The impact of the Internet and rise of social media is fueling a customer revolution in both B2C and B2B environments. Companies that don’t have a comprehensive, consistent and rich branding strategy that INCLUDES social media run the risk of undermining their entire sales machine.
Buyers don’t want to be Sold to!
OpenText CEO Mark Barrenechea noted in a recent Innovation Tour keynote address, “…customers have completed nearly 60% of their buying journey BEFORE engaging with a vendor’s selling process.” Utilizing the Internet, customers now have the means to retrieve essential information for themselves and will push back sales involvement as long as possible. The report referenced is published research conducted by CEB Marketing Leadership Council in Partnership with Google, entitled The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing.
According to the study of 1500 B2B professionals, 70+%:
“are readily turning to their personal networks and publicly available information—increasingly via digital and social media channels—to self-diagnose their problems and form opinions about solutions.”
While Content Marketing provides critical information that customers need to inform their decisions, it is engagement that transforms that information into knowledge. For customers, even more so than for prospects,
experience provides the emotional attachment to deeply bind the customer to the solutions they own, and ultimately to your company.
Considering this shift in buying dynamics, corporations need to consider allocating a significant portion of their marketing efforts and funds directly toward their customers, as they represent not only direct revenue opportunity but the extended opportunity in their social advocacy to your prospects. I’m not suggesting bribery, rather support of social communities outside and within your company, enriched by information and resources that help your customers meet, or exceed their business goals with your products. This can take the form of eLearning tools,
best practices guides and tips and tricks content, particularly in engaging rich media format which is both more engaging and more effective. But these are table stakes. Once engaged, providing a forum, with access to product specialists, industry experts and other customers who are committed to your solutions insures that customers will attract prospects and validate your value proposition.
quality content will be referenced and shared among the customer and prospect communities. The brand elements will insure that your business is credited for that content and reflect that your business provides quality solutions and promotes business success.
While your customer engagement facilitates customer success and fosters advocacy, your brand links that advocacy to your company and products. Your social engagement provides the connection between customers and prospects.
Clearly, your advocates then become the most valued guide in the buyer’s journey and draw those buyers into your social space from which it becomes a natural channel to your marketing assets and engaging with your selling process.
Social Media is empowering the Voice of the Consumer.
If you’re not proactively engaging in a dialogue with customers then your brand is in the hands of strangers. Through our efforts, we in marketing engage directly or indirectly with every stage of the customer lifecycle,
from Suspect to Opportunity and Close to Advocacy. As such, within the enterprise it’s our responsibility to insure strong, clear and dynamic articulation of our business’ value proposition. To be validated it must resonate within every communication, at every touch point and in all forums of customer interaction; no small task for enterprise marketing.
The Experience Suite by OpenText is designed to assist in delivering your digital presence and the correspondence that enables you to amplify your online marketing strategy. Marketers are better able to manage their global brand and produce effective customer communications.
The Experience Suite is a vehicle for Marketing and Line of Business owners to insure the seamless transition of customers from Suspect to Advocate, where advocacy becomes the bridge between buyer and seller.
To learn more about OpenText’s Experience Suite visit http://www.opentext.com/what-we-do/products/customer-experience-management
Are you experiencing a shift in buying behavior? How engaged are you with your customers in social venues?