Back then, B2B marketers were slow to embrace the digital platform boom. How should they react now that the metaverse is suddenly upon them? A similar situation to the digital boom should be avoided
We examine the topic of the metaverse and provide answers on how you should engage as a B2B marketer.
B2B and the metaverse
Typical elements of the sales process such as trade shows, product demonstrations, customer discussions, customer service and advertising are among the fundamental pillars of business-to-business (B2B) marketing. Each of these pillars now has the potential to be radically transformed by the metaverse.
While it is clear that the promise that avatars could close a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal with a simple virtual handshake will not be realized in the near future, it is well within the realm of possibility. At least the traditional B2B sales funnel is already being influenced by new technologies, and faster than most people would have imagined.
If anyone is involved here, it’s Meta (formerly Facebook), which is fully committed to these possibilities. “As with all our products, we develop them for people first, and our first priority is to make the Metaverse work for them,” says Michelle Klein, Meta’s vice president of global business marketing. “Of course, the Metaverse will also open up huge opportunities for businesses, and they are developing tools to help them succeed.
After all, B2B decision makers are now trained to participate in meetings via Zoom, watch product demos via webinars and expect excellent customer service without even hearing a human voice. Even three years ago, all these developments would have seemed ridiculous. So who’s to say that in three years, things won’t be completely different? Right now, as the metaverse blossoms, the question arises, “Do B2B brands really want to miss out on this great potential opportunity?
Product demos and trade shows with the Metaverse
Nike, Disney, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and other brands have already developed groundbreaking marketing measures in the metaverse. B2B marketers are next.
Cosmetics chain Sephora, for example, has launched a new virtual fragrance. Sephora collaborated with researchers to figure out how to stimulate customers’ sense of smell with certain colors, animations and graphics and got great results for its campaign. B2B marketers will have the same opportunity to offer their customers product demonstration options.
Of course, there are logistical issues as well. There’s a lot of discussion about how quickly virtual reality headsets will spread or what role augmented reality will play. However, experts agree that tools to access the metaverse will arrive quickly, once good 5G connectivity is assured. For widespread use by the population, even better connectivity in the form of 6G will be required.
Product demonstrations would move from general explainer videos to information that individuals could experience on their own terms. Just imagine the possibilities if users no longer needed to go to the end of a video to understand the product, but could see it in action in front of them.
But while we talk about the great potential marting B2B Metaverse, we also need to talk about a possible smaller impact of the technology. Facebook bought Oculus five years ago and only sells 5-7 million headsets a year. Whether those numbers will be enough to bring Meta and ourselves into a new era of virtual reality is not yet clear. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to be well prepared for this growing boom.
Offices in Decentraland and announcements
Much has been made of the fact that the metaverse should literally mirror reality. That will never happen, but what will happen is the adoption of offline behaviors in this new dynamic environment. Creating a “desktop” on an existing Metaverse platform, like Chipotle (a high-end U.S. fast food chain) created a digital store in Roblox, is a very real option.
Latecomers are finding it difficult to afford land in popular metaverse. Land that cost perhaps $5,000 for early adopters is now selling for 10 to 30 times that amount, and the price will most certainly rise when buying interest arises for large companies.
What about advertising? Digital signage and billboards, as is the case with games, are an easy solution. Taking it a step further, offering digital merchandise, avatars and skins is already common. Sponsoring virtual concerts, events and special customer experiences is also an option.
What about ad buying? With new targeting possibilities based on the Metaverse experience and the extensive data signals that Metaverse platforms will provide, programmatic advertising has the potential to become the predominant transaction method. How will the customer experience be redefined? It’s exciting to think about the possibilities.
Why should your B2B customer be in the metaverse?
Just like the early days of the Internet, with its eternal page loading and text-based HTML designs, this moment of digital adolescence isn’t for everyone.
On the other hand, there are some desirable demographics to consider. Younger B2B buyers, who grew up with games ranging from Minecraft to World of Warcraft, probably won’t find Metaverse concepts so strange. It’s not just about games. It’s about an innovative way to connect with key B2B decision makers in companies, especially with the younger generation. While costs are still low and measurement is still in its infancy, it’s essential to have an open mind. There is a real first-mover advantage.
And let’s not forget our dear geeks. There are real opportunities for B2B marketers to reach specific segments and personality types. These include scientists, blockchain developers, security and risk managers, who are very difficult to reach in a traditional way, but feel comfortable in a virtual reality environment.
Forget chatbots, web 3.0 can provide real customer support virtually
Considering that many B2B products are commercial products, customer service can make a difference.
That’s why B2B vendors are very interested in the engagement that the Metaverse can offer. Instead of going to a salesperson or enduring customer service wait times, help desks from the Metaverse can help support.
Sure, chatbots serve their purpose and the phone is fine, but customer service and sales via avatars and digital humans are clearly ahead of the curve. Everything from initial contact to customer loyalty programs will be enhanced by the metaverse.
In the long run, artificial intelligence can pave the way for lower customer acquisition costs. Overall, the metaverse offers a new opportunity to build relationships with customers, which is an attractive solution given the increasing obsolescence of third-party data due to data protection laws. Taking it a step further, there is a strong case for a blockchain-based end-to-end process that uses NFTs and smart contracts for bulk purchasing, counterfeit protection, logistics, storage, distribution, end-consumer sales, and warranties.
Based on blockchain, the use of Metaverse platforms can take on essential value as an integral part of lead generation, servicing, service and customer retention. Simply put, everything that is currently linked by barcodes, serial numbers, QR codes or manual systems can be integrated into synthesized, unforgeable and traceable data
Is this speculation? Of course it is. Could it happen? Of course it could. So what can a B2B marketer do? We should be experimenting right now to learn about the current possibilities, the interesting applications and opportunities, the obstacles and the future prospects
The metaverse could be the kick-off of a new digital era and many companies and investors are already making great efforts to enter the field. With an estimated $1 trillion revenue opportunity, we shouldn’t wonder after the fact why we didn’t react early enough and prepare as best we could.