NEW – Payal Raina, Global Head of Marketing at Torstone Technology and TMF’s marketing tutor writes…….
I was away on holidays for a couple of weeks before Christmas and landed back home on Christmas Eve. I was feeling nervous, hoping my kids’ Christmas presents would be delivered on time. Thanks to Amazon (or shall I say Santa Claus Amazon!) the gifts arrived right on time, which was a big sigh of relief for me.
Like many other shoppers, I did 80% of my holiday shopping online. As you might expect, I browsed through quite a few online stores first before I made the final purchase. The whole experience was fast, simple and seamless with one-click purchase.
But what happens on the B2B side where the purchase cycle is much longer, stakes are higher, and the decision-making process is much more complex than B2C?
According to CEB research, the average B2B buyer is 57% through the purchase decision before engaging a supplier sales rep. Adding to that, more than 70% of buyers use three or more channels when researching a product. In other words: your buyers are self-diagnosing their problems and deciding on potential solutions before you even know about it.
So: what can you do about it? How can marketers respond to the significant disruptions affecting the decision journey of the B2B customer?
Let’s face it. Marketing hasn’t just changed: it has undergone a radical, seismic shift. Technologies—from AI and machine learning to mobile messaging and live content—have reshaped how we connect, share, shop, and make decisions as consumers.
The best way to embrace this new environment is the integration of ONE unified voice across all your marketing channels, creating a consistent customer experience.
Integrated marketing is the holistic approach to communication in marketing. The term ‘Integrated Marketing’ has been around for a while, but given the complexity of the marketing landscape and technological innovations, there has been a 50% increase in marketing distribution channels over the past ten years.
According to Smart Insights, depending on the size of your company, you may have to manage an average of 120+ content delivery and marketing channels. It has never been more vital and challenging to adopt an integrated marketing approach in your strategy.
If you want to ensure that Integrated Marketing is part of your B2B marketing strategy, here are my top three recommendations:
- Integrate the messaging of your online and offline marketing channels – There is great value in integrating traditional marketing channels (print advert, direct mail campaigns, etc.) with non-traditional (e.g. social media), as the same message from different channels can strengthen the outcome of your marketing and make it more likely for the customer to take action, boosting your chances of generating new revenue. Don’t forget the ‘Marketing Rule of Seven’, that a prospect needs to “hear” the advertiser’s message at least 7 times before they’ll take action to buy that product or service.
- Integrate Algorithm-based (AI) customer experiences with your content marketing – If your company is sceptical about AI and hasn’t started using it, you’re already behind the curve. In addition to creating customer personas, buyer segmentation, and personalisation, consider integrating AI and map it across the customer journey. This can save customers time by not re-explaining the context every time they use a different channel to contact your organisation. Simply put, AI can help provide a seamless omni-channel customer experience.
- Integrate content marketing with PR – This is a killer combo, as some companies keep PR as a separate channel. Earned media is more essential than ever before. However, for maximum impact, your paid, earned, and owned media should be integrated as much as possible within your marketing strategies.
In summary: integrated marketing can help you keep things ‘simple’ and ‘consistent’, which is key in making sure customers understand your brand story. Consistent messaging will help you gain customers’ trust, which leads to better marketing results, and ultimately impacts your ROI. Plus, consistent messaging keeps your marketing costs low and helps your brand cut through the noise.