Is the rise of the multi-channel stakeholder forcing B2B brands to re-evaluate their integrated strategy?The rise of the digital native in the B2B workplace (as highlighted in a report by Enquiro last year) is changing the way we market, forcing us to consider new channels and approaches as prospects change the way they source and receive information, with most natives opting for the channels they have grown up with including search, social media, mobile, blogs, etc. One thing for sure is that the gap between the native and the digital immigrant is closing, with many immigrants now migrating over to new digital channels and embracing the new social Web.
This is something that we have experienced as an agency over the last two years, with media preference surveys we conduct for our clients showing a trend that immigrants are becoming more native in their consumption of media, with results highlighting a decline in their use of traditional channels (print journals, events, direct mail) and a rise in digital channel usage (e-mail, blogs, social networks, rss feeds, etc).
What this means is that we are now faced as marketers with a new breed of B2B stakeholder, the multi-multi-channel prospect, a user who crosses multiple channels on multiple devices (laptop, phone, tablet, etc) to conduct their discovery and analysis of a brand, product and/or service.
To intercept these stakeholders our contact strategies need to become more integrated ensuring that our ads, content assets, messages, sales enablement are mapped against the purchasing timeline and stretch across all potential touch-points a prospect could use as they embark on their research journey.
For many clients this means re-evaluating legacy marketing plans and taking bold new steps to change the marketing mix in favour of emerging digital channels. With social media now playing a pivotal role in the research journey and an estimated 10% of Google searches starting on a mobile device it requires marketing teams to trial new approaches if they are going to break new ground and uncover territories that only a limited number of brands are capitalising on to reach their new multi-multi-channel prospects.
The journey to the new digital nirvana isn’t just about short-term gain it’s about establishing your brand within the channels that are going to dominate prospect/customer interaction as the gap between the native and immigrant closes ever further. As push communication becomes less effective and we rely more on intercepting prospects through inbound strategies the relationships, fans, followers, connections we build in the social space now will become the new CRM/marketing platform of the future. Salesforce.com’ purchase of social tracking tool Radian6 and LinkedIn’s move to open their platform further are just some of the early signs that show the importance of social data integration with CRM and the value of social engagement, social advertising and mobile social content access.
I’m not advising that you throw all non digital activity in the bin as some channels might still convert prospects and add value to the experience but I if you’re effectively measuring all channels I’m sure you’ll spot some parts of your mix that are driving less traffic, engagement and conversions. Maybe it’s time to switch some budget from these and trial some new digital channels. You never know it could change the way you look at your integrated plans for ever!