Consumer trends are fickle and ever-shifting. However, one particular recent trend seems here to stay: enhanced customer experience. The B2B customer journey has evolved dramatically over the past few years. One of the many transformations seems to be that customers are more likely to do business with establishments offering a strong and seamless customer experience. It’s time for businesses to capitalize on this.
According to the data, companies that have earnings of roughly $1 billion annually can expect an increase of roughly $700 million within three years of establishing and investing in enhanced customer experiences. This is because roughly 80% of B2B customers now expect to have a customer experience comparable to that of their B2C counterparts.
Additionally, B2B buyers are smarter and savvier than ever. Studies find that 77% of B2B customers are doing deeper research and ROI analysis to ensure that their purchases will benefit their business. Further, 75% of these buyers use a variety of sources to get accurate information and properly evaluate their purchases.
As a B2B business, you must stay on top of these consumer trends to ensure you provide your customers with the best possible experience. Understanding how the B2B customer journey changes with the latest behaviors and trends in the eCommerce space will help you excel.
Defining The B2B Customer Journey
The “customer journey” comprises all of your customers’ interactions with your brand en route to a sale. Everything from their very first encounter to post-purchase aftercare is part of this important process. Customers travel along stages of awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and finally advocacy.
The B2B customer journey begins when customers zero in on an existing business problem, and a solution to address it. Through research or word-of-mouth, they become aware of your brand. After looking through your products and services, customers then consider whether or not you are the best fit for their needs.
If your B2B prospect decides to close a deal with you and actually makes a purchase, this is referred to as a conversion. The loyalty and advocacy then develop post-purchase. Ideally, you use the post-conversion time to build a deeper relationship. If they are satisfied with your products and services, they are more likely to recommend you to others.
The B2B customer journey can get more complex than traditional B2C journeys. Unlike B2C customers, who are driven by brand recognition and repetition, B2B customers are laser-focused on addressing business needs and cultivating a partnership. Thus, these relationships require more care, and superior sustained customer experiences—especially in the eCommerce sphere.
Things Have Accelerated for Everyone—For Better or for Worse
The growing popularity of eCommerce has been the story of the past decade, but the shift experienced unprecedented acceleration during the Covid-19 pandemic. With tight physical restrictions in place across the globe, businesses had to adapt to online existence.
Those able to successfully translate their customer journey to the online space were able to maintain and even grow their businesses. Those who were unable to catch up to the new technology suffered. Digital transformation is now a must for all businesses to survive.
24/7 Support and B2B Social Media Channels
To connect with customers in the awareness and consideration stages of their journey in the online space, B2B businesses must establish robust social media channels. A well-researched content marketing strategy helps you expand your reach and provide your customers with value. This strong online presence increases trust and makes it easier for your customers to find you and helps positively impact their purchasing decisions. Offering 24/7 customer service is essential for similar reasons—to help your customers know, like, and trust your business—while of course allowing customers to reach you whenever they need to.
Overall, you must ensure your social media strategy focuses on building your credibility online and fostering relationships with your audience. This will help guide them along their B2B customer journey (and help you have a higher chance of closing a sale and gaining another loyal customer).
B2B Marketing to Focus More on Emotional Content
What is your brand’s story? What are your customers’ key pain points? How can you provide value to your customers? These are some of the questions to consider when developing your B2B marketing strategy for your audience’s awareness and consideration stages. Considering the wealth of competition out there for B2B customers to browse, do not neglect to imbue your content with an emotional drive.
Appealing to your customer’s emotions is a practiced strategy with real results in spurring shoppers to action. With so many products on the market, you have to give them a reason to identify with your product and your story specifically. Give consumers a story they can believe in, and they will justify their purchases accordingly. Showcasing customer stories and testimonials is an excellent way to build trust with your audience—which is particularly important for B2B customers.
The Growing Preference for Self-Service: The Easier, the Better
As mentioned, a smooth and seamless customer experience significantly enhances the B2B customer journey. The majority of customers today experience long and complex buying cycles, which can put them off-track from making a purchase. In fact, a Gartner study found that as many as 90% of customers claim to experience inefficient buying cycles, chock-full of repetitive tasks.
Remember that in the B2B customer journey, the easiest and most hassle-free experience is best, and could drastically influence the loyalty and advocacy stages of the customer journey (for better or worse). Implement innovative solutions and optimize your eCommerce processes to best accommodate your customers.
Innovate Your eCommerce Business With the Right Solutions
Understanding what your customer wants and needs is the key to enhancing their B2B customer journey and in turn, boosting your conversions. B2B sales trends are always changing, and it’s important to stay ahead of those trends to remain competitive. By adhering to the seemingly sticking trends above, you position your business for success ahead. The world of digital sales isn’t going away. It’s time to embrace it if you haven’t already!