Sales and Marketing Considerations for B2B Customer Engagement
Websites -- including those of eCommerce B2B companies -- no longer serve as simple product catalogs. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a Harvard Business Professor who is considered one of the 50 top businesswomen in the world, suggested that website visitors make up their minds about your company in the first few milliseconds after visiting a website, and that includes the rapidly increasing number of customers that order from their mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Success in eCommerce depends on engaging customers on social media, in app-generated searches and through other websites where targeted customers spend time. It's no longer possible to ignore people's browsing habits and remain competitive.
Statistics show that traditional marketing techniques don't reach customers, and having a well-designed website alone won't convince buyers to order from a given company. One research company found that 76 percent of B2B customers research multiple marketing channels before visiting a website, and most buyers are 57-percent ready to buy before even seeing the company's website.
Metrics, buyer-behavior analyses and other back-end SEO and engagement strategies are essential to drive sales, attract new customers and engage customers by offering two-way communications to every customer. No two eCommerce sites work exactly the same way, and decision-makers can reach customers, inspire loyalty and increase sales by building a marketing juggernaut that brands the business, interacts with customers on multiple channels, provides automatic real-time updates to inventory, manages vendor relationships to ensure a smooth manufacturing process and responsive supply chain and offers buyers many choices for shipping products globally.
First Step: Analyzing Needs and Opportunities
Savvy decision-makers understand that the first step necessary to ignite sales is conducting a needs and opportunities analysis to know their customers and customize their online presence to reach and engage customers with personalized marketing. Today's functional website offers customers personalized messages, unique screen views on mobile devices based on their ordering histories and the ability to customize their orders. The process can be entirely automatic or trigger staff involvement in unusual or defined situations. Companies can't build this kind of efficiency without understanding their customers and customizing website capabilities.
CRP and ERP integrations are critical, and most eCommerce companies integrate offsite customer service options in social media, review websites and proprietary apps. Integrating multiple channels into operations allows customers to experience consistent and targeted messages across channels. Segregating customers is an ongoing process that requires focused studies of customer demographics, buying behavior, market-structure maps, supply and demand chains, client purchasing power and strategies to engage customers in two-way conversations and interactions.
Market segmentation best practices include the following activities:
- Segmenting the market by sales revenues, number of employees and geographical data
- Curating customers by their product choices and seasonal buying habits
- Developing company opportunities for expanding sales
- Engaging customers based on their online browsing habits
- Sectioning customers based on industry-specific data
- Using product applications to target customers
- Integrating supply side data into marketing strategies
- Studying analytics data to determine what motivates sales of each product, manufacturer or service
- Using SEO and keyword strategies to target customers from key demographic profiles
- Interacting with customer call centers to mine and use segmentation information
- Targeting customers based on brand and company loyalty
Consumerization of the Traditional B2B Model
Statistics show that B2B customers order on their mobile devices and through proprietary apps while finding businesses in nontraditional places like social media, review websites and other digital touch points. One research company predicts that B2B sales will double from 2015 to 2020 company and that the United States and China will be the top recipients of this increased revenue. The research shows that B2B eCommerce companies need to move away from serving many customers toward offering more robust capabilities where customers can buy from many business associates and partners, which include dealers, distributorships, affiliated manufacturers and resellers, custom fabricators and service providers.
Another company finds that engaging customers through multiple channels increases lead-generation by up to 20 percent and delivers 10 percent more first-time customers, but no standard software connects and integrates automatically with all relevant customer touch points without fine-tuning the website's capabilities. B2B customers now research companies, share their online experiences and review company products in many forums, so B2B marketers need to monitor the chatter, engage customers, respond to complaints and even thank customers for both negative and positive feedback. Those customer engagement strategies take a robust and customizable eCommerce platform that offers collaborating tools, SEO and marketing features, intuitive architecture, automatic marketing and powerful functionality that delivers extraordinary user experiences.
The best strategies for meeting customers and strengthening a company's online reputation involve embracing the new journey and customer attitudes that mirror B2C marketing and customer management. A single B2B customer can be geometrically more valuable, and wholesale companies and B2B suppliers need custom website features to deliver the kind of benefits that regular consumers enjoy. Peer-to-peer networks, social channels and explosive growth in the numbers and sophistication of other online communications channels make it critical to consumerize B2B websites with special features and functionality that allow buyers to conduct company research, read testimonials, follow formal buying procedures and request custom product options.
Better Collaboration Through Back-End Integrations
Better collaboration with each business stakeholder increases sales and optimizes marketing, but collaborating through multiple channels and devices requires strong back-end integrations with business operations that guarantee security, meet regulatory requirements and encourage buyer spending and more interaction with the company. The benefits of installing custom back-end collaboration tools include:
- Providing more choices for shipping and communicating directly with shippers
- Offering customized dashboards to customers, vendors and distributors
- Providing superior customer relationship management
- Automating promotions and advertising including emails, mobile marketing, newsletters and announcements
- Providing sales staff with timely leads
- Managing content and marketing strategies
- Offering incentives and tiered pricing
- Handling multiple currencies, different tax rates and cross-border tariffs
- Delivering real-time updates to internal departments and external stakeholders
- Granting access to authorized users while protecting proprietary information
- Prioritizing initiatives and accelerating response times
- Working with the supply chain and managing logistics
- Accelerating credit checks and approvals for volume discounts
B2B companies face many demands on their eCommerce software to generate sales, reach customers through multiple marketing channels, integrate orders with inventory, manage collaboration and deliver focused merchandising. Each company's IT team needs to assess its customers and their needs, the company's needs and opportunities and the custom features needed to deliver great experiences. Regardless of which software an eCommerce company chooses, it won't deliver everything needed without customizations and back-end integrations.