Paige Arnof-Fenn, Marketing and Business Growth at SavvySME chats about a few top eCommerce and online sales trends that are redefining the digital buying experience:
Welcome to this chat Paige, tell us about yourself and your journey through the years?
I started a global branding and digital marketing firm 20 years ago in Cambridge, MA. I did not plan on starting a company. I always wanted to go work for a large multi-national business and be a Fortune 500 CEO. When I was a student I looked at leaders like Meg Whitman & Ursula Burns as my role models. I started my career on Wall Street in the 80s and had a successful career in Corporate America at companies like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola and worked at 3 different startups as the head of marketing. I became an entrepreneur and took the leap right after 9/11 when the company I worked for cut their marketing. I had nothing to lose. Being an entrepreneur provides me a platform to do work I truly enjoy with and for people I respect. Like most entrepreneurs, I am working harder and longer than ever and I have never been happier. Working for yourself and building a business you started in incredibly rewarding and gratifying. It has been a lot of fun, I joke that I am the accidental entrepreneur. I knew I had made it as an entrepreneur when Harvard wrote 2 case studies on my business a few years after I started it, we were very early to pioneer sharing resources on the marketing front (before my company it was really only done with HR, legal and accounting/finance).
We’d like to hear more from you about SavvySME’s recent survey that indicates how B2B buyers are looking for new businesses and purchase options outside of what they are used to? What inspired this survey and can you share more about the top findings?
The world has changed in profound ways so whatever we assumed, thought we knew or understood before Covid about our clients and market must now be checked because the world has changed so much since last March. Successful businesses understand their product or service is about more than the transaction, they are in the relationship business. People buy brands they know, like and trust. We are more likely to buy from businesses that create an emotional connection with us. Businesses need to think strategically that the person you’re engaging is more than an email address or a phone number or an online profile and create personalized messages in a timely manner. People today want to buy from businesses that make them feel comforted and supported and that make their lives better. It is really about hyper-personalization now and harnessing all forms of data being used across all marketing channels and customer journey stages.
What in your view can B2B brands do to ensure long term customer loyalty and return purchases in today’s competitive market?
The pandemic has been a lesson in adaptability. Overnight we changed how we live/travel/socialize/go to work/school and, of course, how we buy stuff. The adoption of e-commerce accelerated by a decade in the first few months of the pandemic. The majority of businesses reported trying a new store/brand/different way of shopping and most will continue these new behaviors. The overwhelming majority of first-time users of online delivery were satisfied/found the experience enjoyable and most intend to keep using it. Many of us are more open to changing long-standing habits/brand loyalties/buying behaviors.
Businesses are navigating the new normal by trying new behaviors designed to increase personal safety. In response, brands have an opportunity to connect with new audiences while expanding loyalty among its established base. E-commerce was a convenience, telehealth and BOPIS (buy online pick up in store)/curbside pick-up were virtually non-existent services pre-Covid and they are all the price of entry now. Businesses have new purchasing patterns, which may shift but are not going away. The future is about staying agile.
In your view, what does it take for B2B sales and marketing teams to build buying experiences and product differentiators that can make them stand out in the market?
To stay relevant today prioritize social listening — because we spend so much time on social media it is becoming more important to listen to online conversations to derive sentiments. Social media is highly emotive so there is more context on the source of ideas, complaints, purchase behavior, and macro/micro trends. Using social listening, you can isolate the data you care about and watch for short-term indicators around consumer research to help identify actionable opportunities early.
A few top predictions that come to mind for B2B sales in 2022 and beyond and what sales teams need to be focusing more to achieve better ROI through the year?
If we learned anything during Covid it is that social media marketing is only growing in importance. Here are the top trends I see for next year:
Social commerce explodes — During the pandemic buying became more virtual with social media platforms as an increasingly popular outlet.
More video content — The world is becoming more visual when it comes to consuming content which has made visual-driven platforms like YouTube/Instagram/TikTok gain popularity. With the rise of a generation that would much rather watch/look at something vs sit/read, there is going to be a growing trend of more visual content including pictures/videos (long and short form)/memes/diagrams/infographics. As more people shifted online during the pandemic, live streams were increasingly used to host public events/meetings on platforms like Twitch.
Attention spans are shrinking — In a mobile first/mobile only world, you have less time to grab people/attention spans are shorter so rich content drives engagement/traction/growth. Fewer people access the web on big screens so everyone is tailoring their site/message/content accordingly. Google is now considering the mobile-first design as a ranking factor for websites to improve performance. AR/VR are expected to become more mainstream as cell networks become stronger/faster so will be used more to grab/keep people engaged.
Some last thoughts, takeaways, and best practices before we wrap up!
Conduct online qualitative research — with limitations on in-person focus groups and other qualitative research methods due to the pandemic, having the ability to moderate video discussions while collecting data from a diverse audience is no longer limited by geographical boundaries which is a huge advantage.
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