Offering customers a great experience online is paramount, especially for demanding B2B eCommerce customers looking for tools to help them better run their businesses. A bad digital environment will harm your conversions and may damage your brand.
It’s important to understand and fulfill user expectations, but also be thinking about how you can take things further and actually exceed expectations. Ditch outdated business myths and embrace new ways of working. Here are some of the key myths your company should be ditching in 2017 – see whether your brand can excel beyond all expectations in 2017.
1. Software and automation isn’t good for our customers
Using software doesn’t take you away from your customers – it frees you up to do more things of value from them. The number one thing that your customers care about is service – focus your efforts on running a service-based business, not an institution that depends on complex top-level processes. Your goal as B2B manager should be to make eCommerce as easy as possible – use software solutions and become an early adopter of the latest innovations.
- Are customers going to know (or care), whether you use software to automate dreary tasks? All they see is the experience you give them – which is very much still about connections and relationships. That’s where you need to invest – in great products, great copy, and great customer value.
- Live chat and customer service portals can help you manage your customer experience smoothly 24/7, no matter where you are. Check out these awesome Zendesk alternatives to help you rock your customer service game.
Make customer service pop-ups and sales chats as natural and unobtrusive as you can – integrate them with your site design and let people minimize them if they need to.
On the People HR website (they sell HR software), a friendly chat window immediately pops up that can be easily ignored or minimized. Aesthetically, it sits well within the site’s overall design and keeps the overall user experience harmonious.
2. Cool website design is only for B2C
Web design trends and conventions move at a dizzying pace. A site that looked good three years ago, probably looks helplessly out of date today. Just because you are in the B2B niche and selling to ‘professionals’, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take note of latest web design trends.
How to keep up?
- See what your competitors are doing on their sites, and what you can learn from them to make yours even better! Pick and choose elements that you think will make people’s lives easier, not just stuff that looks ‘cool’.
- Make sure that you have a good mobile website – this is absolutely essential. Whether you go for responsive design, a mobile website, or other design options – just make sure that your mobile experience delivers.
- Online video is always growing – see whether you can shift some of your content into video format this year. Video is engaging for online users, and it’s getting cheaper and cheaper to produce. Especially if you sell software or tech – video can help you humanize your product and easily demonstrate different use cases.
- It’s a good idea to plan in routine design tweaks throughout the year, instead of letting your site get out of date by leaving it alone for long periods of time.
- Avoid industry gimmicks: design and build for longevity. Focus on user experience and don’t get caught up in newfangled designs that aren’t going to improve customer experience.
3. A few errors never hurt anyone…
Website glitches are (sadly) staggeringly common. Sometimes users look the other way and go ahead anyway – but the ideal we should all aim for is fast-loading pages, no 404s, and a smooth user experience.
- Regularly update your web environment – that includes your plugins. Updates ensure that you keep your site code healthy and secure. An outdated web environment gets unsafe and glitchy pretty fast.
- Check any redirects on a regular basis. Selling products? Don’t just let out of stock item pages 404 – make sure that they redirect somewhere useful.
- Conduct some usability audits to see whether your site layout and categorization make sense to users. Remember that what may seem ‘obvious’ to you and your team; probably isn’t so for other people.
- Make sure that you prioritize the data you get back from usability studies and your web analytics – people will often tell you if they don’t like your site with their user behavior.
- Site speed is super important – make sure that your page load times are optimal.
4. My website should appeal to the masses
Don’t build a website for everyone, build a website for your customers.
If your website has no real point of intersection between your brand and what customers are looking for – you’re in trouble. Being relevant to your customers is all about getting to know them in the first place. Proper market research should help you build out detailed buyer personas.
Identifying your buyer personas is just phase one of targeting – next you need to come up with compelling messaging that answers your audience’s questions, addresses their concerns, and inspires them to buy from you.
A relevancy tactic that works well if you operate in a few different niches is to create landing pages that talk to one single target market (or customer) at a time.
This Shopify ecommerce page for pottery and ceramics business owners is completely relevant to its target audience. The words they use, the images they’ve chosen – all perfectly crafted and designed to appeal to someone who wants to make it as a pottery merchant. With a landing page like this, Shopify make it look easy! By honing in on their specific target market needs, they can directly appeal to pottery businesses.
- Review your landing pages – are they industry specific enough? Look at the images and words that you use – do you need to be more specific? Don’t be afraid to create pages that openly proclaim who your service/product is aimed at.
- You will need excellent copywriting as well as consumer insight in order to craft high-converting landing pages.
- Balance words with images for a seamless sales funnel.
5. Social proof is a B2C tactic
Just because B2C makes social proof look ‘easy’, doesn’t mean that B2B businesses can’t also benefit from social selling. Just as much as consumers do, professional and business customers want to feel that they are investing in a popular product or service; one that’s been given a vote of confidence by other satisfied users and people.
Even in the early days, it’s very important that you focus your online efforts on creating a social hub for your brand. Customers want to see reviews, testimonials, and photos of other satisfied customers!
The Body Shop have made sure that they drive as many customers as possible to their site to leave reviews (many of their products have hundreds of reviews). They send out personalized post-purchase emails, asking customers to share their opinions. It’s all about creating a customer community where people are asked to share their thoughts for the benefits of others.
This is a tactic that can be easily leveraged for B2B companies too – ask your customers to share their product and service knowledge with the wider business community. Don’t just say you want a review – ask people to help others. Here are some other B2B review strategies you can use for your business.
The Body Shop use a hashtag #THEBODYSHOPUSA that customers use to submit photos of their products, with the hope of being featured in the online user gallery.
For B2B, you could invent a fun hashtag that gets people to share photos from inside their offices and businesses.
Basecamp not only makes trialing their product super easy, they also include some compelling customer quotes to incentivize people to sign up. The genuine quotes and different companies that have found using Basecamp useful help build confidence and trust in the product. It’s all about showing companies how Basecamp can help them run better businesses themselves.
- Ask customers for product reviews in the right way– tell them that they would be helping others by contributing.
- Get users to submit their own photos on social media channels and aggregate them into an attractive gallery.
- Get in-depth testimonials and case studies from some of your biggest users; especially effective for B2B.
- Make sure that your social channels aren’t dead as a dodo – focus on growing your following by engaging with people and following them back.
Running a B2B business in 2017 is exciting and challenging. As financial circumstances in companies tighten, it’s important that you keep offering value to your customers. There are loads of different factors to think about, but make sure that keeping customers happy is your number one priority. How do you plan on delighting your customers in 2017?