Customer Experience and Digital Transformation—Taking a Bigger Role in B2B Strategy

Customer Experience

The gap in dig­i­tal matu­ri­ty between B2B and B2C com­pa­nies is nar­row­ing, accord­ing to the 2017 Dig­i­tal Trends in B2B report, which found that the B2B sec­tor is show­ing matu­ri­ty in terms of pri­ori­tis­ing dig­i­tal strat­e­gy. The research, con­duct­ed by Econ­sul­tan­cy in part­ner­ship with Adobe, high­lights the progress being made in B2B mar­ket­ing as dig­i­tal expe­ri­ences in the con­sumer world con­tin­ue to bleed into B2B jour­neys.

Accord­ing to the report, most B2B com­pa­nies view them­selves as dig­i­tal first, so why the gap? The research sug­gests that con­sumer-fac­ing com­pa­nies are more in tune with cus­tomer expec­ta­tions and the tech­nolo­gies and tools they use to mar­ket to them are often supe­ri­or to those used in the B2B world. Despite a lack of capa­bil­i­ties hold­ing them back, B2B is get­ting the mes­sage. And cus­tomer expe­ri­ence (CX) and dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion are tak­ing a more promi­nent role in dig­i­tal strat­e­gy. Here are some key find­ings from the report.

B2B is over­com­ing cul­ture hur­dles to make dig­i­tal a pri­or­i­ty. B2B pri­or­i­ties and strate­gies remain offline-focused and the chal­lenge is in trans­form­ing the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence to reflect cus­tomer behav­ior. For exam­ple, why are web­sites func­tion­ing like shop win­dows when they could be a shop­ping mall of infor­ma­tion with dig­i­tal inte­grat­ed through the entire jour­ney? Tech­nol­o­gy aids the trans­for­ma­tion of the dig­i­tal cul­ture. Yet, 38 per­cent of B2B mar­keters find cul­ture (a cross-team approach with the cus­tomer at the heart of all ini­tia­tives) as dif­fi­cult to mas­ter.

Dig­i­tal strat­e­gy is impor­tant for suc­cess accord­ing to 76 per­cent of B2B respon­dents, yet 43 per­cent don’t have one clear­ly defined. With­out a com­pre­hen­sive strat­e­gy, the com­po­nents of the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence are unlike­ly to come togeth­er suc­cess­ful­ly.

Mobile is still not a strate­gic focus. B2B com­pa­nies are 29 per­cent less like­ly than B2C com­pa­nies to rank mobile as a top three strate­gic pri­or­i­ty for 2017, and only 12 per­cent are mak­ing mobile opti­mi­sa­tion a tac­ti­cal pri­or­i­ty. While some progress has been made, invest­ment in mobile remains low.

The report cites a lack of con­fi­dence in mea­sur­ing mobile and offline mind­sets as con­tribut­ing fac­tors, but it’s impor­tant to note that B2B com­pa­nies often use mobile chan­nels pri­mar­i­ly for sup­port and edu­ca­tion rather than strict­ly for mar­ket­ing.

The per­son­al­i­sa­tion man­date has arrived. Data is a key strength and pri­or­i­ty of B2B, and most organ­i­sa­tions are more like­ly to use online data this year to opti­mise the offline expe­ri­ence and vice ver­sa. Invest­ment in data remains high with 50 per­cent of respon­dents plan­ning to increase bud­gets for mar­ket­ing ana­lyt­ics in 2017. Data analy­sis capa­bil­i­ties are seen as the most impor­tant fac­tor in deliv­er­ing a great cus­tomer expe­ri­ence.

High­ly tar­get­ed cam­paigns are pro­duc­ing strong results for lead­ers, sug­gest­ing that per­son­al­i­sa­tion is like­ly to be an area of growth in B2B over the com­ing year. A fifth of respon­dents said they are plac­ing their high­est CX empha­sis on improv­ing per­son­al­i­sa­tion in 2017, sec­ond only to increas­ing the val­ue of the expe­ri­ence. True val­ue comes from deliv­er­ing what cus­tomers need at the moment they need it, and a large part of this will be achieved through per­son­al­i­sa­tion.

There’s help build­ing the CX of the future. The major­i­ty of B2B mar­keters are focused on CX as a strate­gic pri­or­i­ty (91 per­cent), even as they are less like­ly to use CX as a key dif­fer­en­tia­tor. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, con­tent is cit­ed as the biggest oppor­tu­ni­ty for improv­ing dig­i­tal expe­ri­ences in B2B. A top pri­or­i­ty, it’s like­ly we’ll see increased bud­gets in con­tent mar­ket­ing this year. How do B2B com­pa­nies plan to use con­tent to opti­mise CX? Many will try to repli­cate the expe­ri­ence cus­tomers have in the B2C world. The chal­lenge, of course, will be in suc­cess­ful­ly respond­ing to the pain points felt by sev­er­al actors, not just one indi­vid­ual.

Look­ing ahead, the Inter­net of Things (IoT), con­nect­ed devices, and arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (AI) are set to enhance per­son­al­i­sa­tion of mar­ket­ing through increased data col­lec­tion this year. AI is automat­ing the col­lec­tion process, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, tar­get­ing, and ser­vic­ing of prospects and clients—a sure way to align mar­ket­ing and sales—always a chal­lenge for B2B. Mar­keters are excit­ed about the prospects, but few under­stand how to inte­grate them into their strat­e­gy. The good news? It won’t be long before this pro­vi­sion comes stan­dard with a mar­ket­ing suite.

Dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion is tak­ing shape in B2B. Are you ready? Learn more and grab a few action­able tips to help future-proof your busi­ness in our lat­est report.

Customer Experience
Axel G. Heyenga

Posted on 04-27-2017

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