Ecommerce isn’t just for sunhats and running shoes, there’s a thriving B2B eCommerce market where companies get the supplies they need to operate successfully.
B2B eCommerce companies are just as diverse as their B2C counterparts, selling nuts and bolts in bulk or complex machinery that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. While some B2C marketing strategies apply, there are unique limits and opportunities in the B2B sphere.
This post is geared towards helping you navigate the B2B ecommerce marketing strategies to help your enterprise thrive.
1. Identify the Buying Patterns of Your Top Customer Personas
The best brands know when their customers will run out of their products and when it’s time to remarket to them. Your B2B business is no different. Map out the customer journey of your top personas to learn how customers likely go through your products. If they run out of your products every six months, you might need to start marketing to them every four, creating a two-month window for them to restock.
Constructing customer journeys is an integral part of B2B eCommerce marketing. Without having the proper scenarios, trigger events, and unified data source that is able to synchronize online activity with offline sales – your B2B ecommerce will not reach its potential. Within your digital plan, this concept of storing data and acting upon it dynamically in real time, should be paramount.
This clarity will guide the majority of your B2B eCommerce marketing strategies, increasing your revenue while keeping your customers happy. Invest in conducting marketing research to better identify the patterns of your customers. By using on site surveys, heatmaps, online user tests as well as video recordings of your site traffic – your marketing will be empowered with direct information into how your audience is interacting.
Image credit: Smart Insights
2. Invest in Search Engine Optimization
A strong eCommerce SEO strategy is essential for your B2B eCommerce brand regardless of what you sell and what the average price tag is.
According to Fronetics, 62% of B2B buyers say they a web search is one of the first three resources they turn to when making a purchase.
Furthermore, 71% of these searches start with generic non-brand terms rather than searching for the name of a company. These buyers will complete an average of 12 searches before they actively engage on a brand’s website.
At some point in the buyer’s journey, your customer is going to complete a non-brand search to learn about their purchasing options. If your brand doesn’t show up in the results, then you just handed another sale to your competitors.
B2B ecommerce SEO needs to first and foremost start with the foundation of technical elements on your site. Start with the core pieces: XML Sitemap, Robots.txt, Canonical Tags, Title and Description Optimization, Header & Alt Tags, and interlinking patterns.
As you progress your sophistication in SEO, look to construct pages that integrate additional levels of schema that map to unique category opportunities. For example, using FAQ schema on complicated pages about industrial products can enhance the overall URL footprint and ranking pages.
3. Focus on Product Information and Features
To drive higher levels of B2B online sales you are going to need unique content that speaks to the challenges of your customer base. The content SHOULD NOT be provided by any type of supplier as that content is going to be heavily circulated among your competition.
There is a delicate balance between selling your products and providing the level of information that your customers truly need online.
Salesforce reports that 59% of B2B buyers conduct research online instead of contacting a customer service because they want objective information rather than someone pushing a sales agenda. If you’re so focused on closing the sale that you’re not caring about the unique needs and concerns of your customer, then they’re going to bounce and find a reliable source of information about their buying choices.
if possible, integrate product reviews into your B2B ecommerce experience. Doing so will create what we like to call the “Amazon Effect” – which is the positive feelings that B2B buyers experience when encountering Amazon type aspects such as reviews.
Also, be sure to integrate key upsell and cross sell functionality within your B2B ecommerce marketing strategy. Both within the initial website presentation and within order confirms and future campaigns, your website needs to speak to the customer (or visitor) in a manner that is looking to complement the existing products that have been purchased.
4. Use Different Types of Media to Drive Conversion
When reviewing B2B eCommerce sites at Trinity Insight, the majority we see are somewhat bland with only presenting text formats within their marketing.
One way you can differentiate to the competition and drive your business is by providing information about your products in different media formats.
Along with easy-to-read product descriptions and professional photos, develop videos on your eCommerce product pages so customers can see how your items look and function. Enable dynamic image capabilities so your visitors can get a complete view of the product and better understand their purchase. This is critical in b2b industrial markets as buyers need to verify products can meet their size needs and help them reach their performance goals.
You can also test long-form content that informs readers about the various products on the market to help them make their buying decisions. Annual product whitepapers and long-form blog posts tailored to different industries can be informative while boosting your SEO efforts.
5. Make It Easy for Customers to Contact You
While your existing customers might appreciate your eCommerce efforts, new customers might prefer to speak to your representatives and discuss their buying needs over the phone or in person. This is particularly true for B2B eCommerce brands that sell major items or have thousand-dollar contracts with their customers.
Create opportunities on your website to talk to one of your sales reps. This can be as simple as implementing a click-to-call button or creating a contact form for leads. Even some of your returning customers might feel better placing an order over the phone or requesting an invoice for a major purchase.
6. Decide Where eCommerce Falls
If you still rely heavily on sales calls and customer meetings to make your sales, then your eCommerce website might cause unintended friction within your organization. Some B2B eCommerce brands still sell the majority of their revenue in person, especially for the first purchase, and then move customers online when it’s time to restock or expand their order.
If your eCommerce website isn’t the main place where new customers make their purchases, then make sure you develop a compensation model that somehow shares the profit across channels. The internal sales organization needs to see the website as a digital asset to help them in their jobs – versus an ordering tool to make them no longer needed.
In working with hundreds of b2b ecommerce ventures this has frequently been one of the greatest challenges encountered by executives we work with relating to their website operations.
7. Update Your Website to B2C Standards
As mentioned earlier, regardless of where your B2B eCommerce website falls on your sales funnel, you need to offer the same ease-of-use as a B2C retailer.
According to Digitalist Magazine, millennials now account for 25% of the workforce and 73% are involved in the B2B buying process.
Furthermore, 74% of millennials say buying from a website is more convenient than buying from a sales rep. The modern B2B buyer is a digital native who wants to buy online. Your website needs to exceed their expectations if you want to earn their business.
8. Find Opportunities for People to See Your Product
One way that B2B and B2C eCommerce aren’t that different is how customers want to get their hands on the products and test them out before ordering them. In the same way, you might order three pairs of pants to see which one fits best, your customers want to see your products, hold them, and test them out.
There are a few ways you can make this happen. Start by identifying industry conferences and trade shows that you can attend or sponsor. These can serve almost as a pop-up shop for your materials. Your sales team can also travel with items to show them to your potential customers.
9. Set Up Bulk Ordering Options
Not all B2B eCommerce brands items sell expensive items. You might sell items wholesale to companies across the country, or specialize in small, essential items. You need to be aware of how much your customers want to buy and how they want to buy it.
For example, a company might sell 1,000 pounds of rubber gloves in a single purchase. The buyer might want the items in bulk or want 1,000 boxes of rubber gloves to distribute to their stores, operations facilities, or offices.
Having specific records in your internal marketing systems with what your customers want out of their bulk orders can help you develop products that they can easily buy with one click.
10. Develop An Auto-Replenish System
When you convert a customer on your B2B website, you want to keep them coming back for their replenishment at regular intervals. Consider modeling your website after Amazon’s Prime Pantry, which offers monthly deliveries of essential items customers need.
Customers sign up for monthly deliveries of non-perishable food items, cleaning supplies, and other home needs and receive them automatically.
You could develop a business plan where your B2B customers sign up for monthly or quarterly deliveries of your items so both parties benefit from the long-term loyalty. With the existing SAAS ecommerce platforms in the marketplace – this can be fairly straightforward to set up and configure.
Essentially your ecommerce website will have classifications in the backend to “turn on” replenishment while giving your website administrator the ability to show the financial benefits and the varied timeframes presented.
11. Offer a Starter Pack for New Customers
In the same way that customers want to see your items at trade shows, they also want to use your products in their own workplace to see what they’re like.
If you sell items in bulk, make sure you also have single options on your website. You can also send customers free samples if you’re unable to offer small batches of your products. The goal is to let customers use your products and love them to reduce the risk of making a poor major bulk purchase.
12. Utilize Complementary Product Recommendations
Once you move your customers to your eCommerce website, you can start to upsell them on better products and complementary products that might go with their orders. Look at some of the top B2C websites to see how they do this. Your product recommendations could feature similar products that your customers might not have seen or additional products that they could use.
The goal of these products is to increase the chances that your customers convert and increase the average cart that they convert with.
13. Collect Reviews or Customer Testimonials
Customer reviews and testimonials are just as valuable for B2B eCommerce brands as their B2C counterparts. Almost 93% of customers say they are more likely to seriously consider a product that they have read a positive review about. However, only 43% of B2B companies currently have product reviews and only 20% are considering adding them.
Adding customer reviews and testimonials to your website can have a significant impact on your sales and marketing efforts. Almost 70% of B2B marketers said their sales efforts became more effective with product reviews, compared to 18% that said they made no difference.
If you’re still on the fence about adding product review, the odds are in your favor that they will be successful.
14. Personally Check-In With Your Top Customers
The 80/20 Rule is just as relevant to your B2B eCommerce brand as any other company. Your top 20 customers will likely make up the bulk of your sales each year. Even if they love your eCommerce process and are fiercely loyal to your brand, you want to take the extra steps to check in with them in person. A few topics you can review in this check-in call include:
- Making sure they found everything they needed on your website.
- Soliciting feedback on how the layout or sales process can be improved.
- Reviewing their purchase to look for additional complimentary items to go with their current order.
In the same way that some eCommerce brands might start offline before moving to the website, your buying process for your top customers might end their sale offline with a personal phone call to maintain your strong reputation.
15. Look for B2B eCommerce Marketplaces and Websites
Once your B2B eCommerce website is fully optimized and running at its best, then it’s time to start expanding to other marketplaces around the web. Focus your efforts on industry pages and wholesale distributors to maximize your sales efforts. Check out this list of the Top 10 B2B Marketplaces to get started.
B2B eCommerce doesn’t have to be daunting, you just have to know what your customers need and how they want to get it.
If you need to move your B2B brand into the modern era, set up a free consultation with Trinity Insight today. We can develop a plan to improve your online presence to grow your sales.