That’s the main finding of a new study by Forrester Consulting, commissioned by Adobe, which surveyed 552 manager level and above B2B and B2C marketers involved in decisions related to campaign management/execution and marketing technology selection/purchases. (CMO.com is owned by Adobe.) Fifty-two percent of respondents agreed they have seen more similarities in the way their B2B and B2C customers behave in the past two years than in years prior. For example, both types of buyers are data-driven, self-directed, and want emotionally and contextually relevant interactions with brands, the survey found.
“These similar behaviors provide a unique opportunity for B2B and B2C marketers to cross-collaborate and learn from each other,” said Bruce Swann, group product marketing manager for Adobe Campaign.
Of the companies surveyed, 28% serve both businesses and consumers; 83% agreed that their marketing teams are already benefitting from cross-team collaboration with their B2B/B2C counterparts.
Indeed, B2C marketers noted they are learning to focus more on nurturing and less on transactions in order to meet the B2B-like levels of consideration that consumers are devoting to even the simplest purchases. Alternatively, B2B marketers noted they are learning how they can add more emotion to their marketing and create the kinds of relationships that consumers expect from all of the companies they purchase from.
The survey also unveiled a shared struggle among B2C and B2B marketers: creating holistic marketing experiences by connecting interactions and tracking customers throughout the entire journey in real time. In fact, only 7% of B2C companies and 6% of B2B companies said they do so consistently across all channels, brands, and lines of business.
This is largely due to the complexity of buyer journeys, the survey indicated. An intricate web of customer touch points—including the number of interactions before a lead becomes a sale, amount of consideration given to the purchase, information needed before a purchase, and the number of people involved in the purchase decision—impacts the way businesses track customer journeys.
“The adoption of cross-channel campaign management and marketing automation technologies is poised to nearly double in the next year, as many companies recognize the need for these capabilities in creating holistic marketing journeys,” Swann explained. The study found B2B and B2C marketers believe cross-channel marketing capabilities will drive an increase in sales (59% and 70%, respectively) and an increase in the quality of customer data received (64% and 59%, respectively).
Aside from implementing critical technologies, what can B2B and B2C marketers do to better collaborate and alleviate their shared pain points? Swann said to start with the following:
1. Get more comfortable with anonymity: Both B2C and B2B marketers should be confident and respectful in allowing buyers to remain anonymous when they are doing their initial research to determine whether to buy from you.
2. Put digitally empowered customers at the center of the customer journey: Remove friction, make relevant, valuable content accessible, and go beyond convincing your audience to buy to helping them buy.
3. Start more conversations with customers: Be prepared to educate and inform customers at every step of the way in an extended, contextual conversation, which ultimately lends to a better, more engaging experience.