Do you sell aircraft engines? Then you probably know that your customer’s buying process is completely different than that for dry dog food. Yet, 99% of digital agencies still offer all the same services that e-shops offer for sweaters and coffee (nothing against coffee). In this article, we introduce the seven hottest online trends that put your foreign competition one step ahead.
Right at the beginning, I stress the word “ONLINE”. B2B marketing courses consist of many tools – from events to PR loyalty programs, and contact strategies to personal selling. Certainly, I do not reduce any of them merely to define the boundaries for the ground on which we play. If I pull out one particular aspect of why it is necessary for B2B to work with other methodologies, it is mainly the length of the purchasing process. It often takes months; therefore, it is important for all online communication to be built upon this fact.
Start with Some Numbers
The numbers are clear: 70% of B2B commerce today is closed before the first personal meeting (source: Google). Decisions about buying are not made from fliers or billboards along the road. The place is the Internet.All this is complemented by completely accurate targeting and, above all, the perfect opportunity for evaluation — all this, here and now, in real time. The cost of online marketing in comparison with other instruments is marginal. In other words: for the price of a weekend presentation at a fair, you can have a comprehensive strategy for an entire year.
Top Trends in B2B Online Marketing
Let us leave the theorizing. We will now focus on the top trends in online B2B marketing. Of course, the tools and methodologies are many, but let’s elaborate on those that are currently experiencing the greatest progress.
1. Responsive Design for Company Websites
Your site is the foundation. Gone are the days when users visit only during the working hours or with the corporate PC. With the availability of smartphones, the access is around 20% and rising. In addition, users’ behavior has changed completely – people will not search at the office during the day, but in the evening while watching television.Responsive site design that adapts to each device is, therefore, an absolute necessity. (For exporters: In Asia, the percentage of utilization for these tools is over 30%.)
2. Active Collection of Leads
“I’ll give you more – for your contact.” The basis of any successful online B2B company is the active collection of leads. Lead management becomes an integral part of online communication. The reason is clear – for services or products with a long purchase process, it is necessary to capture specific „prospects“ and work with them. A typical strategy is to offer information value (tutorials, case studies, etc.) in exchange for contact information. In conjunction with tools for marketing automation, contacts are incredibly powerful weapons to speed up the procurement processes and monitor the behavior of potential customers.
According to recent research, the most displayed videos are embedded on content websites. And there is an obvious reason – what would take two A4 pages of text, a video says in one minute. Especially for the presentation of references or specific services, there is not a more effective medium. Everything that moves and talks is your customers’ added value, and it all differentiates you from the competition.
4. Company Presentations on Tablets
There is currently no more effective instrument for direct sales support than interactive applications for tablets because they combine text, animation, videos, and charts into a single unit. The times when salesmen had leaflets in the trunk of a used car is gone. Modern applications can be linked with your CRM and continuously update with new information. The now-factor of instant updates is extremely important. In brochures, changing a single phone number would hold up an entire print run; now merchants can modify presentations with a single click.These also contain two important psychological elements – the „wow effect“ (nobody else does it) and tearing down barriers. Sitting at a table with a tablet is just different than an open notebook that creates a „wall“. The really good applications can be downloaded and installed from AppStore or Google Play.
5. Social Content Strategies
Yes, the „Like“ contest on Facebook is not the right strategy for a company selling oil drilling platforms. Still, there are forms of social media that provide the opportunity to reach potential customers. This is mainly through technical discussions and social networking on LinkedIn. With it, you can connect to the relevant people to involve them in a discussion and capture them – e.g. “I’ll give you more – for your contact.“
6. E-mail Marketing
The possibilities and the use of e-mail marketing has been written about by many others. Really, it is not a Chinese ad for Viagra, but a sophisticated way to communicate with customers. In conjunction with automation and, especially „Lead Nurturing“ (the ongoing training of recipients), this can generate an extremely high percentage of closed deals.
7. Marketing Automation
Let’s move on from the air rifle and load up a cannon. Marketing automation systems are the absolute future of B2B, without which, a few years from now, you won’t be able to operate. What’s going on? This comprehensive cloud solution combines into one unit all the tools that are currently almost completely separate.Tracking individual users, CRM, e-mail marketing, creating microsites, monitoring competitors, Social Media Management, Lead Scoring, Lead Nurturing, other „..ings“, comprehensive analyses, and evaluation. All in one interface, here and now.There is no technology with greater potential, and that is why its rapid development represents a major competitive advantage for companies with it versus those without it.You want numbers? The flagship automation system Oracle Eloqua shortens the length of the average purchase process by 50%!(Published in the journal MarketingSalesMedia.)