The Upside of B2B’s Digital Transformation

B2B Digital Evolution_CEB 2012
57 percent of business buyers complete some form of due diligence online about a service or product beforte they come in contact with sales.

With the maturity of search methods even in social, the lion share of the influence work now goes to marketing. Are business-to-business (B2B) organizations mapping their workflows, resources, and approach based on this turn of events?

By the time they contact your company, customers have an already well-defined set of expectations, even in businesses where higher expenditures call for group decisions, and longer sales cycles.

Yet, the truth about B2B social media adoption is that many marketers are (still) frustrated and less than satisfied with the performance of their website, social, search marketing, and sales conversion efforts.

True integration still a work in progress

According to research from CEB's Marketing Leadership Council#, the challenge for marketers remains to be present int he channels their customers use to research major purchases with a consistent flow of content that educates buyers and helps inform commercial decisions.

Specifically, three challenges are keeping marketers from growing mindshare and making the most of what they are getting already:

  1. incomplete digital integration
  2. ineffective content, and
  3. a poorly-optimized channel mix

While customers are learning all the time, scarce resources, soloed corporate structures, and campaign-driven mindset are creating a "sellers beware" situation. In some cases this leads to mis-aligned cost and timeline expectations based on incomplete information gleaned through fragmented and out of date sources.

Get there early

To get into the consideration phase earlier B2B organizations must think like media companies, pursuing strong integrated executions and leveraging what they already know — human expertise both to provide advice and to analyze digital behavior.

In recent years, some organizations have shifted to a centralized digital center for excellence model to help provide standards and tools, best practices, and training to the business units in support of executions.

Brands and lines of business typically allocate budgets based upon what has worked in the past and often rely on (different) external agencies to get the work done. Further, the process tends to be linear and does not take into account the iterative nature of multichannel customer interactions.

To succeed, organizations will need to tackle operational integration, effective ongoing content production, and multichannel analysis and attribution next.

The best place to start is by mapping the customer's journey and identifying the gap between the tools and information customers leverage/want, and the content and channels where the business provides value.

Visual content and mobile context are two areas of still largely untapped opportunity for B2B marketers. For analytics, as is the case for shifting to a publisher's mindset, it is best to hire experienced talent ahead of investing in sophisticated tools.

Good rules of thumb: Publish what makes your customers successful at properly identifying and approaching the problem, and measure what matters.


Additional resources for B2B companies and brands

Mapping content to the buyer's cycle



Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effects on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.

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