In B2B marketing, it’s important to tell customers and prospects about the products and “solutions” that help them do their jobs, Michael Watts of Merkle writes.

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Michael Watts

When they’re not at work—and sometimes even when they are—B2B buyers are also B2C consumers. In the latter role, they have grown accustomed to personalized treatment from the brands they favor, and to thoughtful recommendations from peers on social media.

As a result, B2C marketing tactics are increasingly necessary on the B2B marketing terrain. B2B marketers need to offer compelling content and an active social media presence in order to attract potential buyers to their brand. Approach them with relevant offers, rather than generic sales pitches. They want to engage with a brand at the right moment, not when it is convenient for a sales rep.

By creating more content for whitepapers and case studies, you'll have laid a great foundation to help improve your SEO.

You’re probably already using many of the same basic KPIs and metrics that a B2C site measures: traffic, bounce rates, page views per visit, and time on site. Yet key differences remain. For B2B, it’s essential to focus on solutions that help customers do their jobs. What solutions do your products offer, and how are you getting that experience into your customer’s hands before the sale? Ask questions like: Is there a Freemium tool they can use? What white papers can they download? Are there videos or customer testimonials they can watch? All of these B2B KPIs are worth tracking on a regular basis.

Focus on B2B KPIs

B2B KPIs contrast with those of a normal ecommerce or B2C site, which would generally prioritize metrics like product checkout and funnel fallout, adds to cart, compare products, and reviews, but where all users get the same product. Everyone buys the same iPhone, but B2B customers are looking for solutions and products that can adapt to their particular business needs. Seeing a number of different possibilities sparks their imagination.

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A wide variety of case studies featuring users among multiple companies or industry verticals can tell stories about the value your product offers to businesses. One company features eight different client case studies for the same product to demonstrate how the product can work differently for various verticals.

Seeing this variety of use cases enables a prospect to contextualize the cases to their own business—and to see how the seller can customize its product to a customer’s needs. Closely tracking the downloads of each case study helped the seller understand their product’s most commonly used applications, which helped the company enable its sales team with better scripts for outbound calls and follow-ups. And that resulted in more closed sales.

Tracking diagnostics on-site is not enough. You must rigorously track the applications of your product or solution.

An added bonus: By creating more content for whitepapers and case studies, you’ll have laid a great foundation to help improve your search engine optimization, or SEO.

Customer Experience: Enterprises versus SMBs

Your external marketing needs to mesh well with your on-site customer experience, of course. And your B2B CX needs will vary depending on the amount of social media marketing you do, how much site traffic you’re paying for, which events you sponsor—all of which depend on the size of your business. The best way to get started is to optimize your site’s SEO. After that, set up Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics and start reading the reports. Note the patterns that emerge, and ask questions of the data.

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In my experience, small and medium-sized businesses—SMBs—are more hands-on with CX than enterprises because SMBs know that each lead could be crucial. And SMBs can be nimbler, changing quickly as their businesses require.

However, SMBs are also dealing with more limited resources than a typical enterprise, which can lead to longer project update cycles—if they lack the resources to execute change as swiftly as enterprise companies.

Some CX items remain essential regardless of company size. It will always matter to know who’s on your website and to enable customers to reach you easily. SEO will always be a priority. It will always pay to advertise properly, to attend/sponsor events, and to generally get your name out there.

More than enterprises, though, SMBs need to focus on online reviews. When prospects read a few credible bad reviews from customers on Yelp or elsewhere—and don’t see any response from the SMB—they are far less likely to give that business a chance.

Most enterprises are large enough to weather a few disgruntled customers. In other ways, though, good CX is good CX.

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When your marketing brings you customers, and your customers are happy, you’re happy.

Michael Watts is senior director of analytics at Merkle. a marketing services agency.

 

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