If we want to thrive in today‘s customer-centric business landscape, we need to align our B2B marketing with what buyers actually want and need. But right now, there‘s a troubling gap between company actions and customer expectations.
Research shows 90% of marketers admit their marketing strategies should map better to customer requirements. Yet only 24% use customer feedback to inform decisions. And of those 24%, more than half are dissatisfied with the data quality.1,2,3
This reveals a real disconnect between intentions and execution when it comes to understanding the voice of the customer (VOC).
In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore proven ways to collect and leverage VOC insights to transform B2B marketing in 2023 and beyond. Let‘s delve into how to truly listen to customers and turn their voices into growth and loyalty.
What is Voice of Customer Data Exactly?
Voice of customer (VOC) data refers to direct feedback from customers about their experiences, perceptions, preferences and pain points. This can be gathered both indirectly and directly:
- Customer usage data
- Web analytics like clickstreams
- Purchase history
- Support ticket themes
- Interviews and focus groups
- User testing feedback
- Social media conversations
- Review site comments
Direct collection methods provide the most impactful qualitative insights into the customer mindset. Surveys and interviews allow us to hear directly from customers in their own words.
According to Gartner, the vast majority of B2B companies (91%) gather VOC through surveys. 67% use customer interviews, while text analytics, focus groups and user testing are also popular.4
But it can‘t stop there. Analyzing and interpreting all this VOC data is key to identifying meaningful insights and patterns we can action.
Let‘s explore some impactful ways B2B brands can put insights into use to transform marketing success.
Optimize Communication Channels
Have you reviewed your VOC data to identify which communication channels your audience actually prefers and uses?
For example, feedback may show your customer base is highly active on LinkedIn, but less engaged on Facebook. In that case, you should focus more marketing efforts on nurturing your LinkedIn presence and delivering value there.
Optimizing your channels based on target audience preferences improves reach and facilitates more meaningful interactions. This leads to stronger connection building.
HubSpot increased its social media followers by 562% in 12 months by aligning channel strategies with VOC-informed personas.5
Craft Targeted Content That Speaks to Customers
The most successful content is highly tailored to the reader. VOC data reveals the topics and themes most relevant to your customers right now.
Mine your VOC insights to create content that directly addresses your audience‘s interests, pain points, and information needs around those subjects.
For example, your customers may regularly cite improving employee productivity as a key concern. Develop targeted content around overcoming that challenge, such as an eBook or blog posts with productivity tips.
With 44% of B2B marketing budgets allocated to content creation, ensuring relevance is more critical than ever.6
Cisco‘s Targeted Content Framework helps them determine buyer needs and customize content accordingly. Their VOC-based approach has generated over 39,000 leads.7
Personalize Offers and Incentives
Build personalized promotions, discounts or free trial offers informed by VOC data. Identify precisely what frustrates your customers and tailor incentives that provide solutions.
For example, if VOC findings show a pain point around implementing your software, create customized onboarding packages to help overcome that hurdle.
Personalized offers demonstrate you understand each customer‘s unique requirements, making them more likely to purchase and promote loyalty.
Business analytics platform Amplitude created a customized risk-free trial program based on VOC-informed buyer personas. This helped convert free users to long-term paying customers.8
Refine Brand Messaging and Identity
A clear brand identity aligned with audience perceptions is vital for marketing success. Do you have a solid handle on how your brand is currently perceived?
Analyze open-ended VOC feedback to identify any gaps between customer perceptions of your brand and your actual desired brand identity.
Look for patterns pointing to how you can refine messaging, tone, visuals, and other elements to close perception gaps. Ensure your brand resonates with your audience as intended.
For example, a software company found VOC data suggested its brand was seen as outdated by younger demographics. The company refreshed its visual identity and taglines to better align with modern customers.
Improve Experiences Across the Customer Journey
VOC data reveals common pain points and dissatisfaction with experiences. Listen closely to identify areas for improvement across touchpoints.
Fixing these issues is critical, as 90% of business buyers would switch to a competitor if they offered better experiences.9
For example, you may notice VOC feedback indicating customers often struggle to find desired product information on your site. Address this by improving navigation and beefing up self-service resources.
Regularly review VOC data for signals that experiences are missing the mark. Then course-correct quickly before customers start leaving.
Global software company Intuit looked at VOC feedback to improve their customer onboarding experience. This increased customer retention by 10%.10
Uncover New Markets Ripe for Expansion
Analyzing VOC data can reveal demographic or industry patterns in the needs of your different customer groups.
Use this knowledge to identify other audiences that are likely to benefit from your products or services. You can then tailor messaging and outreach specifically to resonate with these potential new markets.
For example, a construction company may find that manufacturers also share many of the pain points expressed by their current customers. After creating targeted messaging, they see major success expanding into manufacturing.
If your current customer base is concentrated largely in one industry, dig into VOC data to unlock new areas primed for expansion.
Turning Insights into Action: VOC Best Practices
Having covered some impactful applications, let‘s look at some overarching best practices to maximize your VOC programs:
Collect insights across channels: Continuously gather VOC data across all touchpoints of the customer journey – from acquisition to onboarding, engagement, support, and beyond. Develop comprehensive listening frameworks to capture feedback across channels.
Go beyond surveys: Surveys provide scalable quantitative data, while interviews and open-ended feedback offer richer qualitative insights. Use both for well-rounded data.
Analyze quickly: Rapidly gather, analyze, and action on VOC insights while they are still highly relevant. Agile adjustment of strategies and experiences is key.
Look for segment differences: Break down data by customer segments and personas to spot trends, similarities and differences in needs and perceptions. Customize approaches based on this intelligence.
Collaborate across teams: Operationalize findings by collaborating cross-functionally to implement VOC-driven improvements across the organization.
Keep optimizing: Continuously refine and enhance your VOC methods with new processes and technologies, like AI/ML for analysis. Keep pace with the customer‘s evolving voice.
Focus on impact: Maintain clear sight of the end goal – to achieve customer-centricity. Let this guide your VOC efforts for maximum business impact. Measure against ROI.
The future success of our B2B marketing highly depends on the ability to listen to the ever-changing voice of the customer. Let‘s use VOC as our guiding light to shape strategies, optimize engagement, provide relevant experiences and drive growth together in 2023.