In many ways the multichannel model that’s been so effectively refined by B2C organisations in the last few years, lends itself perfectly to business buyers. The strategy allows you to build customer intimacy, create intensely detailed single customer views, and by using that information, create and deliver personalized communications consistently. So given its advantages, why have so many trade sales organizations failed to adopt ecommerce and multichannel marketing?
Is it a perception that implementing ecommerce would be too costly or indeed disruptive to business as usual? Is it technical complexity? Either way, if you’re not looking at ecommerce as a go-to-market strategy you need to, and quickly. Companies that are implementing ecommerce, together with multichannel marketing strategies, are rewriting the rules of B2B marketing.
Whatever stage you’re at in the ecommerce journey, we hope you’ll find this article useful. It’s designed to be used as a template to help you build and implement an integrated multichannel strategy for your B2B ecommerce business.
Putting the four blocks in place
There are four key building blocks needed to support multichannel ecommerce, all of which have to integrate seamlessly.
The role of a B2B website is very complex. Your website can no longer deliver just one function. It needs to inform, educate, entertain and engage with visitors. The ability to use data to personalize outbound communications, such as email and SMS, is well established, but real value is available in serving highly personalized web content. Serving relevant content to enrich browsing experience is entirely dependent on holding detailed and accurate data. For most organizations, this is made possible by integrating with a CRM application.
2. CRM database
No-one really cares about data until they have to rely on it. Given the shortcomings of relying on sales people to populate systems, one of the benefits of an integrated CRM app is that information can be captured from other systems, without having to input manually. When reviewing your CRM, do so with a view on using it as a cornerstone of your multichannel strategy. If your existing CRM doesn’t support integration with your marketing platforms, you need to change it.
3. Ecommerce platform
An ecommerce platform allows your web visitors to place orders online and deals with all the data capture around pricing, stock levels, shopping carts, shipping data and other information crucial to executing a transaction. The key benefit of integrating an ecommerce platform is that you can use it as a front end to an existing ordering system as well as the website, and back end procurement systems used by your customers. This is a crucial facility for B2B buyers.
4. Email marketing automation
Pulling transactional data from your ecommerce platform to a marketing automation platform offers one outstanding benefit – total personalization. By incorporating information about past behaviors, for example articles read on the website, emails opened and clicked on, you can show a detailed understanding of the factors that motivate a purchase. All this helps build customer intimacy and trust.
Regardless of whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer or which technologies your business has invested in, one truth remains - you need to ensure that your customer journey offers best possible quality at every stage. This means you need to have the following:
- Accurate and regularly updated customer information
- Integration between ecommerce and marketing platforms
- Relevant, customer-driven content
- Continual monitoring of results
B2B ecommerce is forecast to be the fastest growth area in multichannel marketing and ecommerce in the next five years. This begs the question: Does your business have a strategy for B2B ecommerce?
For more guidance on implementing a multichannel ecommerce strategy for B2B ecommerce and further information on getting started with the four key building blocks, read our whitepaper ‘The role of multichannel marketing in B2B ecommerce’
Skip Fidura, Client Services Director, dotmailer