ECommerce brands have it rough: Customers today expect the same ease of purchase and seamless user experience when it comes to purchasing office telecom equipment as they do when they buy a new kitchen gadget.
Deliver it, and you’ll have customers who come to you first. Fail to do so, and you’ll find that even your existing customers will start dropping off.
So how do you create the kind of B2B eCommerce experience that leaves your customers wanting more? One word: Marketing.
These strategies offer a guide to marketing for eCommerce brands that will not only have you engaged with your demographic but also have new customers coming back for more.
Use the right platform
With all the B2B eCommerce platforms available, it’s easy to simply choose one that sounds good and get to work.
But the right platform can make or break your B2B eCommerce store. In order to make the right choice, you’ve got to consider exactly what your needs are. This includes asking yourself questions like:
- Do my customers need to be able to customize orders on the site?
- Do I need a way for customers to purchase both products and services?
- Is the platform customizable enough to fully match your branding?
- Do customers need to be able to initiate returns?
- How high of a volume of orders does your site have to be able to handle?
- Does the platform offer account management, bulk ordering, and other B2B-centric features?
In some cases, out-of-the-box solutions like Shopify, OpenCart, or WooCommerce will work well for your needs. In others, you may need to hire a developer to adapt a platform for you.
If your platform is difficult to use, clunky, incompatible with mobile, or confusing, customers will drop off midway through the customer journey—and more likely than not, end up at the website of one of your competitors.
Use email marketing to your advantage.
Email marketing is one of the most powerful tools in a B2B organization’s toolbox.
It’s easy to think that most of the emails you send to clients and potential clients will end up in their trash, but, believe it or not, B2B buyers want more emails from you.
According to research by Episerver, 54% of B2B decision-makers want B2Bs to communicate with them more frequently via email. In addition, 45% of U.S. B2B decision-makers prefer to learn about a company via email more than any other channel.
And yet, despite these numbers, 59% of B2B brands don’t use email marketing at all. Among the brands that do, the average number of email communications sent is only once every 25 days.
Something else to consider is that, like content, email has generally been used as a top-of-the-funnel approach. Newsletters, downloadable content, and promotions are all good examples of this kind of content. The idea for each is that a lead or perhaps a client who hasn’t converted in a while will see your brand’s name in their email, remember who you are, and hopefully click on the email to see how your employees have been helping their community, what new product you’re offering, or what the webinar you’re promoting is about.
If you move them down the funnel, that’s excellent—but most brands aren’t targeting their emails closely enough to make that happen.
If you have a promotional email, for example, one that offers a free consultation on a new service you’re offering, you might send it to your entire list with the primary goal of getting more eyes on your brand.
That’s fine—but look at how you could increase the effectiveness of your email by using it to actually move clients down your sales funnel, so they ultimately convert.
One B2B email marketing strategy is to create segmented email lists and adapt your email to each audience segment.
For existing customers, you could include a “thank you for your business” message and give them a special deal you’re not offering others—maybe a larger discount, a longer period of time to take advantage of the sale, or a sneak peek at your new product or service. No matter what kind of promotion you offer, the client will feel like they’re receiving this “exclusively”—and it’ll make them more likely to return for another purchase.
Use SEO to increase your B2B eCommerce store’s reach
While SEO is hugely important for any B2B site (or B2C, for that matter), SEO is perhaps even more important for B2B eCommerce brands and making sure your marketing efforts are reaching the right eyes.
Here’s why: Organic traffic is typically the largest percentage of traffic a website receives. However, that doesn’t mean it will be the largest source of conversions—and tons of traffic without conversions won’t do you much good.
To get your B2B SEO strategy where it needs to be, you’ll need a few things.
- A solid keyword strategy
Creating a keyword strategy involves brainstorming the terms that your customers and clients use to find your site.
You can find a lot of these via Google Analytics or whichever analytics program your company uses—just check the keyword report and include the popular, specific, and mid-tier options to your list of keywords.
If there are keywords you’re not currently ranked for, but would like to branch into, make a list of those as well. For instance, if you’ve got a new B2B product line of AI chatbots and you’ve never sold chatbots before, you’ll want to include as many keywords around chatbots as you can.
Don’t forget to also include jargon, acronyms, or other industry terms that could help customers find your eCommerce store.
- Social sharing buttons
Social sharing buttons, which allow users to share one of your pages or product/service listings to a social media site, can help increase your site’s visibility, ultimately upping your traffic.
Include these not only on category pages but also on individual product listing pages. The main ones are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, although there are additional industry- or niche-specific platforms that you may want to explore, as well.
- Optimized metadata
Metadata—quite literally, “data about other data”—is another critical element of optimizing your B2B eCommerce store.
Metadata includes everything from your image alt-text (the text that shows up if a browser can’t download an image; it’s also the text a screen reader will read), to your page descriptions, to the tags you use for your products.
- Content for every stage of your funnel
A common mistake among B2B marketers is to focus too heavily on content for the early stages of the funnel—Awareness and Consideration—while neglecting the later stages.
This may not seem like a big issue. After all, you want to get your brand’s name out there as much as possible, and content is one highly effective way of doing that.
However, if you’re focusing too heavily on the early stages of the funnel, you’ll find potential customers dropping off before you’re able to close the sale.
It isn’t just a “good idea” to have content for every stage of the buyer journey—B2B buyers today expect it, so you better deliver.
As more Millennials enter the ranks of B2B buyers and decision-makers, they’re bringing the digital expectations they’ve developed as consumers into the workplace and buying process. They don’t want to have to contact a salesperson every time they have a question—in fact, they’re a lot more likely to simply drop your brand and move to a different one if they can’t find the information they need on their own.
Related post: How B2B Companies Can Exceed Digital Expectations
So what does content for the rest of the sales funnel look like?
Here are a few examples:
- FAQ sections
- Troubleshooting resources for existing customers
- Educational resources to help existing customers make the most of your product/service
- Comparisons and reviews for customers in the Intent stage
- Case studies and testimonials for customers in the Consideration stage
- How-to and intro videos for recent purchasers
Use personalized content
Personalized content is powerful in any B2B marketing scenario, and eCommerce is no exception. Take every opportunity to personalize the items your customers see when they log in to your store, as well as suggested services or products.
As important as functionality is to B2B eCommerce sites, don’t neglect the fun stuff. Engaging content in a variety of formats can help you keep customers on your site longer, which can encourage both larger and repeat orders.
Don’t forget social media and mobile
The 2021 mobile eCommerce market was valued at around $3.56 trillion, with revenue from mobile commerce sales in 2021 multiplying by more than 3.5 times what it was in 2016. These metrics hint towards the size of the opportunity available for marketing teams.
Email optimization for mobile devices has become a must since the share of mobile eCommerce sales in total has increased a whopping 39.1% from its 52.4% market share in 2016 to the current 72.9% market share. Thus investing in ways to make it easier for users to engage in email content on mobile devices will pay off.
Related post: 21 Common Questions About Email Marketing Answered
Mobile devices have the capability to drive phenomenal growth in most businesses. They are portable, personal, and possess a strong impact. Marketing analysts have projected mobile marketing to become one of the fastest-growing features of online marketing, second only to social media.
Since mobile devices have freed social media from the shackles of the desktop, the possibilities for interaction are unlimited. Social life, information, education, and even retailers can be reached on the move—and marketers can target people at any given moment. Many new apps have been rolled out in collaboration with the social networking giants to target every segment of the online audience.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to tweak social media activity for mobile users!
To stand out from the crowd on Facebook, you need to kill it with your headlines. Since the majority of Facebook users just read the headlines of posts, it’s the perfect platform to send out your call-to-action with a link to your content. If your call-to-action can get the customer intrigued, you can increase the amount of exposure your content receives.
There is prime time on every kind of media, and social media is no exception. Post according to when your followers are active.
Due to the huge amount of information flooding social media, the concept of going through old posts is completely nonexistent. Timing the post will ensure maximum traffic and engagement.
And don’t believe the huge myth that social media marketing and B2B content marketing are two completely separate things. For any mobile marketing campaign to be successful, it needs to incorporate a little bit of everything (hello, PESO model).
Use social media to create awareness and to amplify your content. If your content can create some buzz among the online public, that buzz will turn into leads. Yes, social media and content marketing are two different tools, but when these tools are two parts of a larger strategy, you can tap into the true power of online marketing.
B2B eCommerce is growing like crazy, but it’s still a challenging terrain to navigate. Need help? Contact Zen Media to explore a partnership. We’d love to work with you!