Key Components of B2B eCommerce

Higher buyer expectations and technological advances are largely responsible for the rapid growth of B2B eCommerce – and this boost has been welcomed by the business sphere with open arms. Both business buyers and private consumers are flocking towards the new paradigm of eCommerce, and they in return are demanding the same options and convenience from B2B organizations. By simply providing a business-to-consumer way to buy online, an optimal B2B multichannel selling approach cannot be obtained. Reason being that, B2B selling involves complex processes like promotion based on the needs of the individual business buyer and product offerings.

For B2B Enterprise eCommerce effectiveness, platforms should include these 5 key components:

1. Advanced Configurability

The complexities of B2B online selling translate into customer hierarchies, with differing product configuration and marketing, authorization rules and workflows, product portfolios, purchase authorization rules, contract terms, pricing and multiple payment options. Unique processes and technology capabilities is required for a complicated purchasing environment. The B2B channel to support product configuration and sophisticated pricing requires advanced functionality. To ensure that sales representatives do not spend unnecessary time on internal processes and instead can focus on current and new customer sales, authorized users should have access to the system and be empowered to set business rules, by segment and channels, without the need for IT involvement.

2. Single, Global Platform

B2B enterprises that target multiple markets will likely have sales and marketing strategies that are tailored to local market conditions. This includes pricing and offers that vary by market segments or market segments. A centralized platform should be deployed by organizations that allows for global control of customer order and product information, offering the flexibility to adapt order processes, product information and customer orders according to the preferences of customers in a targeted market.

See also: Are You Making These Enterprise B2B Lead Generation Mistakes?

3. Analytics and Segmentation

A number of B2B organizations dedicate resources to analyzing customer, product and sales data; this enables the B2B seller to develop strategies personalized to each customer’s needs offering product mix and optimal pricing. Conversely, numerous B2B organizations find out that their eCommerce platforms are not fully capable of displaying products and updated prices. If such information is not added in, then all the segmentation efforts and analytics go to waste. To enable guided selling through online channels, an effective B2B eCommerce platform ought to include tools that can execute rules and strategies based on advanced analytics.

ecommerce analytics and segmentation components

4. Sophisticated Workflows

To provide insights into all aspects of the order across channels including automatic notifications to customers regarding their order status, delivery dates for products and services and monitoring of order processes, an effective B2B platform must have capabilities. The eCommerce platform should provide consistent product and order information and should be the single source of truth across divisions, brands and business units.

5. B2C Best Practices

B2C online shopping have changed the expectations of the buyers, and B2B eCommerce platforms thus need to include better product content, dynamic on-site searching, mobile sites and apps, social integration, personalization, user reviews and video. Best practices from the B2C landscape need to be integrated within the rapidly evolving B2B sphere for it to remain effective. This can mean configuring product displays and prices according to a client company’s business rules, permitting the company’s buyers to choose only among approved products and make purchases within spending limits.

B2B organizations have special needs when purchasing online, and these needs should be taken care of apart from the five key components of B2B eCommerce platform.

What are the Importance of Customer Trust and Ways to Maintain It?

Whether your business has just been launched or has been successfully working for a while, long term success is highly dependable on customer’s trust. The increase or decrease of customer’s trust on your business can have a major impact on the profit and loss of your company. This is the reason why it is important to build the trust of your customers and maintain it.  

Here are some effective ways of building and maintaining the Customer Trust

1. Enhancing the Purchasing Process

The best way to make your customers happy is to make the purchasing process as easy and smooth as possible. When the customer buys a product from you and faces no issues throughout the process, from placing the order to having it delivered at their home, then he/she is bound to return. The happier the customer is with the entire purchasing process, the higher the chances of them trusting you with their future orders as well because they have started trusting you based on their initial smooth purchasing experience.  

enhancing purchasing process infographic

Image Source: customersthatstick

According to our experience, 85% customers say if they receive an outstanding customer service then they are willing to pay more for the products.

2. Communicating with Customers

The best way to maintain the trust of your customers is to communicate with them on regular basis. To do so, interaction through social media is your best bet. Whether the customer wants to know about your products or services or leave a feedback on your social media page, always reply promptly. Aside from this, post regular updates about your company and your products so that customers stay updated. All the posts, comments, and messages must be done in a friendly, welcoming, and professional manner. If your response is impolite, rude, or in any way unwelcoming, you are bound to lose the trust and even the respect of potential customers. Ensure that the tone is warm, friendly, and helpful so that the potential customers start trusting you and the trust of your existing customer base is maintained.

Related: 
What are the Best Strategies to Ace Customer Engagement?

3. Improving Customer Services

Customer services offered by your business must be strong. When a customer calls with a problem or an issue, the top priority must be to enhance the customer’s satisfaction and experience. It is essential to make the customer feel important. Ensure that all your customer care employees are trained to warmly welcome the customers, help them out in any way possible; making sure that the customer is satisfied in the end. Another important thing is to get their feedback and also check back to ensure that the problem has really been resolved. Ask them to rate the service they had just received as this will make them feel their opinion and feedback is valuable to your company.

improving customer service infographic

Image Source: zendesk

First impressions really do last forever. According to a survey, 24% of customers continue to seek services from the same vendor for two or more years if they had a great first experience with them while 39% customers avoid seeking services from vendors after a bad first experience.

4. Never Promise What Can’t Be Delivered

This is one of the most common mistakes many businesses make. Many sales professionals feel it is wrong to say no to a customer for anything, which is why they assure them that they will receive their product/solve their problem in a specific timeframe, when in reality, it isn’t possible to meet that deadline. It is of utmost importance that you don’t lie, exaggerate, or make false promises to your customers – it is a sure-fire way of losing trust and ruining your company’s credibility.  

There are numerous ways of enhancing your sales but it is important to make sure that adapting those ways doesn’t lose the trust of your customers in your business. Coming up with more ways to building more trust in your customers and working hard to maintain it is the most effective way you can lead your company towards success.

How to Maximize your Lead Generation Efforts?

To many marketers, B2B lead generation is a complex labyrinth. It can be due to two reasons- firstly, people fail to comprehend that successful B2B lead generation comprises of activities that are hard to pin down and quantify, and secondly, everyone is seeking out for one that killer lead tactic that will right all wrongs. 

Here are the ways on how Maximize Lead Generation efforts

Here, we are going to talk about few B2B lead generation practices that ought to be used in some combination to enable marketers to effectively build highly qualified leads.

1. Seminars and Webinars

The most effective B2B lead generation tactic involves events like webinars and seminars. Instant magic occurs when a prospective client sees that you seem nice enough, offer valuable advice and have answers for the difficulties they are facing at the moment. The content created in your webinars and seminars can also be turned into trust building asset.

audience at seminars and webinar

2. Direct Email Marketing

We all want to achieve larger number of leads however, the more personal you get the better it is. Targeting 100 prospects a month by reaching out to them with a personalized letter outlining a plan of action will give you far better results than any other form of mass communication.

Related: 
21 Successful Ideas for Lead Generation

2. Paid Traffic

Advertising becomes all the more effective when you use other lead generation in tandem to supplement your primary efforts. Anyone can spend a little money and throw some ads and maybe generate some leads with minimal efforts. However, these leads are often unqualified and uneducated. Invest in teaching how to identify and draw the right clients in order to create the highest quality leads.

3. Sponsors

The best form of lead generation is the right kind of referrals thrown your way. However, only a few people proactively partake in this form of lead generation, it happens accidentally mostly. Sponsorship brings brand-awareness, leads and traction in a targeted way that is hard to achieve for many other marketing-channels.

4. Blogging

Blog minus intention leads to immediate blogging burnout. Answer the questions that your prospective clients are asking or thinking while considering your product and services as a solution. You need to start answering questions in order to make blogging pay as a lead generation source. You can turn series of relevant posts into eBooks or videos once you get good at it.

5. Social Relationship Building

To build and nurture relationships, social media as a lead generation tool is really powerful. Think about influencing and adding value around 50 prospects instead of using it as a broadcast tool. Go to LinkedIn and find out few groups where your prospects hang out and look for advice. Using Linkedin’s Sales Navigator tool start building prospect lists in these groups.

6. Networking

See networking as a tool to for connecting others rather than getting connected if you want networking to pay. Reach into your existing network and find a handful of people that need to meet some shining stars in your network. You become a lead magnet when you view networking as an opportunity to help others by building bridges.

In order to create lead momentum, you have to employ a number of lead generation tactics working together.

What are the most Common B2B Marketing Problems?

The B2B world is in shades of grey, and while there is no single right choice, having a number of choices makes choosing the right one for you even more difficult. How do you allocate your budget? Which markets do you go after? How do you prioritize what comes next?

Marketers have never faced as many challenges as they do today, whether it is figuring out what goal they are chasing, time management or ROI (return on investment).

Here is our view of the most common problems B2B marketers are facing

1. Using Social Media to Generate Customers and Revenue

There was a time when businesses hardly knew what to do with social media and it was a toy to play with. However, nowadays companies know of business value in social media marketing. Turning social engagement into dollars is the tricky part though. Social media presence is not enough, knowing how to use social media to target, engage and nurture social following will build up leads for your business.

using social media to generate customers and revenue

2. Pinpointing the right people

Marketers need to reach, attract and engage all stakeholders in buying decisions to have a shot at success. Getting the right messages to the right people at the time becomes a major challenge. These are complex relationships with over four in five (81%) of B2B purchases involving multiple decision-makers.

See also: 7 Online Marketing Strategies to Maximize Website Visits

3. Keeping Up With Marketing Trends and Strategies

The last decade witnesses marketing going through a lot of transformations. From print media the marketing focus has been shifted to online media. Additionally, last decade also witnessed the decline of cold calling and direct mail. Communication with potential customers has become more efficient and effective because of new technological tools. For two-way communication and feedback collection, social media has risen as a dominant platform. How do you stay current when new technologies keep popping up, new trends emerge and different strategies are emerged?

4. Generating Awareness and Driving Traffic

You have to get the attention of your audience and get them interested in your product, service or business, before you can start generating leads for your sales team to convert into customers. Some marketers do not know that for highest returns, which channel they should focus their efforts on. Conversely, a number of marketers face the challenge of not having a large pool of interested people.

5. Increasing and Proving ROI

Marketers are held to a higher standard with the availability of advanced analytic tools. Simply doing marketing is no longer enough, in terms of leads, revenue and customers you need to able to understand the value of each of your efforts.  You need to prove that your return on investment is high enough to warrant that effort, time, and money.

What are the other common marketing problems in the world of B2B in your opinion? Share with us in the comments section below.

Ways to Use LinkedIn for Lead Generation

Cynics do not believe in using social media as an effective lead generation tool and choose to invest their time and energy at advertising and trade shows in trade publications. However, social media, particularly LinkedIn, is an effective tool to drive traffic to your website.

To attract new people to your website, using LinkedIn as a marketing tool helps you pique the prospect clients’ interest with great content and subsequently generating a sales lead.

Here are the ways on how to use Linkedin to generate leads

1. Try LinkedIn Mobile

If you have not already downloaded the Linkedin mobile app on your smartphone, do so now; it’s free after all. This app is best suited for an event like a trade show where you are interacting with contacts on a one-on-one basis. Ask your prospect during a conversation to turn on LinkedIn on their smartphone. Bump your phones together lightly. If they have an iPhone and their settings are correct, then LinkedIn will transfer contact information between phones using Bluetooth. Instant transfer of information, and a lead.

pretty woman using linkedin mobile

2. Join LinkedIn Groups

Join several groups on LinkedIn. The trick is joining other groups outside your industry other than joining the obvious groups in your industry. It might help grow your business. You are expanding your reach by stretching out a little bit, which is always good for business and helpful in lead generation.

See also: The Secret Sauce for a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy

3. Experiment with LinkedIn Direct Ads

To drive new prospects to your landing pages or LinkedIn groups, LinkedIn has an advertising program. You simply write a headline, add relevant copy, and create a destination link; the ads work the same way Google paid search ads work. Then you bid on how much you will pay LinkedIn every time someone clicks on the ad. If your product sells for $500 each, investing $50 to generate $500 is not a bad return on investment.

4. Participate in LinkedIn Answers

It is one the most under-utilized tools on LinkedIn- a section where people ask for advice and industry specific questions. You are the one giving advice here and answering questions. Regularly engaging in answering the questions can help you establish yourself as a thought leader. If you have blog posts or other content that provides helpful information about another user’s question, make sure it’s optimized for lead gen (with a call-to-action), and link to it in your answer.

5. Conduct a LinkedIn People Search

For people looking for jobs or business-to-business owners, this is a terrific tool. Using the upper right hand search box, do a people search for your target company. Use the refining options on the left when you generate results to view your direct connections and your second connections. Just ask your friends to introduce you via LinkedIn to the people at that target company with which you want to connect.

6. Add LinkedIn Applications

Application section can improve the experience people have on your LinkedIn page by adding new and interesting apps. You can even set up simple polls to find out what’s on the minds of your customers and prospects. Add an app that pulls your recent blog posts on your page for lead generation.

Are you using LinkedIn to generate leads? Know of more effective ways to generate leads not mentioned here? Do tell!

Business Networking and its Benefits

In essence, networking is all about developing rapport, building connections, and interacting with people in order to expand your circle of influence. Good networking is important for the growth of your career. Through development of lasting relationships for mutual gain and creation of lasting impressions with different individuals, you will be able to benefit from it both professionally and personally.

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Business networking is undoubtedly one the most successful marketing techniques to sustain and accelerate your success. It is a valuable tactic to increase your knowledge, learn from others’ success, attract new clients, and nurture your business.

Below are the Benefits of Business Networking

1. Knowledge Sharing

Sharing knowledge and ideas is one of the major advantages of networking. Whether you share your opinion, discuss a viewpoint, or obtain feedback, networking will assist you in expanding your knowledge and allowing you to view things from a different perspective.

creative team sharing knowledge

2. Enhanced Opportunities

From our experience business networking opens up a whole new world of opportunities. From business partnerships to client leads, from joint ventures to asset or business sales and so many more, your business is bound to land referrals and that too of excellent quality. It helps in growing your business. It is then completely up to your business as to how you make use of these opportunities. Opportunities you can take on include attending local business events, business seminars and “meetups”.

See: How to Drive More Customers to Your Business

According to a survey, 70% jobs are found due to networking and people find out about 40% jobs which are not advertised. This shows that there are plenty of opportunities for individuals who opt for networking.

3. Improved Credibility

Through business networking, you can improve the credibility and reputation of your business. As you gradually start meeting more people, you will eventually attain a reputation as being someone who loves interacting with and helping people. Once your reputation and credibility grows, you will get better opportunities and support. You will be able to help others with valuable sources, ideas, and information. This will further enhance your credibility.

4. Confidence

Regular networking will assist in improving your confidence. The more you do it, the better you will become. This is something extremely important being a business owner or someone who represents a business. The way you talk, convey your message, and make connections, strongly impacts your business.

5. Connections

It is important to remember that business networking is not merely about getting exposure and promoting your business, it is also about making connections with other networks as well. This is an opportunity for mutual gain. If you have the resources and information to help out others, then you should, and if they know someone in need that matches your skills and your business, then you will surely gain a referral. This works both ways and helps strengthen business relations.  

6. New Information

Business networking is also an opportunity of exchanging knowledge about best practices, business tactics, and latest trends of the market. A network with interconnected and well-informed contacts means wider access to valuable and new information.

7. Better Support and Advice

Through business networking, you can attain valuable advice and support of experienced peers. It is the best platform to discuss opportunities and challenges as it will open doors to valuable guidance and suggestions. You can make the foundation and relationship even stronger by offering advice and giving suggestions to your contacts.

There are countless more benefits of business networking. It is important to stay in regular contact with your connections in order to attain the maximum advantages for you and for your business.

Why is Mobile Marketing Essential for Business?

Successful businesses around the world have started relying on mobile marketing for extending their reach to the increasingly growing market segment of mobile phone users. In today’s world, the importance of technology can’t be denied and business owners can’t afford to miss out on these advancements.

Mobile marketing can assist you in fulfilling most of your business goals which include customer services, customer data collection, product enhancement, increasing sales and more. Majority of businesses have developed their own mobile apps for enhanced mobile marketing experiences.

Here are some reasons why it is essential for your business to venture into mobile marketing:

1. Enhanced Brand Image

A strong brand image is significant for the success of your business. By opting for mobile marketing or developing a mobile app, you will be able to show your customers what your brand is about and how it is in line with the latest trends. This will in turn brighten up the future prospects of your business.

2. To Attain Immediate Response

Through mobile marketing, you get an immediate response. Smart phone users are constantly using their phones, so when they receive a message on their device, they are going to check it immediately. In comparison, an email can sit in a customer’s inbox for weeks before it is read.

3. Message Delivery and Product Purchase Anytime and Anywhere

With mobile marketing you can deliver a message to your customers, wherever they are and whenever you want. You can inform them about the latest products or services, new deals, discounts and more. This will be instantly viewed by your target audience. Not only this, but your customers will also be able to buy your products or services whenever they want. This is way faster than advertising or marketing through print media, TV or radio. As a matter of fact, there are more purchases through mobile marketing as compared to any other form of marketing.

mobile marketing woman shopping outdoor on mobile phone

According to a survey, $8.4 million worth of purchases were made on mobile devices in 2012. Since then there has been a drastic increase in purchases made in response to mobile marketing, especially through mobile apps. In total about $37 billion worth of purchases are expected from mobile marketing by 2016 and about $1 trillion by the end of 2017.

4. Personalised Customer Management

Mobile marketing allows personalised customer management. You can receive immediate feedback from your customers and interact with them to ensure that they are happy with the products and services. You can do regular surveys and offer discounts and promotional deals to your customers through mobile marketing which can further enhance customer engagement.

Related: 
6 of the Best Strategies to Ace Customer Engagement

5. Countless Earning Potential at Low Costs

An effective mobile marketing strategy will enable you to target a larger audience, build highly marketable products or services and attract and maintain a loyal customer following. The best thing about mobile marketing is that it is cost effective so you have the opportunity to earn more profit.

It is a fact that the percentage of smart phone users will continue to increase in the coming years. Mobile marketing is the future of marketing, so it is wise to opt for it now and build a strong following for your business as it will position you for greater revenues and increased opportunities in the future.  

What are the ways to leverage Social Media to enhance Customer Service?

Wondering how to generate more leads successfully? You just have to go where the people hang out. With 1.23 billion users on Facebook and 271 million users on Twitter, you clearly have to make your presence felt on social media. Not only is it the most effective means of business promotion, but is also very cost-effective. If you know to how to effectively leverage this medium to your advantage, you can retain your customers and attract new ones. Interacting with your customers directly and fostering relationships results in your loyal customer base expanding.  Polls indicate 63% of small business owners find social media an effective source of promoting their business and that it is a successful means of creating more loyal customers.

using social media to enhance customer service

Below are the Ways on How to Utilize Social Media to Enhance Customer Service

1. Regular Interaction with Customers

You probably already have a social media profile on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and more. However, in order to interact with your customers, you must have a separate social networking profile for your business.

2. Start Blogging

Create a blog for your business to share news about new products, latest promotions, or simply share useful information related to your products or services.

Related:
Blogging — Just What Your Business Needs To Boost Your Online Marketing

3. Ask For Feedback and Respond To It

Encourage your customers and followers to give your feedback regarding your services and products. Create polls and surveys and ask your followers, friends, and regular customers to provide feedback. Furthermore, it is essential to always respond to whatever feedback you get from your fans or followers. If there is any complaint, immediately act on it and provide solutions to the customers. Ask for suggestions. This will make the customers feel important and involved, subsequently resulting in an increase in their loyalty towards your business.

4. Regularly Monitor Online Feedback

There are several other mediums online where your customers can give feedback about your services and products besides your official website, blog, or social networking profiles. You must be aware of what individuals are saying about your products and business. Use tools or search engines like Google Analytics to look for reviews and feedback.

5. Know Your Competition Better

Keep an eye on review sites where people provide their feedback about products and services they used. This is not merely to see what people are saying about your business but also to know what they are saying about your competitors and determine what you can do to improve your business. For example, if they are providing special offers which the consumers love then maybe it is a wise idea for your business to launch a special offer as well.

6. Understand the Needs of Your Customers

If your customers are regularly sending your queries or complaints, then maybe it is time to really look into the problem and find its root cause. Change or modify the processes, if needed, to satisfy the needs of your customers. For example, you can add a FAQ section to answer the most regularly received queries.

Through social media, you can effectively promote and market your business in order to reach maximum number of your customers. It is better to have a strong social media plan to ensure that your business maintains a positive presence on the web and bring positive results for your business.

Strategies to Build Stronger and Lasting B2B Relationships

Many B2B organisations operate with the perception that selling their services or products at the lowest possible rates will make them successful. This approach may very well bring them success for a while, but once a competitor comes up with a better price or a better product, then the company becomes vulnerable and its products replaceable. Focusing on the price along will always be an unsuccessful and unnecessary strategy in the long run. A better and more successful approach is improving and nurturing their B2B relationships. B2B organisations have more chances of becoming successful if they are able to maintain strong business relationships.

Successful Strategies to Enhance Business to Business Relations

There are numerous strategies that your company can employ to improve and enhance their relationships. Some of them are discussed below:

1. Understand Clients’ Personalities

The most essential strategy for stronger relationships is to actually assess and understand the personality of your clients. This will assist you and your employees to communicate with them in a better way, whether it is face-to-face communication, email, phone, or any other form of communication. It will help you in developing a message that your client can relate to and understand in a better way. The most effective ways of understanding your clients and customers is through the social media.

b2b client personalities understanding infographic

As per our experience, 83% of B2B marketers believe that social media is essential for business and 58% have reported that social media has improved their sales. This means that through better communications with the clients and customers, processes and strategies can be improved and hence sales can increase.

Related:
6 Questions You Should Ask Before Executing Your B2B Campaign

2. Analysis of Sales Cycle

It is always a good strategy to understand the sales cycle of your clients so that you are aware of what is going on in their business. Do they need a simple solution to enhance their success or do they need to work on an entirely different approach? Are there any additional ways you can assist them?

3. Provide Effective Solutions

The right message at the right time can do wonders for your business relations. If you understand your business relations and the needs of their business, then you can effectively offer solutions for their existing problems as well as come up with effective strategies for problems they might face in the future.

4. Knowledge About Business Issues

When you are aware about the market trends and the potential problems your clients and customers can face, your company will be able to assist them properly. It is extremely easy to stay updated in today’s technological era. You can simply research latest company reports, look up the trends and latest happenings in an industry, search about the latest products, what they offer and how they can challenge your own or your client’s services and products. With the most recent information at hand, you will be better equipped to help your clients, leading to increased trust and confidence, enhancing business relationships as a result.

No matter which sector your business belongs to or which products or services it sells, if the relationship with the customers, clients, and other business associates are strong, then your company will attain success. When partnerships and business is done on genuine advice instead of price, it gives a mutual benefit to all the parties which improves B2B relationships and helps in maintaining them. Low prices can be offered by any company but it’s merely a short term quick fix, while strengthening business relationships is a sustainable and long term strategy.