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What B2B Marketers Can Learn from B2C
CRM Evolution '09 — Day 2: Whether marketers are hitting an individual or an enterprise, both are consumers and, ultimately, share the mindset that "it's all about me."
Posted Aug 29, 2009
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NEW YORK — Patric Timmermans has been on both sides of the marketing spectrum. For nine years he was a B2B marketer before becoming a B2C marketer for the last four years. Regardless of who you're selling to, there are similar principles to follow. More important, Timmermans highlights the fact that, in a market where the consumer has the upper hand, the goal of marketing is to be found when consumers are looking, not intrude when they're aren't.

B2B marketing is changing, Timmermans told the audience in his Tuesday session at CRM Evolution. Based on their search habits alone, B2B consumers are certainly behaving similar to B2C consumers,  prompting Timmermans to add in the final kick to his presentation -- "it's all about me" -- at the last minute.

According to a poll by MarketingSherpa, 83 percent of business consumers reported "always" beginning their purchasing process through Google search. This was followed by 26 percent who reported they always went to the technology vendor's Web site. Forrester Research, however, found in a 2008 survey of 2,686 North American and European hardware decision-marketers from small and midsize businesses to the enterprise, that 33 percent find "vendor, industry trade, or professional Web site," are "very important" digital source when it comes to research. Even so, "discussion forums, online communities, or social networks sites," came in second with 23 percent of respondents indicating that these were "very important" sources in influencing their purchase decisions, above other corporate assets such as Webinars (18 percent) and email newsletters (16 percent).

In other words, while B2B interactions may typically be viewed as a more straight-laced marketing environment, it's ultimately an individual at the other end of the line. Whether B2C or B2B, Timmermans told the crowd, any effective marketing process calls for three fundamental steps:

  • campaign planning;
  • segmentation; and
  • analytics and data mining.

All of which are steps to drive the universal customer lifecycle:

  • acquire;
  • grow; and
  • retain.

Marketing has undoubtedly become more challenging as consumers are inundated with messages and choices. Timmermans characterizes today's marketing industry as one currently in an age of "reduced effectiveness," highlighted by the fact that studies have indicated:

less than 10 percent of consumers can name a brand advertised in a show they just saw, down from 35 percent in 1965;

email purchase rates declined 26.7 percent from last year,  down to .22 percent; and

traditional direct mail response rates have dropped as low as 1.6 percent.

In B2C, intrusive marketing has exhibited success rates of approximately one to two percent, Timmermans said, according to research from Gartner. Campaigns that are event-triggered have a five-times better success rate, and highly-targeted -- or guided inbound - campaigns, whereby the customer finds you, have shown 10 times the success rate over those that are intrusive.

"When you [do] at data mining and analyze what customers are likely to buy based on certain characteristics," Timmermans said, "it's not always obvious." For instance, one eyeglass manufacturer was able to identify farmers and garbage collectors were actually the most likely consumers of photochromic lenses, as opposed to what the company thought would be its most affluent demographic. However, B2C marketers have the advantage because, in terms of data, Timmermans said, "there's way more than what's available in B2B." Even so, he added, traditional mass marketing with a B2B audience, like in B2C, "absolutely doesn't pay off."

With B2C, it's critical to any campaign is the need to be both relevant and value generating with every at point of interaction, which means:

  • target multi-channel;
  • target cross-channel;
  • be personalized;
  • act upon every inbound customer interaction; and
  • integrate every touch point (inbound or outbound) to create a holistic view of the customer.

For the B2B marketer, the task is understandably more cumbersome given the fact that the "consumer" has more balls to juggle before the ultimate sale can be made. Moving forward, Timmermans said B2B marketing will be catching up to the sophistication of B2C marketing with the following developments:

  • Marketing automation software that accounts for the multiple influencers and decision makers;
  • Multi-channel interactions;
  • Market resource management, which incorporates the planning, budgeting, and marketing allocation (e.g., how much goes to PPC vs. print; campaigns vs. seminars); and
  • Real-time data mining to enable personalized offers.

CRM Evolution '09 concluded earlier this week in New York. Full coverage can be found here.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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