Technology has put buying right at our fingertips for B2C and B2B purchases—and changed the way businesses need to market and sell to customers. While B2C companies have adapted to the digital revolution, many B2B companies are still playing catch up. Complex products and longer purchasing processes makes transitioning to digital techniques more difficult, but B2B buyers are regular consumers, too, and they're expecting the same experience in their B2B buying journeys. Here's what you need to know for influencing B2B buyers in today's digital marketing landscape.
Digital Advertisements are Going Native
Digital display ads are creeping into newsfeeds everywhere. eMarketer reports that last year, advertisers spent $35.24 billion in native display ads, and that number is projected to reach almost $44 billion for 2019. A growing part of successful marketing campaigns, native advertisements are paid ads that fit the form of the digital media they're placed in, and you've likely encountered them on your social media newsfeeds and in recommended content sections on your regular blogs.
Native ads don't truly look like advertisements and are designed to give users a non-disruptive experience. Native ads act as suggestions, appearing in the same format the rest of the content is displayed in and alongside relevant information. People view native advertisements differently than traditional banner and display ads: they find native ads more helpful and don't consider them spam that's interrupted their experience.
Why You Should Use Native Advertising in B2B Marketing
So why should you use native advertising for B2B marketing? Consumers are significantly more likely to engage with a native ad than a disruptive pop-up ad or banner, and native advertisements are less likely to be flagged by browser extensions like AdBlock. Additionally, those who do engage with native ads are more likely to make a purchase.
Native advertising also combats the problem of ad fatigue. As long as you keep the content of the native advertisement relative to the editorial piece and interesting, it will continue to keep them engaged.
The goal of native ads is not to trick readers into thinking they're not being advertised to, but to offer advertisement in a way that's relevant and helpful to the reader. Readers should always know when they're being advertised to (for example, labeling native ad as sponsored content), but native ads strive to be interesting so that readers don't mind the content is an ad because it's useful to them.
To get started with B2B native advertising, consider where your potential buyers are when they're looking for business solutions. For example, LinkedIn has native advertising options for business pages to create offers that seamlessly blend in with users' newsfeeds, or you could post sponsored content on websites related to your industry.
Advertising Through Different Channels
Another vital thing to consider with digital marketing to your B2B customers is choosing which channels will promote the most engagement. There's a good chance your target customers are on Facebook, but are they using Facebook for business or to connect with friends and family? Reaching potential customers in the right place at the right time is extremely important in B2B marketing. That is to say, your customers could use Facebook for business, making the social media site a good option for highly targeted advertisements—but the success of your digital marketing efforts lies in how well you connect with customers in the right place at the right time.
No marketing strategy should be single-channel, and B2B companies should be using multiple channels to drive engagement. Take into account where your leads are when they want to hear from you and be active and available on them.
Desktop vs. Mobile Engagement
Beyond a presence on multiple digital channels, B2B companies should also be aware of compatibility on different devices. When it comes to product research, mobile is the method of choice, and websites and applications should be optimized for a mobile experience. Mobile engagement throughout the B2B buying process is growing, and buyers expect the same seamless mobile experience for B2B products as they do in their B2C products.
How Much Time Leads Expect to Wait for a Response
The average response time for leads is 42 hours with some businesses waiting five or more days to respond. But is that fast enough? No! People expect responses immediately (imagine ordering a pizza and waiting five days for it to be delivered). In fact, sales conversion drops 391% after the first minute a lead waits for a response.
Most buyers will contact multiple companies offering similar products or services, and 78% of buyers strike a deal with the first company to respond. Lead response time is crucial to closing business in the digital age. Reaching those leads first doesn't have to mean someone is sitting at their desktop, waiting to respond the second a request comes in. Marketing automation services allow you to set up workflows, so when someone fills out a form or request on your website, a preset email or instant message is sent to them to follow up. Additionally, you can implement chatbots to your website or integrate them with instant message applications to assist leads 24/7.
B2B companies can get ahead of the digital marketing game to influence their buyers. The key to success is leveraging new techniques and capabilities to reach potential customers online with the right content at the right time.