The B2B marketing and sales funnel has changed drastically over the past few years. But have B2B websites maintained the same level of growth and innovation?
Creating the most personalised journey possible for your buyers is crucial, and your brand’s website should be at the heart of your customers’ digital experience. So why are more and more buyers in the enterprise space saying that digital experience has not only been disappointing, but doesn’t help them on their path to purchase?
Earlier this year in a unique virtual event hosted by digital agency, 26, a panel of experts within the world of B2B marketing and digital transformation took a deep dive into the role of the B2B website and how it has evolved; from data analytics and user experience, to content and journey personalisation.
Here we bring you four key takeaways from the event – and if you like what you read and want to learn more - you can gain instant access to the full webinar here.
Remember B2B audiences are human too
It’s widely accepted that B2C customers are often singular decision makers, prone to making impulse purchases that are more likely to be at the whim of emotion. This psychology is easy for us to get our head around, and it is regularly exploited across a direct-to-consumer (D2C) purchase journey.
Psychology has always played a huge role in marketing, with marketeers acknowledging that their targeted audiences have feelings, emotions and a vast array of experiences shaping their perceptions. This in turn can be learnt, understood and manipulated to elicit behaviour change and influence a desired action.
Yet it is often suggested that those very same humans, once operating in a B2B context, cannot be or are not influenced by emotion. Instead, they are in fact hungry, and need economist level logic to create action.
This has never been the case; however, it has been sufficient previously to fall back on those assumptions, without spending time understanding the nuances of human emotion and decision making within the B2B space.
With the B2B sector having experienced significant digital transformation over the last 12 months, ‘emotion’ plays an increased role in success. Yes, there will still be multiple decision makers and logic-based, regulated purchase requirements, but with the volume of B2B customers wanting to access digitised sales experiences exploding out of pure necessity, a larger proportion of your audience will be impacted by emotion, just as they are in their everyday lives.
To really connect with your B2B audiences, you must prioritise learning. Now is the time to ensure that you have a plan that will enable you to regularly learn from your customers. Start by:
- Revisiting your known buying persona.
- Audit existing customer journeys using both behavioural data (analytics) and human research.
- If your organisation is not taking research, experimentation, UX and psychology seriously – make it known, because your competitors are, and they are going to overtake you.
Hang onto your gains – convenience is loyalty
Accelerated digital transformation has created a vast set of crossover expectations. What your customers once couldn’t do, they then had to do, and now want to continue in doing so. Why? Because it was easier, and we got more things done without having to schedule a call, drive to a meeting or mess around with physical invoices.
We don’t know for how long, or in what way the impact of the last 12 months will change behaviours, but what we do know is that changes out of necessity and distress, has created a level of convenience - and convenience is shaping up to be the new loyalty.
In recent research published by McKinsey detailing the impact of Covid-19 on the B2B sector, it is clear that preferences have indeed changed:
- 70-80% of B2B customers prefer remote human interaction or digital self-service.
- 89% of companies say that they are likely to sustain the digital changes to marketing and sales models for 12+ months post-covid.
In human history, whenever a ‘need’ turns into a ‘want’, it quickly becomes a requirement. Where highly effective, digital self-service interactions become requirements, those organisations that neglect the opportunity to continue their digital evolution will fall behind. Businesses that stop at a functional possibility (the minimum viable product), rather than spending time refining their digital features into a more designed experience, will ultimately lose the gains they have made or protected over the last 12 months.
Design thinking and digital experience design will become the reason that a customer no longer chooses you over your competitors. Hang on to your gains by continuing your experience development or watch as those customers’ needs quickly turn to choices.
Work to enable a unified view
For B2B companies which typically have longer sales cycles and whose audiences are made up of multiple decision makers at single organisations, enabling a unified view of the customer journey is imperative. Ensuring all of your platforms are integrated, including your analytics and CRM will enable you to create a joined-up single source of truth, allowing your internal teams to work towards the same goal or objective.
With a single view of performance online to offline, the opportunity to conduct richer and intelligent analysis becomes greater. Putting this into practice; instead of simply being able to see how many leads have been achieved, you can look at this more closely to uncover how many leads have converted on your website and how many were in fact ‘won’ or ‘closed’.
In doing this, you are able to understand elements such as user behaviour and intent, as well as being able to model and predict outcomes. These powerful insights are key in driving decision-making and enhancing effectiveness of both your website you’re your marketing.
Getting your analytics right is a fundamental building block to achieving that unified view. So, where do you begin?
Getting your data analytics in shape can feel daunting, but we’d recommend following our three-step framework: Fix > Unify > Extend
- Fix – To ensure you have confidence in your data, you need to start with the fundamentals. Get support in auditing your website and validating your tracking. Prioritise and implement any critical and quick fixes.
- Unify – Enable basic integration between analytics and your CRM for a joined-up view of performance. This should be fully accessible across the organisation.
- Extend – Look to extend and enrich your data by further integrating with other data sources, such as your ad serving platforms.
Use analytics to understand ‘intent’
In the B2B landscape, we know that leads are incredibly important, but we also know that not all leads are born equal, and the quality of a lead differs when the journey is not joined-up. With poor visibility of the customer journey, it is not surprising when Sales and Marketing teams have competing views on what makes a great quality lead.
During lead scoring, insufficient attention is often given to users further up the sales funnel, with the focus falling on users who have already become leads. With website conversion rates averaging at around 2% or less, this means that 98% of your website visitors (who did not convert) are being ignored.
To understand why most users don’t convert, you need to look at intent. Understanding intent is arguably more important in the B2B space due to the nuanced behavioural considerations in play when there is not a clear declaration of intent, for example, a ‘buy now’ button.
When you track intent within analytics, you can start to pull out which user actions are the ones that often lead to conversions. From there, you have the power to build a model that predicts the probability of conversion.
Armed with all of this information, it is possible to segment audiences by intent to understand their behaviours and preferences. Personalisation and conversion optimisation can be made far more intuitive with the inclusion of intention, preventing an over reliance on generic criteria. You can even take this one step further by creating motivational nudges to users with certain levels of intent, to encourage them to progress on their purchase journey.
The accelerated digital transformation of the B2B landscape puts the B2B website at the centre of digital experience – making it more important than it has ever been before. Those organisations that continue to embrace digitisation, making a conscious effort to understand their customers and prioritise enhancing their digital experience, will no doubt reap the rewards.
These four takeaways are designed to spark your digital thinking, shape your priorities, and support you in creating better online experiences for your customers. If you’d like to learn more, you can gain instant access the full webinar here or get in touch with team at 26.
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