise of social media has created an environment in which consumers are living just for the moment, as evidenced by 140 Tweet characters, push notifications, and SnapChat. As B2C reminds us, creating a faster emotional connection in real time is “becoming paramount”. It becomes more and more about dominating the social conversation in order to reach the audience.
More and more, potential customers are taking it upon themselves to research, educate, and inform themselves before they ever interact with anyone in the B2B industry. Unlike a traditional sales environment, connecting in the digital world means you can have access to a customer base every moment of the day.
There are a myriad of ways available to interact with customers and remain engaged on an ongoing basis. The issue often becomes one of a lack of engagement and a failure on the part of the industry to make the interaction all about the customer rather than a sales presentation.
Customer Think recently ran a beta for a new product in order to analyze what types of community content work and what types did not in regards to engaging B2B customers. They found that when it comes to engaging, the following methods proved to be most effective:
- Asking for introductions
- Posts about products and their value
- Encouraging customers to ask questions
- Opening up the conversation to allow for sharing of opinion
- Local meet-ups with community participants
B2B content marketers would be wise to build a toolkit that includes recent statistics and up-to-date news on the industry. Quality marketing tools are in abundance, including Google Analytics, social media account management tools, marketing automation, and SEO resources. There is no shortage of quality resources-it’s just knowing where to look. With a little research, you can find that there are tools for:
Change Can Be Good in the B2B Industry
The world of B2B continues to grow in complexity and buyer maturity. The time a buyer takes to make a purchase has steadily increased, more research is being done before any contact is made, and technology continues its role in purchasing decisions. In this unique industry, content marketers must always challenge themselves to stay connected via multiple channels, stay engaged with potential buyers, and stay equipped with the right tools.
Forrester recently released industry estimations for the next five years, predicting that B2B eCommerce sales will rise over $1 trillion by 2020, accounting for 12% of total B2B sales. As the numbers change, so does the need for B2B companies to do the same as they adapt their approaches in order to stay ahead. The previously mentioned Forrester report also mentions that while three out of four B2B buyers prefer to buy online, only one in four B2B companies have an active sales presence online.
B2B content marketers cannot afford to act as if the digital age does not matter; the time for evolution is now. There is power in utilizing technological advances, digital resources, and in keeping up with industry trends. Change can be good, if only we embrace it and move forward with intention and purpose.
How have you merged technology with B2B marketing tactics? Are there resources that you have found to be effective in staying connected and engaged with your audience?