A personalized, timely, and relevant digital experience is of paramount importance to all customers—even when those customers happen to be businesses.
In today’s digital landscape, B2B customers have come to expect their buying experience to match or even exceed the digital experiences they encounter in their lives as consumers. From streamlined transactions to personalized interactions, embracing a digital-first approach enables B2B companies to improve operational efficiencies, differentiate the brand, and unlock new avenues of growth.
However, the challenge for B2B companies lies not just in recognizing the need to adopt a customer-first model but doing so swiftly and cohesively. Here, we take a closer look at the trends underpinning the need for B2B evolution, as well as the steps companies should take to fuel growth through digital transformation.
3 reasons why companies need to invest more in digital
1. Changing demographics among B2B customers are increasing the need for digital-first experiences.
Millennials and Gen Z customers make up almost 60% of the current B2B buyer audience. As these customers continue to make more purchase decisions, their preferences for digital self-help tools and resources are influencing the customer journey. For example, more than half of customers visit a supplier website to conduct research before accepting a sales meeting. This means it is more critical than ever for B2B organizations to invest in the digital tools and technologies needed to serve customers where they are. Without the ability to research online and utilize self-help tools, this audience may be more likely to switch to a competitor during the discovery process, which could in turn lead to lost revenue.
2. Substantial investments in B2B martech continue to drive cost efficiencies.
Despite an uncertain economic environment, B2B martech spending is expected to have another double-digit growth year in 2023, increasing an estimated 12% YoY. Through these investments, organizations can enable the digital automation across products, services, and fulfillments needed to meet customer demand at scale. Lead generation, cross-sell, upsell and customer service, to name a few, should be automated wherever appropriate to improve operating margins.
3. Digital engagement creates new revenue opportunities.
As your organization enables more education, communication, training, services, and support online, customer engagement is likely to increase. By making the customer journey more convenient, companies can build engagement and drive revenue generation. Razorfish research has proven a positive correlation between increased digital engagement and increased revenue, as highly engaged people buy more frequently, buy more premium products, and stay loyal longer.
How to unlock the full value of digital transformation
Knowing the trends that are driving the shift to digital channels is an important part of enabling success. However, the more difficult—and arguably more
1. Develop integrated customer experiences.
Building an integrated experience is a continuous process of improving the way customers seamlessly interact with the business. Supporting a single sign-on owner dashboard for purchase history, improving digital PIM (Product Information Management) tools for easier onsite searches, eliminating manual data entry tasks, and creating a mobile-first approach is only the start to enable more digital self-service solutions. The ease with which customers digitally interact with an organization can translate into new revenue opportunities.
To improve these experiences, we recommend gathering VOC feedback from your highest valued customers to better understand the friction points for where you can start to improve current technology and processes. Starting with your highest valued groups can help your organization align on what key challenges need to be solved first and where investments need to be made.
2. Create a common digital ecosystem to unite the organization.
For many organizations, a fragmented technology stack across internal databases, customer management platforms and channel communications can be the source of numerous customer pain points. For example, does your sales and marketing team receive notifications from your customer service team about recent customer complaints for a previous purchase delivery issue? This could be helpful to understand before the sales team launches a new email campaign asking those same customers to buy more product without addressing their current issues. These are the types of customer experiences that can diminish loyalty over time if not properly addressed.
To remedy these challenges and power integrated experiences, it is essential to develop a technical North Star to align systems that will help the company grow and scale. To that end, organizations should map the business’s digital architecture across internal and external systems. This involves bringing together the CTO, CIO, and CMO to share their digital architecture roadmaps and develop an overarching plan for how to create a cohesive, unified system. Bringing these stakeholders together can help each function understand the interdependencies between the groups and how they can work together to create best-in-class customer experiences. For marketing organizations, in particular, this can also be a valuable opportunity to establish their function as a revenue creator.
3. Enable value-driven insights to continuously power new growth opportunities.
Aligning the business to a technical North Star also allows teams to unlock value-driven insights from integrated data systems.
As data systems are more closely integrated, the ability to mine information across the organization becomes faster than ever. Accessing this cross-functional data from a centralized location can power new growth opportunities by identifying effective points to cross-sell and upsell, as well as assisting in customer acquisition and retention.
Enabling value-driven insights should be an ongoing process, meaning that as the business digitally matures, more advanced intelligence layers, using AI/ML software, can be applied to deliver in-depth analysis of outcomes. For example, understanding a customer’s recent online purchases, combined with previous historical offline purchases, allows an intelligence engine to proactively make real-time product recommendations. When organizing this information, data hygiene, relevancy, and governance processes are critical to ensure recommendations are derived from quality data inputs.
Maintaining relevance in a customer-first world
Digital transformation is often a difficult, but necessary, part of operating in today’s B2B landscape. While some companies may find it daunting to fundamentally change people, processes, and technologies and make significant investments to power integrated, personalized digital experiences, doing so is a requirement for meeting the needs of modern B2B buyers.
As challenging as change may be, companies must consider that, as digital experiences become more common for buyers of all kinds, one of the greatest costs could be taking no action at all.