This is my third post in a series on the B2B mobile engagement cycle—my spin on a traditional sales funnel adapted to the needs and behaviors of today’s B2B mobile user. I recently covered ways to use relevant content marketing to generate ongoing brand influence. With this post, I’ll turn our attention to nurturing B2B users through flexible, personalized, and incentive-added communications.
B2B User Personas
A recent Forrester study found that power over IT spending is shifting away from CIOs, and falling into the hands of CFOs and CMOs. The implication is that B2B branding must now speak to all three interests—technical, financial, and strategic—at once. Knowing your B2B user personas is critical to launching effective mobile engagement. Each company must investigate and define these personas themselves, based a range of data-based insights. The following questions are a good starting point:
- Who are my B2B users?
- What are their goals?
- How do these goals shape their behavior?
- What work-related pressures are affecting their buying decisions?
- How and where do they engage brands?
- How do they think?
The list of questions could go on and on. The more you seek to answer, the more detailed and powerful your user personas will be, enabling you to design your engagement strategies according to users’ motivations and needs. For example, knowing that the most influential information a user can receive is “advice from a friend . . . followed by search engines and video” will affect how you weight your engagement channels.
I’m a firm believer that there is no such thing as an average B2B visitor. Each visitor is individual, and represents a unique path, goal, and needs. There are, however, patterns we can find in the behaviors, search and comparison preferences, and communication requirements that come from our B2B market. If we’re paying attention to these patterns, the mobile experience we craft for B2B will differ from a B2C experience in significant ways.
Data: The Key Ingredient
B2B user personas must be built on relevant data. Available sources include demographic—or firmographic—data characterizing businesses in the industry you cater to, interviews with existing clients, registration forms, email and landing page activity, and earned social data. Using your foundation of existing data, you can reach B2B users where they are, and develop appealing mobile apps and platforms that will continue generating data as you grow. Detailed data that evolves with you makes the difference between one-size-fits-all marketing and a robust, personalized approach to B2B engagement.
Establish a B2B-tailored mobile marketing and communications structure, then enhance it with targeted content to give individuals a responsive experience that conforms to their personal paths. Here are three ways to strike that special B2B balance.
Three Actionable Ways to Nurture B2B Mobile Users
Business user segmentation helps turn data into a practical engagement tool. User groupings can be based on information as simple as industry categories, or as complex as behavioral traits. Possible segments can be based on
- Length of your company’s relationship with the user’s business
- Recent purchases, help tickets, and other interactions with the user
- The amount of revenue generated by a user’s business
- The degree to which a business has used your product or service
- User location
- Types of personal and work-related devices owned by a user
However you choose to segment your B2B mobile users, the purpose is to generate extra value for a unique set of people. The segment is a launchpad for inventing and adapting engagement strategies.
2. Conversations across Touchpoints
According to Forrester, most B2B users research products on their own before initiating contact with a vendor. They might be as far as “90 percent of the way through their journey before they reach out.” The onus is on digital marketers to give users reasons to connect, creating logical, worthwhile touchpoints early on. In mobile, this means bringing value to your presence on social platforms, creating service-oriented apps, and designing email and landing pages with the mobile user in mind.
3. Be a “Challenger”
A Corporate Executive Board survey of top-performing B2B customer representatives yielded a surprising insight: The most successful “type” of B2B rep is the “challenger.” This person has “a different view of the world, understands the customer’s business, and loves to debate.” Challengers teach something new, giving relevant information and ideas that users can turn into career-building actions. They also help users build consensus for these new ideas among their business stakeholders. What it looks like to be a B2B challenger in a mobile world depends on your users. Return to your data to discover your users’ struggles, pressing questions, and workplace problems that need solving. Challengers know that solution-seeking is at the root of B2B user engagement.
The B2B Difference
B2B users evaluate software, technology, and other business-enhancing products with great care. At minimum, they expect deep comparisons, heavy demos, and one-on-one dialogue with sales representatives when the time comes. Mobile presents an exciting opportunity to offer the “honest and open dialogue” users are asking for in B2B brand interactions. Mobile engagement is diverse, direct, and always connected. For our mobile platforms to meet this exciting demand, we need to do some serious innovating, testing, and analysis.