Three ways US B2B brands are embracing digital
In the US, the B2B commerce market was forecast to hit $1.2 trillion this year  pre Covid-19, and the proportion from digital is increasing. B2B marketers have been slower to embrace digital than their B2C counterparts but the picture is changing rapidly, not least because:
- 61% of B2B transactions start online 
- 51% of B2B customers turn to social media for product research 
- Up to 73% of B2B purchasers are millennials 
B2B buyers have expectations shaped by their experiences as B2C consumers: they expect the same standard of content, features and experience they receive in their daily lives from brands like Uber, Netflix and Amazon.
The current changes with B2B customers forced to work from home are likely to encourage the research phase and the appetite for engaging content. It’s too early to see the impact on B2B purchase decisions but safe to assume that for products and services that save costs and work remotely, and for businesses with the funds and the incentive to make the decision, there is no reason to expect a delay in purchasing. In some cases, working from home, plus a desire to get things done more cost-effectively or efficiently may speed up the decision-making cycle.
Here are three ways B2B marketers are using digital to create engaging customer experiences.
Richer content formats
Blog posts, articles and white papers still form the bedrock of content marketing, but:
- 70% of B2B customers watch online videos before making a purchase 
- 91% of B2B buyers say they prefer video and interactive content to static content 
- Video is forecast to comprise up to 80% of internet search by 2021 
So it’s no surprise that B2B brands are investing in richer formats.
This video from Slack is a good example of a format delivering information in an engaging way.
Dell’s Luminaries podcast series – hosted by Mark Schaefer and Doug Karr, featuring experts from inside and outside the company – does a brilliant job of humanising technology.
Cisco is one B2B brand leading the way with augmented reality – it uses AR at trade shows to bring products to life and showcase expertise. Its AR catalogue has over 2,500 weekly users.
B2B personalisation differs from B2C, in that rather than personalising to an individual’s needs, you’re personalising to a company’s needs. But the basic principle remains the same.
Personalised content recommendations are a way for B2B marketers to extend time on site. A brand which has done this successfully is US-based software company Nuxeo: they implemented machine-learning algorithms on their site so that visitors receive personalised article recommendations – reducing bounce rate by 2.4% and increasing blog engagement by 34%.
Personalised calls to action, geo-targeted messages and tailored offers are other ways to personalise to your customers.
A recent study  showed that, whilst only 18% of surveyed B2B brands use AI, an additional 46% were actively evaluating or implementing it. The AI revolution we’ve seen in the B2C world is coming to B2B too.
Hubspot uses chatbots to great effect – to obtain preliminary information from a user so that when a live person becomes available, they can take over and close the customer.
Other B2B uses of AI include programmatic advertising, optimisation and testing, content creation, email marketing, data analysis, digital asset management and automated offers.
Using local in-market expertise to guide you
Compared to B2C, B2B marketing has its own challenges: longer buying cycles, more people involved in decision-making, and a focus on rational rather than emotional purchasing. Today’s customer journeys are no longer linear paths but are complex with multiple touchpoints. To navigate the B2B landscape in the US and beyond, find out how using Oban’s LIMEs (Local In-Market Experts) can help you achieve success.
Contact us to see how we can help with your international expansion plans.
 The Marketing Blender
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Az Ahmed | Marketing Manager
Oban International is the digital marketing agency specialising in international expansion. Our LIME (Local In-Market Expert) Network provides up to date cultural input and insights from over 80 markets around the world, helping clients realise the best marketing opportunities and avoid the costliest mistakes.