November 27, 2018
Over the past five years or so, B2B brands have made significant moves to digitally transform themselves. Improving customer experience was once seen as a way to stand out against competitors, but fast forward to 2018 and great customer service and slick digital experiences are basic requirements rather than differentiators.
Today’s B2B buyers are looking for something meaningful from their partners and suppliers. They want authenticity, CEOs with strong personalities and strong ethics, and companies with a heart and soul. In short, the organisations that are winning are underpinned by a strong story and purpose. Indeed, one of the key challenges faced by B2B brands is how to stay relevant in a world that is increasingly dominated by personalisation, AI and data – and whether this means they need to become more fluid, adapting brand experience for potential customers while maintaining their corporate identity and brand equity.
Just like the B2C brand, a modern B2B brand needs to deliver on customer experience whilst also creating an emotional connection. The continuing consumerisation of B2B audiences means that today’s users expect an interactive and personalised experience that evolves as they move through the sales process. Here at LEWIS, we’ve seen forward-thinking businesses take time to understand the changing (younger) face of the buyer – and, importantly to understand how this audience has changed, along with its demands. Only once they have done this can they develop effective, measurable communications and marketing that resonate.
For instance, the B2B website has never been so important (which is why it’s surprising how many businesses are still failing to get it right). It is a platform that must sit at the heart of the business as an integral part of its infrastructure, using data to create more compelling user experience. Gone are the days of acting as a digital brochure, just transmitting information.
Why is this so important? Over 94% of B2B decision makers LEWIS surveyed during our research into the B2B website told us that a website is the most important channel when researching potential new suppliers. Over 77% of these decision makers start their research with a search engine, and in nearly 55% of cases, social media is also used as part of the decision-making process. Perhaps this isn’t surprising, given that in the majority of cases senior executives turn to their 18-34 year old digital native colleagues to help with initial research. And of course, decision makers themselves are getting younger.
Of course, there are plenty of challenges for B2B brands looking to stay relevant in a crowded marketplace, not least for those that have been around for many years, which need to modernise while retaining – and being proud of – their brand heritage. But those who have done it well make sure they stay agile, look at ways to continue evolving and then reap the rewards as their businesses grow.