Connecting With Customers Emotionally
One way to improve the personalization and relevance of marketing communications is to understand and address the emotional aspects of the customer experience. There is no question that emotions play a role in every stage of a B2B path to purchase, from the initial need starting in the consideration and selection phase to the final purchase decision and beyond, where customer satisfaction and perceptions of supplier performance start to influence the next relevant business decision.
In a separate survey designed to illuminate the impacts of emotions on B2B decision-making, B2B International researchers found that emotional factors typically increase in importance as the customer gets further along in the decision journey. For instance, at the beginning of the decision journey, 34% of decision-makers in small to midsize companies reported considering a supplier because they had previously used that supplier as a consumer. In the comparison stage, 40% tend to seek assurance that the supplier they are considering can provide the best offer or solution to meet their needs. This often comes from exposure to thought leadership content that demonstrates the supplier’s expertise and ability to meet the needs or solve problems similar to those facing the customer.
When the time comes to make the final purchase decision, our research found that emotions often tip the scales more than rational factors: Having a strong emotional connection with a supplier accounted for 56% of the customer’s final purchase decision. These results signal that B2B marketers who can successfully engage and address the emotional needs of their customers will be able to exert significant sway over their purchase decisions, perhaps even outcompeting bigger competitors that provide more compelling “rational” offers.
Leveraging Data To Inform Marketing Programs
Gaining deep customer insights and using them to craft more personalized and emotionally resonant marketing communications require B2B marketers to distill actionable insights from large continuous streams of data and then use them to inform or enhance future marketing programs—an obstacle nearly half (49%) of survey respondents cited as a top business concern.
Part of the solution to this industrywide challenge may be found in innovative technology solutions that promise to enhance the capability and efficiency of B2B researchers and marketers. For instance, data analysis platforms are now incorporating advanced automation and machine-learning algorithms to aid research professionals in quickly identifying and analyzing key insights within large sets of “big data” and “raw” results. Similarly, B2B marketers cite increasing interest in automated campaign management solutions that enhance their abilities to engage existing customers and target new prospects with both greater precision and more personalized messaging.
No wonder, then, that a whopping 78% of survey respondents said they expect marketing automation to impact future marketing strategies, in addition to 64% who see big data exerting a similar impact on their future endeavors. As insights and marketing technologies continue to advance, so, too, will the collective capabilities of B2B marketers.
All together, these recent survey results signal a clear consensus among B2B marketers that elevating customer-centricity is the industry’s overriding imperative. That means striving to capture and distill deeper, more incisive insights on B2B customers, translating those insights into more resonant and personalized marketing messages, and then targeting and delivering those messages with ever-greater precision and accuracy.