Successful B2B marketers share an essential characteristic: they understand their customers.
Deep customer knowledge isn’t innate in high-performing marketing teams. It is hard won on the strength of data collected from sales reports, surveys, and time-intensive data analytics.
In fact, there is so much data available to B2B marketing teams that sifting and sorting it, keeping up with algorithm changes, and other technical tasks can easily occupy the bulk of marketers’ time. And all that data is still, in many ways, an incomplete picture of the target customer.
The most effective B2B marketers can convert data into an ideal customer profile, a detailed portrait of their buyer. But, even then, the work isn’t complete.
The critical question for effective marketers is, “How can we move from an ICP to an authentic connection with our customers?”
Back to the Future?
The digital marketplace initiated a massive shift in how B2B products are bought and sold. As organizations are adopting RevOps models, change is accelerating. What’s most interesting about the digital transformation of sales and marketing is the resurgence of “old school” concepts.
Not so long ago, salespeople plied their trade primarily through building and nurturing relationships with buyers, while marketing was focused on advertising, creating sales collateral, and conducting research.
At the dawn of the digital era, marketing departments began moving advertising dollars online. Over time, sales collateral became what we routinely call “content.” Research came to mean analyzing website visitors, ad clicks, social media reach, and the other data points that have become the currency of digital B2B marketing.
All this marketing activity is designed to capture leads and move them through the funnel on a buyer’s journey from interest to purchase.
While salespeople remain involved, much of the work of relationship building and nurturing happens in the funnel stage of the sales process. When a lead gets to a salesperson, the potential buyer has already had significant contact with the brand through content marketing, direct email marketing, and paid ads.
Digital marketing is maturing into a RevOps model. That means tighter collaboration between sales, marketing, and service teams to create authentic connections that translate into an extraordinary customer experience.
We’re seeing this approach’s first fruits as brands prioritize personalization in marketing.
Potential buyers are investing a lot into a relationship with a B2B brand, and—naturally—they are beginning to expect some reciprocation. In other words, customers are looking for something like the days when a trusted salesperson could sit down with a champion or a stakeholder and help them understand their needs and potential solutions.
Buyers are looking for a personal touch.
Here’s the kicker. Delivering the kind of experience that the RevOps approach promises requires a level of customer knowledge that even the most advanced marketing tech stack may struggle to produce.
Focus groups are a tried and true method for understanding a market, but they’ve fallen out of use among many B2B companies. Focus groups tend to be time-consuming and expensive. It’s often more cost-effective to use existing data and ICPs to deliver closest-fit content at the top of the funnel and rely on a CRM to dial in the experience as a buyer moves through the customer journey.
Focus, Focus, Focus
But what if we were to tell you that you have access to one of the largest, most targeted focus groups in the history of humankind—and that it’s absolutely free?
Even better, this focus group is available 24/7/365. And you can develop ongoing relationships with group members, some of whom may become your buyers.
Social media platforms, when used well, constitute a tremendous opportunity to gain deep customer knowledge directly from your buyers.
We tend to think of social media as a broadcast channel, a place to get our content in front of more eyeballs. This approach to social media undercuts the power of the platforms. At its best social media:
- Provides deep insight into buyer personas
- Facilitates a two-way conversation between brands and their customers
- Fosters a sense of community and connection with buyers
Unlock Social Potential
So, how can B2B marketers tap into the “focus group” social media provides? Here are a few places to start:
- Use social insights to learn your audience. Analyze keywords in social profiles, hashtag usage, and other details to understand your buyers better. Tools like the excellent Spark Toro provide a unique opportunity to hear directly from your audience about what’s important to them.
- Shine a light on others. Yes, social media is a great broadcast channel. But your B2B company’s social media feeds must be a place where your community shines. Share customer success stories, highlight user insights, and use influencer content to your advantage. Make your social media presence a valuable place for buyers to hang out.
- Build community. As your social audience grows, you can create an organic community around your brand and product. Use polls, provocative questions, and other interactive content to get conversations going in your feed. This kind of user interaction fosters a more profound sense of community.
- Have fun with it. It’s a great time to be in B2B social media marketing. Many of the “fun” tactics of B2C marketing have become more common in the B2B space. Naturally, you want your social media presence to reflect your brand voice, but feel free to be a little less formal on social. Even the most serious corporate brands can show some personality in this forum.
Today’s market environment is competitive, fast-paced, and constantly evolving. But B2B marketers that have developed skills in using social media not only to broadcast but to listen and learn from their customers will find they have a massive advantage in the marketplace.
Ready to get started with B2B social media marketing? Let’s talk!