This is the third installment of the B2B Social Media Series
Buying is a journey, and customers need the right signals to reach their destination. Each phase of the customer cycle requires different cues to be effective. In this article, we’ll take a look at the most effective B2B marketing and social media strategies at each touchpoint to keep prospective clients moving forward towards purchase and beyond. In each phase we’ll consider both the content and channel type.
Phase 1: Trigger
During this phase, potential customers are browsing for things of personal and business interest. Smart B2B marketing lets them stumble upon you by “accident.”
- Content – Place ad content (banners, etc.) in locations where potential clients hang out. Blog/social media posts also work well if they answer real questions and aren’t sales pitches. Social media contests and videos generate leads through social ads. Also, “how to” videos can capture attention quickly.
- Channels – Use a social media site, like Facebook, to show ads to your target demographic. Or maybe post an authoritative LinkedIn article. Don’t overlook direct email, events and press releases. Plus, everything must be mobile friendly.
Phase 2: Evaluation & Validation
Once you get a nibble, they’ll want to know more about you. B2B shoppers will research your name and sector thoroughly. Plus, they’ll compare you with the competition.
- Content – To build trust and credibility, a content mix offers you an advantage over other vendors. Consider customer testimonials, webinars, podcasts or online trainings. As the research phase deepens, content such as videos, case studies, whitepapers, product news, infographics and rankings/reviews offer excellent traction.
- Channels – Up to 75% of B2B buyers use social media to research vendors. Your web page/blog should have plenty of relevant content as well. Also, make sure you show up and look good on forums and review sites. Again, a large percentage of this process will be performed on mobile.
Phase 3: Consideration/Vendor Outreach
During the outreach phase, use social retargeting to make sure you get maximum exposure in front of businesses who already had prior interaction with your brand.
- Content – Your web content will be a workhorse at this point. Make sure it speaks to this phase, perhaps with some type of competitor comparison. Email is a good choice here as well, but don’t overdo it. You could attach free content to the email such as a whitepaper or case study. Be ready to distribute content such as product demos, sales collaterals and newsletters as well.
- Channels – An optimized UX/SEO website, relevant and timely email and phone call outreach can all be used here to lock opportunities at this touch point. Continued social media activity demonstrates brand freshness.
Phase 4: Moment of Purchase
Here buyers submit RFPs, negotiate pricing, get internal approval from influencers or C-level management, and discuss other contractual conditions with the vendors. Very specific B2B marketing content will populate this phase, and variety helps.
- Content – Videos, illustrations, images, more case studies and a portfolio are content pieces that a mature business has ready to navigate the moment of purchase.
- Channels – More direct interaction will take place here, probably through email. Social media can continue to pave the way with product info and demos.
Phase 5: Post-Purchase Experience
Your goal should include repeat sales, but don’t stop there. Think about converting customers into brand ambassadors.
- Content – Continue with blogs, emails and newsletters. Direct mail pieces could be added at this phase, such as in the form of thanks. Consider customer surveys to improve processes. Looping around to the trigger phase provides value here as well.
- Channels – Social media holds a central position post-purchase as your brand’s tone and rhythm are already familiar. Customer support channels or portals are also essential. Automated marketing may be a way to make sure clients don’t get lost.
The effective buyer journey requires a comprehensive plan as well as agile idea generation. Be sure to tweak the process along the way to get the most out of content and channels that bolster your B2B marketing success.