A B2C State of Mind: the Contrarian Mindset of the Modern B2B Buyer
There was a time when B2C and B2B were two different worlds. The divergence was so stark that it seemed far-fetched to find a meeting point between the two marketing mindsets.
For long, the popular opinion was that B2B marketers have lagged behind their B2C counterparts on parameters of innovation, creativity, and change-adaptiveness. Experts believe that the gap has been narrowing and will continue to do so in 2020.
One of the major areas where B2B will witness a transformation is the emergence of new technologies. Experts believe that just like their B2C counterparts, B2B companies will move towards adopting technologies such as AI to improve their customer experiences.
More than anything this change is driven by the mindset of the millennial B2B buyer, who thinks more like a B2C customer than a B2B purchaser. This pattern is inevitably seen in the B2B buyer’s need for greater engagement in their customer experiences. Marketers must prepare to respond to this new paradigm and serve their audiences with a new level of personalization. But where do they start?
The first step is to decode the choices and preferences that drive the millennial B2B buyer.
Content supersedes everything
The growth of millennial enterprise decision-makers means drastic changes in the way content is created and delivered. In 2020, content plans will have to be more targeted and more personalized than ever. This means marketers will have to speak to a particular use case and audience, and deliver the content in the right format at the right moment. This also means that companies will have to address the values that are important to the millennial generation. For instance, the millennial generation comprises of purpose-based shoppers who prefer brands that reflect their values. They are less price-sensitive, and do not necessarily look for the best solution. Instead, they choose brands that provide the most personalized experience and appeal to their core values.
How will this new trend impact marketers? The answer is, not much. Offering the right content at the right time was always the primary need of marketers. Most marketers were already aligned to the view that more than a higher volume of content, they needed the right type of content. It is only now that they have the tools to make it happen.
ABM is just getting started
According to a recent report, 50% of B2B organizations have had ABM initiatives in place for more than a year. Experts believe that in 2020, organizations will expand and streamline their ABM practice to make the most effective use of it. But the problems persist. While many companies are piloting their ABM programs, they are still experiencing the initial hurdles in their ABM journey. While siloed data and lack of alignment between marketing and sales are cited as major issues, the biggest hurdle is the lack of a cohesive ABM strategy. Another big roadblock is the age-old problem of the lack of collaboration between marketing and sales.
Experts predict that 2020 will be a big year for account-based marketing. There will be a greater emphasis on enabling teams with content and internal communication. As a result, sales and marketing will witness better alignment, partly because the tools for ABM are also available.
Automation at a whole new level
Automation is already being used for targeting and segmentation, and mapping intent data across the customer journey. In 2020, these practices will continue to grow. Further, loyalty strategies will be reinvented through AI-driven personalization.
A recent survey revealed that enterprises continue to struggle to transform all their data into actionable insights. Massive volumes of data are sitting idle when it could be used to orchestrate remarkable experiences.
Using automation to make sense of massive amounts of data and enable customer experiences is will be among the key goals of B2B marketers in 2020. Predictive analytics and personalization are expected to be among the key applications of automation for marketers. Customer data platforms will provide programmatic and omnichannel marketing processes a foothold in B2B marketing. We are already witnessing AI and automation step into situations where human capabilities are not sufficient to drive high efficiency.
Chatbots will replace more human interactions
Chatbots are expected to witness widespread adoption in 2020. Many businesses are already using chatbots to generate and nurture leads, and many other functions. By integrating AI-powered chatbots, brands will be able to improve personalization and drive better engagement at each stage of the B2B sales process. Chatbots are also being used to follow up on cold leads until a human representative reaches out.
While businesses are already experimenting with chatbots handling personalized offers and calls to action to customers, 2020 will witness a spurt in this trend. Millennial B2B purchasers exhibit an increased desire to self-serve, making it more important than ever for businesses to have intuitive platforms such as chatbots to drive their B2B marketing efforts. Driven by these consumer expectations, chatbots are expected to emerge as must-haves.
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A never-before level of personalization
B2B marketing requires targeting a specific set of individuals in every organization, most often decision makers. With advanced marketing platforms, marketers can understand who the decision-makers are, when they visit a website, and then deploy targeted content to them. As more data and tools become available to marketers, personalization is expected to flourish in the B2B world in 2020.
But personalization isn’t just about sending personalized emails to prospects. It is important for the content at every single touchpoint throughout the buyer’s journey to be personalized. That’s why enterprise buyers are also looking to drive brand advocacy to influence their prospects. Enterprise buyers expect their vendors as more than just product or service providers. They see them as partners that help them grow their businesses. One of the key goals for marketers is getting their clients to share their experiences on peer-to-peer platforms and advocate brand value through authoritative influencers.
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