Business-to-business marketing is fraught with challenges that are nonexistent in the traditional B2C space. Understanding those challenges and adequately preparing to deal with them from an evidence-based perspective is paramount to success.
Most Conversions Happen Offline
Most often, B2B marketing involves driving potential customers to Web properties and devising tactics that will connect them to sales representatives. Unfortunately, the ensuing sales process is typically difficult to track, because it involves multiple communications online, by phone, and offline negotiations.
The true value add of a marketing program becomes much more difficult and costly to measure than a
simple B2C campaign, where success is measured by shopping cart transactions, registrations or exposures to a marketing message.
If marketing success is dependent on sales, then a sophisticated CRM, where all leads from marketing efforts are accurately tracked through to completion, is a requirement. Without such a tool, it’s best to limit marketing measurements to a cost-per-lead basis, as more intense measurements will be too difficult or costly to come by.
Sticker shock is a fact of life in many B2B spaces; anytime more than a few thousand dollars are on the line, products and services are expected to solve an ever-growing number of business problems, which naturally makes any sale more complex over time. B2B marketers are faced with the challenge of deciding which messages to hook customers with, and then deciding how to best engage them in a sales process.
Video-based demonstrations – served in exchange for basic contact information – are increasingly used to ensure that a customer is exposed to most of the features that marketers feel will help sell the product. This provides a basis for product or service education that can make the sales process go more smoothly.
Multiple Decision Makers
B2B sales typically involve multiple decision makers as the product or services stand up to scrutiny, ranging from executives to middle management. Businesses are always quite confident about whom those decision makers are, but because marketing is about the initial engagement, marketers must determine which types of customers actually begin sales, and then go after that customer aggressively. Whether using search marketing, social media or other avenues, pre-selecting these likely targets is wise.
Determining where to focus the engagement effort is often an exercise in working up customer profiles and testing them. This process can be extremely time consuming – especially given the sometimes long sales cycles in the B2B space – but can pay off over time. When possible, it can be useful to get customers to self-identify their status within an organization during the initial contact or lead capture process.