Justyna Skorupska

Head of Business Development | Omnichannel Expert

Human2Human, or Customer Engagement in B2B

B2BCustomer Experience

Both in the B2B and B2C segments, marketers notice that there is always another human being on the other end of the phone line, or on the other side of the counter or a computer. And it doesn’t matter whether he/she buys products to make dinner or specialized tools for his/her company; human engagement is essential for the transaction to succeed.

This is why many marketing specialists are beginning to use a watchword which should have been applied from the very beginning – #H2H, which means marketing in a Human to Human model. This abbreviation means that irrespective of a segment in which a company operates, it cannot forget that the final recipient of all its products and offer is a human being, regardless of that person’s rank or status within a business.

B2B Customer Engagement Design

join e-point expert table at SAP Forum

In the digital era, customers in a relatively conservative B2B segment are getting more and more like buyers in the B2C segment in terms of their behaviour. Data collected by Hubspot indicate that 49% of purchases on the B2B market are made after the customer searches for information using a mobile device. Also, as much as 71% of all purchases in the B2B segment are preceded by searching for information on Google, and an average user checks information on different products 12 times before deciding to browse a website of a particular brand.

This information proves that purchases for a company are governed by similar mechanisms as those of buying a refrigerator or a new computer. For the B2B segment, it is a sign that it is no longer enough to find a customer and send him/her an offer. A customer must be actively engaged at the earliest possible stage of the purchase process.

Solution does not exist (yet)

In 2011, SAP experts noticed that when a sales department takes action, such as convincing a potential buyer to take interest in an offer and consider purchasing, the customer’s decision has long been made. The buyer has, on his/her own, earlier browsed and compared products using the technologies available.

In order to address this problem, SAP started to look for a solution which would enable big data analysis in terms of knowledge about customers, preparing a personalised, custom-made offer for them. The tool was designed to improve the quality of leads obtained, conduct their preliminary classification and display the best ones to the sellers. This all would be based on a centralised database. But at that time, such a solution did not exist yet and it was created on SAP’s initiative and for its own purposes.

First of all: data

Andreas Starke, the then marketing technology manager at SAP, who had searched for new solutions earlier, became the co-author of the Hybris Marketing solution. Thanks to this, a marketing specialist really participated in the process of creating the system. Thus, he knew what the software’s challenges would be.

One of the most important difficulties was customer attention management at the stage when he/she collects information on a product. Before the digital era, comparing and learning about details was possible only through contacting sales departments which effectively made sure that the recipient’s interest is aroused. By controlling information, sellers controlled the process of sale. Today, this self-reliant customer searching for information on his/her own must be involved earlier, before he/she contacts the seller.

The implementation of SAP Hybris Marketing in SAP AG made the user’s experience uniform and based on activities he undertook in all contact channels. Thus, it became possible to create a very detailed model of a customer, a so-called persona. The idea is to create a model representation of a customer which would take into consideration more information on the recipient than demographic data, among others, his/her experience or a set of beliefs. Many companies give the personas names to impulsively direct a message to a particular individual (for example to Kate, HR manager), and not to a fictitious “customer”. Although the idea itself has been present in marketing since 2002, it is only now that there is a technology that enables users to create something more than theoretical speculations of a potential buyer available on the market.

Persona: theoretical figure

The key when creating a “persona” is to enrich the existing knowledge about a target group with additional information which may help in shaping the message to this group. In the case of the B2B segment, a persona does not mean a company, but its particular employee, for example, IT manager or warehouse manager who will make purchase decisions.

It means that beside the age, education and his/her position, a persona will include information on required competences or a potential professional experience. Importantly, in many companies personas are given a name so that departments responsible for the preparation of the content had a feeling that it is created for a specific person.

Statistics show that the using a persona in communication in the B2B segment resulted in websites that were 2 to 5 times easier to use than those prepared without using a persona.

Acquiring knowledge

In B2B marketing, personas are based on examples of the best customers – the ones who provide a company with the largest profits or come back to make another purchase. It means that finding similar companies and recipients will provide a company with potentially the largest profit. From the SAP perspective, it meant, for example, the possibilities of cross- and up-selling, depending on the communication channel used. The information on the activity of a potential buyer in the digital channel provided the consultant with a very serious and useful knowledge on the preferences and potential interests of a person to whom they talk.

The more information on customers, based on which a persona is to be build, is collected, the more effectively the profile of a “perfect recipient” will be created. However, in order to do so, it is necessary to identify all databases available and organise the information included in them.

The shoe-maker’s children are actually well-shod

Data obtained by EmailMonday indicate that 50% of companies which have marketing automation implemented more than one system. So did SAP. 10 previously independent and unrelated databases which included customer information were made uniform. What is more, through this new tool, marketers gained access to other sources of knowledge, such as network information, reports after events, CRM and ERP system, and even unstructured data from social media. A customer, from an anonymous record of a database in a shipping system, became a real person who is active on social media, has already bought something and shared his/her thoughts on the Internet. On this basis, SAP marketers could create new forms of communication or improve previously used methods of communication. For example, a novelty was optimising subjects of messages based on a history of previously opened e-mails from a company.

More time, less tools

The evaluation of the implementation indicated that thanks to the SAP Hybris Marketing platform, responses for customer’s questions are processed 97% faster than before.

New tools have substantially speeded up launching of new marketing campaigns, and facilitated their execution. Concrete reactions of recipients enabled building of reaction scenarios, for example, sending another message, displaying advertisements in social media or initiating a contact by the sellers themselves.

The people most satisfied by this change were those in the sales department, which received more leads of a much better quality than before. Thanks to an automated selection, sellers received contacts to customers engaged and well-informed about a company offer and their task was to button up the sale. To sum up, thanks to new marketing tools, 40% more leads of a higher quality were generated.

A side-effect was a significant decrease in the current service and administration. The final goal of B2B marketing was also achieved – to transfer from push communication to inbound marketing in pull communication, when an initiative comes from previously, properly identified and selected recipients.

Wszystko to stało się możliwe dzięki stworzeniu i zastosowaniu ujednoliconego rozwiązania do marketing automation. Zaangażowanie odbiorców w kanale B2B pozwoliło siegnąć po tę samą energię, która zasila rewolucję omnichannel w światowym retailu.

All this became possible thanks to creating and applying a uniform solution for marketing automation. Engagement of recipients in the B2B channel allowed businesses to reach for the same energy which powered the omnichannel revolution in the worldwide retail marketplace.