Marketing trends are constantly changing but the importance of customer engagement is an aspect that remains very constant.
There's also a profound difference in the way B2C and B2B companies engage with their audience.
As a HubSpot CRM implementer customer engagement in the B2B realm is something we talk about all the time. We use it when we are selling. We use it when we are implementing. And we use it when we're called in to fix underperforming CRM systems.
Watch it instead?
Click below to watch it on YouTube. Just take note that the 'Measuring customer engagement' section below is not included in the video.
What's different about B2B customer engagement?
When selling directly to a consumer, you have to appeal to their emotions to prompt a purchase.
For B2B companies, however, the target market is entirely different.
Businesses work hard to streamline their processes and operations to cut down on costs and boost revenue and growth. So most purchasing decisions are based on logic.
Emotion and logic are two entirely different forces. Both can be incredibly powerful drivers of change.
With this in mind, as a B2B company, how can you increase your customer engagement?
What is customer engagement?
Since customer engagement can mean something slightly different to everyone based on their industry and business goals, let's use a strong definition. The one we prefer to use is that of Paul Greenberg.
"Customer engagement is the ongoing interactions between company and customer, offered by the company, chosen by the customer."
What are the benefits of great customer engagement?
Customer engagement is about more than just customer service and satisfaction. It's a crucial business tool that generates new leads, helps reconnect with existing consumers, and increases profits.
Having a good customer engagement strategy can increase revenues significantly. This fairly recent awareness has pushed forward-thinking businesses to make better customer engagement a priority.
Measuring customer engagement
To understand if your efforts are turning into revenue and growth, you'll need to measure and track the engagement you generate. There are a few methods you can employ to track your engagement effectively to know where to focus your time and money.
This is not as simple as just tracking the number of visitors and sessions you have on your website. To get a full understanding you will need to look into the individual pages that are racking up those sessions.
Identifying which pages are providing your customers with the most engaging content, which pages are converting the best and which sources are bringing in that traffic must form the basis of tracking your website engagement.
Below is a screenshot from HubSpot Traffic Analytics, but you can get this info from Google Analytics just as easily. In green, we have strong engagement on this blog post you are reading. An average of 9.6 minutes dwell time.
However, in red, the bounce rate of 95% isn't great. To create move engagement we need to present a strong call to action to send the visitors deeper into our website and ideally to a product and service page.
Email open, click rate
You could be sending thousands of emails a month but if those emails are going out to the wrong people at the wrong time, or without personalised and relevant content, you're wasting your time. But how do you know if that’s what’s happening?
Begin with your email lists. Ensure they are segmented correctly with the right personas in the right stages of their buyers’ journey. Remove unengaged contacts from the list entirely.
Look at open and click rates to see which content in your emails is generating the most clicks. You will begin to see which content your audience is finding the most engaging and what you should be focusing on.
The basic measurements of likes, comments and follows all indicate which content your audience is finding useful. These signs help you further identify which customers/leads are engaged with your sales process - or if they're customers - engaged with you as a company.
If your customers keep coming back for more, you’ve got to be doing something right. This information can also help you hone in on the services that your customers actually want and what your business should be focussing on.
Send you customers surveys and track your NPS (Net Propter Score). We use HubSpot Service Hub to send these out quarterly on an automated basis.
Through the Net Promoter Score, you can identify how likely your customers are to recommend your services. You can pick up problems before they become systemic. This will help you improve your services and customer experience.
So now that we've covered some of the elements to measure let's dive into the 10 ways you can improve your B2B customer engagement.
10 ways you can improve your B2B customer engagement
1. Gather customer feedback to predict customer behaviour
Predictive analysis equips you with the relevant information to fulfil all your customer's needs. Based on research from the Aberdeen Group, organisations that focus on predicting customer behaviour have twice the customer lifetime value.
The passive data you gather from your customers contains information such as their history, expectations, wants, dislikes, etc. This can then be used to create sales and marketing strategies that address all their needs, and the needs of your prospective customers.
An integrated sales and marketing CRM system is an invaluable tool to gather these data points.
2. Personalise your support
Most B2B companies focus on their sales strategies and forget to show their customers how much they mean to them. In fact, more than 65% of businesses lose their customers because they are indifferent and lack interest.
Personalised customer support is a reflection of how much a company values their clients. It's also as easy as installing a live chat feature on your site and having one of your support staff attend to queries on a real-time basis. The live chat feature will also increase conversions considerably, as you will be providing solutions to your clients at the exact time they need them.
In a YouTube video that I watched recently by Neil Patel, he praised the conversion rate increases and client satisfaction increases brought about by live chat on company websites.
3. Include CTA's on landing pages
Business purchasing decisions are preceded by extensive research, which is why landing pages are important. However, having a landing page is not enough; you need to include a targeted call to action.
Which action do you wish your clients to make? Do you want them to ask for a quote or call you? For increased engagement, a 'call us' button won't work. You have to provide the customer with value. Free trials are one effective way of doing that. Let them try your solution first and then upsell it.
You could also offer free reports or a free demo of your service.
4. Use testimonials as a method of brand promotion
Did you know that approximately half of B2B buyers rely on testimonials and referrals?
Direct referrals are critical when it comes to B2B sales. Customers are likely to trust a recommendation from a trusted source than they will your sales team. Increase customer engagement by asking your past clients for referrals and recorded testimonials.
It's vital that your target market has confidence in your products or services and having your customers advocate for your brand is extremely effective.
5. Humanize your brand
You may be dealing with other businesses but the fact is that you will be selling to people. As such you'll have to create connections with the decision-makers by creating a story around your brand. People don't buy products or services, they buy stories. Use storytelling to create lasting connections with your target audience.
Create videos and content demonstrating the lengths you go to create solutions for your customers. Show some behind the scenes photos and highlight your employees on social media. By humanizing your brand, customers will find it more approachable.
6. Engaging resources
Everyone has questions and is eager to learn something new to solve the problems they face. If you can identify that potential problem and know of a solution, share it.
There is no need to be afraid of giving away too much information. If your potential customer knows they can turn to your company for answers, they're that much closer to converting.
7. Fast response
Much like B2C, B2B audiences expect a prompt response to their queries. Especially when querying about costing or signing up as they may be in the decision phase and deciding on which business they will best provide for them.
The web is awash with studies on how lead quality decays over time. The best time to respond to a lead is within five minutes of the enquiry. Most of your competitors take a day or more.
Time in this case really is money. Set guidelines and dedicated personal or teams to handle these queries timeously.
8. Build a community
Your customers probably have the same challenges, issues and victories; so they can relate to each other in some way. It is very beneficial for your customers to share their successes and the solutions you provide with a community.
This community can attract new potential customers seeking a solution to a similar problem they're facing. Having your community share that solution builds trust in your brand and inspire advocacy and loyalty.
Your community will need your active participation and inspiration to work effectively. Moderators should confirm the solutions provided and jump in when none is put forward.
Communities can be built online, or through regular in-person and focused industry events hosted by you.
9. Reward engagement
Sometimes you will need to be strategic in your effort to generate engagement. This can be achieved by rewarding customers for that engagement.
You could set up rewards along the customers’ entire engagement journey, from offering certificates for training, sharing your customer success stories to hosting a customer awards event.
These rewards should be in line with your business and customers goals. If you aren’t sure what to offer, ask your customers.
Building an effective nurture campaign will position your business in front of your customers at the right time with the right information. This begins with mapping out your customer journey. This journey identifies all important touchpoints, bottlenecks, and challenges your customers may meet.
Knowing your customer, where they're at and where they're going is essential for converting and upselling. This will also aid in the personalisation of content and drive conversion rates.
An effective nurturing campaign can be as simple as a pop-up on your site to a returning customer offering relevant content.
Bonus Tip: Leverage Live Videos
B2B buyers engage more with live content as opposed to blogs and emails. Go live on your socials and give your client a chance to ask you questions and interact with your company.
I'm following this principle right here with the video above. Not all our potential clients have time to sit a read a 10 minutes article. Some of our clients just prefer to watch. I know I do. Meet your clients where they want to consume solutions. That primary place right now just happens to be Youtube.
There you have it. The above tips will win you more clients while helping you retain your current ones. Please feel free to contact me to learn more find out how we can help you supercharge your B2B customer engagement and even implement a CRM if you don't have one already.