OmniChannel – a term that retailers have been using for several years – has come into vogue with B2B marketers in 2014 and may well replace Big Data as the buzzword of the year. Whether you like the term or not, it is clear that defining, developing and delivering an integrated online and offline experience for customers and clients is critical to the success of all companies.
At last weeks ITSMA conference, CMOs Robert Tas, Pegasystems and Matt Preschern, HCL Technologies joined me on a panel where we discussed the need for marketing leaders in the B2B space to step up in planning for and investing in digital approaches. We discussed the recent ITSMA research that showed 54% of the B2B buyer journey takes place online and agreed that in most cases a buyers journey begins online, making the need to integrate digital into the marketing mix essential.
Farland Group’s recent advisory board work with global CEOs, CIOs and CMOs has revealed a similar trend. A retail CMO indicated that 80% of all purchases begin online, requiring very strong content strategies in order to attract and hold the shopper. A CEO shared a shift in investment to digital content and commerce strategies.
As B2B marketers how do you get moving on a digital plan? Here are some tips on where to get started:
Learn how your customers buy: Talk to your customers. Too often we rely on internal folklore to shape our strategies. Use that information to develop your next series of discussions with your clients and really listen to how they want to buy from you or how they are currently buying from your competitors.
Understand what content works: Conduct an audit of you content – this will feel overwhelming, and it is. For most large B2B businesses, there is a piece of content created every week. Imagine being your sales people or clients trying to decipher all of this content. Learn what works, what gets viewed, and move the rest into an archive. If people ask for it, bring it back. In most cases, no one misses the content that you think they will miss.
Invest in digital assets that enhance the customer journey: In reviewing the content that you have, think about how to repurpose some of that content into digital assets and apps. Calculators, widgets, videos, visualizations – all help to create engaging interactive content that will cut through a lot of the clutter.
The shift is happening. Whatever the market research data tells you, there will not be years of time before a small, nimble startup begins serving up a digital experience that trumps yours. It is time to start evolving our content and client experience strategies before it is too late.