Vital Stats 4: Change is good

Vital Stats 4: Change is good

In 2021 it's time to be a B2B brand that really understands what’s going on and what it means for your buyers, your business and your marketing.

It’s an opportunity to adapt what you do and the ways you engage. To stay relevant. To be valued. To be indispensable.

Here are all the facts and the need-to-knows for every B2B Marketer right now, brought to you by Earnest.

Go the distance

The buyer journey has changed. Remote-first, digital-first interaction is the order of the day. It’s impacting how you reach, engage, sell and service your buyers. Not just now, but seemingly for good.

Experts predict 80% or more of the sales cycle is set to go digital and remote. Because 3 out of 4 buyers see this new way of doing business as more effective. It’s also safer, more convenient and saves cost.

And with more than a third of people likely to continue working from home post-pandemic, you need to be sure remote doesn’t mean your brand becoming more distant.

Especially when only 20-30% of B2B buyers say they’ll want to interact with sales reps in person post-Covid. 90% even say they’ll be willing to digital self-serve – end-to-end – to make a B2B purchase. Are you ready?

Don’t run the risk

What do you need to know about the changing behaviour of your buyers? Unfortunately, the recent crisis has amplified uncertainty and risk:

Decisions are also coming under real scrutiny. The average buying group now comprises 11 active members and up to 7 occasional participants.

It’s elongating the sales cycle and making defensive decision-making rife. For too many buyers, it’s less about making the best decision for the firm and more about identifying the one that’s the least likely to negatively affect them personally. Ask yourself, is your brand the least risky option?

Be the brand they trust

With more perceived risk, buyers are gravitating to brands they trust.

70% say trusting a brand is more important today than in the past. It’s apparently the second most important factor after price (we think it should always be the first).

75% say they’ll stay loyal to brands they trust – even if it’s not the cheapest. And 60% say they’re more comfortable sharing personal details with a trusted brand, and will pay more attention to their communications.

So, how do you build trust?

In short, it pays to be the most front-of-mind, helpful and informative brand at every stage in the buying cycle.

Become the go-to source

Buyers are doing their due diligence – engaging with more digital content on the path to purchase. They’re viewing 40% more content assets than pre-Covid, but it’s not always helping.

Buying groups are spending on average 15% of the buying cycle reconciling different information sources. Only 17% rate the quality of the thought-leadership they read as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’.

It’s an opportunity missed, especially when 49% of decision-makers believe thought-leadership can be effective in influencing their purchase decisions, and 88% believe it can be effective in enhancing the perceptions of their organisation.

Do it their way

It’s time to tune into buyer’s new preferences and consumption habits, especially with more people working remotely and spending more of their time on screens.

Buyers are watching

59% of senior executives say they now prefer videos to text format, and 72% of buyers prefer learning about a product or service by watching videos.

With Covid-19 putting in-person trade show on hiatus, webinar attendance has risen by 293%. No surprise, then, that 93% of event marketers plan to invest in virtual events moving forward.

Social media rising

44% of people are finding themselves using social media more now than before the Covid-19 outbreak, with people spending, on average, 2 hours and 24 minutes per day ‘multi-networking’ across an average of 8 social networks and messaging apps.

Content shared on LinkedIn is up 50% year-on-year. 66% of B2B marketers say it’s the platform that’s generated the best overall results for content marketing. However, with 74% of brands admitting they’re posting less on their social accounts, there now exists a real opportunity to win greater share of voice.

It also pays to have a visible search presence, given there’s been a 27% increase in B2B brand page views from organic search traffic.

Email has been reborn

44% more emails are currently being sent than before lockdown began, and email open rates have increased on average by 28%.

In case you were wondering, 9am is the most popular open time in the UK (in the USA it’s 10am).

Decision-makers open to new kinds of interactions

There’s been a 90% increase in live chat usage by buyers, but B2B brands beware – many still need to get their house in order when it comes to digital engagement.

A massive 7 in 10 B2B buyers are thinking of shifting their preferred vendor to a competitor due to frustrations with the digital purchasing experience.

Savvy marketers tap new ways to win hearts and minds

Influencer marketing spend has increased by 70% year-on-year.

89% of marketers consider influencers comparable or superior in ROI to other popular marketing tactics, and 57% of B2B marketers say influencer content outperforms their own brand content.

Finally – spare a thought for your audience

According to reports, people are working an additional two hours a day since lockdown the first lockdown. Nearly two-thirds are reporting symptoms of digital eye strain. 36% say their mental health and well-being had suffered as a result of working longer hours during lockdown.

Think about how you can lighten their load and support their well-being.

Why not try to give them a break from with some informative or entertaining audio content? 18% of adults now tune into podcasts every week, and 54% of podcast listeners say they are more likely to consider the brands they hear advertised on podcasts.

Whatever you do, it’s time to adapt.

67% of marketers say changing communication style and messaging has already worked well for their business. But this will only take you so far.

In our new era of digital-first buyers, it’s time to look at how you reach, engage and serve your audience afresh – to make every interaction truly count.

Because in an ever-changing world, standing still is not an option.

Download our Vital Stats SlideShare now to learn even more about marketing to the modern business buyer.

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James Wood

Head of Earnest Labs

I'm the Head of Earnest Labs. My job is to eat up the whole internet and digest the most interesting bits for our clients.