B2B Research on Why It’s Important to Show Partners You Care

Omni-Channel Experience is Critical to Fueling B2B Customer Engagement, Finds, Accenture and SAP hybris Study

  • Thirty-eight percent of buyers exclusively use digital channels, while 32 percent mix online and offline channels.
  • B2B buyers are adopting more online channels [in 2015] than ever: seventy percent of B2B revenues now come from customers using digital channels. When compared to the previous year:
    • Sixty-five percent of buyers reported an increase in total spend online on work purchases
    • Sixty-three percent of buyers increased the percentage of total work purchases made online
    • Fifty-three percent of buyers reported the average size of their online work purchases increased
  • The global study of 2,000 B2B buyers and sellers – titled “Mastering Omni-Channel B2B Customer Engagement – was conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Accenture Interactive, part of Accenture Digital, and SAP hybris. It finds that… more than half of buyers said they would like suppliers to offer personalized recommendations across interactions. However, most B2B enterprises are not set up to deliver a seamless omni-channel experience, citing “difficulty sharing customer data between channels or locations” as the top barrier.

Show Partners You Care

  • “Empowered by digital channels, today’s buyers are exerting more control over the sales process,” said Anatoly Roytman, managing director, Accenture Interactive, and global digital commerce lead. “The stakes have never been higher for B2B sellers to create a positive online customer experience, one that is integrated with existing channels. Those who deliver a seamless omni-channel experience will be rewarded with repeat business and loyal customers.”
  • Additionally, buyers will reward sellers that deliver a positive customer experience, with price transparency and personalization as key influencers of repeat purchases. When asked which capabilities they’d most like B2B suppliers to offer, buyers cited the following:
    • Enhanced search functionality (62 percent)
    • Rating and reviews (56 percent)
    • Personalized recommendations across interactions (54 percent)
    • Information about promotions and special offers (51 percent)
    • Mobile-optimized website for phone or tablet (41 percent)
  • “Businesses have most of the customer data they need – the problem is that it isn’t readily available across all channels,” said Brian Walker, chief strategy officer, SAP hybris. “Siloed systems and channels and a lack of tools that intelligently organize and distribute data prevent organizations from delivering the seamless, omni-channel, personalized experiences buyers desire. To master this – and do it continuously, in real-time – represents the next stage in B2B e-commerce maturity.”

The Changing Face of B2B Marketing

  • Over the past two years, there’s been a dramatic shift in the B2B researcher demographic. Back in 2012, there was a pretty even mix across age groups. In 2014, however, 18- to 34-year-olds accounted for almost half of all researchers, an increase of 70%.
  • While 64% of the C-suite have final sign off, so do almost a quarter (24%) of the non-C-suite. What’s more, it’s the latter that has the most influence; 81% of non-C-suiters have a say in purchase decisions. Clearly, if you’re marketing only to the highest level, you’re overlooking the people who need to notice you.
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From Promotion to Emotion

  • The good news is that today’s customer-centric branding appears to be working: most B2B buyers (74%) now believe that brands will provide business value.
  • Buyers who see a supplier’s business value are four times more likely to consider that brand in the future.
  • A recent CEB poll of 55 CMOs identified branding as the second highest priority for marketing executives in 2014.
  • Although B2Bs boast high levels of emotional connection among existing customers, the same isn’t true of non-customers. Indeed, less than one-third of non-customers believe B2B brands will provide personal value (Fig. 11.). And when they don’t see personal value, they are over three times less likely to purchase and over seven times less likely to pay a premium (Fig. 12). In fact, less than 10% of those who see no personal value will pay extra. Although B2Bs are successfully meeting existing customers’ personal needs—with well-designed products, service delivery, and experiences—they fail to convey those benefits to non-customers who have not had the opportunity to experience these benefits. Marketers can and must address this urgent opportunity. They must convince non-customers of personal value to prevent further purchase stalls.

B2B Customers Have Feelings Too

  • Fully engaged customers deliver a 23% premium over average customers in share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth, while actively disengaged customers represent a 13% discount on the same measures, according to Gallup research.
  • In fact, B2B customers are possibly more open to becoming engaged than business-to-consumer (B2C) customers. Think about it: If you buy the wrong brand of socks for yourself, you’ll be annoyed for the single day you wear them. But if you buy the wrong firewall and virus protection service for your company and then your company’s computer network implodes, you might lose your job. Because professional reputations and careers can be made or broken by B2B purchases, B2B customer engagement may be even more fraught with emotion than B2C relationships.
  • In a study of thousands of business-to-business (B2B) relationships [Gallup uncovered that] 22% of B2B customers are engaged, and only 13% are fully engaged.
  • Consider the following example from a professional services firm that Gallup studied. Customer engagement scores were tracked across 75 of the company’s top accounts in Year Zero, then compared to account growth in Year One. Of the accounts with engagement scores at or above 4 out of a possible top score of 5, 21% of the accounts grew by 20% or more the following year, while 34% declined by 20% or more. Of the accounts with scores of less than 4 out of 5, 15% grew by 20% or more — but 60% of these accounts declined by 20% or more, making lower engagement a prime indicator of future revenue decline.
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  • In a manufacturing company, Gallup found a 37 percentage point difference between the fully engaged and actively disengaged groups.
  • In a meat packing business, fully engaged customers’ share of business topped that of actively disengaged customers by 29 percentage points, and one cargo carrier received 24 percentage points more share of business from its fully engaged customers than from its actively disengaged ones.

Smart B2B Advertisers Count Hearts & Minds Not Eyes & Ears

  • The key to Active advertising is to reverse engineer the process in order to determine what your prospect really needs and desires. Build your media platform around WIIFT. What’s In It For Them. By putting your own needs aside and really serving and providing value to your prospect you can now elegantly place yourself inside the media platform and build meaningful relationships with the people who will move the needle in your business.
  • According to this CBS News article in 1970 a person saw 500 ads a day, by 2006 it was 5,000. Today it’s probably twice that.
  • Most people don’t even remember who advertised on their favorite shows. Take the Super Bowl, this Marketing Land article says 75% of the viewers don’t remember the ads and 90% aren’t going to buy the product anyway.
  • This Active advertising strategy is more efficient because it works much farther down the sales funnel. The only people you are interacting with are people that meet your profile and are the leaders of the industry you serve. By underwriting a media property that truly serves and provides value to your industry you are no longer another vendor. You are a key member of the community who is bringing something to the table that is much more valuable than your product or service. In short order your company becomes the de facto media outlet, chief storyteller and story curator for your industry, your profession and your community.

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