How to Build—or Destroy—B2B Brand Loyalty

Posted on by Sanjay Castelino

In the B2B world, most tech buyers don’t want to dedicate a lot of time to purchasing decisions. Often, it’s just a necessary part of their job to help businesses run more efficiently and enable employees to work more productively with the latest technology.

This is fantastic for B2B marketers, because tech buyers often want to be brand loyal. It’s much easier to buy technology from a brand you trust.

So, if you provide a reliable product at a fair price and prove to be a genuine partner, you can drive more brand loyalty and greatly impact the bottom line. Easy enough, right? Well, not so much. There are several other factors that drive (and destroy) B2B brand loyalty.

Spiceworks recently surveyed more than 500 IT buyers to examine their buying habits, what tech products they’re most loyal to, and how this loyalty is gained and lost. The research shows that while only 21 percent of IT buyers believe creative marketing efforts are important to driving brand loyalty, about 90 percent believe it’s important to have access to technical experts and informative content.

How do you address these two needs? How do you win over buyers and build B2B brand loyalty when these buyers don’t want to be marketed to?

The challenge for marketers is to provide the right level of detail to inform prospects about what they are buying and how it’s going to help them solve a problem, without coming across as too slick. Marketers need to genuinely help potential buyers get their jobs done, get the information they need, and make the best decisions to benefit their business.

In other words, we must keep in mind the prospect experience with our brand. Too often, we just focus on the customer experience. But a brand experience doesn’t begin when a buyer becomes a customer. It starts with prospects. And if you’re continuously sending them irrelevant products and information despite low engagement rates, you’re starting in a hole that you’ll have to dig out of to eventually build brand loyalty.

This happens far more often than marketers like to admit. Without considering the consequences, companies misuse tried-and-true B2B marketing techniques that annoy both customers and prospects. This degrades brand loyalty over time and pushes buyers away to other tech brands. In fact, 85 percent of IT buyers believe too many emails and calls from tech vendors will make them less likely to purchase from a brand they’re loyal to. A high cadence of emails and calls is just as likely to deter brand loyalty as a security issue with the vendor. This illustrates how much B2B buyers dislike being bombarded by sales reps and marketers who continue to contact them despite low engagement rates.

But how much outreach is too much? Listen to your buyers.

First, monitor social media. Track how often they’re singing your praises vs. how often they’re complaining about what you’re not doing right. If you’re getting more complaints than praises, consider decreasing the volume of promotional emails to focus more on solving their pain points. This is especially true if online complaints are going unanswered. According to Jay Baer’s book, Hug Your Haters, one-third of all customer complaints go unanswered, most of them online and in public. In other words, don’t make the mistake of sending too many promotional emails when your buyers are fuming about unresolved issues.

Second, watch your email open and unsubscribe rates. If it increases sharply and suddenly, that means buyers would rather not hear from you because the value you’re providing is either too low or the volume of your outreach is too high.

Third, coordinate with sales and track how often you’re reaching out to each customer and prospect via all forms of communication. Then track how many times those buyers are reaching out to you — is your outbound rate significantly higher than your inbound rate? There’s no perfect formula, but consider benchmarking buyers to get real-time feedback on if your volume of outreach is too high, too low, or just right. This could be as simple as including a poll in your emails.

Currently, IT buyers are contacted up to 25 times a week via email, phone, forums and other channels. That’s 1,300 times a year! The best way to balance volume with quality is to provide more value in what you send. That could include informative content, such as how-to’s and templates, that helps simplify their workday or enables them to solve a timely challenge they’re facing. This approach allows you to keep your brand in front and center without being too self-promotional of your products. If you can truly help your buyers, you’ll eventually build trust and those buyers will be happy to listen.

Ultimately, we have to consider the holistic brand experience by examining all touchpoints, starting with prospects, and ensuring those touchpoints are in their best interest.

Sanjay Castelino is vice president of marketing at Spiceworks.

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