How to Use Customer Insights to Succeed in B2B
Ultimately, for success in B2B marketing you must have more information than your customers / prospects and be able to teach and lead them to a more advantageous position. Showing them how the market is moving, how people are buying, and why your company is the right company for the job are all areas that you have control over. New and unique customer insights are paving the way to achieving these focus points and help lead your customer to their desired profits. So, how do we get these customer insights?
For the past several years, I have focused on growth of overall audience size, whether that was an email list, social channels, partner network, or customer base. This serves several reasons, but for today, I want to focus on the awareness aspect of growing your audience.
Most of you have seen a sales funnel and know that the widest part of the funnel is awareness. This is often the first interaction a person will have with your product, brand, or service. Detailed below are several ways to build and optimize this key phase to customer acquisition.
Key Tactics for Building Awareness
Now, let’s dive in. How can you better build awareness and attract leads?
1. Creating Useful Content
When it comes to the first stage of the funnel, many of the B2B companies have the same thing in common: This point in the process often involves tactics, like content creation and social media, that initially seem difficult to test, yet there are actually a number of powerful optimization opportunities available.
For example, User Experience (UX), analytics, and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) could all be tested and optimized to improve their audience building efforts.
So, what’s the problem?
All of your awareness-building efforts are an exercise in futility if visitors see your offerings and don’t get the right brand message.
That point may seem obvious, yet too often we go and attempt every audience building technique without getting the fundamentals right. Before doing anything… make sure that your core value proposition is clear.
Easy to say, of course, but how do you actually test your messaging?
Test! All too often, consumer feedback has nothing to do with the content that is being produced. This should strike a key in your head and a to-do list should be started immediately. Take these questions and start producing answers in as many ways as possible. If someone asks how to use a specific product you offer, create how-to videos, blog posts, proper descriptions on the product page, tweets, etc. that will help answer those questions. After a few months, you will notice a few things:
– Time spend on the web page will go up (seen in Google analytics)
– Inquiries for those questions will start to go down
– Sales will go up because you have achieved trust and understanding with your prospect
– Employee’s time spent on answering the same questions will go down, leaving them time to be more productive
2. Use the Consumer Insights You Already Have
We sometimes forget that customer insights are everywhere. Most businesses have access to a wealth of information—website visitor traffic numbers, email open rates, ad click-through rates, etc.—that are all essentially customer feedback data points. Usually the problem isn’t a lack of customer insights, it’s too many insights, and/or how to use them.
There’s an old folk saying that sharks will die if they don’t keep moving. While it isn’t really true—they do stop sometimes—the idea is a useful one when it comes to data. The best way to build a large B2B audience is to regularly collect information and then batch the data and create fresh sets of insights. It’s not enough to just collect data. You have to use what you learn.
Try adjusting tactics every week to see if and what kind of response is received. For example, if you are posting only pictures on Facebook, switch it up to 3 pictures and 2 text only posts one week, then the next week could be 2 pictures, 1 native video, and 2 link posts. Watch the engagement and see what is performing better… make adjustments and hone in on what’s working.
3. Follow Your Instincts, Then Verify
Some inbound content tactics—such as a constantly updating company blog—are hard to test thoroughly all the time. Yes, you can do quarterly studies and ask your audience feedback, but trying to think about customer behavior while meeting constant publishing deadlines can feel overwhelming.
An important thing to remember is that it’s okay to mix art and science when it comes to content creation. In other words, quality pieces are the result of both unmeasurable creativity and a solid, data-based understanding of your audience. Personally, I like to stick to the three E’s of content creation; Education, Entertainment, and Emotional. Thinking back to point number 1, what kinds of problems do your fans have and what can you do to solve them? Are there key people in your company that have access to specific information that could help educate your prospects and give them a sense of trust? This is how you win in B2B!
4. Target Your Competition, Then Test
What if was an already-existing audience out there that was interested in your product/service category and open to engaging? Well, there is! The people who are looking at your competitors and your competitors themselves. This data is especially valuable for businesses with similar products, or that are competing in a category with a few major established players. So, how do you reach it?
Often, the best way to reach your competitors’ audience is to directly go after it and you can do this in various ways, one of which is a free AdWords search called, Moat. Moat searches the web for advertising banners and copy, and sorts them by brand for you to see. Seeing what ads your competitors are running and what kinds of calls-to-action they use could help you create ads for your company.
Another way to gain competitor insights is through Facebook’s Graph Search. This will give you a high level overview of locations, demographics, and similar interests. It may take a little time to filter through and figure out the key metrics for your company, but here is a look at what some of the ways you can search:
Now, Go Jump in and get started!
Ultimately, none of these efforts are all that complicated, but they are highly effective. That, of course, is the whole point. When it comes to building a valuable B2B audience using customer insights, there are a host of powerful, simple tactics available… you just have to use them.
Ask your audience questions, use the data you already have, and test your content instincts—you may be surprised at what you learn. And, of course, don’t forget to check out the next article in this series to see what we discovered about optimizing the next part of the sales funnel: lead nurturing and conversion.