B2B customers are the same people who order their groceries online, check in to flights on their phones, and Google reviews of products they’re considering while standing in-store.
And yet, when it comes to the digital customer experience, B2B companies are, in general, far behind their B2C counterparts. In other words, when B2B customers are going about their personal lives, they can rely on a seamless digital buying experience—but for many, once they come to work and engage with their B2B vendors, that digital experience becomes far more clunky and far less reliable.
So how can B2B companies up their game? Here are a few ways to start.
Take a close look at your favorite B2C brand. What is your buying journey like?
The best place to start is by examining your favorite B2C brand. Why? Well, according to a recent survey by ITProPortal, 87% of those surveyed said that B2B ecommerce solutions that mimic the B2C buying experience are the answer to meeting modern B2B buyer needs.
That’s because we’re all buying things from B2C brands every day. We’ve all gotten used to the mobile options, frictionless, omni-device buying methods, and offers that anticipate our preferences, needs, and wants.
In other words, we’ve gotten used to this kind of five-star digital treatment.
Think about how jarring it must be, therefore, for your customers to find that when they log into their work laptops to research your company’s product or service, they’re back to combing through a Byzantine website or stuck making a phone call to your sales department in order to get the information they need.
When you’re going through that B2C site that you love, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you able to easily find answers to your questions?
- Can you tell exactly what product or service the brand is offering, with details about features, benefits, and pricing?
- If you take a specific action like leaving the site or abandoning a cart, does the brand send you notifications (emails, pop-ups, etc.)?
- Is it easy to compare the brand’s products to other, similar products?
And so on. Notate your answers so you can refer back to them later.
Making this comparison will help you notice which areas your B2B brand needs to work on to improve your customers’ digital experience.
How to improve your B2B brand’s digital experience, informed by your B2C research
When you’ve completed your tour of that B2C site, and you have your questions and answers in hand, it’s time to start tackling your B2B brand’s digital shortcomings.
While every brand will be different, there are several areas in which B2B brands tend to struggle.
Here are a few of the most common areas that B2B companies need to address.
What does your customer’s purchase journey look like? Are final purchases made on phone calls or video conferences with a salesperson? Does your sales team demo the product first? Can customers customize product packages online, or do they do that with a sales rep?
If you haven’t already done this, map out your customer purchase journey, identifying specific touchpoints at which customers tend to drop off or reach out for more information. Where are the hurdles? Where are the rough patches?
Keep in mind that you already know what your customers want: a smooth, end-to-end purchasing journey that can be completed online, if in any way possible. If that’s not possible for some reason—for example, because you only sell products or services that are customized to each buyer, and nothing out-of-the-box—then work on giving your buyer the option to get as close as they can to that final purchase point completely on your website.
A big component of making the purchase journey smoother is content marketing.
With the right content marketing, you can not only anticipate your customers’ questions and concerns, but offer them solutions that are available immediately, right at their fingertips.
Starting with the purchase journey map that you’ve created, identify the specific points at which customers experience difficulty. Those points will be your guide for creating the content they need.
For example, if you’re finding that customers visit your site, browse your standard product offering, but then leave your site once they look at your customized products, you probably need more information about how your customization process works.
This can be addressed by creating a blog post, FAQ, or video explanation that walks customers through that process. At the end of the post, FAQ, or video, you’d include contact information for your sales department but also links to more in-depth content about your customized products or related topics.
Go through this same process for each touchpoint, and you’ll end up with a library of helpful content that visitors can reference any time they get stuck or have a question.
This will help them get further along on the purchase journey than they otherwise might, making the potential of a sale more likely.
After all, 80 percent of a purchase decision is already made before a customer contacts a sales rep, according to MarketingSherpa. Your content marketing is what will help them get 80 percent of the way there—instead of dropping off at 20 or 30 percent.
Upgrading ecommerce solutions
If your B2B businesses already has an online store, is your ecommerce solution fully optimized?
Too many B2B brands are operating with outdated or clunky buying systems that don’t fully integrate with their website.
It’s worth investing in an updated, integrated ecommerce solution to ensure that your customers have as seamless a buying experience as possible.
What’s more, brands that do not update their ecommerce solutions run the risk of quickly becoming irrelevant. In a survey by Episerver, 72 percent of respondents said that the majority of their revenue will come from B2B ecommerce websites that they already own.
Today’s B2B brands are having to compete in an area they’ve never had to seriously compete in before—and not just compete, but transform. Meeting customers’ digital expectations—which have been shaped by B2C’s commitment to fully optimized digital experiences—is the only way forward for B2B companies that want to be relevant in 2025 and beyond.