There aren’t that many differences between a B2C and B2B ecommerce marketing strategy today. When you look closely at both types of retail marketing approaches, you’ll notice:
- Both of their ecommerce marketing strategies center on developing an online store that streamlines the checkout process for consumers (B2C) and business decision-makers (B2B).
- Both utilize modern digital marketing channels — online marketplaces, pay-per-click advertising, social media — to acquire prospects and nurture them through their buying cycles.
- Both want to boost conversion rates by turning potential customers into loyal customers through savvy marketing tactics (e.g., email marketing campaigns to segmented lists).
- Both prioritize customer service and experience in their ecommerce marketing strategies and provide buyers with relevant product recommendations to inform their purchasing decisions.
- Both rely on a mix of essential ecommerce platforms and proven marketing technologies to track their customers’ journeys and inform their customer lifecycle orchestration programs.
It’s this latter point — the implementation and daily use of modern martech, like a customer data platform (CDP) — that helps B2B retailers with B2C-esque business models meet their myriad marketing and sales goals and earn greater customer loyalty from those who shop with them.
The CDP’s role in modern B2B ecommerce marketing strategies
According to a 2019 Episerver study, nearly three-quarters of business leaders at B2B companies say most of their revenue will come from owned B2B ecommerce websites by 2025.
One of the top projected drivers of this online retail revenue growth? Personalization.
The best way for B2B ecommerce brands to implement personalization? With a CDP.
Syncing all of their database solutions in their martech stacks (and technologies from other departments, like inventory management solutions) to the platform supplies their marketers the full picture of their visitors’, prospects’, and customers’ behaviors, attributes, and engagements.
Just as B2C retailers customize offers to buyers based on site searches and product pages viewed, B2B ecommerce businesses — like those selling office supplies or promotional products — need to serve personalized and individualized offers to prospects through owned, earned, and paid media.
With disparate, disconnected databases, this is a tall task for B2B retail marketers, as they don’t have access to all customers’ historical first-party data in a single, streamlined database like a CDP.
With a customer data platform, these B2B marketers get the true 360-degree, real-time view of their buyers’ and prospects’ which can help them serve the most relevant and timely messaging.
Specific B2B ecommerce marketing use cases with a CDP
Want to see some actual examples as to how B2B ecommerce marketing professionals make the most of CDPs in their day-to-day efforts and long-term strategies? Here are a few key use cases to know.
Use case #1: Understand returning visitors’ browsing behaviors to enhance their shopping experience with individualization.
As BlueConic COO Cory Munchbach noted in her insightful guest piece on individualized marketing for Chief Marketer, “Only first-party data, collected at the point and time of interaction, will give you the right information to get to know the individuals visiting your brand.”
As ecommerce marketing reps BlueConic customers America’s Test Kitchen and Franklin Sports noted during our MarTech East 2019 session, individualization has improved their digital engagement efforts and customer experience metrics since they onboarded our CDP.
While both brands fall under the B2C ecommerce umbrella, B2B businesses with retail arms can benefit just as much by using first-party data like ecommerce site users’ browsing histories to serve individualized product recommendations to those visitors on subsequent returns to the site.
Through individualized offers to specific people who revisit your site over and over — from those who’ve bought particular items with relative frequency in the past to repeat site visitors who peruse a similar set of items over time but have yet to complete the ordering process — you and your B2B ecommerce marketing team can serve up the perfect on-site or email recommendations to them.
In BlueConic, for instance, you can see their customer profiles update dynamically in real time.
This up-to-the-minute single customer view, in tandem with our Dialogues feature, gives you the opportunity to deliver targeted recommendations to your repeat visitors and vastly improve your odds of turning them into repeat B2B buyers and developing long-term customer relationships.
Plenty of marketing platforms claim to offer a real-time view of customers’ activities with an organization. Often, though, that “real-time” visibility into B2B customers’ behaviors and interactions isn’t quite so up to date — sometimes it’s delayed several minutes (or even several hours).
The CDP offers actual real-time customer insights — meaning moments after a given contact (unknown visitor, known prospect, current subscriber, etc.) engages with your brand, their customer profile is dynamically updated, giving you the tools you need to individualize the perfect offers.
Use case #2: Break down B2B buyers into customer segments so you can personalize offers on products of interest to them.
Similar to individualized recommendations to a single person based on her distinct digital engagement with your brand, you can also personalize suggestions for product and services to a segment of B2B customers in your database who’ve expressed varying levels of interest.
Consumers researching B2C ecommerce brands’ websites and corporate buyers combing through B2B ecommerce companies’ digital presence both have the same issue at times: “choice fatigue.” Too many options can paralyze some would-be shoppers and prevent them from ordering online.
The solution to this fatigue lies in personalization. GlobalWebIndex research from 2019 found 46% of consumers in the U.S. and UK would gladly provide their personal information (a.k.a. consented first-party data) in exchange for personalized recommendations for an ecommerce company’s offerings.
So, show your customers you care about their user experience with your ecommerce site:
- Provide links to product pages for items closely related to ones they’ve viewed recently.
- Adjust the pricing for recommended products to nudge would-be shoppers to the finish line.
- Send follow-up emails post-shopping experience to remind buyers of similar great offerings.
- Reward B2B buyers for purchases by offering loyalty rewards discounts on other similar items.
- Remind customers of previously viewed but un-bought products from the previous sessions.
Personalization comes in many forms for B2B ecommerce marketing teams today, but the objective for each of these activities is the same: build long-lasting customer relationships so you can enhance your return on investment, augment your bottom line, and scale your retail business accordingly.
And you can achieve this objective with a customer data platform like BlueConic.
All you have to do is create custom segments for different prospects and buyers (e.g., one-time customers, shopping cart abandoners, frequent site visitors who’ve yet to purchase, etc.).
As contacts’ actions and behaviors change over time, so do their customer profiles in the CDP and, in turn, whether they remain in or fall out of certain segments. That means your personalization efforts for each one are only ever geared to the most applicable customers and prospects in your database.
What’s more, you can group profiles for contacts into single accounts (e.g., by the company at which multiple B2B buyers who’ve researched your brand work together) so you can personalize offers to all relevant stakeholders at a current or prospective customer, not just to a broader segment of individual decision-makers at different businesses based on their similar attributes and behaviors.
Use case #3: Gather multi-channel insights about all of your B2B customers’ historical and real-time touch points.
Customer insights are the lifeblood of modern B2B ecommerce marketing strategies.
Without insights about your audience, you’re incapable of truly understanding what drives the decision-making for your B2B buyers: the exact offers and items that appeal to them most, where they spend most of their time interacting with you online, how often they open and click links to product pages within your emails and ads, and a myriad of other brand engagements.
As noted, you can see your audience’s interactions in real time through a CDP’s customer insights. In BlueConic’s pure-play customer data platform, we call this the Profile Recognition Dashboard.
This dashboard provides a specific customer recognition ratio: the percentage of engaged contacts in your database for whom you have at least one piece of personally identifying information (PII).
By merging profiles from their various customer databases and setting up listeners — a tool that helps to track customers’ activities as they happen — BlueConic customers, including B2B ecommerce retailers, can immediately connect the dots regarding their prospects’ and buyers’ behaviors.
In turn, these companies can gradually assemble a complete view of their customers’ journeys across channels — even offline touches, such as in-store purchases (if you also have a brick-and-mortar operation) and discussions with your sales representatives at local, regional or national events.
Let’s say you use your customer data platform to gather all pertinent data regarding a past, now-unengaged buyer to see they’ve spoken with a brand rep in the past week and expressed interest in signing a monthly subscription for one or more your products instead of making one-off purchases.
You can leverage that information the next time that customer (in other words, the decision-makers associated with that account in your CDP) lands on your site to investigate your product pages.
Specifically, you can share one-to-one, on-site messaging that promotes an individualized deal based on their browsing to entice them to sign up for said subscription there and then. If that fails to get them to bite, you can deliver custom emails featuring the deal in question moments after they exit.
Advancing your B2B ecommerce marketing with optimal martech
There is no silver bullet for 10x-ing the metrics associated with your company’s B2B ecommerce marketing strategy — something you and your team are undoubtedly aware of today.
That said, you can certainly achieve your B2B marketing and sales goals quite a bit easier and far more efficiently with a customer data platform integrated into your marketing technology stack.
When used as the predominant martech to guide your overarching marketing strategy, you can boost ecommerce site engagement, navigate visitors’ buying processes and shopping journeys, convert more visitors into loyal B2B buyers, and work to retain those newfound B2B customers’ business.