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Four reasons customer engagement analytics is shaking up B2B shopping experiences

21st Oct 2015
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It is often felt that consumer issues faced in the B2C world are not necessarily the same issues that marketers face in the B2B world. However, according to Bill Price, president of Driva Solutions and previously Amazon's first vice president of global customer service, "Companies have to stop thinking of themselves as business-to-business or business-to-consumer and instead put the consumer first.”  

In the recent JDA/Centiro Customer Pulse 2015 report, conducted by YouGov and Internet Retailing, 71% of 2,093 UK adults questioned said that after a bad shopping experience they would likely switch retailer the next time they bought something online. In the B2C world this will make for very unpleasant reading, but the same could easily be said for some B2B businesses, as there are direct parallels with online ordering and delivery.

Customers in the B2B space cited long and complex forms, delivery issues, irrelevant recommendations and content that is hard to find as their common grievances. Companies need to recognise that when a piece of engagement has enticed someone to give you their details, you must respect and utilise that information to make things easy and give them information relevant to their issues and interests. Accurate, joined-up data is critical to behavioural, predictive and personalised customer experience.

A recent campaign by Axis delivered a more creative, consumer-facing spin on a B2B product. As a video surveillance solution provider, the brand wanted to increase awareness of its cargo logistics division, which allows both the customer and seller to easily discover what happened without spending the time trawling through hours of footage. Running on the theme of ‘every package has a story’, the ads featured personified packages – a smartly dressed man with a box for a head – a fun, friendly and cute image. But behind the B2B message of the ‘product’, there is a serious message of ‘even if you aren’t responsible [for a lost package], your customers might claim you are.”

The customer remains at the heart of everything and good customer engagement analytics is critical to understanding customer behaviour needs and identifying quality leads.

Below are four points which explain the importance of customer analytics tools within the B2B shopping experience and the risks of failing to take these points into account. 

1. The dangers of not having an end-to-end view of customer analytics are:

  • Inefficient advertising.
  • Prospects dropping through the gaps.
  • Marketing that is isolated from sales, CRM and activity – often leaving teams in the dark about what has been really effective - and what prospects should be nurtured or left alone.
  • Too much irrelevant content aimed at the wrong audience.
  • Bad science and forming incorrect conclusions - correlation without causation - leading to poor decision-making.

2. Customer engagement tools, analytics or marketing automation can help you to:

  • Identify who in one organisation is having the most influence on decision-making, given their engagement with content or marketing activity.
  • Enable testing of content to different audiences increasing engagement with relevant content.
  • Test email (subject lines, content), with ‘winners' reaching the right audiences.
  • Identify your best referral channels (events, webinars, social media….).
  • See where the log-jams are - is it content, too many forms?
  • Identify named customers for the sales team.
  • Attribute sales to marketing activity - therefore realising the value of marketing and where it is most effective.

3. The ‘shopping/purchasing experience’ can be enhanced by:

  • Customers receiving a tailored solution and real-time engagement.
  • Enabling B2B stakeholders to have the right content to share and sell up and to other decision-makers.
  • One-click repeat ordering.
  • Contact strategy from sales, eCRM or events becoming more tailored.
  • Re-targeting opportunities based on previous purchases or contact/content engagement.

Tying all this juicy data to sales CRM is critical too, ensuring there is no duplication of effort but also a clear throughput of qualified leads. 

4. In B2B, the process can be broken down into simple steps:

  • Analyse the market, content and search.
  • Segment the audience and create personas.
  • Set goals (what is your cost per lead/conversion?).
  • Create a test and learn plan.
  • Monitor.
  • Reset.

The very nature of B2B purchasing predetermines that the customer journey experience is complex, lengthy and expensive. With so many individuals at organisations involved in the decision-making process, the complexity of the customer journey is unavoidable; however, it does not need to be frustrating. The beauty of customer analytics tools is that they provide businesses with invaluable insight into the behaviour, likes, dislikes and influence of leads. Armed with this knowledge, businesses can ensure that they are keeping their current customers happy and attracting new prospects by making the customer journey as stress free as possible. 

Drew Nicholson is CEO of OgilvyOne Business.

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