Business-to-business (B2B) customer expectations are shifting. More products and services are designed with users at the center, there is a proliferation of options to choose from, and the pandemic has fused work-life balance in a more extreme way than ever before. That said, if B2B brands aren’t meeting customer expectations, then their audiences will start to shrink.
Not surprisingly — especially during the pandemic — the lines B2B and business-to-consumer (B2C) are starting to blur. B2B companies are trying to lead with a more human-centric approach. Even so, according to PwC, 59% of customers feel that brands have lost touch with the human element of customer experience. So, what does that mean for us?
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Now more than ever, the “human element” needs to be a part of all marketing strategies — regardless of whether you’re B2B or B2C. Finding opportunities to have authentic interactions with consumers on a more personal level can seem like a tall order. But, it doesn’t have to be! Here are three ways B2B companies can meet customer expectations, taking cues from the B2C world:
- Treat customers like humans. Because B2B brands can be hyper-focused on showcasing a product and its benefits, it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating conversion-focused experiences. And sometimes that means forgetting that buyers are humans — not businesses. You don’t want to fall into this trap. One way to treat your customer like a human is to personalize your experiences as much as you can. Modern consumers don’t just want this kind of interaction, they expect it!
Humans crave connection, and one of the easiest ways for consumers to connect is through conversation. Learn how your customers speak and emulate that in your messaging and keep the tone conversational. You can still have a serious business without taking yourself too seriously. Understanding your customers on a deep level, tapping into what’s on their minds, and speaking their language will go a long way in helping you build brand trust and loyalty.
- Ensure a variety of fresh, new content. B2C brands are very good at creating fresh, new content that lives across all channels. And B2B brands need to have a similar mindset when it comes to their content. What are some best practices to get into a better cadence of sharing engaging content?
- Deliver new content regularly. A great way to secure brand loyalists and grow an audience is to deliver new content regularly. This could be anything from a video series to a podcast. Think about what cadence makes the most sense to roll out new content, whether it’s quarterly, seasonally, etc. Once established, the anticipation for new content is part of the fun for longtime fans, and could help bring in new customers.
- Think local. When thinking of new content ideas, it’s important to ground your research in the communities you’re trying to reach. This will help you determine how to tailor and personalize your marketing initiatives. Remember, the only way to create a message that resonates is to actually talk to people.
- Effectively communicate. Whenever you decide to deliver something new or different to your customers, let your customers know the reasoning for the change and what they should expect. Sending individual messages and creating lots of social, blog, and video content to support the new direction can do wonders. Effective communication is better than overcommunication — be strategic when reaching out to your customers.
- Create an engaging experience across all channels. It’s important that you create engaging, consistent experiences everywhere your brand shows up. But, creating consistent, personalized experiences doesn’t have to be a pain or a ton of work. Fortunately, technology, like artificial intelligence (AI), can help. One example is (AI)-powered chatbots, which can help create a better experience for customers. How? Chatbots can meet customer requests and personalize messages to each individual — without tedious, manual effort . You can customize your messages and enable customers to engage in the channels that they prefer (website, email, social media, etc.).
You might also consider engaging influencers for marketing opportunities. If you’re looking to reach a wider audience, engaging with influencers across different channels can help. Influencers offer a new way to reach your customers and provide a great brand experience outside your owned channels.
Customers, whether they’re shopping for themselves or their business, care about the interactions they have with brands. And as the marketing landscape continues to shift, B2B companies would be wise to tap into their human side (like many B2C companies are already doing) with their marketing tactics. Because being successful long-term relies on more than just sales — we have to be building better connections and brand loyalty along the way. And remember, if done the right way, being more human isn’t just good for our customers, it’s good for business, too.
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