By Megan Totka
B2B ecommerce has seen immense growth, doubling in almost every sector in the US since 2003, with predictions saying more is coming in 2017 and beyond. Manufacturers and distributors are taking advantage of this trend, recognizing the opportunity to capitalize on the increased traction. Want to take advantage of the growing ecommerce industry, grow your business, and strengthen your customer relationships?
Know Your Customers
For effective inbound marketing, you must center everything around your audience. Think not only about businesses in whatever niche your company serves, but about the employees in your target industry. Influencers and stakeholders in your target audience may involve multiple departments and should be considered in your overall strategy.
To make sure you’re on the right track, create personas and work from there, adjusting based on what data reflects as time goes on. Compare your conversions to your personas and make changes based on the conversions themselves until you have an accurate representation of your market.
Create a Robust Product Catalog
Make research easy. Create a detailed catalog, complete with search, sorting, and filtering options to make it easier for your potential customers to find the products that fit their needs, regardless of complexity. This also empowers your customers to customize orders to their individual needs.
Use Highly Descriptive Product Listings
Since B2B sales often involve multiple people within an organization, it’s important to show value and benefits. One of the easiest ways to do this is to appeal to everyone in the chain of command with your product listing copy. Beyond descriptive language, use high quality images and video to show off your offerings.
Be Mindful of the Longer Sales Cycle
If your products are specific and multiple people play a role in the purchasing process, the sales cycle can last anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year. Marketing through these longer cycles is a definite challenge. Rely on a powerful CRM to help you manage all your contacts, so you can keep track of where your leads are in the buying cycle at all times to improve the customer experience.
Nurture Leads with Content Marketing
Because of that longer sales cycle, nurturing your leads is even more important that it is in the B2C arena, and becomes as essential to lead generation. With content marketing, you can create compelling material to engage potential customers. In addition to informative blog posts, you can create white papers, newsletters, webinars, infographics, and more. When a lead downloads your content, use the contact information to follow up with targeted email marketing to continue nurturing through the decision process.
Use Split-Testing to Optimize Conversion Rate
The specificity of a B2B niche means you’re working with a smaller pool of potential buyers. It’s much easier to sell a laptop to a student than it is to convince businesses in your target market your products will improve their business. High conversion rate matters. To keep things as efficient as possible, your website, ecommerce features included, must be tailored to serve your audience. With split-testing tools and other analytics, you can determine the copy, colors, placements on the screen, and more, with the best impact on conversion rate. Run one split test at a time and continue refining the approach until you’ve found the most effective way to capture and convert your leads. When you find the magic formula, keep using it – but be ready to adjust as the market demands.
Successful B2B ecommerce doesn’t happen overnight, but through dedicated effort and clear strategy, you can draw more customers in, keep those customers happy, and watch profits soar.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.