Truly impactful customer experiences go well beyond the purchasing moment.
Due in part to the seamless experiences delivered by pioneering B2C companies, B2B buyers in manufacturing now expect companies to know them, personalize messages, and engage with them across their entire purchasing lifecycle.
This shift in customer expectations leaves manufacturers in need of a new definition of marketing, one that delivers a full customer experience from prospecting to repurchase. Marketers in the Fourth Industrial Revolution are primed to guide customers from the unknown, to the known, to the connected — across marketing, sales, service, and more.
81% of B2B customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.1
Read on to see how you can connect with prospects and customers with the right message, on the right channel, at the right time to kickstart your marketing strategy.
As a marketer, you may often feel like you’re venturing into the great unknown. With so many digital channels at your disposal — from websites and social media to email and mobile apps — it may seem daunting to find your target audience. However, it may come as a surprise to learn that you’re in good company, as most marketers have trouble identifying and reaching the right target audience.
Only 46% of manufacturing marketers report having a completely unified view of customer data sources.2
96% of B2B companies say their “targeted” digital ads don’t always reach the right audience.3
You have the opportunity to tap into your existing customer data to discover a treasure trove of information about your ideal target audience.
Here’s how to find and expand your audience:
To find your target audience, you should start by capturing and analyzing first-party data, oftentimes available in your CRM (customer relationship management) platform. By looking at your existing customer data, you can begin to understand current data profiles, how customers engage across multiple channels, and more. This is all first-party data — consumer information that a company collects itself. Examples include a prospect’s name, email addresses, industry, company size, purchase history, website interactions (from only your company’s website), and more.
Now, you can start segmenting your audience into smaller, more focused subsets. You can segment your audience based on demographics (such as location or age), psychographics (such as activities and interests), and behaviors (such as buyers who make a purchase around specific occasions or events). While this may sound like a slow manual process, technology like artificial intelligence can take the guesswork out of this. Salesforce Einstein, for instance, uses predicted behavior to segment audiences automatically.
Once you’ve segmented your customer data, you may find that this data is still somewhat limited in scope. To scale your marketing efforts and expand your audience even more, you can use tools like a data management platform (DMP). DMPs use your first-party data to find lookalike audiences — or audiences that have similarities to your current customer data sets. Creating these lookalike audiences allows you to reach and target more prospects through tactics like digital advertising.
59% of marketers plan to use AI within the next two years to improve customer segmentation and lookalike audience modeling.4
Once you’ve analyzed your existing customer data, segmented your audience, and expanded your reach with lookalike audiences, you can begin to generate more leads and move them through the marketing funnel. One key to great lead nurturing is personalization. This is especially important as more and more B2B buyers expect individual experiences. The reality, however, is that the majority of B2B marketers struggle to deliver personalized interactions across channels.
72% of business buyers expect vendors to personalize engagement to their needs.
Only 28% of marketers are completely satisfied with their ability to create personalized, omni-channel customer experiences.
Here are a few ways to deliver personalized interactions that B2B buyers expect:
It’s important for your marketing team to build seamless nurture journeys that engage leads. With lead nurturing journeys, you can send a series of automated emails that will trigger based on a lead’s behaviors or a preset time interval. For example, if a lead downloads a product data sheet, you can automatically trigger an email with related resources.
Think of how B2C companies, such as Amazon, present recommended products to you. They do this by using dynamic content — and you can do the same for your leads based on their web browsing and buying behavior. For example, if a lead searches your website for a specific product, you can automatically serve that lead related content (using cookies) as they continue to browse.
69% of business buyers expect Amazon-like buying experiences — such as personalized recommendations.2
The sales-marketing divide can make it difficult for your company to personalize messages to leads. If the marketing team’s nurture journey triggers an email to a lead, a salesperson might follow up with a similar email without even knowing that the marketing team has already made contact. To solve this issue, sales and marketing teams can share common goals and metrics as well as gain visibility into data about a customer’s interactions with your company.
54% of B2B marketers are empowered to collaborate with sales teams.2
52% of B2B marketers ashare common goals and metrics with sales teams.2
51% of B2B marketers have a free and open flow of customer data between teams.2
45% of B2B marketers execute jointly on account-based marketing (ABM) programs.2
If you sell through channel partners, you can give them access to use pre-approved, on-brand marketing assets, such as email templates. You can even build fully branded portals for partners that are completely integrated with your business process. Having a strategy to empower channel partners can encourage them to engage directly with leads and help them build a loyal customer base at the same time.
It’s crucial for marketing and sales teams to engage with leads as they move toward making a purchase — but it’s just as important, if not more so, to engage beyond a purchase. Connecting with customers across their lifecycles can help you retain business, identify cross-sell and upsell opportunities, and cultivate lasting loyalty.
67% of manufacturers say they're increasingly competing on the basis of customer experience.
Here’s how you can connect with customers across their lifecycles:
Retention can lead to a big impact on your bottom line. One way to retain prospects is to send additional emails after an initial purchase. These emails might contain educational materials or important reminders — like how customers can maintain a product they purchased. Plus, emails that use dynamic content can also deliver personalized recommendations and offers based on a purchase or browsing behavior. Continuing to track buyer behavior, such as email clicks, is one way to identify further cross-sell and upsell opportunities for sales teams.
One opportunity marketers often overlook is asking for feedback. This data can help your team improve marketing, sales, and service processes, and it can be a fantastic way to add more data to a customer’s profile. You don’t have to send a lengthy survey either. A few quick questions during key points in a customer’s relationship with you could be all it takes to build a little trust — and a lot of long-term loyalty.
Sales and customer success teams can also play a large role in ongoing customer engagement. Maintaining relationships can lead to secondary or tertiary sales, so keeping these teams focused on ongoing communication with customers should be part of your strategy.
In this day and age, there’s so much more to marketing ithan just lead generation. The best marketers in manufacturing take leads from the unknown, to the known, to the connected — while personalizing and engaging across every step of the customer’s lifecycle.
Ready to learn more about how to enhance your manufacturing marketing strategy? Here are some helpful resources to get you started.