B2B: invest in experience to deliver on inspiration
We know that inspiration drives growth for B2B brands, but David Stocks and Jaap Van Oort of WPP’s Wunderman Thompson say that, in order to inspire, it is vital for brands to invest in the customer experience
Inspired B2B brands grow by making emotional connections through better experiences. But the customer experience comes first. “The reality is that B2B audiences that seek inspiration, absolutely expect the digital experience to deliver,” points out Stocks. “Customer experience comes first.”
Unsurprisingly, the primary sources of inspiration – for both general product B2B buyers and raw materials B2B buyers – are the supplier’s website and mobile site. Wunderman Thompson’s B2B Future Shopper Report 2023 points out that 81% of global B2B shoppers want to get from inspiration to purchase as quickly as possible. And 71% of B2B buyers wish that they could do it all more easily on their mobile. That puts both the website and the mobile site under pressure to perform.
Yet, despite all the work that has been done on user journeys and all the insights gleaned from user analytics, most digital B2B experiences fail to deliver on the basics – like enabling customers to find information easily and complete their goal entirely on the website.
“The customer experience is becoming business critical because an inspiring experience unlocks growth,” says Stocks. “A total of 57% of B2B shopping will be online in five years’ time, and 68% of B2B buyers say that they will increase their use of digital shopping channels in the future. That is why getting the customer experience right is vital.”
Poor customer retention is also an outcome of poor customer experience. Stocks says: “In fact, 51% of global B2B buyers say that B2B sellers don’t understand the friction points in the online buying experience. And 62% of global B2B buyers said that the rising costs of inflation and the cost-of-living crisis have made them more inclined to switch suppliers. A total of 40% of global B2B buyers say they have changed all their suppliers in the last 12 months. That is a huge number that brands cannot afford to ignore.”
What stands in the way of a better experience?
Rapid change inside organisations, fractured digital estates and the challenges associated with digital transformation are massive dis-enablers when it comes to achieving the optimal customer experience
What matters is that organisations build a culture capable of change, that has sustainable technical foundations and can build momentum. “These can only be built with the right combination of people, process, data, and technology,” says Van Oort. “Empowered employees, seamless processes, centralised customer data, and integrated systems accelerate transformational change. However, entrenched organisational siloes and disparate technologies can halt progress. Overcoming these barriers is a tough ask, but not insurmountable.”
Compounding all this is the difficulty in getting to know the B2B customer. Poorly understood audiences mean fragmented journeys and limited insight. Yet, Salesforce tells us that 73% of B2B buyers say receiving personalised offers matters to them and McKinsey points out that personalisation can deliver 5-8X return on marketing investment and 10% sales lift.
The opportunities are great
If brands are to capitalise on the opportunities afforded by getting the customer experience right, Wunderman Thompson has identified three actions brands would do well to embrace:
- focus on closing the enablement gap from day one,
- build intelligence at pace and design the experience around the customer, and
- set a brand-inspired vision and align around a centre of gravity for the experience.
By deploying experience design, cultural change, fluid process, unified data and sustainable technology in parallel, B2B brands can deliver experiences that inspire and unlock future growth.
16 May 2023
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