How Marketing and Sales Cycles Affect B2B eCommerce Design
If websites are the primary contact area for gaining new customers, it's critical to use that platform to nurture prospects, find and develop sales leads, convert customers through an expanded B2B sales funnel and deliver personalized content, relevant features and custom displays to each person that virtually walks in the door. Covering all areas of Website design features, user interfaces and user experiences could take hundreds of pages, but the condensed version is that design plays the main role in defining user experiences. Intuitive design is a phrase that's commonly used, but what that means is that design guides customers throughout their website visits, answers questions, enables people to research products further, connects visitors to third-party associates and entices visitors to "convert," which could mean to fill out a form, register, call the company, place an order online or watch a product demo.
B2B companies can manage website credibility issues by delivering better design features based on customer profiles, website behavior and demographic information. Each customer is routed to key areas of the site by the user interface or UI to generate better overall user experiences, commonly abbreviated as UX. The benefits of customizing the B2B experience of each customer are substantial, which the previously covered stats clearly show. More B2B decision-makers use mobile phones to research products and companies, and their impressions of credibility are often made in seconds. That's why it's important to anticipate what the customer wants, provide targeted displays based on their profiles and deliver a consistently relevant array of options during their online journeys.
Mapping the B2B Buying Process
Designers can't design relevant displays and feature options unless they understand each customer's profile and how it affects the buying process. Best practices for understanding the sales cycle and mapping a prospect's journey include:
- Developing Awareness
Each customer must become aware of what the company can do for him or her. If the visitor is a purchasing manager, showing an optimized purchase process is a big plus. Showing third-party options for research could also play an important role. If the buyer buys in bulk to distribute products to multiple retail outlets, an easy split-shipping process might impress the buyer.
- Helping Customers Evaluate the Company
Once aware of the company's potential benefit, buyers need the tools to evaluate the company and its products. Enhanced internal searches, testimonials, information about the company, prices, ability to place custom orders and other B2B options come into play.
- Converting Prospects into Customers
Once customers are leaning toward making a B2B purchase, the interface should operate like the traditional sales funnel by offering great shipping options, multiple payment options, clearly defined return policies and easy ways to place orders by self-service or triggering staff support. Of course, staff assistance can be triggered anywhere in the process with offers of automatic chats and other website features.
The website's information architecture is the single most critical element of design because it's used for internal and external searches to find relevant information. Mapping site visitors includes understanding each customer -- whether he or she is an existing customer, partner, business associate, staff member, new prospect, key decision-maker or secondary decision-maker or associate. Each visitor's journey should be customized based on information that becomes available in real-time.
Graphic Design Strategies
Most people think of color schemes, typography, font sizes, images and illustrations when they are considering website design, and these factors can be important when building a brand or adding personality to a website. However, B2B buyers are usually less concerned with these design elements than how design features work on their devices. It is critical not to distract customers with flashing bells, automatic narrations and motions that don't add value. Testing design elements is important to develop a consistent brand and concept such as friendly, sophisticated, practical, bold or conservative.
Using complementary colors can reinforce good impressions or turn away prospects in seconds, so take some time in developing a professional color scheme that reflects the company's image and satisfies classic color theory. Color preferences are highly subjective, but some combinations just don't work for most people. Textures and transparencies can enhance design, but they should be used sparingly and carefully for valid business reasons and not just for design aesthetics.