The way B2B buyers research and shop has changed dramatically in the last ten years. The days when buyers would simply order through a catalog are disappearing. Research demonstrates that, 71% of purchases for multiple industrial manufacturing and pack-and-ship industries were influenced by digital. Creating a new B2B shopping behavior.
It is important to recognize this new behavior. To fulfill the needs of the B2B market. Whether that is online or offline is the goal of this discussion.
B2B buyers expose their interest online
Most offline purchasers are influenced online, by doing vast amounts of independent research. Before making a purchase, today’s typical B2B shopper might consult online catalogs, perform multiple Google Searches, or visit branded websites. They look for product specifications and brand comparisons, and they try to figure out where to find the best deals or promotions. Only then will they head offline to make their purchase.
When they begin online research tends to be broad. Exploration of what’s out there rather than a targeted search. For example, 58% of B2B industrial manufacturer purchasers start online research with a product then follow up with a brand.
Digital research promotes purchase
Digital research and technologies help people make and act on decisions faster. For today’s B2B shopper, this digital empowerment leads to impatience. They want what they want right now. The time between starting the research process and handing over a credit card isn’t long. And you can forget about those customers who used to make repeat trips to your store. Thanks to the benefits of digital research, the majority of B2B customers feel confident purchasing on the first visit.
These B2B shoppers have done their due diligence. Digital empowers today’s B2B buyer to research rapidly and to make decisions at the moment. In fact, digital destinations retailer websites, third-party websites, online retailers are the last stop before purchase for many B2B shoppers.
People who shop offline respond to online engagement
Meeting people in the right moments with the right content on digital can help drive sales. Yet recent research shows that half of pack-and-ship buyers did not receive an online engagement after a purchase from a brand in the form of email, downloading an app, or signing up for an online account.
For B2B marketing interested in driving long-term growth, meaningful post-purchase digital re-engagement is a must. It can help transform a one-off store visitor into a high-value repeat customer. Not all communications are created equal. Today, people demand increasingly personalized and tailored digital experiences. A generic email follow-up, for example, might not cut it, but an invitation to sign up for an online account or download an app could lead to ongoing engagement.
Augmenting long-term growth
B2B brands need to meet potential customers at every point in the purchase journey and optimize for long-term growth. The challenge lies in measuring the impact of digital across online and offline channels so it’s clear what’s working. Here are three ideas:
- Work toward a company-wide goal. Align sales staff, digital messages and website information against the singular goal of driving sales. Remember B2B buyers research first. You need them to remember the information provided. Than remarket to those past visitors.
- Test, learn and restate. There’s no silver bullet for measuring the impact of digital to offline sales. Start simple with basic modeling, by tracking digital researchers to later action. Then advance toward a combination of more advanced tools.
- Regularly review what drove the decision makers to act. Review real-time data, then optimize spend across online and offline channels based on what’s working right now