Are your digital channels helping or hurting your brand? It’s a question all B2B marketers need to ask. With 68 percent of B2B buyers preferring to research purchase decisions independently online, are your brand’s digital channels delivering a positive user experience?
B2B buyers form quick impressions based on their experience with digital channels. In just seconds, they can develop a positive or negative image of your brand—and that image can be irreversible.
For example, an outdated, slow, or non-intuitive website can reflect poorly on your brand and your organization’s understanding of customer needs, potentially hurting sales. Conversely, an easy-to-navigate website that answers buyers’ questions can inspire them to dig deeper and move a brand to the top of their consideration set.
While these examples are not surprising to marketers, less obvious is the way they can address the challenges they face to create positive online user experiences. And how can they best evaluate their digital channels?
With so much on the line for B2B marketers throughout the buyer’s journey, it’s important to frequently review and optimize your digital channels. The following tips can help you deliver an experience that upholds and supports your brand’s promise to customers.
1. Make an ongoing commitment to engage, and respond to user feedback.
Make the time to routinely talk to customers and internal audiences. Seek feedback on your digital channels—particularly for your website or app—to identify areas for improvement. Internally, look beyond product, marketing, or sales teams and seek out feedback from customer service or other employees with direct customer contact. Gathering internal stakeholder input upfront also ensures everyone is aligned on business goals and ROI measurement.
Depending on the product or service, you may also want to engage engineering, sustainability experts, or employees from other functional areas of the company. The goal is to routinely gather and evaluate feedback, using it to improve prospective buyers’ experiences across your digital channels.
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2. Consider the content needs of all key stakeholders in the buying process.
The B2B buying process is complex and typically involves multiple individuals in the purchase decision. The ultimate decision maker isn’t the only audience B2B marketers need to engage. Having a clear understanding of all key stakeholders is essential for developing compelling user content and online experiences.
Developing personas that reflect specific user groups and engaging in social listening can help you determine the needs of all influencers in the buying process. Additionally, reviewing your digital channels’ analytics to inform content audits can help identify outdated content that should be removed, as well as popular content that can be repurposed in multiple formats. For example, a well-read or frequently downloaded article can be turned into multiple blog or social media posts, an interview, a podcast, email content, and much more.
3. Use AI to determine and deliver customized content.
AI technologies provide an important tool with multiple applications to help marketers improve and customize buyers’ experiences. Similar to Netflix or Gmail, marketers can use machine learning to make personalized content recommendations based on users’ preferences. This helps brands’ direct or deliver digital content of potential interest based on a user’s digital searches and the content they engage with on your digital channels.
For example, using AI with the data in your CRM system can allow machine learning to predict future purchases based on past purchases or interest. This enables brands to develop upsell or cross-sell email messages with content and graphics personalized to each customer. Imagine the time and resources it would take to accomplish this manually, even if it could be done. Email marketing that also employs machine learning to create personalized subject lines and optimize send times to each recipient is destined to have a positive impact on email metrics.
AI can also help analyze content that is resonating the most on your digital platforms, and take your social listening and buyer insights to the next level. For example, natural language processing (NLP) and image analysis of social media posts can quickly and comprehensively understand what people are saying and posting about brands. Without AI, this type of deep analysis would likely be too time consuming and costly to consider.
4. Be mindful of the fundamentals of creating positive user experiences.
With so many opportunities to use your brand’s digital channels to engage and inspire buyers, it can be easy to overlook these fundamentals of delivering positive user experiences.
- Keep it simple. If your content doesn’t resonate, or a user has to jump through too many hoops to gather the information they’re seeking, they will look elsewhere.
- Prioritize users’ needs. This may seem obvious, but too often a brand’s priorities are placed above those of the buyers. Do your homework—develop personas to understand your audience, their goals and pain points. Then refer to your buyer personas often to determine if your digital content is meeting their needs. Most importantly, treat personas as living documents that are continually updated as buyers’ needs evolve.
- Break out of silos. For most B2B companies, multiple teams manage various brand channels and content. If your website experience or voice are starkly different from your social media or email efforts, it can create confusion or misperceptions with buyers. Work across teams to ensure consistency on all your digital channels.
The continual process of reviewing and optimizing your digital presence is essential in today’s dynamic and competitive B2B marketplace. Buyers have high expectations of a brand’s digital channels, and that can be daunting. The good news? You have unlimited possibilities to directly and effectively engage buyers. Use these opportunities to forge deeper customer connections, improve brand experiences, drive loyalty, and increase sales potential.