(Approximate read: 4 minutes)
Relevance is a notion that B2C brands have understood and leveraged for a long time, but it’s something that many B2B marketers struggle to achieve. Some strategists think that true relevance—the kind that turns buyers into evangelists—is simply impossible for a B2B brand. Don’t be that kind of strategist.
Need convincing? Consider Google. How does a search engine, of all things, create the kind of loyalty that consistently earns it a top-5 ranking among the most-loved and most-valuable brands?* The answer lies in Google’s understanding of its customers, aka its buyers.
Google’s unmatched analytics on buyer behavior, plus its ability to deliver an experience that comes close to matching a buyer’s “ideal,” delivers a one-two punch of engagement and emotional resonance, which are core components of relevance. Couple that with continuous technological and experience innovation to keep up with the demands of today’s buyers, and you have a formula for long-term relevance. And with sustained relevance comes passionate buyers—loyalists who do the marketing for their beloved brands by spreading the word about their experiences—which drives financial success.
So how can you increase your B2B brand’s relevance? The single most important step is to understand your buyers. And true understanding requires deep insights—lots of them. That may sound intimidating, but getting closer to your buyers is not as difficult as you may think. Developing buyer personas is one way to start. Mapping out their buying journeys is another. But to be truly actionable, insights must go beyond the “what” of their behavior to uncover the “why.”
That is why we conduct qualitative research for our clients to probe the “whys” behind their behaviors and decision-making. This unlocks the critical insights needed to create engaging brand experiences that drive relevance, affinity, loyalty, and growth.
If you feel like your organization lacks these insights, you are not alone. According to Accenture,** approximately 80% of executives in B2B companies believe that offering an outstanding customer experience (CX) is directly connected to generating better business results and ensuring the company has a competitive advantage. Despite this realization, fewer than 25% of these companies excel at offering great CX. If this group is representative of most marketers, then a vast majority of B2B brand experiences may be falling flat, missing the mark, and/or creating frustration that turns away prospects.
We are obsessed with driving relevance for our clients’ brands. Accordingly, we have developed a Brand Relevance Scorecard that assesses the relevance of each brand-touchpoint from four perspectives:
These brand relevance questions seem disarmingly simple, but it’s amazing how many sophisticated companies cannot answer yes to even one of them.
If this is true of your organization, don’t be too hard on yourself. The relentless pace of change in many industries makes becoming relevant—and especially staying relevant—a true challenge for a few reasons. First, strong organizations typically grow. And with growth comes new offerings, company/brand acquisitions, market expansion, and more—all factors that can strongly attract and convert a broad array of new buyers. Second, as companies focus on managing growth, not only do they need to understand new buyers, but they often don’t realize that they are gradually growing away from the buyers they once understood well. So it’s a good idea to reassess your company’s buyer insights periodically to make sure the dynamics between your brand and your buyers—old and new—is spot on.
A good place to start your brand-buyer relevance assessment is with your company’s website. We view the website as a foundational buyer touchpoint for brand relevance, as it serves a critical role in delivering leads to sales, educating prospects, and housing thought leadership materials. If you’re not building brand loyalty here, you’re missing a huge opportunity.
Case in point: we recently worked with Automatic Data Processing, Inc., or ADP, to transform ADP.com into a buyer-centric experience. We supplemented ADP’s vast knowledge of buyers with additional custom research to uncover insights that spanned seven different buyer personas. We conducted VOC interviews, mapped buyer journeys, architected an experience, conducted usability testing, modified the work based on findings, then developed and elevated content. The end result is a website that nails the components of our brand relevance scorecard, while also delivering an elevated brand experience.
Was it worth it? The proof is in the figgy pudding. The website launched on October 6, 2018 and the results have been stellar, with the new site delivering a significant improvement on conversion rates without losing any organic visibility. We estimate that the enhanced effectiveness of the website is poised to contribute a 7-figure revenue impact for ADP this year.
What B2B marketer wouldn’t want to find their stocking bursting with qualified leads this year? By putting “brand relevance” on your holiday wish list, that marketer could be you.