During my holiday shopping, I purchased about 80% of my gifts online. However, I did not just hop on Amazon or other sites and make my purchases. For my fashionistas, I spent time on Pinterest checking out the latest fashions. For the woodworker in my family, I read several blog posts to look for new gift ideas. In some cases, I went directly to the physical stores to see the products before I purchased them. I clicked on emails for discounts and printed out coupons to get deals. I shopped early in the morning, late at night and throughout the day whenever I had a minute. I used my desk computer, iPad and smartphone. As I was running out of time, I even asked Alexa to locate a difficult-to-find gift.
This type of frenetic shopping is coming to the B2B world. Are you ready for it?
Today, buyers are in control. Ninety-four percent of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point during the buying process, according to a 2014 study, and more than 70% of consumers use three or more channels when researching a purchase. Buyers no longer learn about products and services through a single channel or follow a defined path through the sales funnel. Because of this, it is more important than ever to develop an integrated approach to marketing as the foundation of any B2B strategy.
Integrated marketing enables a company to speak with a unified voice regardless of channel or device. It creates a surround-sound effect that amplifies your brand in an increasingly chaotic marketplace. The integration of marketing channels has never been more important or more challenging.
What is an integrated program?
An integrated B2B marketing ensures that various tactics are all working together toward a common goal and telling the same brand story.
Here are a couple of simple B2B examples.
- Online And Offline Programs: Successful event marketing uses a combination of blogging, social media, email and direct mail with the goal of driving booth traffic. This results in collecting leads at the live event and then uploading them into your digital nurturing program. This combination most effectively works when the brand message is consistent across all channels.
- Public Relations And Inbound Marketing: Many organizations separate public relations, content marketing and digital into siloed groups, typically as a result of their organizational structure. Combining the power of earned media with SEO-optimized blogging, social media, SEO, AdWords, email, content and a website optimized for lead generation is a killer top-of-funnel combination. Earned media is still considered 80% more effective than owned media and should not be a standalone program.
Benefits of A Unified Voice
Prospects don’t care enough to pay attention to a variety of messages. According to a Demand Gen report, 75% of B2B buyers agreed that they use more sources to research and evaluate purchases and 77% of buyers agreed that they spend more time researching purchases. Prospects need to hear a message repeatedly.
If you are not consistent with your message in all channels, it will get lost in the steady stream of content that buyers encounter daily. Having a clear, compelling and consistent message delivered in an integrated way using a variety of channels has several benefits.
- Creates A Surround-Sound Effect: Prospects that continue to hear your message are more likely to recall it.
- Establishes Trust: When your prospects hear a consistent theme from you, they believe that you are knowledgeable about that topic.
- Increase The Likelihood That The Buyer Will Take Action: Research shows that having one constant message across a multiple channels can improve a consumer's purchase intent by as much as 90% and brand perception by nearly 70%.
- Cost Savings: One message is easier and more cost-effective to implement in your marketing programs.
B2B companies need to ensure that they are integrating all of the tactics, digital and traditional, into a comprehensive program. Using siloed marketing tactics is expensive and not effective as buyers are changing the way they purchase products and services.
This article was first published in Forbes.
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