Rapid changes are occurring in the business-to-business space, and one of the takeaways at this week’s BMA15 conference is how marketers can – rather, must – adapt.

The Chicago event by the Business Marketing Association, a division of the Association of National Advertisers, has brought together hundreds of companies from around the U.S. and countries from Japan to Saudi Arabia. The industries represented vary greatly, from transportation and publishing to health care and software solutions.

But there is one common thread for all attendees: Changes are afoot, thanks to two trends in the B2B space.

Technology, for one, is rapidly evolving and mobile is playing an increasingly important role in how B2B buyers make purchasing decisions. In fact, 42% of B2B searches on Google now happen through a mobile device, according to Google’s Jim Lecinski. And on LinkedIn – the primary B2B social network – half of unique visiting members are mobile visitors, added Russell Glass, head of products for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. (read more…)

Customer loyalty is very hard to gain in an era where countless businesses are offering the same products and services to the same audience. Customers have lots of choices, and as soon as they find the “supposedly” next best thing, they take their money, family and friends with them. Instead of just building a customer loyalty program, focus on building WOW customer experience and the loyalty will follow.

A WOW customer experience is when a business is really great at providing their customers with amazing products and also genuinely provides excellent service. When a customer experiences both components simultaneously and consistently, it activates an emotion that creates loyalty and trust, which turns that customer into a walking word-of-mouth marketer for your business. Now imagine having 100 or 500 customers just like that. You now start to build a tribe of supporters for your business.

In reality, not all businesses are built like that. (read more…)

The squeeze is on. Consumer spending has been slow to recover with the economy, and, as a result, the size of the retail pie isn’t getting any bigger. To stay competitive, retailers are increasingly finding that they need to focus more on gaining and maintaining customer loyalty as an imperative to business success. Not only is it cheaper to keep current customers than to acquire news ones, but happy customers can be an amazing recruitment tool, if they are incentivized to advocate for their favorite brands. As a result, social loyalty is becoming the newest trend in retail marketing’s tool belt.

Social loyalty, according to Forrester Research, is “brand affinity built on the connection of consumers to the brand as well as to each other.” It provides an opportunity for brands to engage with members beyond the transaction — encouraging awareness, advocacy and emotional loyalty.

Here’s how front-line retailers are using social loyalty to obtain these benefits — and how you can, too:

Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Turning loyal customers into advocates on social media gives brands a powerful way to increase awareness and reach among connected consumers. (read more…)

Social media, the ever-elusive but never exclusive opportunity, allows brands to establish a direct channel to engage and interact with their key audiences (e.g., customers, partners and employees). Yet, according to CEO.com’s 2014 Social CEO Report, nearly two-thirds of Fortune 500 CEOs have no identifiable presence on the major social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram). The opportunities here are endless, yet only a small group of top CEOs truly leverage these networks to their full potentials.

CEOs looking to take that plunge into social media, or ramp up their efforts, need to determine the best approach. Your activity on social media can generate a bigger impact than anything else in your marketing arsenal when properly managed and leveraged. To get started, here are the top three things you need to consider:

  1. Take stock. First, figure out where you are in the social media landscape. What social assets do you have?
  2. (read more…)

As marketers, we gather an abundance of data from digital interactions every day. A “like” on Facebook, a “retweet” on Twitter, a click-through on an e-mail — all of these interactions offer insight into our customers’ preferences. Oftentimes, the data we gather is siloed into an individual network, unable to communicate with the other data sets we collect. Additionally, since there is an immense amount of data to sort through for even just a single customer, the amount of noise a marketer has to experience can be overwhelming. To effectively make sense of all this data and be successful at their jobs, marketers need to break through these social silos and have access to a holistic customer profile, created through thoughtful connections between multiple data sets.

This level of insight across channels is an invaluable asset for marketers. When we draw smart connections between individual networks, we can begin to produce multi-dimensional affinity models. (read more…)