With the recent Black Friday sales frenzy, a small but perhaps inevitable backlash occurred. Due to social pressures, many retail stores refused to open—and force their employees to work—on the Thursday Thanksgiving holiday. Others, such as REI, even remained closed the Friday after Thanksgiving as well, which was widely applauded on social media. And while the big box retailers enjoyed their usual craziness on Black Friday, overall in-store sales numbers were down, providing evidence that many stayed away from the crowds. In turn, online sales on Cyber Monday were strong.The lesson here for marketers is that the places, or channels, through which their customers purchase—and receive information and conduct their research—can change over time. For example, more people (especially the younger crowd) than ever conduct product research online before going to any store to purchase. Or, they simply make their purchase online, increasingly through the use of mobile devices. With so many sales channels today, the onus is on B2B marketers to understand the communication, research and buying preferences of their customers. With that in mind, here are three proven ways to stay in front of these preferences in order to remain in the good graces of customers’ and prospects:
- Understand Buying Behaviors: Recent statistics from Blue Nile Research indicate that 76% of B2B buyers are using three or more channels to gather information throughout their buying process. The vast majority (82%) utilize search, and 80% of them peruse a candidate vendor’s website for more information, while 54% read customer reviews and case studies. Another 25% also claim to read the company’s blog posts as well. The top content B2B buyers are most likely to click on to help in their buying decisions are data and statistics (46%), blogs or videos (18%), and infographics (10%). (The numbers are slightly different for B2C buyers, who, not surprisingly, are have a stronger interest in customer and product reviews.)
- Recognize Demographics: In terms of generations, statistics show that Millennials are far more likely to research a brand before making a B2B purchase. A study published by the IBM Institute for Business Value has found that 93% of Millennials read reviews prior to buying a B2B product or service. This is compared to just 37% of Generation Xers who said the same. However, this information is not the only factor that drives Millennial-related sales. This demographic also heavily weighs recommendations from family and friends (36%). Meanwhile, Generation Xers (38%) and Baby Boomers (37%) are more likely to trust independent analysts or industry experts as their primary buying influencers. The takeaway here might be that while Millennials desire an abundance of product or service information, their ultimate buying decision may hinge on a positive (or negative) recommendation by a colleague or contact—more so than older generations.
- Know Your Own Customer Data: It is incumbent upon marketers to understand the demographic(s) and desired communication, research and buying channels of their specific target customers in order to reach them, gather their attention, and offer content to which they will most likely respond. While research cited here and available elsewhere can help narrow this down, this insight should only be considered a first step in best serving your target market. The next would be measuring and tracking your own data—the responses of your own target market through clicks or dollars spent—to determine the methods and mediums that generate the best results. Which email generated the most clicks? Which page on your website gets the most views? This information is often not uniform across its entirety—your older customers might prefer one way while your younger ones might prefer another. As a result, you might have to segment your buyers into the proper “buckets” to ensure you’re delivering the proper content in the way they want to consume it.
Another, often under-utilized way to determine this information? Simply ask your customers. This can be done via surveys, on social media or through other more in-depth programs such as customer advisory boards. If business growth is a top priority, then it’s clear that understanding customers’ preferred buying channels, demographics and data is essential. With this knowledge in hand, marketers can then create the content and offers that will generate the most positive reactions—and the strongest impact—in 2016.
If you want to improve your marketing reach, consider giving BizFACTZ B2B marketing data a try. BizFACTZ allows you to reach targeted contacts with precision and accuracy. Click here to register on our site and, after placing your order, use the offer code “INTRO” at checkout to receive a 20% discount on your first purchase.
Image copyright: Copyright: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo