The Road To Chatbots, Virtual Assistants For B2B Marketers, Per Forrester

Chatbots and virtual assistants (VAs) can help B2B companies close the gap, as buyers seek content delivered primarily through vendor websites and search engines. 

It’s a pretty forgone conclusion, especially as it becomes more difficult to get through to companies by phone. (Have you tried to get through to Apple or AT&T lately via phone to order a new one?)

Companies failing to meet their buyers' increased expectations for help through multiple channels will lose market share to competitors that do, according to a Forrester report released Monday. 

The Forrester Analytics Business Technographics Priorities And Journey COVID-19 Recontact Survey, 2020 was fielded from April 29 to May 25, 2020. It included 1,755 respondents in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, the UK, and the U.S. who had already completed the Forrester Analytics Business Technographics Priorities And Journey Survey, 2020, which was fielded between May and July 2020.



While Sandra Lindsay, an ICU nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, New York City, received the first COVID-19 vaccination today, it could take up to six months before business begins to look like it once did with face-to-face meetings without a mask, and for people to feel more comfortable about getting on an elevator with others.

“With collective commute times down to zero and face-to-face meetings all but impossible, Forrester has seen the B2B buyer journey become an almost exclusively digital experience,” the analyst firm wrote in a post. 

There were plenty of challenges this year that could carry on into 2021. Mandated social distancing made it more difficult to engage with customers. Across an organization, more departments are involved with decision makers. Shrinking budgets and global economic conditions have been impacted.

Even with a recovery in the first half of 2021, spending on media, marketing technology, marketing services, and internal headcount will decline, and overall U.S. marketing spend will start 2022 nearly 30% behind 2019.

Forrester suggests that B2B marketers need to resist the urge to use their chatbots and VAs to convert prospects as quickly as possible with a handoff to sales, and think more about providing concierge-level experiences that guide the buyer to relevant content. This will create larger deals. 

The same empathetic approach required to create engaging content also applies to the conversations created by chatbots and VAs. Think about how you might respond to a friend.

Give your chatbots and VAs a personality, says Forrester. Compared with consumers who often make emotion-based purchases, B2B buyers traditionally are more rational and engaged in purchase processes that are largely data-driven.

The reality is that emotion is even more important in B2B branding than it is in B2C. The same empathetic approach required to create engaging B2B content also applies to the conversations created

Develop a shared view of customer context. The most persistent impediment to creating consistently contextual experiences across the B2B customer lifecycle has been the lack of a single source of truth for customer insights.

Forrester believes that “more B2B organizations should start exploring the expanding range of data management solutions that can help them unify their first-, second-, and third-party customer data.”


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