3 Keys to Driving Effective Commerce For B2B Marketers
May 13, 2019
Editor's Note: This guest post was contributed by Andy Hoar, CEO of Paradigm B2B and the co-founder of B2B Next, a B2B ecommerce conference taking place September 30-October 2 at the Hilton Chicago.
You are probably accustomed to seeing the letter “e” in front of the word commerce in most blog posts, articles, and virtually all websites. There was a time when there existed an important distinction between offline commerce and online “e” commerce. In fact, B2B companies were required to allocate specific resources to “online efforts” via a zero-sum game of repurposing online operations at the expense of offline operations -- and vice versa.
Circumstances have changed dramatically in recent years. We are now at the point where separating experiences by channel is no longer useful and often detrimental to building sales traction and customer loyalty. Marketing leaders now understand that the key to ensuring sales (commerce) growth is to deliver a satisfying, holistic multi-touchpoint customer experience.
Today’s successful marketing professionals are driving compelling and engaging commerce experiences for customers by focusing on:
Providing Relevant, High-Quality Content
Many marketers have focused on winning the organic search results horse race by publishing as much content as possible. But that has forced customers to sift through mountains of information to find what is truly useful and actionable.
Savvy marketers know that relevant, personalized content is very powerful in guiding customers through the decision-making and purchase process. Various tools exist that can monitor customer online behavior and tailor the entire experience (online and offline) to the point where only relevant, persuasive content is presented to the customer. This typically involves using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system to orchestrate customer engagements (online, call center, email marketing, sales reps, etc.) and ensure meaningful interactions.
Reorganizing Internally to Be More Customer-Responsive
By its very nature, digital transformation requires a corresponding organizational transformation. New customer preferences for digital-centric engagement have forced B2B companies to heavy-up on employees who know how to operate in the virtual world, and lighten up on employees more accustomed to offline interactions (either in-person or over the phone). Today’s successful omnichannel B2B companies incorporate agile methods, flexible team configurations, and new operating and reporting structures. For example, B2B sellers now prize flat organizations and quantitatively-driven, iterative problem-solving over hierarchical organizations where decisions are made in the absence of collected data and explicitly to avoid risk.
Creating World-Class Technology Infrastructure
Long gone are the significant technology barriers to entry that hindered new entrants into markets. With high-quality, affordable technology options now pervasive, even small companies can “walk the walk” and legitimately compete with the most formidable rivals. Startup companies can now capitalize on practical options for CMS (Content Management System), PIM (Product Information Management) search, and of course shopping cart.
We are living in a great age of digital transformation. All business models are going digital-first and are shifting from single channel to omnichannel. What’s more, increasingly, B2B sellers are merchandising and conducting commerce on third-party sites that they don’t control.
To win in the B2B commerce space, B2B marketers need to have the appropriate traditional and non-traditional commerce infrastructure in place. The right technology tools and systems are a must, but will not alone ensure success. Content is absolutely key as well, but if not connected to commerce experiences will also fall short.
Today’s B2B marketers must rethink how to deliver experiences to customers. Gone are the days of just “build it and they will come.” The new barons of B2B ecommerce are those who build a world around their customers and meet emerging needs in novel ways.
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