B2B eCommerce is a relatively new concept grasped by a lot of brands while the others are still in transit. However, the situations from last year have made it clear that eCommerce is the most sustainable resort. In our previous article, we introduced you to the know-hows of B2B eCommerce, its benefits, types, and challenges that follow.
In this write-up, we have compiled a list of strategies that you will need to stay on top of your marketing game.
Before we get onto that, let's quickly look at how to get started with your B2B eCommerce business.
How to Start B2B eCommerce
B2B eCommerce is not a concept unheard of in today's times. However, there are a lot of apprehensions around getting started and successfully managing it. If you are planning on re-platforming your business in the digital space, here's a quick checklist for you to get started.
- Set your business goals on the digital platforms
- Identify your customer needs
- Specify your product requirements on the eCommerce platform
- Set a budget for your digital migration and implementation
- Set an execution timeline
- Add products, content, contact details, and other information
- Launch your website
You can also make use of your vendor's eCommerce expertise while launching your own website. Additionally, there are step-by-step guides that you can follow if you are new to the digital domain.
Moving on to the marketing essentials, let’s start with the basics and one of the most crucial strategies for getting started with the B2B eCommerce business.
Migrating Customers from Offline to Online Platform
Conventionally, the B2B customers prefer to interact with sales reps either in person or using phone or emails. The modern buyer, on the other hand, will not favor the conventional communication methods as such and there is a fair possibility of such buyers sweeping the decision-making power in the near future. However, your businesses will cater to both kinds of buyers and it is important that you take care of both kinds.
When your team is implementing a new eCommerce channel for your B2B business, make sure you communicate early with your customers and advertise for the prospects. Migrating customers from offline to online channels can be a hefty task and it’s important that you do it efficiently. You can do it in phases as well- start with the store, encourage existing customers to experience the new channel, and swiftly spread the word in the market.
- You can start with simple web forms that provide the option of connecting with sales and support teams or simply offer online samples and catalogs.
BrightLocal, for example, keeps the name and faces of their support team to make people feel that they are connecting with real people even on the online platform.
- When on the digital platform, anticipate questions and concerns from the buyers. Ask your support team to respond quickly and address any issues the customers may have.
- Educate people on the benefits of migrating to the new platform.
- Create FAQs, How-to guides, Interactive navigations, brochures, etc.
In B2B eCommerce, inbound marketing kick starts right when you upload well-detailed product descriptions and quality overviews. Detailed content is extremely important for up to 80% of the shoppers if it’s B2C and even more so for B2B customers.
What goes in these descriptions is very important as the keywords that you are targeting help your website rank on search engines and also help the prospects make a well-informed decision.
In order to bolster your inbound marketing metrics, content creation is the first activity that you should primarily focus on.
To start with a kickass eCommerce content marketing strategy for your B2B business, analyze what would be more valuable for your customers and what would grab attention. Here are some of the valuable forms of content formats you should include on your website:
Blog: When it comes to increasing website ranking for high-value keywords, building brand awareness, generating leads from the value-adds, retaining users via drip email campaigns and enhancing conversion rate, the on-site blog content works wonders.
You can out the ultimate guide to mastering B2B blogging by Hubspot for more details.
Video content: Video content is one of the most engaging forms of content available to date. As per the latest video marketing statistics, 68% of marketers believe that videos have a better ROI than simple Google Ads and that they get 30% more conversions than any other form of content and 84% of consumers confirm that they have bought a product based on a video.
In a case study video by Sensis, a digital advertising agency in Australia, you will see how to effectively use video marketing to increase engagement with consumers by using search engine marketing and optimization services.
Premium Content: Also known as gated content, this format is created to generate leads from the website. These could be whitepapers, eBooks, webinars, case studies, etc. You can show snippets of content on the website and encourage users to download the entire thing using their email addresses.
Appboy requires visitors to complete a web form to access their mobile marketing ebook. In the image below, see how they have mentioned what to expect from the eBook which is just enough to create interest and encourage viewers to download the entire thing.
Value-Add on your website
In B2B eCommerce, buyers often shop for products in bulk and it becomes of utmost importance that what product they are purchasing is exactly the product they need. If you get that right the first time, you have established trust within the buyers and they will keep coming back for more without any hesitation.
You can always make sure that your website has all the information that they need to make the purchase and no external assistance is required. The more time you give them to engage with your support team, the less are the chances of a purchase being made. This information can be in the form of a product specifications sheet, brochure, or an installation guide. These value-adds could be attached to the product page itself. Offering these value-adds will enhance the customer experience and make them feel safe about the purchase.
Here is a good product description and specification example from Solo Stove.
While describing your product make sure you keep it crisp and add only valuable information. However, don’t leave everything to the user’s imagination and most importantly, mention what you are actually selling. Take a look at the following example:
There are no specifications as such, the image is not quite clear, and the product is supposed to be holographic, which it’s certainly not.
You can also check the best and worst ways to create a product specification sheet.
Reviews and Testimonials
However cliched it may sound, product reviews, and testimonials are crucial for buyers, especially the ones in the B2B business. A B2B customer is more discerning when it comes to making a purchase based on the reviews because the average order size is far more substantial than that in the B2B transactions. Essentially, a testimonial can make or break a business sometimes.
In order to obtain and compile testimonials and customer reviews, you can follow these steps:
- Follow up with the buyers via email or directly contact them to ask if they will write a product review or assessment of their overall experience with your business.
Subscription service Barkbox reaches out to their customers via a simple and visually pleasing email to rate their most recent box.
- Proactively respond to customer reviews thanking them or write back to resolve any troubles they might have experienced while making a purchase.
- Publish quality testimonials on the main landing pages or even the homepage of your B2B eCommerce website.
Check out how Sprout Social uses testimonials on their landing pages to build credibility and inculcate customer trust.
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a cornerstone of a long-term B2B eCommerce marketing strategy that yields the most ROI of all your outbound efforts. ABM is essentially a focused approach to B2B digital marketing where the marketing and sales teams work together to target the best-fit accounts and try to turn them into customers.
Account-based marketing is not really a new concept, but it has experienced a resurgence in recent years owing to the constantly evolving technology and a changing landscape in the eCommerce space. The effective implementation of an ABM strategy can drive attributed revenue, improve B2B digital marketing ROI, generate more qualified leads, in turn, leading to a better conversion rate.
Here’s how to go about implementing your ABM B2B eCommerce marketing strategy:
- Define and Identify your high-value accounts: Make use of all the data analytics and BI to identify and prioritize high-value accounts that fit your business clientele. Consider strategic factors like revenue potential, market influence, the potential for higher profit margins, etc.
- Identify your buyer persona: Map the targeted accounts and identify how they are internally structured to figure the key decision-makers and influencers in the organization.
- Work on personalized messaging: Do your homework on the target company's background and the challenges that they might have been facing and address exactly that in your messaging. Your content must have the required value-add for the target accounts.
- Reach out on optimal channels: Identify the channels that your target users leverage and reach out to them there. These channels could include emails, mobile, social media, digital forums, and groups. You can also tail multiple such accounts using highly targeted ads on different social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook. Do a split test on which channels will be more effective for the specific industries or roles.
- Execute coordinated and targeted campaigns: Coordinate your campaigns across different channels and align the marketing and sales teams’ efforts to generate maximum impact. As mentioned in the point above, you can execute target ad campaigns with the abundance of data we have available today. LinkedIn, for instance, allows you to target specific user roles, industries, company type, size, etc. All that matters here is that you do your research right and then execute these campaigns.
- Measure, iterate, optimize: There is no point in running any campaign if you don’t measure the results and improve on them. Always test, measure, iterate, and optimize your ABM marketing campaigns to make sure that your efforts are going in the right direction. It is important to note that you analyze the results on the campaign level, account level, and overall for all target accounts to get a clear picture of your marketing efforts.
PayScale is a compensation software and data company that helps employers manage employee compensation. The company started an ABM campaign and saw remarkable results in seven months.
As per their ABM strategy, the sales and marketing teams aligned the accounts to target and identified key decision-makers for different segments. The sales team helped with salesforce information like employee title and the marketing team started setting up campaigns with detailed research on the pain-points of the targeted accounts that drove the right personas to their highest-converting customers.
- 500% increase in target account traffic
- 45% decrease in time to close prospects
- 6X ROI in terms of revenue
Read the complete case study here.
Email marketing is more versatile than any outbound marketing strategy and a very essential part of your B2B eCommerce marketing strategy. In terms of ROI, email marketing is one of the best strategies out there, especially for B2B businesses. This is the best way to offer personalized product offerings, suggesting recommendations, and running customer loyalty campaigns for your existing customers.
In connection with your B2B eCommerce website, you can leverage email marketing to automate communication with your shoppers at every touchpoint. These contact points could trigger different emails to guide them throughout their buyer’s journey. You can send welcome emails, remind them about their wishlist, abandoned carts, the products they were browsing on your website, and also reach out to your shoppers on their special days.
Check out this welcome email from Buffer with a simple greeting message and also includes links to their support team and Twitter handle. Simple but effective!
Moreover, if you run a B2B eCommerce platform, you can integrate that as well with an email marketing tool to keep in touch with your existing customers and reach out to new ones.
Split testing aka A/B testing is one of the most trusted ways to optimize your website landing pages for conversion. While inbound marketing helps you attract more organic traffic, split-testing gives you an insight into the type of product or landing page that converts more customers. A lot of consumer-centric eCommerce businesses are known to run excessive split testing to see what kind of call-to-actions, UI layouts, pictures, call-to-actions, and other trivial information captures the customers’ attention better and leads to desirable actions. For instance, OTT platforms keep playing with their UI and CTAs to grab their customers’ attention.
Similarly, in B2B eCommerce, you can apply split testing to qualify different products and check out page layouts, website navigation flows, filtering and search mechanisms, etc. As compared to a B2C business, implementing split testing on a B2B website is comparatively easier and remarkably beneficial.
Iron Mountain, a shredding and storing company, for instance, ran an A/B test to check if a vibrantly redesigned landing page would impact their PPC results. The newer version (image B) displays an attention-grabbing headline, light colors, and visuals that increases form submissions by a whopping 107%.
B2B eCommerce Marketplaces and Portals
While managing your own digital storefront is always a good idea, B2B marketplaces provide even greater opportunities to expand your customer base, build up an omnichannel presence, and gauge demand for new products. Selling on B2B eCommerce marketplaces is especially helpful for manufacturers as the starting point is a low-risk as compared to a full-blown B2B eCommerce website. Having said that, it is important that you do thorough research on the top digital B2B marketplaces and portals before settling for the one that fits your business requirements. Alibaba is one of the most popular B2B marketplaces that follows an extremely strategic approach to stay at the top of their game. The platform offers a wide range of services to its clients including mobile commerce, digital auction, online fund transfer, wholesale transactions, buyer-supplier introduction, online fund transfer, etc.
The brands well-versed with B2B eCommerce can go even further and launch their own B2B marketplace. A B2B marketplace is convenient for corporate buyers and it is essentially a great way of scaling in the eCommerce industry to provide their customers with greater product variety.
Additionally, running a B2B marketplace also opens up a number of new revenue-generating and business development opportunities including these:
- Brand and Customer Relationship Building
- Product assortment expansion at minimal operational costs and effort
- Leveraging drop shipping to further reduce operational costs
- Analyzing customer data to optimize buying experience
- Driving more partnership opportunities with more vendors and distributors
At EasyEcom, we provide a fully encrypted B2B eCommerce store portal that allows you to create and customize every aspect of your digital store with a login page, brand logos, banners, product descriptions with high-quality images, custom price lists, recommended retail prices, custom discount options, and more. The B2B portal provides a platform for your wholesale customers to place orders, check the catalog, compare pricing and place their requirements.
Loyalty Programs for increased purchasing frequency
Running a program to sprung loyalty and maintain customer retention is a common practice, and a lot of B2C eCommerce businesses seem to make a fortune out of it. As far as B2B eCommerce is concerned, a reward or membership program can work wonders as the transactions in this case are usually huge and in bulk. Enrolling in a program like that will only deepen the trust your buyers put in your brand when they first make a purchase/
You can choose to go for a subscription-based or a conventional one-off purchase membership program to lock in buyers, yield higher customer lifetime values, and simplify doing business.
Furthermore, the insights you gain from a membership program can empower your sales and support team to offer complementary products, as well as understand when a customer is ready to make their next purchase.
Retails Amazon and Flipkart are crowned to have rolled out two of the most successful membership programs and have made the most out of this B2B eCommerce marketing strategy.
A lot of B2B brands are also known to have pulled off some of the most compelling programs for their buyers. HP’s Planet Partner’s Reward program rewards companies for returning used original HP print cartridges to support HP’s recycling initiative. With this program, the brand is encouraging and enabling organizations to contribute towards environmental and social responsibility.
Other prominent examples of B2B loyalty programs include Asian Paints Contractor engagement program, MedRoyal by Ranbaxy that engages medical doctors, among others.
So, these were some of the major and most effective marketing strategies for B2B eCommerce that you should consider implementing for your business. If you are looking for an omnichannel inventory management solution with integrated B2B order management for your eCommerce business, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or directly sign up for a demo here.