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Cognitive marketing: boost your B2B marketing

Cognitive marketing: emotions are important in every purchasing decision – including in B2B.
Image:© BullRun / Adobe Stock

How cognitive marketing increases your conversion rate

While there’s a general consensus that decisions in the B2C sector are primarily motivated by emotions, B2B transactions are mainly thought to be rationally driven. That’s not entirely accurate, though. A recent study conducted by B2B International revealed that:

95 %
purchasers value their attachment to a brand more than they do its value proposition.
56 %
of final purchasing decisions are determined by an emotional connection with a brand.
45 %
of B2B purchasers stated that it was the brand’s credibility that won them over.

Therefore, if you want to be successful in B2B marketing, you should also focus on activating customers emotively. This is where cognitive marketing comes in, by playing on the subconscious thought processes of B2B customers in order to

  • capture their attention,
  • remove obstacles in their customer journey, and
  • address them on a more personal level.

Cognitive marketing: four steps for success

Cognitive marketing helps you develop effective marketing strategies to optimize your brand’s resonance among your target group in a way that lasts. But how can you build an emotional brand attachment? There are four essential steps:

  1. Establish trust: The first step is both simple and self-evident: if you want to reel in B2B customers, trustworthiness, reliability, and a positive brand image are fundamental.
  2. Show empathy: If your brand demonstrates that it understands the problems of your customers and suggests individually tailored solutions in response, that paves the way for a customer experience that makes a lasting positive impression.
  3. Offer added value: The feeling of emotional enrichment enormously improves the customer experience. For example, if your customers feel inspired by your brand, they will also be more likely to stay loyal to you in the future.
  4. Evoke a sense of belonging: When your customers not only trust your company, but also feel proud to work with you or own your products, your cognitive marketing strategy has had the desired effect.

Cognitive business: B2B following in the footsteps of B2C?

Like in B2C, your cognitive marketing strategy should therefore aim to create an emotional brand experience in which the customer is the focus. One way of laying a strong foundation for this is to position yourself as an industry expert right from the start and build a professional presence on the Web and on social media channels, such as LinkedIn or Instagram.

81 percent of surveyed B2B purchasers said that they rely on recommendations from people they know when shortlisting a provider.

In addition, traditional word-of-mouth marketing can significantly help you reach your goals. Ask satisfied customers if they could recommend you to others, for example. That attests to your company’s expertise, shows that you have a close relationship with your customers, and is particularly beneficial when it comes to acquiring new customers.

Cognitive biases that influence B2B customers

Whether while scrolling through a brand’s website, talking to a customer service agent, or reading an advertising email: we’re all only human, B2B customers included, and so the way they perceive things is shaped by cognitive biases that determine or contribute to their supposedly rational behavior. You should always keep that in the back of your mind when implementing cognitive marketing measures if you want to offer an impressive customer experience. The following three types of cognitive bias are of particular interest here:

  • Prejudicial bias: This is mainly revealed when B2B purchasers stick with a brand they know – even when its value proposition isn’t optimal. If competing marketers then take this into account in their campaigns by channeling their efforts toward such creatures of habit, they will have a good chance of convincing them to switch to their label.
  • Contextual bias: This is all about how information is communicated. From a marketing perspective, even simply rephrasing key messages can work wonders – for example, advertising a product as 95% fat-free rather than saying that it contains 5% fat.
  • Experiential bias: When we make a decision, we rarely consider and weigh up all the information available to us in a completely rational way. Instead, we decide for or against something based on a handful of experiences, whether positive or negative. So, the better the experiences that customers have with your brand at all touchpoints of their customer journey, the greater your chances of retaining their loyalty.

The more your brand learns to recognize and understand such patterns of thought, the easier it will be to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, show them empathy, and offer them irreplaceable emotional added value.

Cognitive marketing: people act irrationally (also in B2B)

With all this in mind, establishing an emotional connection with your customers is a highly promising way to make a long-lasting impression in B2B. Cognitive marketing measures are excellent strategic devices for working toward this hard-to-reach goal in a targeted manner. Once you have gained an idea of what drives and influences the thought processes and actions of your B2B customers, you can use that knowledge to launch campaigns that are extremely effective in reaching your customers and making them loyal to your brand in a way that goes beyond purely rational arguments.

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