B2B: More than a One-Stop-Shop
Tom BurchillOctober 30, 2015
It won’t come as news to many that the realm of Business to Business (B2B) advertising has trends, practices, and insights to be made that differ from Business to Consumer (B2C). However, those findings can sometimes get lost in translation. We tend to see agencies and vendors building systems for leveraging specific inventory, targeting practices, etc. by specializing in B2B only. But with so much information and data available, it’s important to have a wide scope of the industry and not get caught in a hole. Here are my three recommendations on an effective B2B strategy:
The first variable here is persona. Professionals have work personas that differ from their character in their personal lives. For marketing, this means that behavioral trends, such as a user’s personal interests, become less relevant. Such interests are replaced by research patterns and touch points that provide deterministic data, ensuring that they are in fact professionals in a target job role and vertical. B2B targets can also be identified through their workplace emails in CRM databases. The problem is that most professionals will still sign in to websites and apps with their personal emails, weakening the potency of a traditional CRM approach. This is where we find account-based marketing, powered by specialized B2B data, to be particularly effective.
The second stop in our exploration is the variation in B2B products themselves. Different types of products are typically associated with B2B advertising than would be in B2C. For example, we tend to see a lengthier purchase cycle in B2B. Because so often the purchase process itself is more complex (approvals, paperwork, etc.), B2B focused companies have consolidated the number of purchases a buyer needs to make, often taking a subscription or account based approach. To this point, what is considered a conversion in the B2B world is just as likely to be lead generation as it is to be an actual purchase. The intended audience may not be willing or even able to buy a $500k product without direct consultation from the advertiser. This is particularly important in advertising because a user in the B2B market will require more information before purchase, making impulse buys a rarity. This quality requires that strategies be more direct in their approach, making available as much product information as possible at all times.
All of this leads us to the last (but certainly not least) point: the difficulties of finding the right goal for a B2B campaign. As follows from the previous variables, it tends to be more difficult to elicit an emotional reaction from the user in the B2B world. In other words, John Smith isn’t having childhood flashbacks as a banner ad for an engineering software subscriptions loading on his screen. As a result, it’s common to stick to a direct response oriented approach. While this has proven to be an effective route on many levels, it is often the case that a healthy balance between DR and more awareness-based tactics will work together to produce the best possible performance. The B2B marketing funnel is unique because of the nature of paths to purchase, which can be vary greatly by product, industry, and a particular advertiser’s sales structure. However, the fact remains that every funnel needs a flow of new users as a kind of fuel to keep it running. What this means is that while monitoring dollar for dollar spend is important for campaign efficiency, remaining present in a user’s mind can be the difference between a purchase at your advertiser’s firm versus another. So finding effective and creative ways to build a lasting image for advertisers in the B2B world is more important than ever.
Of course, each advertiser will have their own set of needs and preferences, requiring that every strategy be highly customized to the best chance at their success. But it is important to keep an open mind when it comes to considering different tactics in the B2B world. Through various partners and in house programs, Xaxis can function and maneuver effectively as such findings present themselves. Of course, this is great for our clients, but for our purposes here, the advantage lies in comparison. The ability to take a step back and explore for exploration’s sake pairs well with the context of differentiation.