B2B marketing has traditionally been slower to adopt than B2C due to the size, complexity, and speed of most B2B transactions and buyers’ general reliance on-field sales models for broader purchasing decisions.
But as the pandemic accelerated digital acceptance, the results were more positive than expected. More than 75% of buyers and sellers now say they prefer digital self-service and external involvement to face-to-face sales processes. Even more surprising, 70% of B2B shoppers are open to purchases over $50,000 without face-to-face interaction.
In addition to the success of B2B sales, digital change has made it easier for sales organizations to expand their reach and reduce the cost per interaction. These virtual strategies will likely be fundamental in the market from now on.
On LinkedIn, where B2B marketers find about 80% of their social media tips, users posted 900% more articles between February and April 2020 compared to the same months in 2019.
According to a study by McKinsey & Co., B2B companies are far more successful in creating a rewarding digital customer experience than their B2C counterparts. they said they were dissatisfied with their online interactions.
In addition, the customer experience was heavier than price, and the product was a brand differentiator, according to the same study. Of those who had a below-average sales interaction, only 13% said they would return to the same company.
But marketing teams mustn’t confuse virtual sales success with the need for a virtual strategy. As each company increases its investment in digital marketing collateral, the virtual world becomes more and more saturated. Attention is a highly sought-after commodity in the digital world and only digital strategies can go that far.
In short, the growing popularity of digital sales is no reason to put all your marketing efforts online.
To avoid losing repeat sales, marketers must focus on mastering the B2B customer experience and reaching their customers through more memorable and meaningful experiences, whether virtual or in-person or both.
Here are some places to focus on as the post-pandemic market begins to recover.
The Power of Hybrid Offerings
B2B buyers make complex, time-consuming, and highly consistent decisions. Sales can happen online, but the task of building trust and promoting engagement is a long and winding road that is best traveled, at least in part, in person.
To that end, hybrid experiences are seamlessly designed to extend beyond the screen and engage customers in more immersive and familiar ways.
Hybrid offerings are also taken to a whole new level through an augmented reality (XR) strategy. XR refers to the combination of virtual reality (VR), artificial reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) technologies that help marketers transform onscreen campaigns into personalized experiences.
XR is rapidly gaining traction among marketers, and the XR market is estimated to be worth $300 billion in 2024.
XR for an unforgettable B2B customer experience
B2B marketers can use an XR strategy in several ways. It has particularly important applications related to testing and testing. Integrated AR technologies allow decision-makers to deliver products in the real world. Production customers can reproduce digital elements in real physical environments to better understand how a product fits into their workflow.
Pharmaceutical companies are using XR to make product development friendlier to non-experts, to move beyond digital demonstrations, and empower decision-makers to better experience the problem and the solution.
But XR is a tool that goes beyond product demonstration. Bid-based offerings are a critical part of any B2B marketing strategy as they provide decision-makers with the insights they need, accelerating pipeline generation and increasing customer confidence.
The limitations of the pandemic are forcing events and conferences into the virtual world. Virtual events have tangible benefits: The number of attendees who can attend and join presentations without the expense of flights, hotels, and departures from day-to-day operations has tangible benefits. But without an XR component, virtual events might not be enough.
As meetings become more secure, smart marketers are adding XR to in-person events, seamlessly integrating with the conference or virtual meeting experience.
Companies can send their customer’s personalized tours of a facility or event space, guided by augmented reality interactions. They can use an app-based engagement strategy to bring people together in a physical state, where they then deliver an engaging XR demo. After the conference or presentation, you can add face-to-face networking opportunities to consolidate information in people’s minds and create connections.
This tactic helps B2B marketers bring their campaigns closer to the real reality of their customers, making the B2B customer experience more rewarding than any digital method.
Virtual selling can make transactions easier, but face-to-face selling, meetings, and conferences create the kind of high-quality connections that most contribute to respect and lasting relationships. B2B companies that can deliver innovative and engaging customer experiences to drive better engagement are positioned to deliver extraordinary benefits.
For companies that are beyond the task of surviving the COVID era, now is the time to use an XR strategy in their hybrid offerings. More sales, a better customer experience, and renewed customer service await you.