The ongoing global crises – pandemics, economic uncertainties, political tensions, and more – pose unique challenges for companies and marketers worldwide. As marketing leaders, we must carefully consider the strategic and tactical lessons we’ve learned so far to thrive and ensure that our corporate brands appear the right way across all channels.
Given the changing environment and potentially new challenges, how can we ensure that we adapt to the moment and communicate in the best way?
Show dexterity and flexibility
Anything can happen, we proved it last year. The marketing landscape can be completely shaken in days, even hours. We must be willing to make a quick decision on how to proceed with our campaigns: whether to strengthen our strategy, delay the launch of a product or service or abandon our plans altogether.
Likewise, companies need flexible marketing processes so that they can respond quickly to market conditions and review marketing campaigns and messages overnight. You must be able to respond to a new strategy within 24-48 hours.
Listen to your customers as you rethink or rediscover your processes. It is important to have tools that allow you to monitor your customers’ conversations so that you know what they are thinking.
You can also contact them based on the problems that the market faces. Stay tuned for general industry trends, read current news and events and try to anticipate the best message you can deliver to your customer at that time. It looks like you’re trying to predict the future, but that’s part of what makes marketing fun!
And record how your customers respond to your tactics. Consider your responses to all future marketing efforts.
For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, we realized at Acoustic that email recipients were starting to open their emails and read them at faster speeds. To better understand this behavior and help our customers respond, we examined the habits of email recipients based on the campaigns that our customers offered on our platform from January to June 2020.
In our standard email marketing report for COVID-19, we found that open rates for email increased by 4.7% between February and April, and the sectors most affected by COVID-19, such as transportation, had the biggest increase. Customers were curious about the content that describes the changes at these companies and how the changes can affect them.
We continue to track email usage data across all industries at the macro level to help our customers manage their email marketing strategies.
Another example, the collaboration platform Slack also conducted a survey to provide important lessons for its customers. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Slack decided to help its corporate clients navigate the new world of work at home, then conducted a national survey on remote work and released a report based on the survey data.
The results provided information and best practices for other companies, as well as insights into collaboration tools. By providing useful resources to customers, Slack helped establish itself as a trusted partner and demonstrate its customer focus at a time when its B2B customers needed it most.
Have an opinion and communicate with empathy
The importance of digital channels for businesses has grown steadily in recent years, but the digital pandemic has really put them in the spotlight. In fact, sales leaders now rate digital channels twice as important as before, reports McKinsey.
The challenge with digitally enabled interactions is that they often happen in real-time across multiple platforms, including social channels, mobile apps, and online communities. When communicating through digital channels in times of crisis, you need to be constantly aware of the tone you are using, as well as the responses you receive, as this can have a major impact on how customers will respond to your company’s offerings.
Pay attention to the content of all your marketing messages and make sure you understand the circumstances that the company and its customers face. Then adjust to the change in the customer’s behavior to find him where he is and empathetically acknowledge the problems he may have.
Customers are also demanding more brand responsibility on social issues. Even before the pandemic, 74% of B2B companies consider the target to be relevant for business growth. In 2021, opinion leaders will be even more important.
What does this mean for B2B marketers? To build your customers’ trust, show them what your brand values are and how your company is fulfilling those values through actions, whether through institutional changes within the company, supporting a social cause, or through a commitment to the demonstration environment.
In a recent blog post, I recommended some questions that our marketers should ask us daily:
- What does my brand stand for?
- What are the pros and cons of participating in boycotts and movements?
- Do I have an accurate list of the sites where the ads were originally placed?
By asking these questions, you ensure that you keep an eye on social issues and how your company responds and communicates with them.
Apply customization and segmentation
Of course, we need to adapt the messages to the needs of our B2B customers and the general market environment, but it is also important to ensure that our communication is appropriate to the psychograph and location of the customers.
Highly personalized messages will no longer be pleasant and will become mandatory in the years to come, perhaps even in the months to come.
We are past the point where consumers expect each email to be personalized with their name in the greeting. Customers now expect the sender of the email to take their behavior into account and use it as the basis for a personalized message.
We are all familiar with the “You downloaded a white paper from our website” emails and the emails I want to follow during the webinar that B2B marketers use to generate leads. What is the next? Perhaps a “We think you’re viewing our new report”, in which you take the model of interest to the client and highlight useful information before visiting the site.
To bring this advanced and predictive version of personalization, he uses AI technology to assess the customer’s real-time and historical behavior so that he can deliver personalized B2B content and relevant products and services to website visitors, landing pages, and mobile sites.
Besides, you need to analyze the results of marketing segmentation to determine success and make better decisions about where to invest future funds. Go beyond the basics of which segment produces the best results and start thinking about multidimensional cohorts.
For example, if a segment responds better at a certain time of the day, how can you re-analyze the data to see what new groups can be created around that behavior? Do you consider opening and closing speeds as independent variables between segments, or can you instead look at openings, CTRs, and conversions as elements of multidimensional analysis in different groups?
There is so much data available and you need to be quick and smart to analyze it to improve your B2B marketing communication strategies. You can do this by rethinking your approach to data analysis and implementing automation solutions that enable a personalized customer experience.