B2B marketing is often viewed as purely analytical – all about the data, metrics, and ROI. The dominant narrative paints B2B buyers as rational decision makers who make choices based solely on hard facts and figures. However, an emerging body of research points to a contradictory example: the immense importance of human connection in B2B marketing.
Recent studies have shown that B2B buyers are more likely to make a purchase from a company they have a personal connection with. In fact, 98% of B2B buyers say customer experience is very important in their purchasing decisions. This indicates that while data and analytics play a crucial role, there is also a strong human and emotional element to B2B buying.
In this post, I will discuss the different ways B2B marketers can cultivate human connections with their target audience. Contrary to popular belief, relationships are a vital part of successful B2B strategies. By building trust and rapport, B2B companies can boost loyalty, improve sales, and grow their business.
Ways B2B Marketers Can Build Relationships With Their Audience
Forging real relationships should be at the heart of any B2B marketing strategy. While analytics and data are undeniably important, there must also be a human element. B2B buyers want to do business with companies they know, like and trust. The following are some of the most effective ways B2B marketers can cultivate human connections with their audience.
Social media provides a platform for B2B companies to directly engage with their audience. By sharing valuable content, responding to comments and questions, and participating in discussions, brands can establish themselves as industry thought leaders. Social media facilitates ongoing conversations that allow B2B marketers to build familiarity and trust with their followers.
Email marketing campaigns are another avenue for nurturing leads and contacts. Strategic email sequences that provide useful information rather than constant promotions can demonstrate that a company genuinely cares about solving customers’ problems. Personalized emails feel less robotic and more like messages from a trusted advisor.
Webinars are an interactive way for B2B brands to connect with potential buyers. During live webinars, attendees can ask questions and have real-time discussions with industry experts. This level of engagement establishes the company as a reliable source of knowledge and builds affinity with the audience.
In-person events like conferences, trade shows, and client dinners enable that sought-after face-to-face interaction. There is no replacement for meeting contacts in real life and making a human connection. Event marketing gives B2B companies the opportunity to build rapport through meaningful conversations.
No matter the medium, the focus should be on building relationships by providing value. B2B marketing is most effective when it feels like a two-way exchange between people, not just a faceless corporation trying to profit.
Examples of B2B Companies That Successfully Built Relationships With Their Target Audience
Microsoft is a well-known example of a B2B company that has built strong relationships with its customers. The company does this by providing excellent customer service, offering a wide range of products and services, and constantly innovating. Microsoft also invests heavily in research and development, which helps it stay ahead of the competition and provide its customers with the best possible solutions.
Salesforce is another B2B company that has built a strong reputation for customer service. The company offers a variety of cloud-based software solutions that help businesses of all sizes manage their sales, marketing, and customer service operations. Salesforce also invests heavily in training and support, which helps its customers get the most out of its products.
Adobe is a software company that provides a wide range of products and services for creative professionals. The company has built strong relationships with its customers by offering high-quality products, providing excellent customer service, and constantly innovating. Adobe also invests heavily in marketing and education, which helps it reach new customers and keep its existing customers engaged.
Slack is a business communication platform that has quickly become a favorite among businesses of all sizes. The company’s focus on simplicity and ease of use has helped it build a strong following among its users. Slack also offers a variety of integrations with other popular business tools, which makes it even more valuable to its customers.
Google Cloud Platform is a suite of cloud computing services that offers businesses a wide range of capabilities, including computing, data storage, and networking. Google Cloud Platform has built strong relationships with its customers by offering a reliable and scalable platform, providing excellent customer support, and constantly innovating.
The Benefits of Building Human Connections in B2B Marketing
Cultivating authentic human connections with your target audience is not just a nice bonus – it directly translates to tangible business results. Here are some of the key benefits that B2B companies can gain by focusing on the human element in their marketing:
Increased trust: When businesses build real relationships with their target audience, it demonstrates they are more than just a faceless corporation. It shows real people work there who genuinely care about customers as individuals. This fosters trust, which is the foundation of any strong business relationship. Buyers are more likely to trust businesses they feel a personal connection with.
Greater loyalty: Customers who feel a human bond with a company tend to buy from them repeatedly. This loyalty stems from feeling treated as a person, not just a transaction. Forging emotional connections beyond the sales process boosts customer lifetime value. Loyal customers also refer others, providing invaluable word-of-mouth promotion.
Higher sales: Salespeople who focus on relationship-building sell 56% more than their transaction-focused counterparts, according to research. Audiences who see marketers as authentic people rather than soulless corporations find it easier to make purchasing decisions. The human touch facilitates sales.
Improved reputation: Companies perceived as human and relatable generally have better reputations. This leads to greater brand awareness and positive word-of-mouth. The human factor brings credibility.
Top talent acquisition: Employees inherently want to work for companies they feel a personal connection to. Building an emotional bond attracts and retains the best talent.
Better work culture: Employees who feel a human connection with their employer tend to be more engaged, motivated, and productive. This creates a positive work environment that fuels business success.
Human relationships fuel human businesses. The emotional component of B2B marketing cannot be underestimated.
How Can B2B Marketers Balance the Need for Data and Analytics With the Need for Human Connection?
While data and analytics provide invaluable insights, they should inform rather than dictate marketing decisions. Effective B2B marketers use data points as part of a holistic approach that prioritizes human needs.
Personalized messaging is a powerful way to demonstrate understanding of specific customers and speak to them as individuals. Segmentation based on demographics, psychographics, and behavior helps craft relevant messaging, while personal touches like using names shows the human behind the brand.
Storytelling forges emotional connections and helps audiences relate to brands on a deeper level. Strategic use of customer testimonials, case studies, and other narratives helps establish trust and affinity. Data should feed into the story, not replace it completely.
Authenticity is key – target audiences have highly attuned BS detectors. Marketing communications should reflect company values and personalities. While data is invaluable, it does not provide the human element that attracts and retains customers.
Being responsive shows customers their time and business are valued. Prompt, thoughtful responses to queries, issues, and feedback are indicative of a company that cares. No metric can replace human empathy.
Going above and beyond expectations demonstrates genuine care for customers as real people, not just sources of revenue. A handwritten note, personalized gift, or charitable donation on a customer’s behalf makes a memorable impact.
In a nutshell, data and automation have limitations, and human judgment is indispensable in B2B marketing. The most effective strategies combine data-driven insights with authentic human connections.
The Challenges That B2B Marketers Face When Building Human Connections?
While cultivating human connections is imperative for B2B marketing success, it does come with some unique challenges. Long, complex sales cycles, multiple decision makers, lack of face-to-face interaction, and an over-reliance on data can all make relationship building difficult. However, with some careful strategies, these hurdles are surmountable. Here are some of the main challenges B2B marketers encounter when fostering human connections, along with tips for tackling them effectively.
Long, complex sales cycles make it difficult to establish connections with prospects early on. With purchasing decisions stretched out over weeks or months, it’s a challenge to maintain rapport over an extended period. Personalized nurture campaigns beyond the initial touchpoint are key.
Having to build relationships with multiple decision-makers at one company also poses difficulties. It takes effort to reach and engage with each influencer and decider. Customized messaging and outreach helps account for cross-team dynamics.
The lack of face-to-face interaction in largely online B2B transactions creates barriers to meaningful human connections. While in-person events are ideal, video calls and thoughtful online engagement can also demonstrate personal commitment.
An over-reliance on data analytics can lead marketers to view prospects as numbers rather than people. While metrics provide valuable insight, they should complement rather than override emotional intelligence.
Navigating the cultural nuances of diverse target audiences takes effort and sensitivity. Investing in developing cultural awareness and competence is essential for building cross-cultural connections.
Despite these hurdles, B2B marketers have many options for cultivating human connections:
- Personalized communications that use relevant language and demonstrate understanding of needs.
- Storytelling that taps into emotions and establishes the brand as relatable.
- Authenticity and letting one’s true personality shine through content.
- Responsiveness and conveying that customers are valued.
- Unexpected personal touches to delight and build rapport.
With creativity and commitment to the human element, B2B marketers can overcome obstacles and foster meaningful relationships.
while data and analytics remain essential to B2B marketing, there is immense value in building authentic human connections. The dominant narrative that B2B buying is a purely rational process overlooks the emotional side of decision making.
As we have seen, cultivating relationships through thoughtful engagement makes companies more relatable and builds vital trust with audiences. Taking the time to understand customers as real people, not just metrics, pays dividends in the form of greater loyalty, word-of-mouth promotion, and sales.
The most successful B2B marketing strategies balance data-driven insights with an emphasis on the human element. Although making personal connections takes effort, the long-term benefits make it a worthwhile investment. In our increasingly impersonal digital world, the human touch is a powerful way for B2B brands to stand out from the crowd.
While data helps inform decisions, forging real relationships should remain the beating heart of B2B marketing. At the end of the day, business is always about people.
The Human Element of B2B Marketing” by David Meerman Scott: This book explores the importance of human connection in B2B marketing. It provides practical advice on how to use data and analytics to inform your marketing decisions, while still keeping the human touch in mind.
Data-Driven Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Driving Sales, Revenue, and Profit with Data” by Chris Goward: This book provides a comprehensive overview of data-driven marketing. It covers everything from how to collect data to how to use it to create effective marketing campaigns.
The Content Marketing Manifesto” by Joe Pulizzi: This book is a must-read for any B2B marketer who wants to create effective content marketing campaigns. It provides practical advice on how to create content that engages your target audience and drives results.
Inbound Marketing: Get Found, Get Customers, Get Paid” by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah: This book is a classic guide to inbound marketing. It provides a step-by-step process for attracting and converting leads using content, social media, and other inbound marketing strategies.