We’re a year into the pandemic, and we’ve come a long way from where we were last March. Understanding the impact on business has been challenging, but many of us have adjusted to what’s become the next normal. During the past year, here are three ways I’ve seen B2B sales and marketing teams adapt – I expect these changes will stay with us for a while:
What We Say
One of the earliest visible signs of how businesses adapted to the pandemic was in the language they used. Whether it was on social media, email campaigns or website banners,
empathetic messages that aimed to unify and build community were common in the early days of the pandemic and resonated in that moment – but they quickly became trite and eventually lost their impact. On the other side, some businesses struggled to adapt their messaging. Overly promotional campaigns fell flat and came across as tone deaf when many people and businesses were facing difficult situations.
The situation was, and continues to be, very fluid. Here are a few things to consider when planning your messaging now:
- Check your awareness: Recognize that your customers may be impacted differently based on their industry, position, company or geographic region. Know who you’re talking to and what they’ve gone through – or may still be going through.
- Recognize what’s relevant: Identify challenges or opportunities that apply to your customers, without coming across as opportunistic or overly promotional. Additionally, you don’t have to shout that it’s because of the pandemic – at this point, we all get it. For example, a health and wellness business can talk about home workouts because more people are home these days. The important thing is understanding why it impacts your customers and how it may change their interaction with your company.
- Be tactful: Calling the COVID-19 pandemic out by name is fine every once in a while, as long as it’s relevant to your message. But unless your business is directly tied to or impacted daily by the pandemic, it should be done occasionally, otherwise your customers may get tired of hearing about it from you, because they’re hearing about it everywhere else, too.
How We Target New Customers
A year ago, many of us were just starting to adjust to new schedules and working from home full time. Some of us bought new office furniture, set up multiple monitors, or upgraded our headphones so we could work our best and keep driving business growth.
And then we realized something: the people we were trying to reach weren’t there. They were at home, too.
With many decision-makers working from home, on their personal devices, and using their personal accounts, it suddenly got much harder for B2B sales and marketing teams to reach prospects. Many of those business phone numbers were useless, emails went unopened, and even the prospects themselves were sadly dropping at a higher rate due to increased layoffs. Here are some of the top actions B2B marketers are taking to overcome these challenges:
- Data Cleansing: Turn to a provider that can update your records by removing, correcting and replacing inaccurate data to provide increased deliverability and engagement.
- Identity Graphs: Pulling data from multiple high-quality sources, an identity graph enables marketers to custom-build accurate audiences that tightly align with their offers. This enables a deeper and more complete view, putting marketers in a better position to identify the right prospects for their offers and engage more effectively with them.
- Intent Monitoring: By identifying who may be in-market for your solution, intent data insights can be used to improve and tailor email campaigns, content marketing, programmatic advertising, account-based marketing and more. At OMI, we monitor more than 14 billion new intent signals each week.
Where We Engage with Prospects
One of the biggest impacts of the pandemic for many B2B sales professionals was the loss of in-person events. Without trade shows, conventions or simple face-to-face meetings, how would business relationships form and grow? How would prospects move through the buying journey?
B2B sales teams got to work with more virtual options to support prospects in their decision-making process. Now a year later, a recent McKinsey article sums up what we’ve seen firsthand: omnichannel is here to stay for B2B sales. What was pushed to the forefront because of necessity has become a preference, with about two-thirds of buyers preferring remote human interactions or self-service, according to McKinsey. At the start of the pandemic, 54% believed omnichannel was as or more effective than traditional methods. In February 2021 that number had risen to 83%. In fact, even as in-person options have re-emerged, buyers are choosing a cross-channel mix.
The past year has been challenging and we’ve all had to adapt in some way. As Forrester shares, many businesses underwent a shift almost overnight to engage customers virtually, and “the impact on digital strategy, priorities and approaches has been massive.” Digital transformation was accelerated and has changed the way we find new customers and the channels we use to reach them – changes that are likely to stick around long after the pandemic.
Outward Media’s proven data cleansing services and targeted, accurate B2B data can enable you to achieve better digital marketing ROI and, ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Go here to find out about leveraging our SMB and medical market data on the LiveRamp Data Marketplace.