This article was originally published in Digital Commerce 360 @ digitalcommerce360.com
As consumers, we’ve become accustomed to online buying processes that are streamlined and easy to navigate—all the information we need at our fingertips to facilitate a purchase in just a few clicks. It’s simplicity that, as consumers (and humans), we’ve come to expect.
With business to business (B2B) buying, it’s a different story. Nearly three-quarters of B2B buyers surveyed in 2019 by global research and advisory firm Gartner described their buying purchases as “very complex or difficult.” And given the growing intricacies of B2B purchasing, buying decisions are now being made by groups or committees typically composed of six to ten decision makers, each bringing four to five pieces of relevant information to the decision-making table. All of which is making it more and more difficult for buyers, well, to buy.
So, how can B2B sellers help make buying easier? By equipping individual buyers with the information and the tools they need—something Gartner calls “buyer enablement.” And a big part of the process is building trust by truly understanding your customers’ challenges, providing them with information and solutions, and along the way fostering a human connection. People buy from people. Here’s how to get there.
Customer data and user profiling is the starting point in creating a meaningful experience that will help buyers better understand their needs and find a solution—your solution—to the challenges they face. Here are a few tips to establishing a strong customer data strategy:
Buyers want to know that B2B vendors understand the challenges they face. In a 2019 survey of B2B buyers on their content preferences, 68% said they wanted B2B vendors to organize content by issue or pain point. And the top two content formats preferred were case studies (cited by 47% of respondents) and webinars (cited by 39% of respondents).
When preparing content, keep these things in mind for creating empathetic and meaningful connections with your target buying audience:
Want to make it easier for your prospects to buy? According to Gartner, when B2B buyers receive information that helps them determine whether to buy, they are more likely to experience a high degree of ease when purchasing, and three times more likely to buy a bigger deal with less regret.
As a marketer, your job is to deliver experiences that help make the buying process easier. A combination of highly consumable digital and human channels—like workshops, relevant case studies, readily accessible specifications or technical details, and customized pricing and incentives—help accomplish this. Here are some content tactics to help making buying easier:
Global manufacturer Tenaris, a producer of steel pipes and related services for the world’s energy industry and other industrial segments, offers a variety of products that require deep dives into data sheets, informational specifications, and other technical details. Yet the company website was difficult to navigate, and information key to decision-making on purchases was not readily available.
To streamline the information-gathering process for customers and prospects, and to make it easier for them to request demos or connect with sales, our sister company, MediaMonks, worked with Tenaris to completely redesign the company’s website. Print materials and PDFs were transformed into optimized digital assets, and site structure was redesigned to eliminate the use of microsites. Recently the company also introduced the new Digital Box section, expanding its offering of digital tools to provide more cost-efficient solutions to its customers. For example, the new Digital Box includes the Rig Direct® Portal, powerful software that allows customers to place orders, track shipments and deliveries, manage rig returns, and access invoices. The result is an easily navigable website that provides direct and clear information to expert users as well as new visitors.
There’s no doubt that B2B buying will continue to evolve—there will be more information to deliver, more channels to explore, and more tactics we haven’t yet thought of to facilitate ease of buying as we move forward. But one thing that will not change (at least in the foreseeable future) is that B2B buyers, like their consumer counterparts, are human. So creating human connections with your prospects by understanding their needs, and then delivering content across multiple channels to help make buying decisions easy (or, at least, easier), will go a long way toward building the trust necessary to convert those prospects into buyers—your buyers.