Mar 18, 2020

Why B2B Marketers Need an Omnichannel Approach to Customer Retention

B2B buying behavior is increasingly mirroring B2C behavior. This trend is driven by the ubiquity of mobile, the proliferation of high-quality information available digitally, and changing preferences for how consumers prefer to connect with businesses.

Millennials lead the way here, making up 45% of B2B buyers (ages 25-34) and representing the single largest demographic within the B2B space. Thanks to millennial comfort with all things digital, B2B buying now incorporates a variety of channels, including mobile phones, peer recommendations, review websites, company websites, social media and digital ads.

Buyers, accustomed to seeking—and finding—information from this wide variety of channels, conduct much of their research on their own and are largely channel-agnostic. That is, they don’t particularly notice (or care) where they find their information. They respond to messaging, regardless of its source, as though it were one channel.

Add to this that the average B2B buyer’s journey involves at least 13 pieces of content obtained via vendor websites, search, social media, email, and word of mouth, and the importance of getting in front of buyers across multiple touchpoints becomes extremely apparent.

The omnichannel trend and why B2B marketers should care about it

We addressed the consumerization of B2B marketing back in January and wanted to take a deeper dive into what B2C marketing approaches, specifically, can influence your B2B marketing strategy in a positive way. Recent data from Omnisend, an ecommerce marketing automation platform, provides some fascinating statistics into one specific approach—omnichannel marketing.

Omnisend’s 2020 Marketing Automation Statistics Report found that marketers using three or more channels in their campaigns earned 90% higher customer retention versus those who used single-channel campaigns.

Omnisend’s ecommerce marketing automation platform is used by top B2C retail brands like Jockey, Unilever, and Fred Segal. Regardless, we’ll highlight some key findings from Omnisend’s report to help inform how B2B marketers might incorporate omnichannel tactics into their B2B strategy.

SMS, email, and custom automation


When it comes to effective individual tactics, SMS messaging, email marketing and custom automation were clear winners, based on metrics across the board. But, first, it’s important to clarify the impact of an overall omnichannel versus single-channel approach.

The Omnisend survey, which analyzed over 3 billion campaigns and automation workflows across 12,000 brands in December 2019, revealed that the purchase rate for campaigns with 3+ channels was 287% higher when compared with single-channel campaigns—12.4% versus 3.21%.null

Source: Omnisend

When SMS was incorporated, omnichannel campaigns had conversion rates of 2.9% versus 1.9% for those without SMS. This means omnichannel campaigns incorporating SMS are nearly 50% more likely to convert than those that don’t. B2B marketers across a variety of industries such as technology and manufacturing can benefit from SMS messaging being part of an omnichannel strategy.

One way B2B marketers can leverage SMS is to implement an AI-driven chatbot that follows up with customers who reach out via a company’s website or on social media. This is particularly important when you consider that over 80% of customers expect an immediate response when they reach out with sales or marketing questions.

Omnisend looked at the effectiveness of SMS in marketing campaigns by analyzing over 5 million SMS messages across their platform. They found that CTR for SMS was just over 14% and the average ROI for SMS-based campaigns was an astounding 2,755%.

Example of an SMS alert triggered by an abandoned shopping cart—source: Omnisend


Email marketing + automation

Omnisend’s report also analyzed the connection between email marketing and automation workflows, specifically the open rates associated with various automated email messages sent based on specific behaviors (e.g., order completions, shopping cart abandonments, website signups, etc.).

Open rates were highest for order confirmation and welcome emails at 58% and 52%, respectively, followed by custom automation emails at 51%. Order rates were highest for welcome, cart recovery, and reactivation emails.

Source: Omnisend

B2B marketers can apply the above findings to their own campaigns by considering the buying journey for their specific customers and applying automated email messaging appropriately.

For example, B2B marketers who use an ABM approach (which should be all of you) can coordinate emails when a prospect shows initial interest in a piece of content or reaches out through social media, SMS, or via their website. There are many B2B-focused martech tools such as Marketo, HubSpot, and Salesforce that support this approach.

Segmented campaigns outperformed non-segmented campaigns

The final piece of the omnichannel puzzle lies with segmentation. Omnisend’s research revealed that top line performance metrics including open rates, click rates, and orders were much better for segmented versus non-segmented campaigns.

Source: Omnisend

The above chart illustrates an order conversion rate advantage of 2.8% for segmented campaigns versus 1.8% for non-segmented campaigns. Likewise, opens were 110% higher for segmented campaigns and the click rates were also 51.9% higher.

Segmentation in the B2B space involves identifying specific groups of potential buyers or existing customers and customizing the email messaging based on the profile of that customer. It takes a robust automation platform to achieve this level of segmentation as well as appropriate data management with a tool such as Adobe Experience Platform, which unifies data and makes it available to multiple stakeholders across teams and divisions within an organization.

Key takeaways for B2B marketers

B2B marketers can learn from the trends and research gleaned from B2C studies like Omnisend’s report. As with B2C customers, B2B buyers research and reach out to vendors via a variety of channels, platforms and devices. Thus, the omnichannel approach, which has been shown to be effective in the B2C space, can and should be leveraged in B2B marketing.

To this end, combining SMS, email and marketing automation tactics across omnichannel campaigns can help improve response time, increase ROI, and move prospects further along the sales pipeline.

The Omnisend report is available on the company’s website as an infographic and contains more comprehensive charts and statistics useful for supporting an omnichannel campaign strategy.

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