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How to succeed in B2B ecommerce

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Dec. 7, 2015
Experts in business-to-business marketing discuss the unique challenges online B2B companies face and what steps they can take to attract and retain customers.

“For whatever reason, there is a common misconception that a B2B website doesn't need to look terrific,” says Austin Paley, director of corporate marketing, Blue Fountain Media. “And while a company's website focus should first and foremost be on performance and usability, something that looks unprofessional won't produce results.”

Just like when you shop online, B2B decision makers are “often influenced by factors such as compelling imagery and engaging copy and Web design,” he says. By “investing in the design of your site, you'll increase conversions.”

4. Provide useful content. “My best tip on how to succeed in the B2B space, particularly in the online B2B space, is to develop thought leadership and domain expertise,” says Karakaya. “From technology and widgets to consulting and professional services, everyone is looking for expertise in a particular area, an edge.”

To do that, “publish educational, on-demand content (e.g., white papers, ebooks, podcasts, etc.) that helps solve a problem,” advises Tony Faustino, president, Faustino Marketing Strategies. “B2B buyers cite a vendor’s website content as the second most important factor influencing the early purchasing decision. Therefore, enable the buyer with positive intent by publishing helpful, educational content.”

5. Network on LinkedIn. “LinkedIn is a perfect example of a platform that allows you to demographically target and convert an audience of potential customers,” says Andy Groller, vice president, digital advertising, DragonSearch, a digital marketing agency.

“From its networking capabilities to its professional atmosphere, LinkedIn is the go-to for B2Bs looking to utilize social media platforms to reach their audience,” says Paley. “You can target [decision makers] based on title, industry, business longevity, etc., allowing you to really tailor your marketing to a specific audience,” he says. “Making sure you’re top of mind in places where your users are frequenting is crucial and LinkedIn is undoubtedly the social community to focus on when you’re trying to reach decision makers at other businesses.”

“By joining and participating in LinkedIn Groups within our company's area of expertise and industry, we have been able to reach new customers and gain additional exposure for our organization,” reports Maddie Koerber, marketing manager, AVF Consulting. “Our team regularly updates our blog with industry-relevant news and then shares that content with the appropriate LinkedIn groups in order to start discussions. We began strategically leveraging Linkedin Groups at the beginning of 2015 and have seen a 630 percent increase in the amount of LinkedIn referral traffic to our website compared with the same time period in 2014.”

6. Don’t forget about customers after the initial sale. “Many B2B companies pay little attention to their customers once a deal is signed, unless there are complaints,” says Jonathan Block, vice president, information technology, SiriusDecisions, a B2B research and advisory firm. “High-performing B2B companies focus on the entire customer lifecycle to improve retention, loyalty and advocacy.” To succeed in the B2B space, “communicate with your customers, gather feedback and gain insights into their post-sale experiences.”


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