Authentic connections in a digital buyer’s journey

The following is a preview of some of the topics to be discussed in our upcoming webinar on September 3, 2020. View on-demand replay here.

In this high-tech, highly automated world where remote work is becoming the norm and the “friends” in our social media circles include many people we’ve never met, we’re all yearning for authentic connections.

We’re even looking for authentic relationships with the brands we rely on and buy from. As B2B buyers we want a personalized experience that recognizes our history with a brand and delivers relevant content and recommendations. Some 80% of consumers say that personalization is important to them. And that’s a challenge for marketers charged with forging personal connections on a large scale. A surprising 60% of marketing leaders say they don’t have an effective personalization strategy and road map.

Going beyond a first-name basis

First things first. There’s more to personalization than using a recipient’s name in an email salutation. You have to understand how the prospect thinks, what piques their interest, and how they’re likely to respond to an offer. To understand those things, you need data on email open rates, click-through rates, landing page traffic, ad clicks, webinar enrollments, content downloads, purchases . . . the list goes on. And to personalize at scale, many marketing organizations are using AI and analytics to understand past buyer behaviors and anticipate future ones, so they can craft effective engagement strategies prospect by prospect.

Creating a working hypothesis for personalization

But insight doesn’t just emerge from the data all by itself. You have to start somewhere. You need an initial hypothesis about your customer as a baseline for your analysis. And one of the best ways to form your hypothesis about what motivates a customer is to embrace a tried-and-true, old-fashioned technique: asking them.

Start by surveying customers who you know love you and have already bought from you — and counterbalance their views with a sample of prospects you lost during the sales cycle (you may need to give this group an incentive for participating). This group of happy customers and not-so-happy prospects can help you zero in on what triggers a purchase and why they chose to continue or abandon the sales cycle. Some of the questions to ask can include:

  • Who was in your buying committee that had to be consulted during the purchase?
  • How did you start the consideration phase of the purchase?
  • Where did you go to capture information, online and off?
  • What kind of information helped you the most?
  • Which marketing/info gathering channel is the best for you during this process?

With the insights you gain, you can develop a working hypothesis for analyzing the wealth of data you gather on other customers. You can begin to strategize on how to personalize at scale and forge those authentic connections that today’s buyers are so eager for. You may not like all of the answers. They may highlight shortcomings and past failures—but the positive and negative feedback can give you a realistic picture of where you stand and where you need to improve.

Use empathy to strengthen connections

Finally, in this time when we’re all living with more uncertainty and stress, it’s important to remember that being customer-centric isn’t the same as being human-centric. Creating authentic connections means taking into account the customer’s changing reality and being sensitive to the new challenges they’re facing. You don’t need to be the customer’s friend, but you don’t want your interactions to be tone-deaf. Be aware that their personal and working lives are as unpredictable as yours right now, and adjust your tactics and messaging accordingly.

Please plan to join us on September 3, 2020, for a closer look at how to forge authentic, personalized connections with digital buyers. View on-demand replay here.


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