How to Optimize Your Ecommerce Value Proposition
By Tom Wintaugh
Develop a comprehensive website strategy as a central component of your B2B business plan.
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Building a B2B business in 2023 without first developing a strong B2B website strategy is worse than putting the cart before the horse—it’s more like trying to drive cross-country on a tricycle. B2B ecommerce websites are now the key medium for selling business-to-business products in the modern digital economy. Having a strong online presence is crucial for all businesses to succeed today…but this is especially true for B2B companies, which rely upon building a network of customers comprised of other businesses which communicate, market, and sell online. To help you take advantage of the amazing connections and opportunities that doing business online can bring, we will explore exactly what a great online B2B strategy entails and how to develop and implement one. Then we'll provide examples to help you apply a fresh B2B strategy to your own business.
A B2B website strategy is the plan and process used to design, develop, and manage a website that maximizes the return on investment (ROI) for a business which primarily sells to other businesses (B2B). It involves the integration of ecommerce features, design, user experience (UX), search engine optimization (SEO), content strategy, data automation, and analytics to deliver a seamless and efficient B2B shopping experience. An effective B2B website strategy takes into account the unique needs and requirements of the target audience, the competitive landscape, and the overall business objectives.
Now that you have a broad outline of what a B2B website strategy is, start the path to building one by defining your goals. The key at this early stage is to think broadly and speak in terms of positives. What do you hope to achieve with your website? What would constitute a great result? What new kinds of business would you love to capture? And in the broadest sense, what do want to accomplish with your total business? Hint: the goals of a great B2B website and the goals of a successful business are often very similar! Here are some broad goals that most B2B merchants prioritize—which ones resonate for your business?
Once you’ve established positive, achievable goals like these, you can set about developing a B2B website strategy which aligns with them. To help you do this, we’ve written a whitepaper outlining the step by step path to growing a B2B ecommerce business that you can read now.
Using an ecommerce website to start developing a new B2B channel can be a great way to expand your business and reach new customers. Think of it as the leading edge of your total business plan. Your website is your ambassador to future audiences and customers, who will ultimately drive the engine of your revenue growth and enduring success. Start by thinking about these concrete steps you can take to cultivate a new B2B channel or enhance your existing wholesale business, with an eye towards how your website itself will be the primary tool for each and every step along the way:
One of the most important aspects of creating an effective B2B website strategy is understanding your customer's intent. What are the goals and motivations which drive customers to visit your website? What kinds of preferences do they have once they get there? Making the connection between what customers are looking for and how satisfied they are with your website is the linchpin of a great buying experience, one that is relevant and solves your customers’ pain points. We recorded a webinar discussing how B2B businesses can specifically optimize their appeal to B2B buyers, which you can watch now.
B2B buyers often have very specific purchasing intent which is related to the businesses they represent. The products, information, and buying methods they are looking for will vary greatly depending on industry, economic conditions, and a host of other factors. The point is to carefully consider their needs as a driver of your B2B website strategy.
In addition to intent—what shoppers are looking for—you should also consider the buying journey—all of the steps they take in their progression from research to purchase. Understanding the buyer journey is crucial to developing an effective B2B ecommerce strategy. For online wholesale, the buyer journey is often more complex than in B2C, as there may be multiple decision-makers involved in the purchasing process. It’s something we describe in detail in this guide to growing B2B and DTC ecommerce.
The first stage of the B2B buyer journey is the awareness stage. During this stage, buyers become aware of their problem or need and begin to research potential solutions. This is where your B2B website content strategy can be extremely effective, providing valuable information to potential buyers and positioning your business as a thought leader in the industry.
The next stage is the consideration stage, where buyers have identified potential solutions and are evaluating them based on a set of criteria. This is where your website product merchandising, reviews, and case studies will be very effective.
Finally, the decision stage is where buyers make their final decision and choose a solution. Here, the speed and relevance of your website shopping experience will contribute significantly in closing a sale and getting a conversion.
Developing a B2B website strategy that addresses each B2B buyer stage with the right techniques can help your business attract and convert more high-quality leads, ultimately driving revenue growth and success. Think about where each buyer is in that progression, and then offer them appropriate service and information on your site.
Now it’s time to turn your attention to developing your website itself. You may already have an B2B ecommerce solution in place, or perhaps an existing website set up for retail. In either case, it’s important to recognize that ecommerce is an ever-evolving landscape, and what may have worked for you in the past may not be optimal for your current and future needs. Similarly, what may work for retail customers may be ineffective for a wholesale business. Therefore, it’s essential to conduct a thorough assessment of your current website and identify areas where you can make improvements that are specifically pointed at B2B buyer needs—the ones you have already been so meticulously identifying in the previous steps! We have built a simple, easy to use website assessment tool to help you ask the right questions.
Take the test, and then consider the following priorities and best practices for B2B sites:
Now that you have begun to paint a picture of what motivates potential buyers and thought about the website features they will expect and require when they visit your business, the next challenge will be to find and connect with those customers in the real world. Finding B2B customers can be challenging, but there are several effective strategies you can use to reach them—many of which emanate from your website itself:
Use email marketing: Email marketing is a cost-effective way to reach B2B customers. Gather contact information by offering sign-ups on your site and via paid campaigns, then segment your email list based on demographics, interests, and behaviors to create targeted emails that resonate with your audience.
Attend trade shows and conferences: Industry events are a great way to network with potential customers and showcase your products or services. Don’t come empty-handed. Make sure to bring marketing materials, product samples, and digital presentations which live on your website—resources that may be worthwhile to invest in, in order to grow new professional connections. Can’t attend in person? Join one of thousands of professional online conferences that happen every year.
Partner with complementary businesses: Partnering with other businesses that complement your products or services can help you reach new audiences. Look for opportunities to collaborate on joint marketing campaigns or co-branded products to expand your reach.
Offer incentives: Incentives like discounts, referral programs, or free trials can entice new B2B customers to try your products or services. Of course, make sure that your incentives align with your goals and provide value to your customers.
Now it’s time for the sales pitch. Among many B2B marketing strategies, content marketing is one of the best ways to represent your brand and connect with business customers who rely upon the exact expertise you bring to the table in order to succeed. In order to attract and engage B2B customers most effectively, it's important to develop a variety of content marketing strategies, each tailored to different audiences. Then, you can use your ecommerce website for the “double-duty” of showcasing your products while also showcasing your expertise. This is an often overlooked part of B2B website strategy. Great content sells products, and it also creates an idea of your brand as authoritative, knowledgeable, and reliable.
For example, if you’re in the industrial supply industry, you could author a whitepaper about the many different applications of your parts in other products or industries. This not only provides value to your customers, but it also positions your business as an expert in the field. Case studies, webinars, and infographics are also very effective ways to demonstrate your expertise.
We’ve put together a thorough summary of all of the major B2B marketing channels which you can review here.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical component of any B2B ecommerce strategy. The reason? If buyers can’t find your website, they will never get to see all of the great products and content you have been developing for them. SEO refers to the process of optimizing your website and content to improve your visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).
By optimizing your website's structure, content, and technical elements, you can improve your site's relevance and authority in the eyes of search engines like Google. This can lead to increased traffic, visibility, and revenue for your business. Furthermore, fast page loading speeds not only make for better web experiences, they also lead to better SEO. While SEO can be challenging to master in competitive industries, time and effort can improve rankings and get more people to see and visit your site. See our comprehensive guide to website SEO to learn more about how to start.
A website redesign can feel like a heavy lift, especially if you already have an ecommerce website, but in order to hit ambitious B2B website goals, you simply must have an outstanding online store. Replatforming your ecommerce solution with a more B2B-oriented focus is an investment that will be well-worth it. Here are some signs that it may be time for a reboot:
If you are experiencing any of these issues, it may be time to consider a website redesign. We’ve put together a thorough guide to when and how to replatform an ecommerce site which you can read here.
Developing a successful B2B website strategy requires careful planning, execution, and ongoing optimization. It starts with big picture ideas about what drives buyer behavior, and then translates that insight into practical website goals and features which serve those needs effectively. Here's a simple checklist to help you stay on track:
1. Know your customer. Define your target audience and develop a clear customer profile.
2. Define what success means for your B2B website and establish KPIs to measure your progress.
3. Keep your buyers in mind when you create a streamlined and efficient purchasing process on your website. Make it easy to navigate, fast, mobile-friendly, and customized to the unique requirements of your industry, products, and customers.
4. Develop a product and pricing strategy which reflects your industry, customer demand, and competitive landscape.
5. Create valuable, relevant content that educates, informs, and entertains your audience. Use that content for promotions on your site, and also deploy it with a B2B-specific marketing plan.
6. Attract attention by optimizing your website for search engines using keywords, meta descriptions, and other SEO best practices to improve your website's visibility on search engines.
7. Consider integrating partner services for resource planning, warehouse management, customer data management, and other tools for streamlining operations.
8. Use analytics tools to monitor your website's performance and make data-driven changes to strategy accordingly.
Remember, B2B wholesale ecommerce is not just about selling products online, it's about creating a seamless and efficient purchasing experience for your customers. With the right approach and a focus on continuous improvement, you can create a B2B website that meets your customers' needs, drives revenue growth, and sets your business up for long-term success.
The link which connects every element of to successful B2B website strategy is a focus on the customer experience. Successful B2B sites make the customer's needs paramount, ensuring that their websites are designed to meet those needs. This is just as important for wholesale businesses as it is for retail. By taking a customer-focused approach, developing clear goals, implementing effective marketing strategies, and leveraging the latest technology, you can create a B2B website that drives sales, boosts customer loyalty, and improves your bottom line.
Tom is a Content Marketing Specialist at Miva.