Recent Gartner research discovered that over 80% of organizations currently expect to compete primarily on customer experience (CX). In other words, despite your solution’s price, benefits or unique capabilities, the overall perception a customer forms through interactions with your brand is expected to dictate their purchase decision more than any other factors.
However, delivering flawless encounters to B2B customers may be easier said than done. In fact, Salesforce found that less than 30% of B2B customers believe suppliers provide excellent customer experiences. While this insight speaks to positive CX’s power to differentiate your brand in the marketplace, it can nonetheless result in a riddling debacle for B2B leaders looking to exceed the expectations of an audience with preexisting negative perceptions.
Elevating your customer experience in today’s competitive state requires a thorough understanding of what modern customer expectations entail. Below, we’ll explore B2B buyer developments as well as how you can leverage content marketing to address your customers’ needs and exceed their expectations at every turn.
How the Customer Experience has Evolved
A seamless buying experience that directly addresses what customers are looking for will win the CX game every time. But, the evolution of customer expectations has had a major impact on what this strategy looks like. For example, polling customers for their input and recommendations is no longer enough. Today, their feedback must be diligently collected and applied for a buying experience that is truly customer centric.
Below are three high-level developments in customers’ expectations that will shed light on where their priorities lie and how you can better meet their needs:
Renewed emphasis on digital touchpoints
Most customers complete 57% of the buying process before engaging with a company representative (Accenture). So, by the time potential buyers engage with a member of your team, they’ve already developed their own unique perception of your company. As digital points of engagement continue to replace and evolve traditional points of engagement, having a sound digital strategy that cohesively represents your brand is essential for impacting prospects’ initial perceptions as positively as possible. When evaluating your digital footprint, prioritize frictionless experiences that meet customers head-on in their purchase journey.
For a deeper dive on cultivating an elevated digital experience, download our B2B Digital Marketing Guide eBook.
Experiences that mirror B2C experiences
Personalizing individual experiences was once considered “extra” in B2B marketing, but today, 67% of B2B buyers have switched vendors for a more consumer-like experience (Salesforce). Don’t forget that your prospects and customers have a life outside of the B2B buying space. As such, B2B customers are increasingly expecting the same degree of personalization as is customary in their B2C buying experiences. Simply adding a first name or title to an email salutation won’t cut it—today’s buyers want companies that understand their needs and individual pain points.
Consistently seamless interactions
The ease of apps and instant gratification of internet searches, shopping and services influence expectations around B2B buying as well. As evolutions in data, algorithms and automation persist, the B2B customers’ buying experience standards continue to elevate. How effectively you leverage customer data for value-added personalization makes a difference—more than half of customers have stopped working with a company because a competitor provided a better experience.
Meeting the Modern B2B Customer with Content
While CX is largely a multi-faceted experience with a variety of influential touchpoints, content marketing can serve as a valuable CX stimulant for its ability to:
- Answer questions your personas need answers to
- Support prospects’ pre-purchase research
- Serve as a medium for telling your unique brand story
- Advance dialogue and relationships with your audiences
To ensure you’re delivering content to customers in a way they will enjoy, pay attention to and hopefully act on, you must consider the timing, relevancy and access of your efforts.
Timing refers to providing a clear path to the content prospects and current customers need based on where they’re at in their purchase journey. To provide some perspective, consider the fact that 96% of your website visitors aren’t ready to buy (Marketo). So, rather than immediately pushing users into a demo or quote request, anticipate what information your audiences will need and make it easy to find the answers they’re looking for. Offer engaging, informational content and avoid adopting generic automations that don’t consider individual needs.
Similarly, “relevancy” entails supporting your customers and prospects with a proper breadth of content at each buyer stage that is uniquely tailored to their pain points and interests. When it comes to developing relevant content, factor in the common needs of your target personas, what stage they’re at in the buyer’s journey and what pain points they’re looking to solve. Take the adage “quality over quantity” to heart and avoid rationalizing one-size-fits-all content over deliberate pieces that truly resonate with your audiences. Incorporate images and verbiage that show you know your personas and keep content consistent with the roles they’re meant for.
Content access plays a pivotal role in cultivating a smooth digital experience for customers and prospects alike. To reply to this development effectively, offer content that can be consumed across multiple mediums and is optimized throughout all platforms.
For example, consider Statista’s finding that approximately 50% of all web traffic will take place on mobile devices in 2020. The last thing you want is for your carefully constructed content—be it an eBook, email campaign or blog post—to display beautifully on a desktop but pixelated or otherwise distorted on mobile. Rather than capturing blanket engagement, narrow in on metrics such as page load times, how content performs on mobile versus desktop applications and bounce rates for a clear view of which platforms your audiences rely on the most. Keeping your content consistently optimized is key to getting your information in front of audiences seamlessly and effectively.
Transforming Your CX Today
To recap, B2B buyers are expecting more seamless, personalized and digitized customer experiences than ever before. While it’s important to keep the characteristics of modern CX at the heart of all your strategic efforts, content marketing can be a particularly valuable channel to meet customers where they are in their buyer’s journey and move at their pace. Maintaining a high-quality stream of personalized yet pragmatic content will not only enhance your company’s reputation among past, present and future customers, but it can also deliver transformative results to your bottom line.
Looking for more ways to leverage content marketing effectively in the buying cycle? Check out this article on Content Development for Each Stage of the B2B Buyer’s Journey.