Answer 10 Questions to Keep Up with Customer Expectations?
Why Keeping Up with B2B eCommerce Expectations is Vital
Accenture’s November 2019 report, Service is the New Sales, reports the above statistics but points out how B2B buyers' expectations have increased and as a result near half have switched suppliers. It goes on to suggest a path to success by connecting human and digital interactions to provide a deeper, more personalized service.
The beauty of digital marketing and eCommerce is that you get to measure what works and what doesn’t. With analytics, you get to make decisions based on real data and get away from that old adage about not knowing "which half of your advertising budget was wasted! You can increase revenue, market share and your share of customers’ spend while decreasing costs for higher profitability. BUT to continue winning new customers, and retain hard won existing ones, you have to keep up with their expectations. In fact, 83% of B2B marketers are going to focus more and invest in data analytics in 2020 according to a recent survey by Dun & Bradstreet.
As you plan for 2020 we recommend reading that report and asking yourselves these 10 questions with respect to your digital marketing and eCommerce.
Do You Know:
1. What percentage of your B2B customers start with online research? - According to Forrester 90% of B2B customers start their journey with online search.
2. How does your SEO profile compare to, and differentiate you from, your competitors? - According to Digital Commerce 360, 90% of B2B customers research 2-7 sites before they make a purchase.
3. How does the quality of your content compare to, and differentiate you from, your competitors? - By quality, we mean building a list of customer problems, possible solutions relevant to them, then creating educational, insightful and entertaining content in a non-promotional way. Solutions to pain points such as CAD models and drawings, product configurators, ‘how to’ videos, etc.. If you write about a common topic, present a different stance or approach to it. Definitely don’t write about yourself or your company or things that are just ‘interesting’. Quality content focuses on helping customers solve their problems.
4. How have your digital investments (inc. eCommerce) improved your customer experience (CX)? - CX is the cumulative effect of all of the touch-points and interactions a customer has with your company and forms their opinion of your brand. Product, price and performance are important but emotion is more powerful than logic in decision making so customer experience is key to differentiation.
According to Gartner’s Key Findings from the Gartner Customer Experience Survey, 81% of marketers responsible for CX expect to be competing mostly on the basis of customer experience. As the Digital Commerce 360 B2B Buyer's Survey (chart on right) shows, if B2B suppliers want to keep and retain customers with a better experience, they need to pay attention to what their customers want most: great customer service, fair and transparent pricing and easy search and order processing.
5. How many of your customers are finding you online? - B2B buyers like to shop for best value - making 12 searches on average before engaging on a specific site. 30% of them are now making more than half their purchases on digital platforms -- a number that is expected to hit 44% within two years. Two years ago, only 15% were using eCommerce for most of their buying.
6. What do your B2B buyers want online? Hint: probably personalisation. - A 2019 Sana survey found that, on average, companies go online for 75% of the products they purchase. Nearly two-thirds of buyers—62%—also prefer to go online to access information related to purchasing information and 30% of buyers would prefer doing nearly all of their procurement online. A Hanover Research study for PROS found B2B buyers, much like B2C consumers, want personalisation. 69% agree that personalized offers empower them to get more value from their vendors. And over half will pay higher prices for tailored product and services recommendations. 93% want personalized pricing and incentives, while 92% want personalized recommendations. 61% would pay 1% more for instant pricing information, and 47% would pay 3% more for it. 64% would probably switch to a vendor that offers real-time, personalized pricing. Beyond eCommerce, personalisation should apply when sending emails, making phone calls or engaging in face-to-face meetings.
7. US Industrial eCommerce continues to accelerate – is yours? - Is your eCommerce revenue growing faster than your non-eCommerce revenue? Across the US sales transactions through B2B eCommerce sites, log-in portals and online marketplaces grew 11% to reach $1.08T (2019 U.S. B2B eCommerce Market Report). This global survey of 700 B2B eCommerce executives, including 300 from the United States, found that 84% of respondents say increasing digital expectations from customers and partners “represent the top external threat to their business.” Furthermore 72% expect that, by 2025, the “majority” of their business revenue will come from eCommerce. For example:
- Q3 eCommerce accounted for 60% of MSC Industrial Supply’s sales
- At WW Grainger Inc., eCommerce also accounted for about 60% of sales and Q3 growth was 11%
- At Fastenal Co. Q3 eCommerce was up 28%.
8. Have you resolved your strategy with respect to Amazon Business? - We’ve written about this extensively e.g. here and here but here’s an excellent case study explaining how Georgia-Pacific resolved this issue.
9. Are you monitoring spend and satisfaction by customer? - Per the Accenture study, here (chart on right) are the most common reasons why B2B eCommerce customers are switching suppliers.
10. Are you offering viewable and downloadable 3D CAD models and 2D CAD drawings on your website? - Not sure whether to? Get the FAQs on CAD digital marketing and use CAD downloads to generate leads. If you are unsure about requiring registration for CAD downloads, see the result from the Sep 2019 TREW Marketing/IEEE GlobalSpec survey on engineers' willingness to give their information in return for CAD downloads.
Recommendations for 2020
- Revenue - if your eCommerce revenue isn’t growing faster than your non-eCommerce revenue, find out why and fix it fast.
- Content – instead of pushing out ‘marketing speak’, ensure your content is sparking conversations and conduct them with clear, personal communications. See our recommendation on blogging and how are manufacturers succeeding with content marketing.
- eCommerce - use our B2B Industrial eCommerce Update and Maturity Assessment Tool to help you monitor and plan your eCommerce progress
Lastly, we can say that online content marketing for industrial suppliers (manufacturers and distributors) is what we, our software products and services enable. It's our specialist expertise developed over more than a decade so we read new research avidly and are continuously thinking about the implication for ourselves and our customers. If you'd like our opinion on your particular eCommerce or content marketing situation, please call or click either button below: