There are many companies with a B2B focus that don’t have an e-commerce presence. That doesn’t mean B2B marketers can’t learn and adapt tactics from those organizations that are, regardless of the intended audience.
In fact, successful e-commerce sites may represent one of the best opportunities to learn from and consider when adapting strategies. Why? Because there are a range of tactics required for building a successful e-commerce experience, particularly in the long-run.
Below are some of the areas where all B2B companies could learn from e-commerce businesses.
Provide A Great Customer Experience
One of the best ways an e-commerce business can succeed (besides great products and marketing) is by providing great customer service and experience. When customers have a great experience, from the research stage to the checkout confirmation process, they are much more likely to not only return, but to recommend the business to others in their social and business circles. B2B companies need to take note of the significant impact the customer service experience has on their bottom line.
Oftentimes, doing what’s right by customers over profit can result in not only more return customers, but a higher instance of positive word-of-mouth. Customers like talking about their purchasing experiences, and will be much more likely to mention your business when you’ve done a great job getting them what they need.
One great example of this is Nordstrom with their lack of an “official” return policy:
Nordstrom is completely accommodating with the majority of returns, handled on a case by case basis. If you purchase online, you are provided with a pre-paid label in your shipment to return any items for free, or you can simply take them back to a local Nordstrom retail location.
By offering the customer options that best fit their needs, they are both more likely to make a purchase (because they know they can just return it if it doesn’t work) and refer the company to others.
An Up-To-Date Site Experience
If it’s hard for a customer to find the the products they want, make a purchase, or get their questions answered, they won’t usually complete any transactions on an e-commerce website. Because of this, e-commerce websites often have entire departments dedicated toward making sure their website and apps are easy to use.
The same should go for the B2B website. The B2B industry sometimes has an unfair reputation of not having the most optimized user experience when it comes to websites, but keeping an updated website will significantly impact your profit. For example, with the announcement that Google be expanding mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal, it’s time for all marketers (B2B and B2C) take initiatives like responsive website design (or other mobile options) seriously.
Descriptive & Unique Content
The success of the best e-commerce websites are likely their product descriptions, which gives the customer an idea of what to expect when it comes to each product. Many product pages also link to other related products, which may lead to larger sales.
These strategies can translate into B2B marketing by focusing on writing detailed, descriptive content that gets your message across clearly. Linking to related services within the content can also help users find what products work well together, which may lead to a combination of services.
For descriptive product content, consider the following:
- Use clear language that illustrates your products and services without using superfluous or unnecessary words.
- Use headers when needed to visually break up the content.
- The monotony of paragraphs can separated by occasional bulleted lists or bolded statements so the content is much more easily digestible.
These type of tactics designed to improve readability and usability should lead to lower exit percentages and longer times spent on site.
At the end of well-written product descriptions, you’ll find that the most titillating e-commerce sites have a call to action, which usually highlights:
- A discount.
- A sense of urgency.
- Available colors or models.
- Further contact information.
- Additional offers or incentives, like free shipping.
Just like e-commerce websites, B2B websites should also have a call-to-action at the end of all of their website content pages:
This allows the customer to take action, which will result in a sale for your company, faster. Call-to-actions to contact forms give users another opportunity to reach that page, as opposed to only being able to access from the navigation. The less opportunities you have to get users to your converting page, the less sales you’ll likely have.
Finally, all of these elements come together to create a seamless online experience. In addition to having a call-to-action strategy that links to multiple interior pages, as well as a well-designed website that is easy for customers to use, what makes e-commerce businesses able to bring in billions of dollars each year is the fact that they are using all of the above, all at once.
It’s not only that they have good customer service. It’s that they have good customer service on a well-designed website that has clear and inter-linking product description pages.
When it comes to your own B2B marketing strategy, consider how all your efforts are working together to bring about an integrated online presence.
Screenshots taken November 2015, featured photo via Pixabay