COVID-19 Has Changed Your B2B Customer Behavior: It’s Time to Relearn Your Target Segments

We all know that consumer behavior changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that is just as true for B2B audiences—and in some cases, even more so. For example, digital interactions are two times more important to B2B customers now than they were before. Many of these behavioral shifts have become ingrained and will last for the long term. But how are these changes impacting who you target and how you connect with them?

It’s time to review your B2B audience segments and how you market to them. Here are four considerations to get you started.

1. Segment by work environment

Where your target B2B decision makers are working should be a key factor within your segmentation model. Are they within industries that are telecommuting or using a hybrid model? Many business segments had been trending in this direction pre-pandemic and have now established or are working toward a permanent transition. This is especially true among the business services sectors, such as:

  • Tech/computer related
  • Finance and legal
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Insurance and real estate

  • With the change in work environment came a change in B2B media consumption and sales interactions. Aligning your B2B customer segments based on virtual vs. traditional work settings will allow you to customize your marketing programs for greater success.

    For your telecommuting target segments, it’s critical to prioritize marketing channels such as email, downloadable sales materials, webinars and virtual events. On the other hand, direct mail can be a stand-out performer among customers and prospects within hybrid and traditional in-office roles.

    2. Identify new growth segments

    While COVID-19 certainly took its toll on most business segments, some segments got a boost. Along with e-commerce, industries that continue to perform strongly include courier/delivery services, subscription services, sanitary products manufacturing and robotics/AI.

    Do you currently have customers in industries where COVID-19 generated a tailwind? Consider developing a special MVP segment for these businesses and executing focused, personalized sales and marketing efforts to build relationships while they’re early in the growth phase.

    3. Consider segments where safety is paramount

    Similar to the new growth sectors, safety-critical sectors such as hospitals, amusement/recreation and education may still deserve their own special segment. Here, the focus should be on content customization. How can your brand be relevant to them from this perspective? For example, if you are a supplier for universities, content about your upstream sanitization and safety precautions remains important to this target.

    4. Remember that psychographics play a new role in B2B segmentation

    Psychographic factors such as values, mindsets and opinions are often key ingredients for B2C segmentation. However, if you haven’t considered these psychographics for segmenting the decision makers within your B2B targets, it’s now more important than ever.

    While decision makers with “Risk Taker” mindsets may have created a sizeable segment in the past, “Value-Conscious” and “Job Security” perspectives are more prominent now and will continue to be in the near future. Your messaging should reflect your target’s values and mindsets to create emotional connections.

    Now more than ever before, marketers need to customize their content, marketing channels and brand messaging to be highly relevant in the post-COVID-19 world. To make this happen, segmenting your markets and decision makers needs to be at the foundation of your marketing initiatives.

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