Every storm cloud has its silver linings. Though many consumer-facing companies scaled back in the face of pandemic uncertainty, 53% of B2B companies plan to increase or maintain expenditures according to a recent McKinsey report. This finding is in line with historical examples of challenger brands taking advantage of economic downturns to make ground on and pass market leaders who choose to hit pause. READ: Now is the Perfect Time to Advertise
Though focused on B2B manufacturers and service providers, B2B publishers may do well to heed McKinsey’s findings. For instance, the importance of digital channels for B2B companies has grown significantly in the past few years and has radically increased since the COVID-19 crisis began. Sales leaders on average rate digital channels approximately twice as important now then they were before. This shift in the importance of digital interactions is reflected in customer behaviors. When researching products, customers’ preference for digitally-enabled sales interactions has jumped significantly, with suppliers’ mobile apps, and social media or online communities showing their sharpest increase since 2019.
Particularly noteworthy is B2B buyers have a very strong preference for self-service in making purchases. Survey results suggest that to deliver satisfying digital experiences B2B companies need to address customers’ most pressing pain points and frustrations. When asked to select their top-three most frustrating issues with partner websites, 36% of the surveyed decision-makers cited the length of the ordering process, 34% the difficulty of finding products, and 33% technical glitches with ordering. Other common concerns included confusing websites, a lack of information on delivery, and poor technical support.
The takeaway for B2B publishers? There is a silver lining to this pandemic downturn. Smart publishers are taking advantage of COVID-related traffic increases and are getting back to the basics, focusing on content and user experiences in an effort to solidify the first-party relationship with their audiences.