The coronavirus outbreak has forced the accelerated digitalization of a variety of industries. B2B businesses are no exception.
In-person events such as trade shows and exhibitions are the traditional focal point for B2B marketing spend. According to MarketingCharts, the average B2B marketing department allocates 41% of their budget on exhibitions and industry shows and only 25% on digital marketing.
However, in this February alone, there was a fivefold surge in major event cancellations around the world due to COVID 19 according to PredictHQ. Major B2B marketing conferences such as Facebook’s F8 Conference, Google’s CloudNext conference, Adobe’s Las Vegas summit, Mobile World Congress, ITB China, AutoChina, and East China Import and Export Commodity Fair were all called off or postponed, with rocky trajectory for in-person events ahead as the outbreak continues.
For B2B businesses, whether planned or not, now is the time to look into digital marketing. But fear not, as digital marketing offers a variety of benefits over traditional offline models. Shifting marketing online means you now have a real-time data trail, allowing you to accurately track progress on your marketing campaigns and make adjustments on the fly. This also means it’s much easier to calculate CPA, or cost per acquisition, to figure out which digital strategies work and which don’t.
B2B Business Strategies in China During COVID 19
Most likely, your B2B business has seen a slowdown due to the COVID 19 crisis. This downtime should be the occasion to review digital marketing strategies. China has been the first country to be heavily impacted by the coronavirus outbreak and is now finally recovering. Here we can review some case studies of how Chinese B2B businesses have adapted their marketing strategies:
While most economies have slowed down around the world, e-commerce is probably the B2B industry reaping the biggest rewards during this crisis. China’s mature e-commerce infrastructure can be directly attributed to China’s response to coronavirus, albeit not COVID 19 but rather an earlier one: SARS.
During the SARS crisis of 2002 and 2003, Alibaba saw significant breakthrough growth.
Alibaba’s B2B business thrived as foreign businesses, cancelling trips to China due to the outbreak, started registering on its platform en masse. Despite the whole team being quarantined, Jack Ma was able to unite the company to also launch their new C2C/B2C e-commerce platform, Taobao, whose meteoric rise was aided by a launch coinciding with more and more people staying home due to the SARS outbreak.
What is Alibaba doing during the current crisis?
Alibaba partnered with Shanghai Fashion Week to take it online, leveraging livestreaming and the emerging social shopping trend in China. Hosted on T-mall, Shanghai Fashion Week was able to broadcast its entire roster of runway shows live from March 24 to 30 on T-mall’s “cloud catwalk”, marking the first ever fashion week to go fully digital. The event’s “See Now, Buy Now” format allowed viewers to purchase catwalk items – and pre-order new looks from the fall collection – in real time via their smartphones (Source: alizila.com).
As China is the manufacturing workhorse of the world, the economic impact of the coronavirus was felt globally well before it left China’s shores.
During the outbreak, Leyard Group, a Chinese manufacturer of LED technology, like other manufacturers in China was completely unable to resume factory work. It started recognizing the importance of B2B digital marketing during this downtime, investing in a stronger digital marketing presence in the B2B field. They focused on more targeted market cultivation and client-oriented conversions for growing their client base to prepare for when factory work resumes.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Zhihuiya, an intellectual property SaaS company has used this time to fully expand coverage of their online platform channels. While they are primarily already an online platform, the cancellation of face-to-face meetings has shifted their marketing strategy to integrate more short form video in their content marketing for digital accessibility. But while the short-term effects of the outbreak have moved the marketing department’s focus towards digital, it doesn’t mean neglecting to plan for future offline events.
Digital Marketing Tips for B2B Business Owners
From the above case studies from China we can see the importance of a strong digital presence.
With work from home policies being instituted worldwide, your online presence is the first impression you give to potential clients. Now that digital marketing has become the main lead generation channel, your website is now your storefront.
What makes for a good website?
Unlike B2C customers, B2B leads are unlikely to make impulse buys. Any purchases require extensive research and vetting, with buyers usually leaving and revisiting a vendor’s website multiple times before making contact.
The most prominent difference between successful and unsuccessful B2B content marketers is whether the marketers prioritized the target audience’s informational needs over their organizations sale’s pitch. 96% of respondents in DemandGen’s 2019 Content Preferences Study said, “B2B vendors could improve the quality of content by curbing the sales messages.”
What content do buyers want to see then? According to the same Study, 66% of B2B buyers want to see more data and research backed content on websites. By including objective data from statistically valid studies, potential clients will be able to trust why your product/service stands out from the competition.
Video is king for content marketing:
According to Wyzowl’s Video Survey for 2020, 84% of people have said they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service after watching a brand’s video.
Short form video forces your presentation to be concise and to the point, a major plus for any potential buyer. The quality of your visual presentation is also serves as litmus test for your actual product in the eyes of clients.
With the proliferation and development of livestreaming technology, livestreamed video presentations can also offer a viable replacement for face-to-face events. As we have seen from the case studies, livestreaming product presentations in China have proven to be a potent format to take advantage of the growing surge in social shopping. Livestreamed video gives your company a chance to put a human face to the name, inspiring trust and recognition.
How Melchers can support you in China
Melchers provides a complete end to end digital-execution service for Western-brands wishing to define a strategy for China through to market implementation. We manage the client relationship in Europe and China, to ensure strategy, planning, and projection is set out at the onset. Local teams based in Shanghai and Beijing oversee campaign implementations. Among our digital marketing services, we design, build and optimise web and mobile presences in China to drive customer acquisition including SEO set-up and optimisation services. Our team engages in design, content creation and management of your website, blog and social media accounts while driving digital marketing campaigns.
To learn more about how we can support you, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.