It’s widely recognised that B2B ecommerce is outperforming B2C, currently providing double the revenues and with projections that show a market value of £5.3 trillion by 2020.

Despite the scale of the opportunity, many companies still aren’t investing in an ecommerce strategy, meaning the ones that do have a lot to gain.

But it’s not just about adding a shopping cart to your B2B website. You need to follow a few key steps to provide a great B2B ecommerce experience. The last thing you want to do is drive your customers towards your competitors, but sometimes it isn’t all that easy to spot the mistakes.

That’s why we’ve put together a free report for B2B companies, exploring the top 10 reasons why your B2B website could be letting you down.

Here we take a look at some of the key checkpoints from that report. Fire up your website and go through this quick guidance to see where the easy fixes could be. Interested in exploring all 10 reasons? Then download the full guide here.

As a starting point, here are 5 checkpoints from the report:

Checkpoint 1:

Do You Make It Obvious You Know Your Core Audiences?

UX, or user experience, is the overall online impression that your visitors get from your company. It’s the glue that holds your online presence together.

It’s clear that page layouts, navigation and hyperlinks should lead visitors around with simple steps that take them through the buying process, but you also need to understand the different customer journeys that are taking place.

Mapping out a traffic flowchart will allow you to figure out how your pages link together and how you need to cater for your range of audiences or buyer personas.

Beyond that, you need to understand your core sectors and connect with them through your UX. Build pages that relate only to them, identify their pain points and provide solutions. Focus your web design, content and ecommerce squarely at those audiences that generate the most revenue for your company.

But you need to provide a balance. Being a generalist and covering all the bases may mean that you won’t attract anyone, but being a specialist and catering for one audience may mean that you are missing out on other business on the boundaries of your expertise.

What you need is a multi-tiered approach, which provides broader messaging to spread your net wider, but also includes a suite of sector-specific pages to really drill down into your core target audiences and demonstrate that you understand their needs.

Checkpoint 2:

Are Your Calls to Action Compelling?

Calls to action (CTAs) are becoming commonplace on websites, providing a way to fast track your visitors into the buying loop. Potential customers could find what they want by spending time and effort trawling your site for the information they need, but they just won’t bother.

The further someone has to search to get to their destination, the higher the likelihood that they’re going to drop off and head to your competitors. A CTA is a direct instruction which compels your visitors to take the immediate action that you want them to take.

CTAs come in many guises. The line of copy above a webform which reads “Join Our Mailing List”, the link at the end of a blog article reading “Click Here To Learn More” and even “Buy Now”, “Add To Basket” and “View This Week’s Offers”. They are all CTAs.

However, with B2B purchasing it can be far subtler. The first time someone visits your website they may be researching the marketplace, so you need to use CTAs to reach out to them and guide them into the buying process.

Ensure your CTA not only allows your customers to reach the next step in the ordering process, but also appeals to your core target audiences through the nature of its design, the persuasiveness of its copy and its positioning. Each CTA needs to take into consideration:

  • Visibility
  • Description
  • Clarity
  • Persuasion

Leave the user in no doubt of the action to take next, why they should take the action and the result they’ll get once they’ve taken it.

Checkpoint 3:

Is Your Content Mix Working?

If you’re running a B2B website your primary goal is to make a profit, but as covered earlier you need to transition your visitors through a series of steps before they become customers. Content is a great way of doing this.

Remember that your audience doesn’t want to know much about your company. As long as they know the basics and are able to find out what you do, they’re more interested in how you can overcome their challenges. As a result, you need to be writing content that’s not necessarily about your product, but about how it can fix your potential buyer’s problems. Focus on what matters to your audiences.

Blogging is a great way to build a library of information about your target industry. Posts are short enough to be read quickly, plus they are non-threatening for the buyer who’s simply doing research. They can also interest buyers and direct them to CTAs to transition them to the next stage of the buying process. Never forget the importance of data capture.

You’re also going to need different content for different audiences. Some people like to read through a detailed piece, others just like to be told the top line facts. Sometimes an infographic will tell the whole story, whereas a video is more suitable at other times.

Checkpoint 4:

Do You Know How Your Visitors Found You?

It’s not always obvious why people are visiting your website, where they arrive from and what they do when they get there.

You may have Google Analytics, or similar, embedded in your pages and you know how many visitors you’re getting each month. Perhaps your metrics are tied to business targets in some way as well. That’s great, though there is so much more that can be done with your web analytics.

It’s more than counting visitors. You need to focus on the metrics that really matter to your business goals and communicate those metrics across the company in useful ways.

Defining your website’s key performance indicators (KPIs) is your first requirement: user tracking, website conversions, site actions, goal setting, CTAs and internal site search usage.

By generating, analysing and acting upon clear web analytics you can make better decisions about how to leverage your marketing resources, doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

Checkpoint 5:

Has Your Content Stagnated?

Once you’ve generated content for your website, that’s not the end of it. If you’re not regularly adding new information then your lack of updates will send the signal that communication is not a top priority. This can impact upon your sales volumes.

Always ensure your content is fresh and changing, but don’t just create content for the sake of it. You need to be connecting regularly, but you need to be connecting relevantly.

Add publication dates to blog posts so that people can see they are current. Encourage your audiences to comment on your articles, link them into social media channels and discussion groups. Answer comments and get involved in discussions.

Summing It Up

These are just a few of the many ways that the right approach to doing business online can improve the experience for your customers and improve your profits.

As B2B ecommerce continues to accelerate, you need to be thinking about the overall experience that you can provide to your audiences. That’s where we come in. We’re helping our clients make the most of the opportunity, ensuring they stay ahead of their competitors time and again, and we can do the same for you.

Let us know how you get on and what works well for you and your industry, we’d love to hear from you.

Why not download our free report for B2B companies? It’s a guide which explores the top 10 reasons why your B2B website could be letting you down. If you need any pointers along the way just get in touch, we’re here to help.