Delivering an outstanding customer experience across all touchpoints is the key to converting and retaining B2B customers who value a streamlined and seamless purchasing experience so they can get their jobs done faster and easier.
Here are some top trends that will augment customer experience and drive B2B eCommerce success in 2018 and beyond:
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Machine learning, natural language processing, and predictive analytics are instrumental in helping marketers utilize a large amount of data and analyze market trends to deliver a personalized customer experience.
- Maximize ROI of PPC advertising by testing platforms, optimizing targeting, and performing autonomous media buying.
- Deliver real-time personalization and product recommendations on websites and via push notifications to increase conversion rate.
- Increase the effectiveness of content marketing and drive high-quality traffic to the online store by recommending trending topics and compelling headlines.
- Improve email marketing with intelligent content curation based on customer profile, previous interactions, past purchases, and browsing history to deliver value and cultivate relationships.
- Support account-based marketing by analyzing customer information and delivering the most appropriate content and offer.
- Reduce churn with predictive analytics and smart customer re-engagement.
2. Omnichannel... Everything
B2B customers want the ability to interact with your brand -- whether it's consuming content, interacting with sales reps, making a purchase, or getting customer support -- in ways that are most convenient for them.
Omnichannel marketing is the key to delivering a seamless B2B customer experience. It allows you to interact with and service your customers whenever and wherever they want through a variety of online and offline channels such as website, email, social media, messaging, phone, catalog, and more.
The marketing message delivered to your audience should reflect their interactions with your brand through every touchpoint so they can continue the conversation exactly "where they left off" and progress down the purchasing funnel.
In addition, buyers expect omnichannel customer support from vendors. Whether they're contacting you via email, phone, social media, SMS, live chat, or messaging apps, they expect a response that takes into account all their previous communications.
To deliver a seamless omnichannel customer experience, start with setting up 360-degree customer profiles. This single customer view allows you to record all customer information and interactions in one central location to inform subsequent interactions.
3. International Market
B2B eCommerce continues to grow globally. If you want to expand your business and grow your revenue, make sure your online store is delivering an outstanding customer experience to an international clientele.
To expand into a new market, you should first research demand and local buying trends to inform product selection and categorization.
Then set up a localized version of your eCommerce store with local language options, pricing in local currency, as well as local shipping cost and options.
Make sure to cater to the preferred payment methods of the B2B buyers in the local market. For example, 60% of payments are made by direct debit in the Netherlands while 46% of payments are made through online bank transfer in Germany.
4. Mobile eCommerce
From research to purchase, more B2B buyers are using mobile devices to conduct business.
It's therefore important to create a mobile-friendly customer experience that facilitates research, purchase, and account management.
Cart abandonment rate is still the highest among mobile users. To encourage more buyers to complete their transactions, streamline the checkout flow on your website and leverage mobile-specific features such as autofill, tap-to-call, and geolocation services to further improve the purchasing experience.
In addition, Google is now taking page speed of mobile websites into account. If you want to be discovered by B2B buyers early in their research process and generate high-quality leads through SEO, your website needs to be optimized for a fast and seamless mobile experience.
5. Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and Personalization
Account-based marketing has been widely adopted by B2B marketers while a Gartner study predicts that by 2018 B2B e-commerce sites that have employed personalization will outsell their competitors who haven't done so by 15%.
ABM and personalization are made possible by the plethora of marketing technologies that enable the collection, segmentation, and utilization of a large amount of customer data.
The key to successful ABM is the delivery of highly relevant information and offers at the right place at the right time to the right audience, which can be segmented by company size, roles, titles, job functions, interests, etc.
You need to clearly understand the challenges and priorities of each stakeholder involved in the decision-making process and provide the right kind of content to progress them down the purchasing path.
In addition, you can further personalize and streamline the shopping experience with customized catalogs and re-order list to make doing business with you as seamless as possible.
6. Secure Payment Options
B2B customers expect a variety of payment options from their vendors to increase convenience and lower financing cost.
Your eCommerce website should support e-checks, ACH, e-procurement, purchase orders, purchasing or commercial cards, and extended credit to make it easy for customers to complete a transaction.
You can make placing an order even faster and easier by allowing customers to set up corporate accounts with preset limits or product catalogs so buyers can get their job done efficiently.
In addition, customers are savvy about online security and won't hesitate to abandon cart if they don't see the necessary security measures on a website.
Many eCommerce platforms offer built-in secured payment for a small fee. You can also use a secure payment gateway in conjunction with a payment processing service to ensure online security.
7. Real-Time Customer Service
Live chat has been found to increase conversion by as much as 45% and achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction because website visitors can get their questions answered immediately.
The use of messaging apps and chatbot is taking such "instant gratification" to the next level.
You can combine the use of chatbot and agents to deliver a fast and personalized user experience. Chatbots can quickly address frequently asked questions while live agents can provide high-touch interactions that help increase conversion and improve customer loyalty.
Your real-time customer support strategies should be integrated with other customer services channels, such as email, phone, or social media, to deliver a seamless omnichannel customer experience.