When the coronavirus came into play, the entire B2B marketing sector suddenly had a different focus. It will not surprise you: the personal click is now searched and made online. And, marketing and sales are coming closer together.
Customer Journey: from personal offline to personal online
B2B businesses have traditionally focused on quickly building an excellent personal relationship with customers and prospects.
Personal contact comes from a CRM idea through sales.
It is supported by relevant marketing campaigns with personalized or tailor-made content and interesting customer-days, exhibitions, and conferences.
This is simply how B2B companies reach their customers and prospects.
But how does the B2B sector deals with the sudden disappearance of having a cup of coffee and organizing events?
Traditionally, that is the way they were visible. This way, they close deals and gain a lot of knowledge and new contacts. And the funnel is being worked on.
In B2B Marketing in 2020, two things stand out that address that question.
The B2B marketer still prefers to go through the classic funnel.
Nevertheless, he has also become increasingly interested in the more customer-oriented parts of the customer journey.
The customer journey’s attention is divided into:
- 33% orientation phase
- 28% purchase phase
- 22% use phase
- and a 17% service phase
Therefore, marketers increasingly realize that bringing in leads or is not the only place where they can add value to their business.
At a time when customer retention is more important than ever, online campaigns allow them to connect and differentiate themselves with customers.
Personal attention is shifting from offline to online, partly due to the government’s regulations and social distancing.
- Classroom training becomes online training;
- customer events become webinars,
- presentations become online demonstrations, and
- making phone calls becomes video calling (with screaming children in the background).
For example, B2B marketers shift their attention a little more from lead generation to customer loyalty. You also see B2B companies adapt personal contact to a personal touch and relevance via online communication (channels).
B2B Marketing: sales & marketing are increasingly mixing up
Another interesting observation is that sales and marketing are increasingly moving towards each other.
This was a hypothesis at first, but now we see it in reality.
A large majority of online marketers answered ‘agree’ to the following three statements:
The role of marketing within the buyer’s journey becomes more important
You have probably heard and read it before.
The internet and lightning-fast technology developments mean that a buyer is increasingly able to do his homework properly. This way, he can figure out how he can orient himself to meeting a certain need.
Also, more and more information is available online. This makes it easier for the buyer to make choices about which proposed solutions he wants to consider.
Only when a real decision has to be made will he contact himself to get his questions answered.
The research shows that 57% of B2B companies need 1 to 5 contact moments to get to the customer’s table. That one contact could, in fact, also consist of ten prior “contact moments” that are unknown to the respondents (because they were done online). If they don’t use web tracking, they can never know how many times that potential prospect has already visited the website, read the blogs, and studied the pricing page.
Obtain information from buyers
That’s why the role of marketing has become so important.
Marketers ensure that the website is well found by implementing SEO techniques and generating lead conversions.
They ensure that content on the website is relevant. It should also answer the questions visitors have at different stages of their buyer’s journey. They also make sure that visitors make themselves known by having them subscribe to the newsletter, download relevant white papers, or request brochures—content created by marketers.
As soon as visitors have made themselves identified, nurturing campaigns can be set up via e-mails to obtain additional information so that they also request or download that content again.
Consider a customer case, of which 26% of the respondents in the survey say that this produces the best leads.
Cooperation with sales is very important. Ultimately, the salespeople talk to prospects and nurture marketing with relevant topics, developments, and the needs that prospects have. But the executive role of marketing means that they have a far greater role in all aspects of guiding prospects in their ‘buying journey.’
The marketing department is devoting more and more time for the entire funnel
The above underscores the explanation of the first conclusion. The role of marketing in the buyer’s journey is becoming more important. As a result, they also spend more time on the entire sales funnel. In addition, we have already seen that online marketing is increasingly playing a role in B2B.
Marketers guide customers with the use of the product or service with all kinds of online campaigns.
There is considerable turnover in customers in various industries. If you manage to reduce turnover, you can actually use customer acquisition to grow your business instead of using it to absorb the revenue that leaves your company through the back door.
That is why it’s important to put customer needs first.
It is precisely the insights we gain from the continuous analysis of the customer journey, results of customer research, and analyzing data that enable us to further improve the ‘personal service’ towards our customers step-by-step.
The cooperation between marketing and sales has improved
Sales and marketing are increasingly converging.
78% of respondents say that cooperation between both departments has improved in the past year., and 50% indicate that the departments should actually be merged into one department.
However, this does indicate that the integration between sales and marketing in B2B is increasingly taking shape. Salespeople are increasingly thinking like marketers, and marketers are increasing sales- driven.
In a healthy B2B company, sales and marketing go hand in hand and work together to realize new business targets.
That starts with making plans:
- How many new customers do we want to bring in this year?
- How many MQLs (Marketing Qualified Lead) are needed for this?
- Which sectors do we focus on, and what information needs are there?
- Which companies and contacts do we already know in that sector? Which ones would we like to get in touch with?
- Via which channels could this be possible, and at what cost?
In this way, both departments come to a joint plan of action to generate the right number of MQLs through the right channels with the right content (created by marketing, but fed by sales knowledge) so that sales can create sufficient opportunities to realize the targets.
B2B marketing is a numbers game. You have to plan ahead, know exactly, what you are doing, analyze your KPIs, and calculate how many leads you need to generate to reach a certain level of revenue. This is nothing new. However, what is new is that marketing is switching to the online presentation on top of this numbers game, eliminating the personal factor. This shifts marketers’ focus because they can no longer implement the same techniques online, as they did when they met with the prospect in person. 2020 has changed the market a lot, and we are really curious about what 2021 will bring us!