Leveraging Customer Data to drive Customer Value in B2B

The pace of B2B relations is speeding up by the influence of digitalization. For B2B marketers who are willing to embrace technology, data offers a world to win in the buyer journey. Winning in the B2B arena was traditionally achieved by reaching the right markets with the right services, or just being the cheapest producer. Long-term success was determined in advance by close, personal client relations.

According to McKinsey B2B customers prefer digital tools for business sales over talking to an account manager. This means that B2B marketers should change their mindset. Forrester concludes in their B2B Loyalty, the B2C way report that B2B marketers are focusing too much on their products, internal processes and organization silos and not enough on the entire customer relationship. And that relation moves – just like in B2C – from research, via discovery, to thriving, deciding, paying, and connecting.

Room for improvement

The reality for most B2B companies is far away from this insight. Many companies often need days to finish an offer, ask clients to fill in complicated order forms and leave clients in the dark about the status of their order. While research has proven that investing in customer experiences pays off.

McKinsey found a 10 to 15 percent decrease in customer churn in recent research, increasing offer acceptance rates by 40 percent and decreasing marketing costs by even 50 percent. At the same time, employee satisfaction rates go up while the customer experience is improving since a better connection to clients gives meaning to their job. And happy employees are essential in today's overheated job market.

B2B companies in all sectors – from production to services and high-tech – stand for the implicit ultimatum of the customer: make B2B shopping as easy as B2C, otherwise, we will find someone else who will. The reason is simple: people want more ease. So, B2B and B2C start becoming more alike. This means that a data-driven, customer-centric marketing strategy is not just reserved for companies like Coolbue and bol.com. Business to business also needs to use customer data to design optimal end-to-end buyer journeys. But how can you do that in a smart way?

The devil is the data

B2B marketers are starting to realize they have no choice but to embrace technology to keep up with customer expectations. Asked about their business priorities B2B marketers list customer acquisition, data management and marketing automation. These priorities can be seen as different parts of one approach: supporting the customer in their end-to-end customer journey.

One of SQLI's clients from the food and beverage industry was facing a data dilemma. The company, an international A-brand, failed in reducing its customer churn. They realized that a consistent, omnichannel brand experience improved customer loyalty. Therefore, marketing automation had been their solution to continuously provide customers with relevant information for some time. However, one essential factor was missing: end-to-end personalization. Because of a lack of a centralized platform for customer data they failed to gain insight into how a customer turns into a loyal customer.

While they were struggling to get their customer data in place, they felt their competitors getting closer. Other players in the market did succeed to roll out real-time, personalized omnichannel campaigns to strengthen ties with their customers. The coffee company decided to invest in a Customer Data Platform (CDP) which enabled them to create unique customer profiles. This allowed them to analyze which specific content, promotions and personal messages led to a higher degree of retention. Big eyeopener: content about the brands’ sustainability efforts significantly improved the customer experience.

Best practices for an optimal buyer-journey

Utilizing customer data to improve the customer journey from beginning to end led to some considerable competitive advantages for B2B: from discovering new opportunities to higher customer retention. Some points of attention for optimizing the B2B customer journey:

  • Focus on customer data: This is true for each optimization, but especially in something personal as customer experience, it is crucial to focus on facts.

  • Make use of performance marketing: This approach is often underestimated in B2B and thought to be only suitable for B2C. However, web traffic, leads and sales from high performing campaigns also facilitate B2B players to get to know their customers and to collect sufficient data.
  • Engage in account-based marketing: It is a hyper-personalized sales strategy in which different departments within your company collaborate. Your marketing, sales and customer success managers identify major stakeholders within a target company. Next, they contact them in a highly specific and directed way.
  • Marketing automation: Marketing automation allows you to improve customer service and lower marketing costs at the same time. For example, automize your e-mail replies by letting customers know when they can expect a personalized answer, or automize a Q&A to be ahead of customer questions. Marketing automation enables marketers to provide potential customers with the right information in specific phases of the buyer journey. This makes it one of the most powerful marketing tools for B2B and a great starting point for the data-driven marketer to start with personalizing the buyer journey.

If your goal is to continue driving digital growth in B2B by improving your customer experience but your organization is struggling to make it happen or you don't know where to get started, we can help you set up a solid strategy & roadmap and execute it, as we have done for companies like Carlsberg, Miele, Sligro, ForFarmers, G-star, etc.

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