The buying motivations and complicated decision making processes involved in many business purchases mean most business-to-business companies find it hard to apply retail thinking to their online and ecommerce operations.
But in reviewing some of the most successful online ecommerce businesses and taking our own personal buying experiences into account, there are lots of little amendments we can make to give online sales a boost.
Here are five areas that we think represent the best places to start. (All are covered in our upcoming ‘Online Selling’ course in Birmingham).
1. Understand the mindset of your customer
What is your best (or target) customer really in the market for – and what benefit does your product bring?
Understanding pain/pressure points – and desirable drivers too – can bring tremendous insight to your attempts to sell the right thing to the right person at the right time.
If in doubt, you can uncover more about buying behaviour by reviewing website analytics and their motivations by surveying them directly. Are business buyers browsing in office hours or not? Are they coming to the site organically or through ads or content? What content are they more interested in?
2. Ensure your landing pages are set up with conversion in mind
This sounds strange, but most b2b websites have a poor landing page strategy for a number of reasons.
Firstly, they’ve stayed too close to the overarching corporate brand and are missing some key retail principles. Secondly, they either carry for too much information to aid search and selection or conversely not enough. Thirdly, mixed call to actions mean that the customer experience is compromised making a transaction harder.
Take a close look at sites you probably use everyday. Amazon, Boots, Office World and Sports Direct execute simplified product landing pages by providing at-a-glance information, good quality images, product details, pricing, time sensitive offers, stock levels, reviews and recommended ‘bundled’ products.
By providing the right information, you are removing the barriers to transaction.
3. Offer check-out without the need for an account
The reality is, unless you are providing products and services at a capital expenditure level, you are likely to have a reasonably high number of transient customers. They may only be interested in a single purchase or they may simply not be interested in creating a relationship with your brand.
Whilst account creation and sign-up to email, updates and alerts is definitely a good thing, consider if it is really required as it may well act as a barrier to making a sale.
4. Make the most of Google
Google is the Internet. You should of course be considering highly specialised, targeted and time-sensitive Google Adwords pay-per-click campaigns to support organic search engine optimisation activities.
We also recommend that companies tap into the opportunities presented by the Google Advertising Network to ‘remarket’ to customers that visited your website or store and didn’t complete the purchase process. Remarketing essentially offers a ‘second chance’ to customers when they visit other sites that have signed up to feature Google Advertising Network adverts.
Finally, make sure you’re plugging Google Analytics into each page in order to track interest and conversion against specific goals for the page. This will help ensure you don’t avoid the pay-per-click pitfalls that afflict many companies.
5. Promote your products on social media sites
The more established social media platforms are now offering some very powerful social selling opportunities, ranging from simple boosting of content right through to targeted sponsorship and advertising solutions.
The ability to reach a very tightly defined cluster of target customers on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter – based on socio-demographic information linked to preferences and behaviours, or the job title, interests or company size – opens up a world of new prospects for B2B companies.
When it comes to ecommerce, the hard work is setting up right for it from the outset. Companies lose money by sending traffic to pages that don’t provide the right information to customers or that make the process challenging to complete.
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Book on our next upcoming Selling Online session, 3rd February, 2016