If you are battling to meet sales targets, it may be time to take a closer look at your B2B ecommerce marketing strategies. The B2B ecommerce market continues to grow, in South Africa and on a global scale. Despite this growth, there are still many challenges faced by B2B etailers. Without a clear strategy in place – especially one that is scalable and flexible – it becomes more of a challenge to drive conversion. In this guide, we share some of the B2B ecommerce marketing strategies that help to improve sales, allowing you to build more trust and retain more customers in the process.
B2B Ecommerce Marketing Strategies to Increase Sales
Whether you are struggling to get a new online store off the ground or you are not seeing any increase in your annual targets, changing your strategy can help to shake things up in a way that promotes conversion. Treating B2B sales the same as B2C sales is a mistake that many B2B etailers make, leading to big struggles when it comes to converting customers and retaining customers. To get more from your efforts, you need strategies that are made specifically for the B2B market. Designed to help you see an increase in sales, these B2B ecommerce marketing strategies are simple to put into place, working well as part of a multi-channel digital marketing strategy.
Create realistic marketing personas
Just as marketing personas help with lead generation, they are also extremely useful for ecommerce marketing. Personas are used in both B2C and B2B ecommerce marketing. Essentially, you are creating a portrait of your target customer, focusing on specific details ranging from location to name, age, purchasing behaviour, occupation within the company, and anything else that relates to purchasing decision-making. Personas make it easier to develop personalised strategies that are designed with your target audience in mind. This, in turn, is the best way to turn potential customers into returning customers.
When you have a more targeted strategy for narrowing down your key audience, it becomes far easier to plan campaigns that reach the right audience. Personas can also offer ideas and insight into pain points that your products may be addressing. Having clear personas in place will make it far easier to develop a strategy that integrates within your current marketing efforts, helping to guide your entire marketing strategy.
Conduct thorough customer research
To create personas, you first need to conduct extensive, highly in-depth research into your customers and their needs. The more insight you have into your audience, the better chance you have of being able to meet their needs in a way that not only drives sales but also improves customer retention. It costs far less to retain customers than it does to bring in new customers. Knowing your customers and researching their common challenges, pain points and needs is the best way to know exactly how to deliver a better customer experience to your audience.
Collect data and use it to plan personalised B2B ecommerce marketing strategies that incorporate the channels used by your audience. Know exactly what your audience is looking for and make sure that you also understand your services and products, and how they can meet the needs of your customers.
Focus on product information and features
In B2B ecommerce, product information is far more extensive and detailed. Rather than focusing purely on images and short product descriptions, detailed features and benefits are included along with user guides, specifications, video demonstrations, and other information that aids the purchasing decision. Finding the balance between selling your products and offering information to customers is essential. Ideally, you need to know what your customers are looking for from the moment they arrive. Once again, personas and customer research help you better understand your customers’ needs.
B2B purchases are also different from B2C purchases because they utilise sales reps throughout the process. According to research done by Forrester, 59% of B2B buyers would rather do research online than deal with sales reps – largely because sales reps often focus too much on sales agendas rather than helping customers solve specific problems. Another study by Accenture states that 94% of B2B buyers do online research at some point in the purchasing process. Make sure that you are not focusing so much on closing the sale that you forget to focus on providing product information and features that customers can easily find themselves, without any pressure.
Enable interactions and then transactions
On a similar note, it is also a good idea to first enable interactions and then enable transactions. Consumer purchases are far less involved than corporate purchases. Even large, high-value purchases such as cars or major appliances do not require extensive meetings or complicated decision-making processes. In B2B purchasing, this can often be very different, with an entirely different process in place to finalise sales in many cases. A simple transaction does not require a great deal of time, effort or decision. Interactions, on the other hand, are not always as quick or simple.
When you focus first on interactions, you will be able to provide value that goes far beyond transactions. For example, something as simple as identifying product specifications and features that are ideally suited to a customer will often require more interaction than a basic FAQ page or customer reviews. Multiple parties are often involved in corporate purchases, to determine whether the product can be used, whether it is suitable for maintenance contracts, whether it is compatible with existing infrastructure, and whether its features will provide genuine benefit. Interactions, therefore, need to be enabled in a way that makes the process as simple as possible.
Personally check-in with top customers
Very often, the top customers will make up the bulk of sales each year. Keeping your top customers happy is essential. Customer retention is extremely important for growth and stability. Taking the time to keep customers satisfied is something you cannot afford to overlook.
A check-in call could be as straight-forward as making sure that customers have easily found what they need on your website, getting feedback from customers on whether any improvements can be made on your sales process or your store’s usability, reviewing purchases to see if there are any opportunities for cross-selling or upselling, and even simply thanking customers for their loyalty.
Invest in customer loyalty programmes
Customer loyalty programmes work well in both B2C and B2B ecommerce marketing strategies. For B2B buyers, long-term partnerships offer numerous benefits. Loyalty programmes are one of the most effective ways to build relationships. B2B customers typically order larger volumes in comparison to B2C customers. Loyalty programmes can be an excellent way to provide lifetime value to clients while making sure that larger orders continue to be placed each financial year.
To get the most from your loyalty programmes, you will need a strategy in place. Typically, B2B ecommerce incorporates unique value propositions and personalised engagement strategies that are developed around each client’s individual needs. A one-size-fits-all programme will therefore not provide much value. A highly personalised programme that addresses the specific needs of your customer will offer far more value, however. This programme could include tier incentives that reward repeat clients as they increase purchasing volumes, partnerships with third parties and resellers that help to increase brand awareness, build stronger distribution networks and drive more sales, and referral programmes that reward customers for referrals.
B2B Ecommerce Marketing Strategies
We hope that these tips help you fine-tune your current efforts to be more in line with your sales and growth targets. Whatever your core focus may be and whatever the size of your online store, investing in B2B ecommerce marketing strategies is the best way to grow your results, year on year.