Business Technology

The New B2B Consumer and What It Means for Marketing and Sales

Amidst a decade of dramatic change to B2B marketing and sales, a new B2B consumer has emerged.

The new B2B buyer is younger, more informed, expects a personalized experience, and more empowered when making purchasing decisions.

Now, cutting-edge digital platforms are increasingly beginning to drive how business is done and guide decisions. With content marketing replacing previous sales techniques, traditional strategies are becoming obsolete, and there is more focus on a modern B2B customer with a distinct set of buying habits.

New B2B Consumer

Who is the New B2B Buyer?

Now that Millennials are outnumbering Gen X as the largest generation in the US workforce, they’re placing orders just as much as they are taking them. According to a report by Merit, over 70% of Millennials are making purchasing decisions for the companies they work for, and over a third are the sole decision makers.

B2B purchasing decisions are becoming increasingly self-driven, and with digitally native Millennials at the helm, the purchasing journey now tends to begin with a search engine query.

The research by Merit points out that personal search is more often driving the purchase momentum, with a quarter of millennial buyers starting in search when it comes to making business buying decisions. This is now outnumbering those that start with a salesperson interaction, peer review, or a vendor website.

In addition to more personal research being done, we also see that Millennials have a more skeptical view of marketing materials that lack transparency or are completely trustworthy.

In the 2019 Connected Consumer Report from Salesforce, over 50% of respondents admitted that it’s more difficult than ever for companies to earn their trust. Over 70% of consumers say that trustworthiness matters even more to them now versus a year ago.

And, to finish it off, consumers today are simply expecting more. Many are influenced by the highly personalized, customized experiences of popular services like Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify. Simply put, a traditional sales funnel with non-personal, boring digital content isn’t getting results in 2022.

Content Matters

Heightened expectations, coupled with the fact that buyers are increasingly turning towards their own research rather than engaging with salespeople, make it essential to create content that engages this new B2B customer and accelerates the purchasing journey.

In both B2B and B2C, attention spans are short, and there’s no reason for consumers to stick around if there are alternatives right at their fingertips. People often work with limited time, which is why delivering content with a sense of urgency has become more critical. There is a void left by the disruption to and disconnection from the old type of sales funnel, and great content is the only way to fill that gap.

There are several reasons why responsive, thoughtful, and unique content has been pushed to the forefront as the types of assets that will make a difference. Engaging content has the power to help your business connect with customers and drive purchasing decisions.

Especially now that content crosses more intersections than ever before along the buyer’s journey, stellar assets will help you to create digital sales chaperones that help buyers navigate what has become a self-driven and non-linear purchasing path. Content needs to span the entire consumer journey and add value in all areas, including requirements building, problem identification, problem exploration, and more.

Content must be dynamic to stand out to today’s B2B consumer, who is more skeptical, more discerning, has higher expectations, and has vastly more alternative purchasing options to choose from.

Dynamic Content Explained

Creative content is easy enough to talk about, but what does it look like exactly? At the fundamental level, it means moving away from static content that doesn’t offer an interactive or engaging experience of your brand or product. It’s important to remember that it’s not just your direct competitors who set the content experience standard — but the wider media landscape.

Today’s B2B consumer expects a multimedia content experience with interesting visuals, rich experiences, and sophisticated interactions. Content should be interesting enough for the user to want to spend their time with it but also authentic enough regarding the story and value.

For this reason, interactive content and video are increasingly being used as a part of B2B marketing strategies. According to HubSpot, over 70% of consumers would rather learn about a product or service by way of video. While traditional content assets have their part to play in an effective marketing campaign, finding a way to make eBook, research reports and white papers more interactive and engaging to the customer is key.

Content Accessibility

It’s not just essential to create content that stands out. It should also be accessible on the platforms that consumers use, which is why creating content that can be accessed from anywhere and on any device is crucial. Any content you create should be responsive, as consumers are increasingly becoming more accustomed to gathering information and researching options through mobile devices.

Like many streaming services, eCommerce stores, and large-scale retailers today offer dynamic mobile capabilities, the types of B2B content you make available to your audience should be mobile-friendly, agile, and flexible, as mobile consumption is increasing rapidly in the B2B space.

With the digital transformation of the marketing process revolving around a new, younger, more informed, and more digitally- savvy B2B consumer, businesses need to be a few steps ahead and adjust accordingly.

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About the author

Ashley Judd

My name is Ashley Judd, I’m 27 years old, I’m currently studying MA Accounting and Finance (yes I love numbers) at university in Nottingham. I write down all my thoughts and perceptions and to ramble on about anything and everything.