Are you offering your customers a personalized shopping experience yet? If not, you better rethink your eCommerce strategy because personalization is in demand more than ever. B2C retailers have been personalizing customer interactions for years, but now it’s time for B2B companies to extend some of those same features to their loyal customer base.
Industry analysts agree. Gartner predicts that, by 2018, 70% of B2B eCommerce sites will offer their customers personalization features. And, as a result, they say those companies offering a more personalized experience will outsell their competition by 30%. That’s a clear indication that personalization benefits both your customers and your bottom line.
B2B customers are always looking for ways to make their job easier and faster. When your site provides a tailored shopping experience that includes relevant content, recommendations and solutions, you’ll become a valuable resource for them – one that they’ll utilize again and again.
Know your customer
You can’t personalize a customer experience without first knowing your customer. With the help of analytics software and reporting tools, you can learn much more than just your customers’ purchasing history; you can find out what products they are searching for, what site pages they are visiting and which promotions pique their interest.
With this information, you can group similar types of buyers within your customer base into customer personas. These “categories” of customers allow you to create specialized marketing campaigns with relevant content and promotions that entice, engage and drive like-minded buyers to purchase from you. Customer personas take time to develop, but the more your customers interact on your site, the more knowledge you’ll gain about them.
Make every interaction count
Have a purpose when you engage with your customers, because their time is precious and their attention span is short. Don’t clog up your customers’ inbox with generic e-mails, or direct them to products on your site that have no interest to them. Make every interaction with your company personalized by making sure they are:
- Relevant and timely – Send sales promotions or product re-order messages that target a customer’s priorities at that moment, not two months ago. If you time your interactions right, your customer will not only be impressed, he or she will be thankful for the reminders.
- Solution-based – Understand your customers’ day-to-day problems and provide them with proactive solutions. Make them aware of products they don’t currently buy from you, but will complement other products they do purchase; show them you’re a one-stop shop.
- Informative – Make your site a reliable resource for them. Make it easy to search for and find products that fit their specific needs, and be sure they can find answers to their questions right on your site. If you’re sending an e-mail communication, make sure it offers pertinent and worthwhile information that will make your customer want to read it.
- Rewarding – You may offer your customers competitive prices for your products or services, but what else can you give them to make them a repeat online customer? Consider what benefits or incentives you can provide to make them a part of your loyal customer base.
Personalize their experience, simplify their life
In order to differentiate yourself from the competition, you must give customers what they want, and what they want is a personalized experience. We recently told you how up-selling and cross-selling are great customization strategies that offer solutions suited to individual customers. But there are other opportunities to personalize their experience that start before the purchase and continue after you make the sale:
- Opt-in e-mails – Reach out to customers to learn their shopping preferences and order frequency, and let them decide what products or promotions they’d like to hear about.
- Log-in benefits – When customers log in, display a custom landing page that showcases new products, specials and more. With just a click, show them their specific catalog of products, along with their contracted pricing for those products. Give your customers easy access to account information like order status and purchasing history with an online customer portal.
- Mobile presence – Make your products available via mobile platforms. Allowing customers to transact on any computer, phone or tablet gives them the flexibility to research or purchase products when and where they want.
- Online chat – Make their online experience a more personal interaction by offering 24/7 chat. Your representatives can answer questions, troubleshoot issues and even make product suggestions.
- Easy pay options – Offer alternative payment types and terms that enable different customer types and sizes to stay current.
- Loyalty programs – Provide worthwhile incentives customers can use when they regularly shop with you.
- Transaction e-mails – Follow-up on purchases with a thank you e-mail that also offers additional promotions or coupons they can use on future transactions.
eCommerce is becoming a very competitive sales channel for companies because more than ever B2B buyers are turning to websites to research and purchase products for their business. You’ll have a better chance of driving customers to your site when you offer a personalized experience that’s meaningful, timely and rewarding. Take the time to customize their interactions with you, and they’ll reward you with customer loyalty.