B2B conversational marketing: a powerful performance catalyst
The increasing porosity between B2B and B2C has put conversational marketing back in the spotlight, especially in the face of a buyer who demands instant and playful interaction. More than just a multiplication of contact points, conversational marketing can be a powerful catalyst for performance. Here’s how it works…
1- WhatsApp and the revival of conversational marketing
The launch of WhatsApp in January 2009 radically changed the way people communicate, gradually relegating SMS to the sidelines. Developed by two former Yahoo! employees, the application had everything it needed to succeed: an intuitive interface, messages enriched with multimedia content and an attractive price tag (WhatsApp was not free at the time).
On the strength of its dazzling success with consumers, WhatsApp will logically be making a strong entry into the corporate world, providing an additional string to the bow of customer relations even in the absence of an ‘Enterprise’ version. Corporate customers only got “their” WhatsApp in 2018 with the launch of the “Business” version. Today, WhatsApp has more than 2 billion users, or around 40% of the world’s population aged between 15 and 64.
By injecting immediacy, multimedia and fun, WhatsApp has dusted off conversational marketing, which for a long time had to contend with the limitations of email and telephone switchboards.
2- Conversational marketing to give B2B the experiential standards of B2C
Post-Covid Business to Business will borrow heavily from B2C. This is because buyers are looking to B2B for the quality of experience that is part of their daily lives as B2C consumers. Admittedly, B2B involves transactions between two organisations. But at the end of the day, it’s always the human element that decides… and the human element has shown a definite appetite for instant discussion over the last 20 years.
According to HubSpot, B2B buyers are willing to pay 16% more for a better experience, and marketers have understood this, according to the findings of the Ascend2 x Oracle study published in April 2022.
- 38% of B2B marketers are working to improve the company’s omnichannel performance, with a focus on conversational channels;
- 35% of B2B marketers devote most of their time to improving the customer experience in the broadest sense, with a focus on Customer Centricity.
3- Conversational marketing, a relevant response to the emergence of the B2B super-buyer
With the emergence of a demanding, autonomous and well-informed “super-buyer”, conversational marketing has gone from being a luxury to a competitive necessity. A summary of the advantages…
a- Engage B2B buyers earlier in their buying journey
According to Accenture, B2B buyers spend 57% of their sales journey before initiating contact with a sales representative. By integrating a proactive messaging solution, triggered by contextual events (level of scrolling on a page, after a certain number of connections to the site, etc.), the company can engage the prospect earlier in the process and give the sales rep back his or her power to influence.
b- Speed up the B2B sales cycle
The speed (or velocity) of the B2B sales cycle is by definition slower than in B2C, because the products marketed are more complex and the average ticket is higher. This relative slowness has been exacerbated by three new factors.
- The decision-making process has never been so collegial. Gartner estimates that it now includes between 6 and 10 decision-makers and/or influencers, drastically slowing down the buying cycle;
- According to a Cyance study, more than half of B2B buyers say they are ‘overwhelmed’ by the abundance of documentation on their issues;
- At the end of an unprecedented crisis, some B2B buyers are having to cope with budget cuts. This pressure is forcing them into a more rigorous research phase, which is contributing to a slowdown in the purchasing cycle.
Here again, the implementation of a messaging solution will encourage the expression of needs at a very early stage in the sales process and improve the speed of the sales cycle.
c- Reduce the cost of B2B customer service
Conversational marketing makes it possible to rationalise the cost of customer service on two levels.
- Messaging allows employees in direct contact with customers (customer service, Customer Success Management, sales) to respond to more “generic” requests. They can then allocate more time to requests that require more personalisation (telephone, videoconference, face-to-face).
- Implementing an automation solution (Chatbot, Voicebot, Callbot) will relieve teams of redundant requests. In addition, a chatbot powered by AI and Machine Learning will be able to provide “round-the-clock” customer service, 24/7.
Multiplying points of contact, reaching out to B2B buyers using tools they use several times a day and which constitute their comfort zone, encouraging buyers to express their needs as they move towards self-service… Conversational marketing ticks all the right boxes to speed up the sales cycle.