It doesn’t matter if you’re a large internet retailer with thousands of items, or a small company selling a few hundred products online – every B2B needs to make sure they focus their time, money and efforts into four key eCommerce areas:
- Customer experience
You’ve probably heard this term used a lot lately, but this is surely not a fad. The customer experience is transforming the eCommerce industry, especially for B2B companies. How the customer perceives, interacts and reacts to your company – whether it’s on your website or with your employees – plays a huge part in your company’s success. Their perceptions affect their behaviors and drive their overall satisfaction and loyalty toward your business.B2C websites have set the bar high for B2B sites, so customers expect the same things from you that they get with consumer sites, including mobile access, informative content, robust search and navigation tools and the ability to make purchases easily.An integral part of a successful customer experience involves personalization, and the only way you can personalize their experience is by knowing your customers. Understanding their purchasing history as well as their on-site behavior will help you tailor experiences that include customer-specific pricing, product suggestions and choice promotions. Additionally, strive to provide the same experience online that they’d have talking directly to a sales rep. Offer online chat to answer their questions any time of day, and a customer portal to access account information at the click of a button.
- Product content
You’re probably not the only company selling your products, so you’ve got to make yours stand out from the crowd. Don’t rely solely on the manufacturer’s information to describe your products; invest in developing enriched content that goes above and beyond the basic manufacturer description. Include part numbers, extended, value-added descriptions, specifications, high-res images and links to helpful resources like user manuals and hazardous material information. Videos are a great way to demonstrate how a product is used and to visually showcase its features and benefits. Google will notice your unique and robust content and, as a result, will help make customers notice, too.
Your eCommerce site is an extension of your business, so it has to integrate properly with your backend systems, namely your enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer-relationship management (CRM) systems. If your sales folks and customer service reps are communicating different information concerning product availability, pricing and order status than what is on your website, your customers will become frustrated and lose trust in you. That’s why your site must feature real-time updates when it comes to product pricing, inventory and orders. To ensure consistent customer experience, integration with your key business systems and processes is crucial.
- Digital marketing
Building your eCommerce site is one thing, but marketing it is quite another. B2Bs have to implement successful marketing strategies if they want to compete online. Your marketing strategy should consist of multiple channels and methods to most effectively reach and engage your target audience.
- We’re all aware of paid media, which includes traditional advertising, direct mail, online advertising, as well as search engine marketing. It’s still a lucrative way to bring attention to your site and company, but with the onset of additional marketing methods, don’t rely solely on paid media as your entire marketing strategy.
- Content marketing is taking off in the B2B world because it gives you the power to create and own your content. From blogs and webinars to white papers and e-mail campaigns, content marketing provides effective, relevant information that resonates with your customers. Search engine optimization (SEO) still impacts search engine results, so take advantage of optimizing your content with key words and phrases to get the biggest SEO bang for your buck.
- Shared marketing is another great way to gain an audience, and it can be created by you or by your customers. Businesses are joining the social media movement and engaging with customers on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media sites. Customers also take part in your shared marketing when they review your products or refer your company to others. Shared media offers brand awareness and improves your company’s visibility, which can result in leads and sales.
- When done right, owned content can lead to another type of marketing, earned media, which consists of press coverage and industry relations. While press releases and media pitches are the traditional way to receive earned media, journalists and analysts are now using search engines and social media to do much of their research and to find subject matter experts for articles. Your site content and social interactions can be a great media attractor.
Don’t underestimate the importance of these eCommerce areas. Individually, they play an important role in digital commerce, but together they create a powerful and successful eCommerce ecosystem.