While B2C companies are spending formidable amounts on brand building, B2B marketers tend to leave the work in the hands of their PR teams. As a result, fewer B2B clients are satisfied with product and service providers than B2C clients. Only about 51% of B2B customers feel proud to be their company's customers.
B2B companies that fail to focus on brand affinity risk losing clients. With 71% of B2B customers thinking of taking their business elsewhere, the ROI of marketing efforts is dropping rapidly. Meanwhile, 49% of B2B companies report a higher ROI by investing in customer relationships instead of acquisition marketing.
Shifting the focus from the general marketing tactics to growing brand affinity could be the key to securing profitable partnerships.
At DPR&Co, we believe that maximising the depth of existing customer relationships should always take priority over prospecting for new clients. Subtle shifts in focus from general marketing tactics in favour of growing brand affinity could be the key to securing profitable partnerships.
Brand affinity in B2B marketing
The history of brand building goes back to the early 20th century. By the time the 1960s came around, thousands of companies were trying to build emotional connections with their clients and succeeding. Today, 90% of millennials in Australia are loyal to particular brands.
B2B decision-makers are the same people who have loyalty to a variety of brands in their off-duty hours. That's why the approach to brand affinity in industrial sales and beyond is based on the psychology behind brand loyalty.
The decision-makers targeted by B2B marketing tactics may not be affected by such psychological tricks as colours and stories. However, they pay close attention to transparency, consistency, and experience.
What makes the B2B marketer's job somewhat easier is that B2B decision-makers WANT to be loyal to a brand. They are open to creating an emotional connection in order to simplify their operations. By building brand affinity with a company, you are likely to be securing a client for life.
Going digital: Brand affinity to power post-COVID growth
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic brought millions of people online, B2B companies started embracing the digital revolution. However, selling models remained rooted firmly in the offline world.
Today, using the website as a simple brochure to tell potential clients about your services isn't enough. B2B companies are turning to B2C digital marketing and sales models to provide an easy way for customers to buy online while building a relationship with the brand.
According to McKinsey, B2B companies trail B2C companies in terms of overall digital maturity. By investing in digital marketing efforts and customer-centric tactics, B2B companies can put themselves ahead of the competition in the post-COVID-19 environment.
B2B companies need to understand when to go digital. For example, when there are supply chain issues, customers are usually happy to resolve them through chatbots. Improving customer service experience in the digital world can go a long way toward establishing brand affinity.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed B2B companies in the industrial sales niche numerous opportunities for creating a simple digital experience.
- Tracking deal progress
- Obtaining guidelines
- And more
Some companies went further to create customised apps to orchestrate a personalised experience for each customer. They are also exercising creativity and building online communities to improve customer service and generate more B2B leads for further conversion and retention.
Incorporating digital tools didn't just help automate internal workflows, improve communication, and increase efficiency. It allowed B2B companies to establish themselves as brands that deserve life-long loyalty by bringing the best products and standards of service to the customer.
Measuring brand affinity efforts: Key metrics
A decade ago, B2B marketers focused more on such metrics as Customer Lifetime Value than building trust and long-term customer relationships. This is changing rapidly, putting those who fail to build brand affinity behind the competition.
Content marketing metrics
When it comes to building brand affinity, the most powerful tool is content. Content motivates action among the target audience and builds your brand in the process. Addressing pain points, offering value, and establishing trust are all working toward creating brand affinity.
To see how well you are progressing with brand affinity, you can track the ROI of your content marketing tactics. About 70% of B2B companies can show how content marketing can help increase engagement over time.
As COVID-19 is bringing more and more B2B prospects online, the content marketing effort requires additional investments.
Customer engagement metrics
Customer engagement figures in the B2B realm are usually dismal. According to Gallup, only 29% of B2B customers are fully engaged. Meanwhile, businesses with higher engagement scores outperform companies with low engagement scores by at least 30% in sales and profitability.
B2B companies benefit from increasing customer engagement and focusing on related metrics. On-site customer engagement metrics for B2B companies are similar to metrics B2C companies are using (traffic, bounce rate, time on site, etc.). However, B2B companies also track the application of products and solutions they offer.
Account-based marketing metrics
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a B2B specific tactic that doesn't just increase marketing ROI or boost sales. It can improve brand affinity by expanding relationships with existing clients. 84% of B2B marketers say that ABM provides significant value for retaining and expanding existing client relationships.
The growing importance of brand affinity in B2B marketing
Brand affinity has become an integral part of B2B marketing success. Without an emotional connection with the brand, a long-term relationship is at a high risk of failing.
By investing in brand affinity, B2B companies are rising above the competition and securing life-long business relationships.
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