If there’s one lesson that B2B has learned from B2B e-commerce trends of 2015, it’s that you’ve got to borrow from the B2C playbook. As B2B e-Commerce continues to grow, so do the expectations of B2B customers for an easier, more dynamic B2C-like experience. Accordingly, we’ve compiled our list of “B2B e-Commerce Best Practices for 2016” based on winning B2C strategies as well as those unique to the B2B world.
Best Practices to Improve Your Website Sales
- Tap into mobile. Mobile sales apps let customers maintain lists, keep track of their order history, activate a chat with a company representative, and search for products by keyword or item number.
- Make it B2C-like. Winners in the B2B space have incorporated proven B2C features and functions into their B2B e-Commerce shopping B2B marketers should aim for personalization, interactivity, and advanced search capability.
- Build a mobile storefront. A cloud-based storefront allows retail customers to browse catalogs and place sales orders directly, 24×7, just as they would with a B2C shopping cart app. Lightning fast, easy and fun. Invest in the customer experience. Make it easy for your customers to serve themselves by collecting insights about their transaction histories, shopping cart abandonment and top purchases. This can keep buyers from researching on your site and then purchasing from another.
- Make your search box highly functional so that it yields relevant results. A useful feature is Type Ahead — where a box drops down as the user is typing showing matching results, not just for description or name, but by brand and other characteristics and how-to documents.
Best Practices for B2B e-Commerce Awareness
- Ensure that every product page includes well-written, long form text. Don’t copy and paste information from competitors or suppliers' websites.
- Optimize your product pages to be read by Google, Bing and Yahoo. If search engines can't understand the pages, there is little point in building links, sharing content and writing beautiful content.
- Make sure your product names are <h1> tags and that all the appropriate Meta tags are functioning correctly.
- Film product reviews, upload them to YouTube and include a link to your product page in the bio of each video. This will help increase rankings and conversion rate and differentiate your site from your competitors.
- Add Facebook, Twitter and Google+ buttons to your website. This will improve trust with your new users and help boost rankings. Make sure to have Share buttons and encourage your staff and friends to share on their personal accounts.
- Build inbound links throughout your site. You can do this by investing in getting reviews for your products from bloggers and other sources. The backlink you receive will help improve your site’s rankings and also widen your brand’s reach to other audiences.
- Design your messages using basic HTML elements that will adapt easily to diverse email clients and mobile devices, which may or may not display your images correctly.
- Most modern email clients provide a preview of new messages, so reserve the top 150 pixels of the email for a single, compelling Call to Action.
- The first line should be plain text with a link to a landing page that works equally well on web and mobile browsers. Key messages should appear in text – not only pictures.
- Make the landing page strategic and user-friendly. It should serve as a continuation of the email and offer value to the customer in exchange for a specific relationship or sales opportunity.
- Turn your B2B email program into a precision marketing platform by personalizing it. Customize the content based on a subscriber’s profile which is provided by the sales rep, with different headshots based on the profile.
- Segment your customer list. One communication is not going to be relevant to all of your customers: this can alienate a huge portion of your list. According to email service provider MailChimp, sending promotional emails to specific list segments increases open rates by 14% and click-through rates by 15%, while reducing bounce, spam report and unsubscribe rates.
- Harness the power of the subject line by making it short, descriptive and targeted to the requirements of the segmented list receiving the email.
- Nurture leads and customers through automated email marketing campaigns, such as sending shopping cart reminders; promotions based on search history; and cross-sell offers.
- Invest in a social listening platform to track your target audience’s conversations about their needs, products and competitors. These insights will help steer your own social media activities in the right direction.
- Share third-party content that’s interesting and relevant to your buyers. This builds trust since it shows that it’s not all about your brand. To curate content, set up Twitter lists geared to relevant industry publications and top influencers.
- To create compelling topics, look at trending stories on industry publications, and your competitors’ latest content, then give it your own twist.
- Since it’s impossible to engage with every person that comments on your social content or ‘follows’ your brand handles, use personas and client lists to decide which customers, prospects and influencers to build relationships with and when to involve your sales team.
- Continually track and measure your social media progress according to your specific goals and KPIs. This will keep you up to date on the health of your social media initiatives and ROI metrics such as website traffic and leads emanating from social media.
B2B e-Commerce professionals are advised to keep attuned to evolving successful B2C marketing strategies such as mobility, mobile storefronts, self-service, personalization, interactivity and a friendly and easy customer experience. 2015’s B2C trends will likely become 2016’s B2B reality.