With the advent of social distancing and work-from-home policies, the B2B industry has experienced an abrupt — but not unforeseen — digital-only reality. As a result, companies need to shift toward maintaining business operations, inspiring buyer confidence by adapting their strategies to stay relevant in their target markets virtually.
Gartner, a research and advisory firm, recently hosted a webinar titled, “Leading Through Covid-19: Adapting B2B Digital Marketing Strategies to Build Confidence,” to address common questions B2B marketing teams may have about operating during the pandemic. I had the opportunity to sit in on their webinar and found some of their approaches to a digital marketing strategy interesting.
I believe these four major strategies would be worth a look for any B2B company looking to go digital:
- Adaptability and transparency;
- Customer control;
- Cost management; and
- Digital channel optimization.
Be Transparent With Your Message
Cody Zacks, a Gartner Team Manager, recommends addressing challenges and pain points directly, by providing buyers with valuable information and defining a transparent channel strategy to reach them where they are.
“You know your customers; you’ve already built out customer profiles with steady rate times,” Zacks explained. “Answer those questions ahead of time. Save them time and show them you that you are thinking about their needs.”
By anticipating buyer questions, remaining transparent about your business’ struggles and explaining how it impacts them, businesses can apply relevant and empathetic messaging on the right channels. Whether it’s emails, company websites, Linkedin and/or Facebook, you can reassure buyers that you are stable and on their side.
Let Buyers Take The Wheel
Marketers might be tempted to promote their services and features as the end-all-be-all. However, buyers are already exposed to an oversaturated market with other businesses vying for their attention. To avoid overwhelming your target market, Rees recommends giving your buyers control.
“We want to ensure that our customers aren't overwhelmed by too many options,” Kyle Rees, a Director and Team Manager at Gartner, stated. “We want to make sure that they feel like they've arrived at their own decision, and that they're employing sound judgment to get there.”
I think this can be a great way to build consumer trust and alleviate any apprehension a buyer may have about investing in your product/service. Buyers prioritize credibility and accuracy when searching for businesses to partner with or services to use, so providing them with the insights they need to tackle these challenges in a product-agnostic way will help build that trust.
Installing guidance programs into company websites can help inform buyers how to use your service or why your business is the best fit for them. By allowing the buyer to decide on a service or product of their own volition, your business can position its strategy as consumer-centric and close deals.
Optimize Digital Content To Manage Costs
Now is the time to optimize your digital assets to ensure you’re getting the most bang from your buck.
“How do you evaluate your current marketing mix?” Zacks asked. “Identify what's working well, but make sure that the decisions that you're making are reinforcing the idea that the buyer still has everything they need to build trust and make their way down the purchase funnel.”
Look at your business strategy as a whole and try to simplify it. Are all your digital assets essential to your sales funnel? If so, Zacks recommends simplifying the repetitive processes and highlight the assets that can produce results in the short term. Don’t be afraid to remove excess parts of your marketing strategy either. Continue to evaluate all digital assets and only work with top-performing content to ensure you’re utilizing your time and money for the right strategies.
Social channels are just as essential as email and display ads. Businesses that analyze inbound and outbound traffic on their social channels can identify and emphasize important data and trends relevant to their business strategy.
“There are two different ways that you want to look at your social channels,” Zacks explained. “Yes, you want to look at the interaction numbers. That's going to show you kind of just how much people are engaging with your content. You also want to look at how much traffic you're actually getting from each of your social channels.”
Optimize your social channels by determining which types of content/messaging are driving traffic and what isn’t resonating with your audience. The experts noted that individual social channels can build brand awareness and brand trust through compassionate posts.