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Why buyer intent and content will drive B2B’s e-commerce boom

Using intent data to target advertising and other marketing efforts will be imperative as we navigate the next frontier of B2B and e-commerce becomes a regular way of conducting business. 

Why buyer intent and content will drive B2B’s e-commerce boom
[metamorworks / Adobe Stock]

Once left to major online fashion retailers, e-commerce is now a powerful tool that marketers across B2B and B2C can leverage to drive online sales with alternative data signals. Fueled by the ongoing pandemic and the Great Reshuffle, B2B e-commerce revenue climbed to $9.9 trillion in 2020 and is expected to double to nearly $21 trillion by 2027.

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Yet, we B2Bers have long been treated like a lefty in a righty’s world as B2C players rack up consideration and purchase power. B2B marketers know what I mean, since we often use data, like consumer identity and social identity, that was built to help B2C businesses reach their target audiences. In the past, our tools were not purpose-built.

Now, we’re counting on new tools—and doubling down on those that were purpose-built for B2B—to help us level the playing field. Solutions that bring forward buyer intent data, which are digital signals like social likes/shares, web visits and clicks, and professional identity—a new way of thinking about segmentation that builds anonymous groups based on data points like role, function, and company—provide a great opportunity for B2B.

With an e-commerce boom afoot, B2B companies should leverage these types of alternative signals to maximize their marketing budgets and ensure they are reaching buyers at the right time. B2B brands should think of this data as fuel for their marketing engines because 95% of businesses are not in the market for most goods and services at any one time. Using intent data to target advertising and other marketing efforts will be imperative as we navigate the next frontier of B2B and e-commerce becomes a regular way of conducting business.

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HOW WE GOT HERE

Pre-pandemic, sales teams closed B2B deals offline by attending trade conferences, exchanging business cards, handshakes, lunches, and follow-up phone calls. The industry is undergoing a pandemic-fueled digital transformation where virtual conferences, hybrid work environments, and webinars are now the norm.

Customers are only a click away from buying what they need when they need it, and it’s imperative that we meet them where they are to generate authentic engagement. Not all eyeballs are created equally in marketing, so B2B brands should rely on buyer intent data to drive qualified traffic to their e-commerce destinations.

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POSTING WITH PURPOSE

Content is king, and B2B brands should invest in paid and earned content to help build trust with decision makers. Consider the fact that 83% of typical purchasing decisions occur before a B2B customer interacts directly with a provider. The days of in-person, one-to-one sales meetings are long gone—sales reps only have roughly 5% of a customer’s time during the entire B2B buying journey, so brands should approach their digital content with purpose to ensure that it reaches the target audience as quickly as possible.

You are what you post on social media, and B2B brands should take note. The content brands post—from paid advertising to messaging from individual marketers—is valuable. So, if you master content and embrace buyer intent data, you’ll beat the competition for e-commerce dollars. This one-two punch pushes us to pursue smarter, more focused strategies to future-proof against our changing industry.

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As B2B and B2C marketing continue to meld, we need to execute campaigns that drive sales in this post-pandemic digital era. B2B customers used to spend many months making a purchase. Now, they’re increasingly making their decisions at the speed of the internet. Even though customers are starting to make quicker decisions, the B2B purchase cycle lingers on—according to Gartner, “the typical buying group for a B2B solution involves six to 10 decision makers, each armed with four or five pieces of information they’ve garnered independently.” We have no time to waste in this high-stakes, rapidly changing market.

Instead of relying on the B2C products we’ve used from the start, we should purpose build the right B2B tools for the next generation of decision makers to use at the right time in order to build long-term relationships in a short-term world. It’s the only way we’ll win the long game.


Penry Price is Vice President of LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions, overseeing a global team responsible for building strategic partnerships. 

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