February 22, 2015
B2B e-commerce sales were set to hit $1 Trillion in 2014, making Gartner’s $559 Billion prediction for 2013 look downright pessimistic. But despite all this money floating around, too many e-commerce executives and solopreneurs seem to be taking Woody Allen’s “90 percent of success is just showing up” advice far too literally, creating websites and customer experiences that leave a lot of conversions on the table.
You don’t need a degree in marketing to run a successful online business. You just need a computer, basic Internet access, and a little elbow grease. Here are three steps you can take to optimize your ecommerce site for the best possible conversion rates.
Target Your Website Design and Copy
Obviously you want your site to look good and read as well as possible. But what does “looking good” really mean? (Hint: It’s not your top five favorite fonts mix and matched over your personal vacation photos). “Looking good” means intentional, researched design principles. It means going through an extensive design and copy process to write and build for your target customer and your target customer only, and then making those changes to make the process as comfortable for that customer as possible.
Take Mervis Diamond Importers’ $30,000 Apple Watch, for example. You’d better bet the words and images their marketing team is going to use to sell such a watch are different than what that team would use to sell a B2B software application. Instead of posting your product and assuming the customer will realize its value, you have to show that value through deliberate design and copy.
Build Grassroots Inbound Marketing
You can’t complete a sale without a customer, which is why driving traffic to your B2B e-commerce website remains a huge priority. But then comes the inevitable question: how? If you’re functioning as a mega-enterprise e-commerce company, you can expect your sales team to handle your lead generation and marketing activities. But if, like most e-commerce companies, you thrive as a small or solo team, that’s not realistic; and as a result inbound marketing efforts are often relegated to the “Nice To Do” list that never gets done. And when they do get done, they’re haphazard and random at best.
The best B2B e-commerce marketing portfolio is a targeted and diversified one. First, analyze your target customers to assess which inbound marketing strategies will see the best ROI (LinkedIn versus Facebook, video versus podcasting, etc.). Then follow through with these marketing and traffic-generating efforts by whatever means necessary: schedule time on your calendar to add to your BufferApp, sign up for weekly email updates from your paid search provider, and outsource whatever makes sense for your circumstances. If you aren’t making time to track and react to these marketing activities, you aren’t making the most of being the agile startup you are.
Make It Easy To Get Paid
When many B2B e-commerce sites average a 68 percent cart abandonment rate, you have to wonder how heavily the “little things” in the e-commerce payment process influence B2B customers. That leads us to just one tiny detail that remains: for heaven’s sake, make it easy for your customer to pay you! It’s the little things like forcing your primarily US-based customer to sort through hundreds of countries in a scroll down menu, or filling out tons of details before they can move forward with a purchase. Or worse– asking for that information in an embedded flash box that disappears at the slightest flick of the wrist, undoing 10 minutes of painstaking tablet typing.
Instead, look at your current customer data and make some changes that customize the experience for them. Pull the US (or other top-selling countries) to the top of the drop down menu. Consolidate your required customer information to only what is vital to make the purchase. Make it easier to facilitate enterprise-sized purchases by offering ways to adjust the payment terms, give payment approval from multiple stakeholders, or pay with PayPal, POs, or paper checks.
The health (and future success) of your e-commerce business depends on the simplest transaction of all: getting paid. Customize and tweak your website design, copy, and payment process to make sure every road leads to the bank.
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