COVID-19 is causing radical shifts in the way buyers engage with B2B vendors. To thrive in 2021, B2B marketers need to anticipate future trends and adapt their strategies accordingly.
Below, I list some of the most important trends B2B marketers will see in 2021, as well as how a call tracking solution can help you capitalize on them.
1. B2B Digital Ad Spend Will Increase
While most industries cut back on digital advertising in 2020, B2B companies increased their ad spend dramatically. Why? In-person events have disappeared and B2B sales teams are unable to use their traditional tactics.
B2B ad spend will reach $8.14 billion by the end of 2020, a 22.6% increase from 2019. Comparatively, US digital ad spend, as a whole, will only rise 1.7% in 2020.
As the digital advertising landscape continues to become more competitive — and costs per lead continue to rise — B2B marketers will face increasing pressure to prove their digital marketing ROI and optimize their spend to acquire more customers at a lower cost.
2. B2B Vendors Will Receive Higher Call Volumes
With in-person interactions limited by shelter-in-place orders, buyers relied on the call channel to speak with agents, inquire about use cases, make virtual appointments, and schedule demos. In fact, monthly calls to B2B vendors were up 13% year-over-year in September 2020.
Though lockdown restrictions have since been eased, many buyers are still restricting their in-person interactions due to safety concerns. Therefore, call volume is likely to be higher than it was during previous years, as buyers will use this channel to get information and make appointments.
3. Buyers Will Continue to Limit In-Person Interactions with B2B Vendors
B2B buyers are limiting in-person interactions due to safety concerns and many offices have shifted to remote work. As a result, 2x more B2B buyers prefer digital interactions now versus pre-COVID-19. To meet these changing expectations, 96% of B2B sales teams have fully shifted to remote selling.
Experts predict that buyer preferences for remote selling will carry over into 2021. To adapt, B2B marketers need to develop a seamless omnichannel marketing strategy to keep buyers engaged at every touch point.
4. Demand for Digital Transformation Services Will Increase
Overall demand for B2B solutions surged 15% in the spring of 2020. This increase was fueled by an increase in buyer needs for digital transformation services. With remote work up 39% and consumers looking for alternatives to brick-and-mortar stores, many B2B buyers need to fundamentally shift how they do business. This often entails reconfiguring IT systems and leveraging new software.
In 2021, employees will continue to work remotely and consumers will continue to demand alternatives to in-store shopping experiences. The most successful B2B marketers will highlight products and services that can help buyers create seamless digital experiences for both their employees and their customers.
5. B2B Buyers Will Demand Seamless Omnichannel Experiences
In 2021, B2B buyers will demand seamless omnichannel experiences across their entire journey. To earn their business, you’ll need to ensure they feel valued and known every step of the way.
83% of consumers say they require a positive experience to remain loyal to a brand — regardless of the channel they’re engaging on. The B2B companies that provide these outstanding digital experiences have a 2x higher chance of being chosen as the primary seller. But if you fail to provide seamless experiences for buyers, the stakes are high. 82% of consumers would switch providers as a result of a bad experience.
To get an edge over the competition in 2021, B2B vendors need to embrace personalization across channels. This means providing a seamless experience as buyers transition from online research to a demo with a salesperson to getting their solution implemented to leaving an online review.
How Marketers Can Use Call Tracking to Capitalize on These B2B Trends
The trends above paint a bigger picture of how B2B buyer behavior is changing. In 2021, in-person interactions with vendors will continue to be limited due to COVID-19, placing increased importance on the call channel.
With more buyers researching online first and calling to take next steps, B2B marketers need to have a strategy in place to ensure that they’re providing a seamless experience over the phone. As I mentioned above, expectations for the buyer journey are at an all-time high — and this includes the call channel. Failing to deliver frictionless call experiences will cost you revenue.
Understand the Marketing Sources Driving Your Most Valuable Phone Calls
Call tracking and analytics solutions like DialogTech allow you to understand the webpages, marketing campaigns, and keywords driving not only the most calls — but the highest quality calls to your agents and locations. This allows you to optimize your marketing spend for the programs that are truly driving the most revenue.
For instance, a search campaign for your digital transformation services may be driving a high volume of calls to your agents. However, once you use a call tracking solution, you may discover many of these calls are not sales-related — they’re billing questions from existing customers. You could then decrease spend on this campaign, and instead allocate it to one that’s driving more sales calls. This increases the overall revenue potential and quality of the calls coming into your phone lines.
Sample Report: See which marketing sources are driving the most sales opportunity phone calls
Detect Issues Impacting Your Call Conversion Rates
Call tracking and analytics solutions like DialogTech help you create seamless call experiences that increase customer acquisition. They provide detailed reports on answer inbound call rates and call handling performance at each location or call center that you can use to detect customer experience issues.
Sample Report: See how your locations are handling the calls driven by your marketing
For example, you can see if your calls are going unanswered at specific locations and what days and times those unanswered calls occur. You can then diagnose if your marketing is sending calls to locations when they are closed or understaffed, and make adjustments.
View Transcriptions and Recordings to Understand What’s Happening on Calls
Call tracking and analytics platforms like DialogTech give you a searchable database of call recordings and transcriptions that you can tap into. This allows you to see what’s occurring on the inbound calls your marketing is driving to call centers and locations and use these insights to make optimizations that drive more conversions.
If unconverted calls are an issue, you can analyze your recordings and transcriptions to see if your locations, call centers, and remote agents are saying the right things when buyers call. You can then pinpoint any issues. For instance, are they asking the right questions in their discovery calls? Are they failing to mention new pricing or promotions? You can then take steps to remedy them. In addition, you can share these recordings and transcriptions with your locations and/or call centers to use as coaching tools to improve performance.
Sample DialogTech call transcript
You can also use transcriptions to discover common caller questions and concerns — such as FAQs about your digital transformation services — and add them to your website and product pages to get more SEO visits and improve conversion rates.
Use IVRs and Dynamic Routing to Manage High Call Volumes
If you’re experiencing unmanageably high call volumes, you can also consider using your call tracking solution to set up an IVR (interactive voice response). You can configure an IVR to ask callers why they’re calling, route them to the best destination based on their responses, provide answers to common questions (such as FAQs about special COVID-19 services and pricing), and more.
You can also set up dynamic routing rules, in tandem with or independent of your IVRs. Below are several call routing configurations that can improve conversion rates for B2B vendors:
- Route by time of call: Have calls forwarded to specific agents, locations, or IVRs based on your location hours.
- Route by geographic location: Send callers to the best agents or locations based on where they’re calling from.
- Route by product or service they’re interested in: Send callers to specific call center agents or locations based on the product or service they’re interested in.
- Route by where they are in the customer journey: Send callers to a particular call center or location based on where they are in the funnel. For instance, are they looking to buy a service over the phone or are they asking post-purchase questions about billing?
- Prioritize high-intent callers: For example, send callers who called from a “free consultation” ad to the top of the queue so they’re answered right away.
Set up rules in DialogTech to route more calls to your highest-performing locations
Learn more about how call tracking can help you drive more sales at a lower CPL in our ebook, The 10 Call Analytics Reports That Will Change Your Marketing.
Want to learn how call tracking can help you drive more B2B sales? Download our ebook, The New Buyer Trends Impacting B2B Marketing Now.Download My eBook