Touchpoints: what the B2B sector can learn from the B2C sector

The B2B sector has always been behind the B2C sector when it comes to marketing: it’s just a fact. I guess this is to do with the innately more competitive nature of B2C markets and the fickle nature of consumers. B2B is much more relationship-based and transaction costs tend to be higher. Usually, this gap isn’t very clear-cut. But when it comes to Touchpoints (TPs) the difference is stark.

Touchpoints in the practice

Within the B2C sector, and retail specifically, the awareness and use of TPs for the advantage of businesses is almost normal practice. Big brands are aware of how customers access their services, do their research, and buy their products. And they are not afraid to use that information to their advantage. They also understand that in the world of multi-channel shopping and research, every point of contact needs to afford some kind of value to customers.

On the high street this is manifesting itself in a number of ways. Social media is increasingly playing a bigger role in facilitating interaction with customers – it is providing the opportunity for brands to create TPs where they can offer value-added content to their customers. Blogs, videos, photos, competitions, discounts, community building; these are all things that are used to create TPs that provide some kind of benefit. This benefit leads to increased customer retention rates, increased levels of satisfaction, and ultimately increased profits for the companies involved. It’s not about churning content out either, TPs really need to give people something, otherwise they don’t work. Consumer-facing organisations understand this more and more, working customer-value opportunities into all of their activities. This is leading to a happier set of consumers, who are happy to spend their money.

“Understanding what customers want, where they want it, and how they want it.”

The rise of digital technology also means there is a range of data at the disposal of companies. A customer hasn’t visited a website in a while? Send an email and tell them we miss them! Do customers always look at certain things on a website? Use that to inform your next set of planned interactions. Data lets TPs be used to the maximum efficiency – know when your customer wants or needs something the most and you’ll be able to provide for them at just the right moment.

It’s not just data that digital technology has afforded. It’s enabled new forms of interaction to be created. There are now Bluetooth beacons placed in city centres around the world that send out marketing messages to passersby. In terms of timing, this couldn’t be more perfect. People are already in a shopping location, looking for ways to spend their money. The ability to push messages to a smartphone and influence a physical outcome through digital interaction is a revelation for marketers. It’s also an important step between bridging the gap between the physical and digital world of TPs. Not to mention really cool.

How is all of this relevant?

But how is all of this relevant to the B2B sector? B2B customers don’t walk through town centres looking for the right product or service for them. So why does this even matter? Well, it’s not the actual activity that’s important it’s the thinking behind it. It’s the placement of TPs in the customer’s domain that is important. Understanding what customers want, where they want it, and how they want it.

B2B organisations can learn a thing or two from B2C companies about how to provide their customers with value. A customer that is receiving value at the right times is a customer for life.

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