Holy cow! Is it really 2017 already?!? 2016 went by in a blink of an eye (or at least, that’s the way it felt for us). As we start the first few days of the new year we’re sharing some predictions on what 2017 will hold for customer marketers.
Here are three key themes that we see taking center stage in the upcoming year.
1. Peer-to-Peer Selling
53% of B2B buyers rely on peer recommendations before making a purchase decision. With so much change happening – from business practices to political landscapes – it’s easy to understand why trust is an issue with modern B2B buyers. That trust issue is creating a major shift in the purchase process. Buyers are hit with a ton of marketing noise, ads, emails, you name it, and have become skeptical of sales messages. They want proof that what you’re telling them is going to come to fruition. That’s why they’re turning to their peers (a.k.a. your customers) to help them filter through the noise and give them an unbiased, truthful opinion about what they should do. They’re relying on recommendations from their social networks, looking at reviews on third party sites, and asking to speak directly to your customers to help them make a decision. They trust and value their peers’ opinions above anything your best and brightest sales and marketing personnel can provide. Earn buyer trust faster and get ahead of the peer-to-peer selling curve with technology specifically built to support your team during this shift in the buyer landscape: RO Innovation.
2. Technology and Data
The technology geeks reading this are probably doing a little happy dance. (It’s okay to secretly admit it if you’re one of them.) The customer marketing technology landscape saw major growth in 2016, which is both exciting and overwhelming. But in general, many aspects of customer marketing are becoming more scalable, measurable and efficient thanks to advancements we saw this past year. If your customer marketing technology stacks could use a bit of adjustment, this is the year to put some resources against it. With more systems in play, comes more data. Make sure your various technology systems not only talk to each other’s data, but also that your team is in a position to take action based on the data. Proving the efficacy and gaining greater visibility of the success of customer marketing efforts using the data and analytics revealed by the right technology stack is key for customer marketers this upcoming year.
3. Focus on Customer Relationships
Call it customer success. Call it customer experience. Call it customer centricity. Whatever you call it, these terms all boil down to one thing: focusing on the customer relationship. With buyers doing more social research on their own before contacting your company, and current customers wanting proof you care about their business, increasing your efforts here in 2017 can pay off big time. Put your priority in developing the relationship with the decision maker and other influencers in the organization, build trust. Customers are people, not dollar bills. So treat them as such. Find out “what’s in it for them” and what their ultimate goal in working with you is, and work on catering to that. Find ways to help them build their network, get exposure and share their story through reference activities with their peers and media. When you show you care and build their trust, advocacy usually follows. Stronger customer relationships not only pave the way for long-term sales and referral leads, but can also serve as a differentiator when your customer’s peers are evaluating and researching new products of their own. When they go to your customer for suggestions, you know who they’ll recommend first.
To get more insights and additional 2017 customer marketing predictions from your peers and top pros in the industry, flip through the slide deck below: