While the length of the pandemic continues to be uncertain, many B2B companies remain hesitant to devote resources to new digital strategies for marketing and sales. But regardless of its ultimate duration, there is no question the pandemic has reshaped how business gets done for the long-term. According to recent research from McKinsey & Company, only 20 percent of B2B buyers hope to return to in-person sales, “even in sectors where field-sales models have traditionally dominated.”
What does this mean?
As B2B businesses adapt in-person sales methods for long-term success in the digital realm, social media channels can be a key part of their strategy. Leaning into social media certainly marks a departure from traditional trade shows, networking and sales calls, but could present a huge opportunity for B2B businesses to set their sales teams – and their customers – up for new, sustained success.
What should marketers be doing?
B2B businesses can harness the power of social media to drive new strategic plans that account for longer sales cycles, increased consumer scrutiny and additional consumer touchpoints at every stage of the funnel. This will require some significant but highly effective shifts:
Shift in mindset…from lead generation to brand building. Social media channels absolutely can be used for top-of-funnel success, using robust segmentation tactics to expand your reach to high-yield audiences. But social media allows B2B organizations to go further by providing users opportunities to strengthen engagement with – and affinity for – your brand at all stages of the customer journey.
Shift in location…for your interactions before, during and after the sale. Start by identifying where your current and aspirational audiences are. You can determine this through primary research, using general user demographics data, or simply by looking at your competitors – what channels do they use? Chances are your audience is there, too.
Shift in approach…to keep the user’s needs first. Social media users welcome interaction with brands, but it isn’t their driving motivation for being on the platforms. They seek entertainment, information, inspiration and connection. Provide the information customers seek about your product or service, but see if you can go further – for example, find ways you can help them do their jobs better as they work to get through these difficult times. In meeting them where they are – physically, emotionally and professionally – you are building a relational base of affinity that can translate not only into sales, but sustained loyalty.
Shift in tactics…based on data. Across paid and organic efforts, your approach should be grounded in, and shaped by, metrics. As certain numbers shift, so too should your strategy. A good measurement system can track everything from campaign successes and conversions to the less tangible ROIs, such as engagements, that are foundational to sustained long-term business success and resilience.
Utilized the right way, social media channels bring robust segmenting capabilities, insightful measurement and analytics tools, and goal-driven tactics for reach and engagement. Analytic insights gained on social channels can also be used to forecast and plan, so social media can be used to not only further B2B business goals, but to define them.
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Do you have a results-driven B2B social media strategy?