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Marketing Automation – 11 B2B Consumer Behavior Secrets

If you want to get the full benefit of marketing automation, you need to get right inside the mind of your customer and understand the fundamentals of B2B consumer behavior. As you’ll see from this guide, there are some tactics you can use to make your online marketing campaigns more effective.


11 B2B Consumer Behavior Secrets You Should Know Before Launching Your Next Marketing Automation Campaign

Did you know that 53% of businesses surveyed are using marketing automation and that another 17% are considering using it in the future?

It’s not surprising – marketing automation is a hot, new technology, so the fact that the majority of businesses are now using it in one form or another is not hard to believe.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that 85% of B2B marketers felt they were not using marketing automation to its fullest potential. In other words, they feel as though they’re not getting everything they can from the technology.

Most of the people who aren’t getting the full benefit of marketing automation try to fix the problem by focusing on tactics to optimize their campaigns. Many of these tactics can be found on the GetResponse blog, which is a terrific resource if you’re interested in learning the tips and techniques to improve your results.

But if you really want to get everything you can from marketing automation, you should go deeper than that and think strategically about your customers and prospects.

Instead of focusing on just the tactics, it’s even better to get inside the mind of your customer and to understand the fundamentals of B2B consumer behavior. By doing so, you’ll be able to get even better results than you already are.

So, what are the B2B consumer behavior secrets we’re talking about? That’s a great question, which is why we’ve outlined them in the pages that follow.

Secret #1

Your customers go through six distinct stages before making a purchase.

Robert J Lavidge and Gary A Steiner developed a classic model for the purchase process called the Hierarchy of Effects model.

Hierarchy of Effects
Hierarchy of Effects

In the Cognitive (thinking) stage, the consumer starts with Awareness of a need, and then moves to Knowledge about the alternatives. During the Affective (feeling) stage, consumers move from Liking a product or service to having a Preference for it. Then, in the final Behavioral (doing) stage, they take action by developing Conviction and then executing a Purchase

Action Step for You: Revisit your sales funnel and be sure it accounts for all of the items listed above. The odds are it only focuses on top, middle and bottom of the sales funnel. By using the model above, you’ll have a more nuanced approach to your campaigns, which will result in a better conversion rate at the bottom of the funnel.

Secret #2

The second B in B2B is actually a C.

People around the globe often discuss how B2B marketing is different from B2C marketing. The truth is that B2B marketing is different from B2C marketing – but that doesn’t take into account that a consumer is a consumer whether they’re at the office or at home. In other words, consumers go through the same series of steps leading up to a purchase whether they’re buying office furniture or bubble gum.

Action Step for You: Before launching your next campaign, try to remember that you’re not talking to a business – you’re talking to a human being. Imagine you’re having a cup of coffee with that person and that you’re trying do persuade them to buy your product or service. If you talk to them as a human (instead of a business) you’ll do a better job of addressing the hidden C that’s in B2B.

Secret #3

People buy for reasons then rationalize their purchase with logic.

No matter how much we would like to believe that humans are rational beings, the truth is we make most purchase decisions for emotional reasons rather than rational reasons.

For proof of this, just take a look at someone who buys a Rolex watch. Do you think they bought a $10,000 watch because it tells better time than a $50 Swatch? Nope. They bought the Rolex because of the way it makes them feel. In other words, they bought the watch for emotional reasons, and then rationalized the purchase by talking about the quality and durability of the watch.

Action Step for You: Make sure any campaign you create resonates on an emotional as well as a logical basis. If you focus exclusively on the logical benefits of your product or service, you’re missing out on an opportunity to build a deeper relationship with your prospects and customers by creating an emotional connection with them, too.

Secret #4

People have subconscious reasons for preferring one brand over another.

Several years ago, Baylor University in the United States conducted a blind taste test with Coca-Cola and Pepsi. In the blind taste tests, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi came out about even. But in the non-blind taste tests (where people knew which brand they were drinking) Coca-Cola was preferred by the majority of the people in the study.

Why was that? Why did the blind taste test result in an even split while the non-blind taste test result in Coca-Cola as the winner?

It’s because of all the positive imagery people associate with the Coca-Cola brand. The people who preferred Coca-Cola in the non-blind study were influenced, in part, by the positive subconscious memories they have of the product and the imagery associated with Coca-Cola.

Action Step for You: What are the hidden motivators that make people buy your product or service? In other words, what are the unspoken reasons that people prefer your brand, and how can you incorporate them into your marketing automation campaign?

Secret #5

The B2B sales process is much more complex than the B2C sales process.

When you’re selling something in the B2C world, there’s a direct link between your brand and the consumer making the purchase. But when you’re selling something in the B2B world, the link between your brand and the business that’s buying the product is much more complex.

Here are all the people you might be dealing during the sales process in the B2B world:

  • Initiators: The people who request something to be purchased
  • Users: The people who will be using the product or service
  • Influencers: The people who influence the buying decision
  • Deciders: The people who make the final decision about the product requirements or suppliers
  • Approvers: The people who authorize the proposed actions of deciders or buyers
  • Buyers: The people who have the formal authority to select the suppliers
  • Gatekeeper: The people who have the power to prevent you from reaching members of the buying center

The odds are pretty good that you won’t have to deal with every one of the categories listed above, but it gives you a sense of how much more complex the B2B sales process is vs. the B2C sales process.

Action Step for You: Review the information above and figure out how many of these categories are part of your typical sales process. Is there an opportunity to optimize your marketing campaign based on your findings?

Secret #6

The majority of your prospects and customers are visual learners.

Did you know that the 65% of your prospects and customers are visual learners? That means the more visual your content, the more effective it will be at converting them. There’s a reason people say, A picture is worth 1,000 words.

An added benefit to visual content is that it speeds up the information processing time for your readers. Information that would take 60 seconds to read and process can be digested in just 1/10th of a second when it’s presented visually. That’s particularly relevant in this day and age when people are busier than ever.

Action Step for You: Does your content include visuals that support your written messages? Are you leveraging the use of infographics and other visual content on your blog and website? The more visual your content is, the more effective your campaigns will be

Secret #7

Colors have meaning and can impact your conversion rates.

Different colors mean different things around the globe, but some color groupings are universal. For example, warm colors like orange or red move towards a viewer, while cooler colors recede away from a viewer. Subconsciously, things that move towards us feel threatening and intrusive while things that move away from us feel non-threatening and more inviting.

That’s why so many major brands like IBM, BP and Facebook use cooler colors like blues and greens in their logos. While it’s true that some very famous brands use red or orange (e.g. Coca-Cola), studies show that most businesses use cooler colors that have a calming, reassuring effect on people.

Action Step for You: When was the last time you analyzed the use of color in your marketing automation campaign? Some things – like your logo – might be impossible to change. But other things – like the colors used on your landing pages – can have a big impact on how people respond to your campaigns.

Secret #8

Your customers fall into one of four categories.

Each and every one of your customers has unique needs and desires. Despite their uniqueness, they can all be dropped into one of four buckets:

  1. Price-Oriented Customers: These are customers for whom price is everything. Generally speaking, they’re the most difficult of the four categories to deal with.
  2. Solutions-Oriented Customers: These are customers who want a low price, but who will respond to arguments about lower total cost or more dependable service.
  3. Strategic Value Customers: These customers want a fairly permanent relationship based on trust and shared goals. They’re interested in win/win outcomes.
  4. Gold-Standard Customers: These customers want top performance in terms of product quality, assistance and reliability. They’re also willing to pay top dollar for it.

Action Step for You: Analyze your existing customer set and make some strategic decisions about which kind of customers you want. Then, leverage your marketing automation tools to go after those kinds of prospects more intentionally. By focusing your efforts on your best prospects, you’ll attract the kind of customers you want.

Secret #9

There are 9 questions you need to know about your prospects before you launch your campaign.

The more you know about your prospects, the more effective your campaign will be. With that in mind, here are 9 key questions you should ask before launching your next marketing automation campaign.

  1. Who buys our product or service?
  2. Who makes the decision to buy the product or service?
  3. How is the purchase decision made? Who assumes what role?
  4. What is the customer really buying (e.g. what are the hidden motivators for purchase)?
  5. When a prospect decides to buy from a competitor instead of us, what’s the reason?
  6. What are the key places that prospects get information about our product or service (e.g. ebooks, website, trade shows, organic search, word-of-mouth, etc.)?
  7. How do our prospects and customers currently perceive our product?
  8. What other factors influence the purchase decision?
  9. How do personal or demographic factors influence the purchase decision?

Secret #10

People remember things in groups of three.

The human brain is a funny thing. Even though it has a nearly limitless capability to process, digest, and analyze information, it feels most comfortable when it processes information that’s broken into groups of three.

This isn’t a rule that’s set in stone, nor is it a rule that doesn’t have some wiggle room. But you’ll find that your content has more power and impact when it’s broken down into groups of three.

Studies have shown that the world’s most effective speakers (and politicians) break key concepts down into groups of three. You might even notice that some religious texts repeat the most important concepts three times in a row. And you’ll recall that the most effective slogans of the 20th century delivered their ideas in just three words:

  • Just Do It
  • Finger Lickin’ Good
  • Snap! Crackle! Pop!
  • Diamonds Are Forever
  • I’m Lovin’ It

Again, this Rule of Three isn’t a hard and fast rule, but experience shows that when things are broken down into groups of three, people remember them better.

Action Step for You: Review how you deliver key concepts in your marketing automation campaigns. Do you follow the rule of three? If not, consider adapting what you’ve written and test whether it has an impact on the results of your campaigns

Secret #11

B2B consumer’s eyes gravitate to certain words.

Some words act like magnets to attract and keep people’s attention. Direct response experts have run studies that have shown us which words are the most powerful. What are they? Here goes:

  • Free
  • Now
  • You
  • Save
  • Money
  • Easy
  • Guarantee
  • Health
  • Results
  • New
  • Love
  • Discovery
  • Proven
  • Safety

Action Step for You: How many of the words above can be applied to your product or service? Can you use them in subject lines? Headlines? Crossheads? If so, you might be able to improve the impact of your campaigns.

How to put all of this to work.

It’s one thing to understand the concepts we’ve covered in this ebook. It’s an entirely different thing to put them all to work.

Remember, if you really want to improve the results of your next marketing automation campaign, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Instead, take three key concepts from this guide and put them to use in your next campaign. Then test your results and tweak your forthcoming campaigns based on what you learned. In the end, you’ll find that your campaigns continue to get better and better over time.

About the Author

Jamie Turner is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and CNN contributor. He is the author of several books on marketing, has been profiled in one of the world’s best selling marketing textbooks, and is the founder of the 60 Second Marketer, an award-winning blog with readers around the globe.

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