The successful transition to b2b eCommerce

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So you’ve made the decision to create a b2b eCommerce channel, your site’s been designed and built, and you’re planning to launch. How do you now secure the engagement of your existing customers and how do you attract new online buyers?

Firstly, with b2b eCommerce, it’s important to recognise that the sales and marketing functions often blur. So while your marketing activities drive sales, your sales team should be communicating the same messages to deliver a consistent customer experience across all channels. In addition, the approach that underpins b2b eCommerce marketing is much the same as it is for B2C. Start by planning the most appropriate marketing methods and messages that will encourage customers, to visit your site and buy. These methods and messages will vary depending on how you segment your customers and potential customers.

Segmentation means your marketing communication can be more tailored and is more likely to deliver better results. For example, you could split out customers who would normally buy every week but have failed to buy in the last couple of months, then send them a series of offers to incentivise another purchase. You could target customers operating in the same type of industry with the same sector-specific message. Or you could personalise your messages by job junction, from C-suite and Head Buyer, to Accounts, depending on the role each has in the purchasing process.

Targeted promotions are an effective way to maximise response and encourage sales. The trick is getting your customer or potential customer to do what you want them to do – for the least possible cost. Whatever the nature of your promotion – whether it’s communicated via a personal visit, an email or a catalogue – make sure that your call-to-action is clear so that your customer understands exactly what you want them to do. It could be anything from ‘Sign up here’ or ‘Buy one, get one half price’ to ‘Register for your regular email update’ or ‘Free delivery on orders over £x’.

Social proof, like customer testimonials, five-star product or service reviews and favourable press articles, for example, is another great way to put your company, eCommerce products and service front of mind. A display of trust from people who have already purchased from you helps potential buyers feel more confident about your products and services. Social proof helps to support brand credibility and all kinds of other marketing activity, as well as having a direct impact on increasing sales.

While there are plenty of relatively new or emerging platforms from which to promote your sales and marketing messages, including all forms of social media and digital communication, don’t forget to make the most of traditional channels too. Your sales, contact centre and account management teams all have an important part to play in building customer relationships, encouraging website visits and increasing revenue, alongside attendance at trade shows and exhibitions, advertising, PR, and direct mail.

Some of your communication materials should focus on the features and capabilities of your new eCommerce site and how to get the most out of it. Once customers start visiting the site, it’s important that sufficient support – including contact centre staff and your sales team – is in place to help them through the buying process. If you can offer a streamlined online customer experience and deliver on all your promises, you’ll end up retaining more happy, loyal customers who prefer to buy from you rather than your competitors.