A few weeks ago, I discussed the necessity for benefit brokers to optimize the customer experience in order to stay relevant in today’s landscape. Achieving this requires you to customize your marketing strategy to the preferences of your target audience. For benefit brokers, the challenge lies in the fact that the workforce is evolving and millennials now have a significant influence on B2B purchasing decisions. With that in mind, this week I’ll take an in-depth look into insurance marketing to Millennial B2B buyers.
I’ll discuss what they value from a broker, how they research and discover suppliers, their preferred modes of communication, and how they prefer to consume content. But, before we dive into the mind of a millennial, you need to understand the extent of influence they have in the B2B space.
MILLENNIALS ARE THE NEW GATEKEEPERS
They have rapidly risen up through the ranks in the B2B space. A study from Google in 2012 found that almost half of B2B researchers are millennials. Fast forward to 2018, and new research has found that 73% of millennials are involved in purchasing decisions for their companies or their own business. On top of that, 34 percent are the sole decision-maker regarding purchases.
This has significant implications for your sales and marketing strategy. The ultimate goal is to get your brand in front of C-Suite executives; they’re the ones making the final decision after all. But, the reality is that millennials are the ones determining which suppliers will be up for consideration in the first place.
Given that modern marketing focuses on optimizing the customer experience, this data puts a new perspective on your buyer’s journey. If millennials hold the most influence at the research stage, then your agency’s content, channels, messaging, and overall customer experience at the top of the funnel must align with their values, preferred modes of media consumption, communication, needs, and behaviors. So what do millennials value in a supplier?
MILLENNIALS VALUE THE EXPERIENCE
Source: IBM Institute for Business Value Millennial Survey 2014
A study from IBM, found that millennial B2B buyers mainly focus on the experience of working with suppliers. Unlike gen x and baby boomers, millennials are looking for vendors who offer a quality experience – convenience, collaboration and expertise. What’s noteworthy for your agency’s marketing strategy is that they use the discovery process to gauge what that experience may be like. This emphasizes the importance of getting your agency’s customer experience right at the top of the funnel. In order to optimize your insurance marketing to millennial B2B buyers you need to let go of traditional methods for your sales cycle.
ATTRACTING MILLENNIALS TO YOUR BRAND
The traditional sales cycle is very straightforward – prospect, qualify a lead, educate, manage objections, close sale. Oh, how the times have changed. The millennial B2B buyer journey is anything but linear. They will gather information on their own by consuming content through social media, videos, blogs, reviews, etc. and only after have they gathered necessary information will they engage with you, the salesperson. Due to this dynamic, brokers need to put a significant focus on attracting rather than prospecting.
Insurance marketing to millennial B2B buyers requires creating valuable, compelling content and distributing that content on the channels they deem relevant; the channels where they’re doing research.
Millennials value video when researching a new product or service for their company. In a recent survey, 29% of millennials say video is what they prefer most when looking for B2B vendor information. As for what exactly they want to learn from video content; 39% want product walkthroughs and demo content. Check out my previous blogs on hosting webinars and video marketing to learn how you can create content for insurance marketing to millennial B2B buyers.
IBM’s research found that millennial B2B buyers:
- 69% of millennials prefer to communicate with suppliers through email during the sales cycle.
SEO, your agency’s website, and email are crucial channels for insurance marketing to millennial B2B buyers. Creating a consistent, seamless experience across these channels through your content and messaging is imperative to providing a quality customer experience. However, it’s important to be prepared for changes as this demographic evolves.
To provide a glimpse into the future of millennial B2B buyer behavior, research found that 41 percent of younger millennials (aged 21-25) use social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) to connect with suppliers, compared to just 18 percent of older Millennials (aged 26–34). And, 41 percent of younger millennials would prefer to communicate with suppliers through instant messaging, as compared to just 22 percent of older Millennials.
This data indicates that instant messaging will be a key player in the near future as younger millennials move into decision making roles. We are already seeing moves in this direction as marketers in the B2C realm are starting to integrate chatbots and instant messaging marketing into their strategy.
MedWhat is a virtual assistant that answers medical and health questions for consumers and doctors instantly. The answers are provided by an intelligent super-computer that learns about medicine everyday and over time about your own health record and medical questions history.
This is just one of many examples that shows how chatbots are becoming a standard method of communication and engagement for businesses.
As older millennials research behavior is largely based on how they navigated the internet growing up, the same is true for younger millennials. Instant messaging is native to their online experience. As they move up the ranks in their careers you can expect to see this channel grow rapidly in the near future as we currently see with chatbots becoming a standard marketing feature to optimize the customer experience. Check out my previous blog post on insurance chatbots to learn how you can use Facebook’s Messenger Chatbot marketing tool to integrate this into your own strategy:
MAINTAIN AN ACTIVE PRESENCE ONLINE
Millennials have largely grown up using the internet chatting on forums, reading blogs, evaluating Yelp reviews, Googling, and tweeting at brands as if they were a personal friend.
Their buying behavior is unique due to their highly social and connected upbringing.
Millennials will make decisions about you or your product based on your digital presence or the lack thereof. Many brokers make the mistake of not consistently updating their social media pages and other digital channels with regular content. Unlike previous generations, when researching, millennials engage with suppliers at their own convenience. While they do have value for face-to-face meetings, that’s only after they have the information they need. When they do engage with a supplier they prefer to keep interactions quick, easy, and virtual while they finalize their purchasing decision.
Brokers need to evolve beyond the mindset of having a social media presence for the mere sake of checking a box. The data I’ve shared with you today shows the increasing importance of social media not just for discovery and research, but also for communication through instant messaging. As insurance marketing to millennial B2B buyers evolves, it’s crucial for you to be prepared for the next generation as they move into decision making roles.
The reality of insurance marketing to millennial B2B buyers is that it’s not enough to have a mobile responsive website and an extensive library of video content. Your agency’s overall brand must resonate with this demographic through the experience you create for them. That experience must be on their terms – how, when, and where they want to engage with you.
You need to demonstrate the relevancy of your agency and deliver a seamless, omnichannel experience that millennials have come to expect in their everyday lives. Millennials want trusted advisors, experts who enjoy rolling up their sleeves and working together to find the best solution. They want easy and quick processes, tools, and policies designed to meet their specific needs.
Optimizing these areas simultaneously is no easy feat. However, failing to update your marketing strategy to meet the expectations of this demographic will leave you at risk of being left behind. The ones that master this balance will have the competitive advantage for some time to come.