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  • Helen Pritchett

How B2B customer engagement shapes marketing campaigns

Updated: May 6, 2021

Handwriting Text Customer Engagement Loading by Jernej Furman, is licensed under CC

To develop a marketing strategy that truly engages, it’s essential to understand your target buyer generations, the differences between them, and to deploy tactics specifically designed to engage each of them, on their terms. Customers connect to brands in a variety of ways, depending on their demographics, and it is important to discover which channels they find most relevant, which ones they trust, and why. Understanding this will give you the insight you need to focus your campaigns on the right people, with the right messaging, using the right channels and at the right time.

Getting the marketing channel right is vital. Even before you create your compelling content you must decide which channels you will use. Without understanding where your messaging will be placed, you cannot create the most appropriate content. Thorough understanding of preferred marketing channel can make campaign strategy infinitely more successful. But beware of making assumptions, generational choice isn’t always quite what it might seem.

Marketing preferences might surprise you

The DMA (Data and Marketing Association) recently undertook research which generated interesting results. Whilst email is by far the most popular channel for all age groups (73% of consumers ranking it in their top two preferences), some other preferences might surprise you.

When asked about their preferred choice of marketing channel, 88% of ‘Baby-boomers’ selected email and 52% mail. A remarkable difference with ‘Gen Z’ who prefer to receive content through social media (37%), video (25%) and – somewhat surprisingly – phone calls (19%). With the ability to screen calls on mobile phones, it would be easy to assume that telemarketing is a dwindling marketing approach. However, this research shows that Gen Z-ers are open to this more traditional marketing activity. Perhaps it’s a case of human-to-human contact being preferable to automated bots? The adage of conversation is king looks to be alive and well in Gen Z, and long may that continue.

Interestingly, it is Millennials that are more likely to find marketing messages relevant more often across the various channels. Unsurprisingly, Gen Z is more likely to report messages received via social media (56%) and video (59%) as relevant, channels which the baby-boomers find little relevance with..

Where does trust come in?

The survey showed that Millennials appear to be the most willing to trust marketing messages and Baby-boomers appear to be less trusting across almost all channels, except messages received by mail (53%) or in face-to-face interactions (50%).

Gen Z’s high trust in messages received by phone (44%) and video (56%) could explain why these channels are significantly more preferred by this generation.

Generations behave differently and consume media in divergent ways. What this illustrates is that one-size-fits-all campaign is not a safe bet. Audiences increasingly expect personalised and tailored content, and your marketing strategy should reflect that. You need to earn trust.

To evaluate marketing channel preferences between customers, marketers should consider:

  • Key differences in how different age audiences prefer to receive marketing

  • How relevance and trust for brands' messages influence each other

  • Which demographic is the most trusting of marketing messages, how this can drive preference and how to build future trust

Email still leads the way across generations, but there is an abundance of ways brands can engage customers. All have their merits, and none should be discounted. The differences between the way generations consume messaging and trust channels highlights key areas that brands should be aware of when planning their marketing campaigns and aiming to build brand loyalty. Brands should also carefully consider the virtuous cycle of improving customers’ perception of trust to create long term engagement and turn customers into fans. Build trust with ethical marketing

When embarking on a marketing strategy it’s important to develop your core values and to understand how these values can be applied to your campaigns. Marketers should focus on open and transparent marketing campaigns to build trust with customers.

Six pillars of responsible marketing:

1. Respect – put customers at the heart of your campaigns

2. Value – create a credible value exchange.

3. Trust – build trust in your campaigns.

4. Clarity – speak your customers’ language.

5. Openness – employ responsible marketing techniques involving openness and transparency, particularly surrounding data usage

6. Balance – balance risk and reward

Is there a place for traditional direct mail marketing in the digital age?

From the research discussed earlier, there seems to be a resurgence of traditional marketing methods such as direct mail and telemarketing, the digital landscape is always crowded and consumers can be overwhelmed by the constant barrage of sponsored social media posts, banner ads, and email blasts. Consumers can choose to tune out such messages, resulting in wasted efforts.

This year why not consider direct mail marketing manages to circumvent this scenario. The benefits are varied and include:

  • Avoiding the intense competition of digital strategies

  • Driving engagement through personalisation

  • Building more trust with its target audience, and

  • Improving website traffic through higher organic visits

In conclusion … as customer engagement increases in its importance to any business it’s crucial you take the time to understand your target customers and identify how best to communicate with them. Customers are savvy, don’t underestimate them. Take your product/service to them and make it as easy as possible for them to trust and associate with your brand.

The rest will follow.


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