Reason #1: Buyers see a bigger need for brand trust today than in the past - and are much more skeptical.
Brand trust has become extremely important to buyers. In Edelman’s Brand Trust Study 2020 – COVID Update, 70% of buyers say that trust is more important now than in the past. Why? In Edelman’s previous brand report last September, U.S. respondents shared the following:
- Brands now have my personal information in their databases (43%).
- There is so much fake news and false information on the Internet (42%)
- I am facing financial struggles and when I do spend, I need to make sure I am making the best decisions (33%).
- The pace of product innovation makes it more important to choose the right provider (27%).
When asked about factors that are MOST important in choosing one brand over another, 80% of respondents said, “trusting a brand to do what is right.”
Trust is more important to Millennials and Gen Z than other generations. Four statistics from the Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey , pictured below, accurately reflect these generations’ diminishing trust in businesses. Of note are their beliefs that businesses (a) are not “committed to helping to improve wider society” and (b) have “no ambition beyond making money.”
Reason #2: Prospects will not talk to you until they trust you.
B2B marketers know that building trust with prospects and customers is key to success. However, what we sometimes forget is that data on most aspects of our businesses are readily available online, with a quick and easy Google search.
In GE Retail Banks’s Major Purchase Study in 2019, they found that 80% of consumers go online to conduct research before a purchase – up 20% from 2018. They also found that consumers on average spend 79 days conducting research before purchasing a major product or service. When researching a brand, they may ask peers about you, go to your website, read an analyst report, check out your social media posts, search for customer reviews, watch a product video or webinar. They will take time to build their own level of trust in your brand before reaching out to you or responding to your calls and emails.
The latest Hubspot Sales 2020 Statistics validate that buyers prefer to wait until the Consideration Stage before connecting with a salesperson.
Reason #3: The importance of building brand trust boils down to the rewards.
With trust such a vital prerequisite to purchase, the rewards are well worth the effort. As this below chart from the Edelman’s 2020 study illustrates, brand trust leads to higher sales, loyalty and advocacy.
Buyers will even go out of their way to defend your brand if/when needed.
So how do you build brand trust? Read WIZ Advisors' 5 C's of Brand Trust.
The World Has Changed
It is 2020 and our entire world has changed. Americans have been living in lockdown, only leaving their homes for groceries, fresh air or exercise – and only then with masks and mandatory social distancing.
Not unexpectedly, the U.S. economy (real GDP) plummeted nearly 33% in the second quarter of 2020, following a 5% decline in the first quarter. Unemployment hit an all-time high of 14.7% in April – recovering to 10.2% by July (but still 3X the average pre-COVID) – and consumer sentiment hit an all-time low. Businesses have been forced to rethink their workforce strategies, business models and cash flow projections to survive.
How COVID Has Impacted Marketing – Permanently
The above chart was taken from Bank America and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s recent data showing that U.S. ecommerce now accounts for over 27% of total retail sales. While this chart depicts retail sales, every industry across the board has been forced to move to a digital sales and marketing model. Every B2B marketer and salesperson is using online meeting applications like Zoom and Microsoft Teams – many for the first time – to meet with prospects and close deals. CRM systems like Hubspot and Salesforce.com are being utilized to their full extent. If organizations do not have them, they are implementing them so deal pipelines can be managed and shared across stakeholders. As most Americans were forced to work from home, businesses that had digital sales and marketing infrastructures in place had a leg up on their competition. With a complete halt on in-person sales meetings and marketing events, the entire B2B buyer’s journey moved to the Internet – QUICKLY!
In the same vein, every marketer was forced to rethink his/her strategies and budgets. Trade shows and conferences that typically make up 25% of total marketing budgets have been cancelled. Dollars are either being cut or repurposed into the highest ROI digital marketing tactics. As the below chart from eMarketer illustrates, B2B marketers put their efforts into content creation, webinars (both hosted and sponsored), paid search ads, email and social.
Even before the COVID pandemic, 75% of B2B marketers and sales leaders believed that webinars were a great way to generate high quality leads (Source: GoToWebinar’s 2017 Book of Stats). But during COVID, webinars took on a life all their own.
Because everyone was at home and online, most people did not have professional equipment at their disposal. So, webinar hosts, guests and participants had to deal with issues, such as: technology and wireless servers going down, dogs barking, kids crying, ambulances driving by, and jackhammering and lawnmowers interrupting the events. But, shockingly, it made the events BETTER. It added a sense of “realness” that had not been there before. It provided businesses a way to build shared connections with their audiences.
What we witnessed was a perfect storm. Businesses could promote their thought leadership and gain valuable leads. Participants could learn. And both sides could form connections. Webinars helped people realize that – whether we are B2B executives, interviewers or one of many listeners in the audience, we are all human beings, facing the same challenges at the same time – and we are all in this together.
B2B companies quickly realized that webinars were a great alternative to in-person events. ON24, saw webinars on its platform jump by 330% year-over-year in March with average participation of 300 and total registrations twice that. Besides the human connection – which is by far the biggest home run because IT BUILDS TRUST- webinars provide three key benefits for B2B companies:
- They allow brands to showcase their knowledge and expertise which drives credibility
- They generate high quality leads who are interested in what you have to offer.
- They provide on-demand content you can promote on your company’s website for ongoing lead generation.
And the results support it. Below is a graph of a WIZ Advisors’ client. We employed a webinar strategy – three webinars with three industry-leading online communities in 45 days. Our goal was to drive high quality leads. We promoted the webinars via email and LinkedIn and increased Google Ad spend during that period (all tactics that the eMarketer chart highlighted!). Not only did the client’s web traffic spike (see below), but we generated a significant pipeline of quality leads – many of whom had been on the fence prior to those events.
How have your marketing budgets, strategies and tactics changed because of COVID? What are the trends that you have seen? We’d love to hear about it. Leave a reply below or reach out to us on LinkedIn or Facebook. We look forward to hearing from you.