The Lines Are Blurring
There is no denying that a blurring of lines between B2C and B2B marketing has evolved. The days when B2B buyers act in distinctly different ways from B2C buyers are over. An exceptional consumer experience can positively impact the purchasing decisions of B2B executives as B2B buyers expect a superior customer experience throughout the purchase funnel.
Technology has enabled consumers to expand their B2C expectations into their B2B professional lives. As a result, forward-thinking brands must recognize the specific needs of any individual interacting with their brand, not just the needs of the business.
According to customer intelligence firm Walker Information, by the year 2020 customer experience will surpass price and product as the key brand differentiator. Furthermore, Forrester has reported that “68% of B2B shoppers say they’re unlikely to return to a website that does not provide a satisfactory customer experience.” With greater access to information and ever-increasing expectations, the age of the customer is upon us.
A recent Accenture study substantiated that business buyers are influenced by their experiences as consumers. More than half of B2B buyers said they would like suppliers to offer personalized recommendations across interactions– regardless of channel, device, or stage in the customer journey. Furthermore, personalization is second only to “price and product transparency” in leading factors influencing repurchase.
The ability to access high quality, credible, detailed content online is more important than ever.On average 88 percent of B2B companies use content marketing. Unlike other lead generation strategies, with content marketing, readers benefit from valuable information before they are asked to buy anything. An annual Forrester survey of B2B buyers found that “credibility of content” is now on top. Thirty-one percent of B2B buyers surveyed chose content as the number one reason why they typically make a final purchase decision on a B2B eCommerce website. This makes sense in that B2B purchase decisions have much higher stakes than their B2C equivalents, and buyers want to back up their decisions with information––product specs and descriptions, reviews, inventory levels, and pricing.
B2C shoppers use Amazon as a product search engine for product information. A similar pattern will rise in B2B as a growing number of large, successful and reputable online B2B marketplaces like Amazon Supply emerge. For buyers, B2B marketplaces offer increased efficiency and cost reduction. Buyers benefit from a wide variety of products from different vendors, at different prices, on different cites—it’s all about speed and convenience. Sellers can showcase products and services online and reach to a wider range of buyers globally on Marketplaces.
Mobile B2B Purchase
Mobile has been a key contributor to the blurring B2B/B2C lines for several years, and businesses need to consider their brand experience when customers or clients interact with them on mobile. Every year we have more and more workers who are mobile-first in their orientation. In fact, according to eMarketer, “by 2017 U.S. adults will spend more than 1 hour per day using their mobile device than they will on their desktop or laptop.” The latest IDG Global Mobile Survey reports that “77% of business decision-makers use their smartphone to research a product or service for their business.”
Websites that are not mobile optimized lose organic ranking, site traffic and see a spike in bounce rate. B2B marketers must understand that customers, prospects and, buyers are using mobile devices more frequently than ever, at the office and outside of work hours, to make critical business decisions. Reaching these executives wherever they work—at the office, at home, or commuting—is critical.
At the end of the day, B2B marketers are consumers too, and as such, have high expectations from their partners. This trend is forcing B2B companies to become more responsive to customer feedback, and look to better engage their customers and understand their needs, preferences and behaviors. Be sure to download our MoSCoW analysis template and watch our webinar to access a complete account of the key points we addressed in this article.