Interactivity in B2B marketing and sales

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Whilst suppliers have a hard time selling in competitive B2B markets, their customers are struggling to buy. With B2B buying getting more complex, it’s critical for suppliers to make the purchase process easier for their customers. Interactive content can help B2B companies support their customers in completing the buying job.

In the complex B2B purchase process, information matters

One of the key challenges that modern B2B marketers and sales teams face is communicating complex products, services and solutions to increasingly busy buyers. The buyers, on the other hand, deal with an increasingly complex purchase process, and comprise increasingly diversified buying groups.

77% of B2B buyers interviewed by Gartner in 2018 indicated that their latest purchase was very complex and difficult. B2B buying typically involves six to ten decision makers who spend about two-thirds of their buying journey researching on their own and learning from whatever information they can obtain. Therefore the type of information they encounter and explore really matters. Gartner concludes that the information available actually matters more than a specific supplier capability or individual sales conversation.

 

Make B2B buying – and selling – easier with interactive information

To better reach multiple buyers or stakeholders in the same company, many B2B suppliers are turning to account-based marketing, or ABM. A recent study on ABM suggests that personalising and tailoring marketing to the key contacts at each account is one of the top challenges in getting started with an ABM strategy.

Getting the right type of information in front of the right people can be a challenge, as decision makers from different functions have different information requirements. Some need content that is rich in detail, whilst others just need an overall understanding of the data presented. Linear, one-way communication can seldom satisfy all the different needs. This is where interactivity steps in: it can help tailor the content to match the needs and interests of the different recipients, thus helping speed up the sales cycle.

 

Engage, educate and learn more about your customers

Incorporating interactive elements in existing content strategies can significantly improve the engagement, conversion and retention of corporate buyers. In fact, according to Demand Gen’s 2019 Content Preferences Survey86% of B2B buyers state that they prefer to consume more interactive content they can access on demand.

Many companies are now using interactive content to build larger databases, develop rich prospect profiles, and improve lead scoring. SMBs, mid-market companies, and large enterprises like EMC, Cisco, Atmel, and Oracle are all using interactive content to start conversations and add value for their buyers.

Personalised, user-focused experiences engage and create two-way dialogue. This two-way interaction provides value to both the client, and the marketer. You educate your audience but learn about them as well. By extracting data from the interaction sessions, the supplier can learn about the customer profile and follow up with even more tailored content. For users, interactive content can provide more useful experiences, better addressing their individual concerns and interests.

 

What makes B2B interactive content successful?

At the heart of successful interactions with B2B audiences is providing real value. It’s the quality of the content that gets people excited and engaged. Compelling visualisation, smooth navigation of content, user-friendly interaction via hotspots or other interactive elements, and an effective information architecture all contribute to a useful and engaging interactive experience.

Business buyers value suppliers who make their purchase process easier by providing easy access to the right information for the job to be done. Helpful information is easy to share – also across geographies; it’s available across channels for anywhere & anytime access; and it remains consistent across channels, not depending on the individual salesperson’s ability to offer the right information. Providing such helpful information is at the centre of smart product communication.

Whilst interactivity is not a panacea for communicating product information or engaging customers, it can significantly help clarify the communications, especially around complex products, services and processes.

 

Is interactive expensive?

Interactive doesn’t have to mean expensive. Instead of starting from scratch, re-purpose your most successful static content into interactive forms. For example, consider adding interactivity to popular content formats such as video. Start by connecting interactive elements to your existing marketing efforts to learn how interactivity can enhance your marketing communication.

 

Benefits of interactive content, in a nutshell

Whether your objective is to create awareness, generate leads or help your customers progress through the purchase process, interactivity can make your content more effective. Unlike static, one-way content that is designed for consumption, interactivity encourages participation and enables active exploration – helping your customers understand complex information and learn something new in an experiential way.

  • Grab attention and sustain it
  • Enable personalisation and customisation
  • Educate and entertain
  • Create clarity
  • Promote dialogue
  • Gather valuable data and analytics
  • Stand out from competition
  • Show commitment to innovation

Our next article in this blog series will discuss how information architecture and multilayer storytelling help personalise and customise content for effective B2B marketing and sales – and even for training purposes.

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