B2B marketing is different from B2C marketing campaigns on a fundamental level — everyone in the industry knows that, and it’s why there’s a small uproar every time a new report is released claiming that B2B is “becoming more like B2C” in terms of marketing and conversion strategies. As Practical eCommerce contributor Marcia Kaplan recently stated, “[o]nline B2B sellers now recognize that the customer experience in a B2B environment is just as important as the customer experience in B2C.”
B2B companies, Kaplan argues, are starting to pick up the marketing strategies that B2C companies typically use — most notably, B2B marketers seem to be using social media and content marketing more than ever before.
But according to the annual B2B Web Usability Report conducted by KoMarketing and BuyerZone and released on April 9, this B2C trend that has been taking over the B2B industry actually isn’t as useful as many believe.
In a poll of 262 B2B buyers, the Usability Report found that social media activity and blog posts affect buying trends much less than marketers expected. Only 12% of the respondents stated that they found a vendor’s website through a blog post, and 34% stated that a blog on a vendor’s website had no influence on their buying habits.
As far as social media marketing goes, only 19% of respondents stated that they had found a vendor’s website through a social media forum; 38% stated that they never used social media to find vendors.
The Usability Report also found that buyers cared more about basic contact information and basic product information more than anything else on a vendor’s website. About 86% of respondents stated that product information is the most important content on a vendor’s website, and 64% of respondents said the same about contact information. Surprisingly, 51% stated that the most common problem encountered on a vendor’s website is a lack of contact info.
These results, as Marketing Land noted, raise a bigger problem that wasn’t expected: What business isn’t including contact information on its website these days? If this truly is the biggest problem for buyers, it appears that there’s a disconnect between buyers and sellers in the B2B market.
“The only way B2B can be like B2C is if the B2B marketer does not fully understand the needs of their user personas whom facilitate conversions and sales, and merely focus on people and their emotions,” says Aaron Abbott, Director of SEO & Analytics, Big Drum. “One could say B2B is about the facts, and B2C is more about the emotion—while this line is thin. At the end of the day, whether B2B will be more like B2C, or the other way around, depends on which marketer loses their creative edge and cannot accurately predict where their customers are Online, and lose focus of these needs for solutions.”
The B2B online marketplace is certain to keep evolving in the next few years, especially as online sales become a driving force behind B2B sales in the U.S.; regardless of which strategies seem to be most effective now, there is little reassurance that these same strategies will be effective in five years from now.