A new-age way to online customer engagement
It’s less expensive to keep a current customer than to find a new one...
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“It’s less expensive to keep a current customer than to find a new one.”
Yeah, that seems quite true, particularly in these challenging times.
For starters, picture this. You are a B2B company. You have great customers. But, you’re still figuring out how you can link your company, product and brand to a more aspirational purpose. Your customers are also expecting a sense of deep connection that isn’t focused on a funnel but something that benefits them in a relational, not transactional manner. So what do you do?
Well, there are many things you could possibly do. But one way to nail your online customer engagement is by building communities. While there are three different formats of online customer engagement in B2B, including content and social media, community is just at the top of the chart when it comes to delivering customer intimacy.
“Community is foundational to human existence. We have existed within communities for centuries - be they religious, political, educational, sporting, work or social communities. In times of disruption like we’re facing now, it is our communities that will bring us together, anchor us to our values and recreate connection in a disconnected and fractured world.” Deb Mavric, Product Manager - Community @ Culture Amp
Starting here, I’d like to give you a gist of what I’m about to unpack for you in this story. We’ll talk about three different formats of online customer engagement for B2B businesses and how they influence each other.
#1 Content Marketing
Companies trying to establish themselves as thought leaders is not a new concept. After all, we have seen that a major part of this thought leadership is moving online in the form of content marketing. Surely, you’d want your content to be insightful and serious, no?
Yeah, you would.
If you work in SaaS, there is a good chance that you consume or follow some good content from fellow SaaS companies - through blogs, whitepapers, webinars, podcasts or newsletters. Take Gong.io as an example. Or Hubspot. They try to provide value to their audience beyond teaching them how to use their software in different formats ranging from blogs to ebooks, videos to webinars, and even free courses to certifications.
In fact, as the pandemic unravelled, it became apparent that multiple businesses started to experiment creative ways to show their customers who they are. And as they started utilizing the power of content to engage and educate, the customers were being shown for what they were truly worth.
#2 Social Media
Again, B2B companies building their presence on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is another way to strike customer engagement. Even Instagram and Tiktok are not left behind these days. Social media posts can be really powerful, more engaging and dynamic as compared to content resources on websites. A good example is SAP with nearly 2.4 M followers on LinkedIn. SAP has successfully utilized LinkedIn to engage with its audience of fans, using a wide variety of message post types, including many that incorporate innovative use of video. SAP keeps its LinkedIn messaging both entertaining and relevant to the more than 2 million people following its page.
Moreover, with the surge in pandemic, LinkedIn has started feeling more like Facebook. It has made every employee a potential evangelist who has his/ her own voice. People are talking about their personal lives, business updates, politics and everything that interests them. The activities of employees can positively impact the companies they are working with or have worked with.
However, I think social media is still missing more interactive engagement with customers. Don’t you think so? If not, let’s start off by reading this article.. here, this is good. Now that you’ve got an idea of what I am going to talk about next, please continue to read this.
LinkedIn doesn’t allow active participation between customers (n-to-n). It’s one way (1-to-n). This brings us to the third and most effective way of customer engagement. Community.
Glynk’s tip 💡
Furthermore, when we compare social media with community, there’s one key thing that you shouldn’t forget. Not every employee can become a potential influencer on LinkedIn/ Twitter, but every customer within the community is your potential influencer (if you think hard about it, you’ll understand. Heard about customer-to-customer marketing? Yes, there you go.)
Customer engagement in B2B was usually happening in person at sales meetings or in a conference meet before Covid -19. Now, with everything swiftly shifting towards online, more companies are thinking about how to engage with their customers online continuously and build communities.
“A community can link your company, products and brand to a broader aspirational purpose. You're no longer just a transaction to solve a business problem, but a partner in helping the customer become a better version of themselves. Community allows you and your customers to join together a shared vision for the future.” Scott Dodds, Head of Community @ Box
Look at everyone around you. Getting customers together online to talk about a subject they care about in B2B is not necessarily a new topic. Salesforce is doing it, Atlassian, Zendesk, Intercom — you name it.
While the community-driven growth has been long time coming, COVID has acted as a catalyst when people craved to find a sense of belonging online, more than ever. Especially, there has been a transformational experience in the world of the SaaS marketplace. Nowadays, buyers look up to influencers and thought leaders to choose tools. They are coming to the table with a much clearer option on the tools available. So, if you bet against these trends, you’ll probably lose.
Move fast, build great communities, and provide value! If you liked what you read, please share it on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter - wherever you love to spend most of your time spreading knowledge!