At this year’s B2B LeadsCon, we asked a panel of marketing experts to share 20 customer engagement tips in 20 minutes. Here are their ideas on ways you can connect with your B2B customer base.
Cyndi Greenglass, senior vice president, strategic solutions, Diamond Marketing Solutions
- Pick up the phone: B2B telemarketing is really working well. Not just for lead generation, but as part of the overall cultivation strategy. We have seen success with international cultivation and nurturing through a highly personalized outreach. The phone call is a surprisingly low tech, high value touch. This outreach builds engagement and can allow you to identify obstacles and barriers to sale.
- Gamification is not just for your teenager: Gamification is not just a buzz word, it is working for—and in some cases replacing—loyalty programs. B2B marketers are increasingly using gamification techniques to decrease abandon rates on surveys and forms, and to keep executives on their websites. They are also replacing traditional points based transaction loyalty by motivating and rewarding engagement activity.
- Become a video gamer—or hire one: Follow the money! Product placement in games has been working for a while, but has not been embraced by B2B marketers. Remember that your Millennial B2B customers, buyers and prospects are active gamers and view eSports as entertainment. Think about how you can use product placement in-game to build recognition among key target audiences in manufacturing, technology and even operations. In fact, health care, insurance, and group benefits providers are even looking at how to use it as a way to build awareness among their broker channels.
- Progressive profiling: Do it, period. Today we are seeing less and less data capture upfront, and more and more unfiltered inquiries entering the pipeline. Without progressive profiling, you run the risk of harvesting coal along with the diamonds and passing unqualified leads to the sales team. You also need a way to capture over time valuable contact information so that you can execute multi-channel, integrated communications.
- Get out of analysis hell: Pick three things you want to know, and stick with the basics. You will be surprised how much you can learn. I would start with the goals for a campaign and did the effort meet them. This should be a financial, measurable metric. Then ask yourself, what worked best and why, and what failed or didn’t meet expectations? And lastly, what will you do differently next time? Make sure your answers are insights from your data reporting and analysis and not opinions.
Ruth Stevens, president, eMarketing Strategy
- PPC Display: If you’re in a highly competitive category where SEM PPC prices are very high, you can use PPC display ads that offer an appealing piece of content, convert at a landing page, and nurture the inquiry. The PPC costs on these kinds of deals can be as low as 15 or 20 cents.
- Top Lead Nurturing Channels: The top media channels for lead nurturing programs are email, phone and mail. But it’s a good idea to mix up your nurturing stream with event invitations, press releases, tweets, infographics, podcast, surveys or questionnaires, videos or newsletters to keep people interested.
- Clean Data: You can’t engage your customers if your data is wrong, and B2B data degrades at the rate of 3-6% per month. The number one way to clean data—this will surprise you—is to key enter the data correctly in the first place. Train your personnel to follow the input editing standards of your database, and use address-checking software at the point of entry to promote deliverability.
- Customer Preference Centers: Encourage your customers to maintain their own data on your website. Build a password-protected Customer Preference Center, where they can manage the data you have on them, and indicate how they want to hear from you. You might consider offering an incentive, whether better terms or a discount, to obtain higher levels of compliance.
- Top Retention Channels: Make good use of the top media channels for customer retention communications —email, telephone, social media, direct mail and customer events, including webinars.
Lianne Wade, vice president, account director, Wilde Agency
- Digestible Content: Provide at-a-glance, digestible value-add content, such as lists, infographics to prospects and customers. As part of this, provide content that is also usable and shareable with end users so B2B clients/prospects can be prepared to start a conversation with their clients.
- Have a 360 View: Consider a 360-degree view of your B2B clients since they are people too, with both personal and professional needs and interests. Obtain insights to develop an effective strategy that will be personalized and relevant. For example, a personalized New Yorker cartoon sent to financial advisors spoke to their concerns and provided a great conversation starter.
- Science! Employ the science of human behavior to motivate action since 95% of decisions are made subconsciously. How do you tap into these unconscious behaviors? Through triggers or short cut methods to making decisions, like cognitive fluency, social proof and the consistency principle.
- Direct mail is not dead! Used in an effective manner as part of a multi-channel stream, it provides value. It is tangible, breaks through the clutter and provides staying power/reminder, great visibility. Consider high-impact dimensional pieces for high value prospects sent in a two-step incentive process—they get half the incentive in the mailing and the other half when they meet with the vendor.
- Men and women process information differently: Women typically want to take care of others and are constantly trying to balance their work/personal life priorities. Men are competitive and respond to facts and figures. Test different approaches to cater to their unique concerns.
Samir Bagga, vice president, marketing, HCL Technologies
- Customer Advisory Council: If 20% of your clients generate 80% of your revenue and future growth, consider creating an advisory council to tap into those valuable customers and facilitate peer-to-peer crossselling. HCL has CXO and CTO councils with members across the globe and they love giving advice.
- Mentorship Programs: Show your clients you value them by making them your internal champions. Get them to come in and coach your teams on their industries. The more they feel invested in your brand, the more they will support you.
- Gatekeeper program: Remember to show appreciation for the folks who can help you connect with their executives. They can have a huge influence on their bosses and provide valuable insight into the company. Consider sending tokens of appreciation on holidays and birthdays like gift cards or chocolates.
- Give them an experience: Create a customer experience zone to help showcase technology that can help showcase how your solutions can solve their pain points and help them experience the brand.
- Content Workshops: Client workshops where customers can meet their peers are invaluable. Whether you run one-day intensives or four-day events, workshops can position your brand as a thought leader on industry issues and give your customers ideas they can take back to the office. Nothing works like workshops.