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Customer understanding key to B2B marketing success

Customer experience is expected to play a more significant role in B2B marketing strategies. In fact, 86 percent of marketers said one of the most important factors for growing their companies is providing customers with exceptional experiences (1). At the heart of this push is having clear insight into buyers from a number of perspectives.

How are businesses trying to understand their customers?
Marketers have consistently tried to get deeper knowledge of their customers, but they're often met with different levels of success. For instance, 80 percent of B2B marketing professionals have a firm grasp on which customers are most valuable. Organizations usually define value based on transactional information, including purchase volume, frequency and the average spend per buy. But companies also have to stay aware of the likelihood customers will respond to upsell opportunities and their loyalty to the brand. With this in mind, 64 percent of organizations thoroughly understand customers' past purchases.

On the other hand, less than a quarter of businesses in the B2B market have a strong view of customers' channel preferences, and 40 percent feel the same about their customers' wants and needs. This level of customer insight is a bit more difficult to grasp because it requires behavioral analysis and access to survey data that can be expensive to acquire and may be challenging to get with any measure of efficiency.

How does it relate to B2B marketing?
Delivering a targeted message to B2B buyers demands a clear understanding of their behavior and preferences. Few companies have developed a clear view of how different channels work, which makes creating successful marketing campaigns very difficult. Do purchasers want to get information from organizational websites, search engines or industry blogs? Are banner ads working to capture more leads? Without knowledge of which online marketing channels work best with buyers, organizations will struggle to get relevant message to customers in the most effective manner.

In the current customer-driven economy, one concept that's critically important is knowing how mobile technology is changing buyer behavior (2). For instance, among organizations that see improving customer experience as a high priority, 63 percent are expanding their mobile strategies both internally and in customer-facing contexts. Beside putting a higher demand on IT departments, it's also pushing B2B marketers to take a look at mobile strategies to reach buyers. Considering more customers are using their smartphones and tablets to not only research potential purchases, but also buy items, it's important for organizations to develop a strategy that may include mobile apps and messaging, as well as Web experiences optimized for on-the-go buyers.

1. "State of B2B Customer Experience 2014"
2. "The Data Digest: Align Technology Investments To Thrive In The Age Of The Customer"

Sheila Kloefkorn

With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.