B2B marketers like to think big. They love large campaigns, in-depth reports and authoritative content that presents them as trusted advisers and experts to their customers. Now, this is, of course, a vital part of good B2B marketing. You need depth and you need rigour to build credibility with discerning B2B audiences, who may spend many months making a purchasing decision together with other members of the buyer group.
But not every interaction with a B2B customer should be an in-depth session. What about the segment of your audience who are on the move and just want quick answers to their questions? Maybe they are on a train or waiting in a supermarket checkout line and searching quickly for what they need on their smartphone. Are you serving that segment of your audience well, too?
Appealing to this segment means capitalising on what Google calls “micro-moments”. The idea is fairly simple. Given the huge rise in use of mobile and smartphones, the way in which customers engage with brands has changed. People check their phones 150 times a day, according to Google, and most of these sessions are just a minute long. To benefit from this behaviour, your message needs to be crisp, clear and extremely accessible.
As Google notes in its report Micro Moments: Your guide to winning the shift to mobile: “Since we can take action on any need or curiosity at any time, the consumer decision journey has been fractured into hundreds of tiny decision-making moments at every stage of the ‘funnel’.”
People don’t sit down at a desktop computer for long sessions to make purchases; instead they reach for their smartphones to answer specific questions there and then. And it is these dozens of “micro-moments” that now make up the typical customer journey. According to Google, companies need to Be There (anticipate the micro-moments and be there to help when they happen); Be Useful (provide the answers that people are looking for) and Be Quick (provide a fast and frictionless experience that provides instant answers).
Micro moments in a B2B context
How relevant is this in a B2B context? Of course, there are differences in how purchases are made, but I do think it is still vitally important for B2B brands to capitalise on these micro moments. And I would argue that many are not really doing enough. To be honest, some B2B brands act as if mobile doesn’t really exist. For example:
- Over-reliance on the PDF
This is not a mobile-friendly format. If you provide your content mainly in PDF, you are unlikely to connect with the significant proportion of your audience that are searching for you on mobile.
- Default to long-form content
Long reports have a role to play in the audience journey, but they must never be the only format through which marketers communicate their message. If it takes too long to answer their question, audiences will go elsewhere.
- Excessive use of gated content
Again, gated content has its uses but an over-reliance on this approach means that a sizeable proportion of the audience will simply go to another site if they feel they can get the information they need without filling in a form.
Micro-moments matter. Marketers – whether B2B or B2C – need to make their content accessible on mobile as well as desktop. The primary job of content is to answer the questions the audience has and to do so simply and quickly.
When using smartphones, audiences do not expect to wade through long articles and reports – they want answers, and they want them now. And, if you can provide them, you will strengthen the association between your brand and the expertise you want to provide.
Know the audience
Answering the audience’s questions starts with understanding that they are spread across a wide spectrum in terms of their relationship with your brand and knowledge of what you do. Some will be existing customers and know a lot about your offering, while others may not even be aware that you have a solution to their problems. These audience segments have very different questions they are trying to answer and so your content needs to consider each segment separately.
Finally, make sure you answer those questions succinctly. There is a time and a place for detailed, long-form content but don’t neglect the micro moments. This means having a genuinely audience-first approach to creating content. First, define your different audience segments. Next, agree which questions you need to answer at each stage of the audience journey. Then, create content that is accessible and mobile-friendly that answers these questions. And finally, make sure that this content can be found easily and is optimised for the search queries that your audience is likely to have.