B2B Customer Acquisition: The role of human engagement in a world of digital-first enterprise marketing
Pressure on people’s time and the fact that many employees still work remotely, post pandemic, have changed the way that B2B buyers get their information and discover potential suppliers.
As a natural extension of increased digital activity in their personal lives, many now instinctively turn to online communities, social channels, virtual debates, video guides and podcasts to discover the next big thing or the choices their peers and competitors are making.
It’s a shift that’s creating new opportunities for business brands to engage with their target market.
This isn’t just about companies getting across their marketing message in new and fresh ways either. The proliferation of digital channels and B2B buyers’ advancing use of them, presents a chance to understand and respond to customers’ needs at a more sophisticated, human and granular level. They can then tailor their communications in just the right way to make individuals feel ‘seen’, 'heard' and ‘known’.
So what does good look like, and how are enterprise brands upholding and reinforcing the role of human engagement along these digital-first customer pathways? Where are customers the most receptive to personal interactions, and what is it that they are looking for?
The proliferation of digital channels, and B2B buyers’ advancing use of them, presents a chance to understand and respond to customers’ needs at a more sophisticated and granular level.
With Gartner predicting that 80% of B2B sales interactions will occur via digital channels within the next 2-3 years (Future of Sales 2025: Why B2B Sales Needs a Digital-First Approach), there’s no doubt that existing strategies must evolve to meet customers where they are, and with more of what they need at each point.
The growing expectation for more targeted and tailored communications has implications for organisational structures, too. The traditional barriers between sales and marketing are coming down, for instance – and they must, if companies are to be smarter in tapping into the current pains and expectations of prospective clients. To identify and do more of what works, the two functions need to create a continuous feedback loop, where market and customer intelligence is used to hone messaging and make best use of the available channels to engage, influence, educate and advise.
With so much change afoot, we are bringing together B2B marketing leaders from across the technology, consulting and wider professional services industry with a focus on enterprise sales, to share their insights on how the buyer experience has changed, and how they are adapting their strategies.
Gartner Group predicts 80% of B2B sales interactions will occur via digital channels within the next 2-3 years.
Common challenges include:
- Reacting sufficiently quickly to the evolving expectations of business buyers and taking full advantage of the new channels available (learning from consumer marketing/consumer behaviour);
- Maintaining a consistent and recognisable brand voice, while adapting communications to suit each medium and format;
- Segmenting the buyer journey and organising content and process accordingly;
- Engaging buyers in the pre-sales process – getting them to share more about what they need, in return for something they value (e.g. peer insights, relevant market thought leadership);
- Introducing the element of surprise to engage individuals emotionally; and
- Harnessing data analytics in ever smarter ways – from content tracking for consumption analysis, to AI-enabled predictive analytics with a view to personalising suggestions.
This list is by no means exhaustive. This Market View publication (version 1) brings together first-hand insights from 19 senior marketing executives operating in or adjacent to the IT and associated professional services industry.
As you advance your own digital buyer journey and strive to engage prospective customers in new ways that stand out and add value, we hope the experiences and insights of our featured contributors will inspire you.
We have condensed their conclusions into three key takeaways you’ll find at the back of this report.
We’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all the contributors who gave their valuable time to share their thoughts and experiences. We’re confident that these will resonate with our growing community of TechPros.io enterprise marketing leaders, and that all of the ideas and insights shared here will provide valuable food for thought.