Growing Digital B2B Audiences Through Personal Engagement Across the Buying Group

True Influence is now Anteriad

With Tricia Wiles Ruiz, Creative Content Manager, Anteriad

Digital is both the present and future of B2B marketing. We all know this. Gartner has predicted that by 2025 about 80 percent of all contact with customers, including marketing and sales, will be conducted through digital channels.

The pandemic has drastically accelerated this evolution, but that’s not the whole story. Millennials now have critical input into about three-quarters of B2B purchase decisions, and their preference for quick, emotionally engaging content continues to change the game for marketers.

Buyers are always researching and learning, and what they really want is for you to answer their next question. This creates an enormous challenge for intent marketing to create personalized messaging and content and deliver it to the right audiences, when they are asking for it. That requires us to listen to our customers more closely than ever before.

Engagement Means Talking to Contacts on Their Terms

I recently spoke to Kathi Gray, Digital Marketing Manager at OpenText, about how the information management giant is growing its digital audience and optimizing its strategy. Like many enterprise B2B sellers, OpenText went all-in on webinars and virtual at the start of COVID; and, like most, it’s seen increasing fatigue in that channel.

To Gray, that simply signals the need to create more personalized, immediate content that engages prospects in an ongoing conversation. Gartner now suggests that a buyer typically has 17 touches with a vendor before making a decision – obviously, most buyers aren’t looking for an immersive educational experience at each of those handshakes. They just want you to grab their attention.

“That one point they want to talk about may be buried in a 15-page ebook,” Gray says. “Before, sales could get in front of that person and boil it down, but that is increasingly difficult. So digital marketing is taking on the brunt of making those connections.”

For OpenText, growing its digital audience has meant looking beyond its traditional focus on the C-Suite and trying to engage influencers and other buying group roles with highly personalized content, across the full range of digital channels, including social and programmatic display. “These people can be really siloed,” Gray said. “They know what they need from a piece of software, but the content they can find online does not match. … So talking to them at their level, with information that they want at the time that they want it, is the key. That’s always been marketing, right?”

My conversation with Gray, part of our True Influence powered by MeritB2B Accelerating Revenue series, covered a wide range of topics, including:

B2B Intent Data Is Critical

You’re rarely going to be able to introduce a potential customer to your category or service. They are out there researching, and have probably already heard about you and your competitors.

B2B intent data not only lets you see that a prospect is currently interested in your category – intent trend analysis, like we can provide here at True Influence, gives you an idea of how long an account or individual contact has been in-market, and how likely they are to be engaged with another seller. This opens the door for you to inject yourself into the conversation at the next logical step.

Engagement = First-person data

With the demise of the third-party cookie, learning more about your customers through direct interaction has never been more important. And there’s no better way to do that than conversational engagement around content. Gray notes that a good social post can result in DMs and other feedback that can really tell you a lot about what your market is looking for.

Digital Campaign Optimization Is an Ongoing Process

You can’t overhaul the campaign map after every email drop, but Gray also thinks you need to review what’s working with key audiences as part of your routine intent based marketing processes. Waiting for a quarterly breakdown basically undermines the value of having access to cross-channel response data.

“You know they’re searching on those intent keywords, and this is a perfect piece, we think, and they don’t respond. So what do we do now? We just let them go off into the abyss? No, you have to figure out the next step or the alternate step,” Gray says.

Digital Can Be Very Personal

Ultimately, customers want to know that you understand and share a lot of the problems that they face, and mostly, they just want to talk through how to solve them. That requires a personal connection. Gray says she’s been surprised at how well digital helps grow these kinds of relationships through personalized content offerings and, perhaps more importantly, through the immediacy of a video chat.

“I think I personally have become a more open person because you have to communicate digitally. When we started I would never turn my camera. I was like, well, nobody needs to see this,” she says. ‘But you need to see people. You need to read their body language, need to see the smiles.” 

Check out the episode!

Be sure to check out our full conversation with Kathi Gray on your favorite platform.

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