Leading with experience has emerged as a crucial strategy for B2B merchants to stay relevant. The meaning of 'customer-centric' has changed, and the need to become customer-obsessed is being recognized. Yet the data suggest that most brands have yet to adopt the basics of B2B online selling. As a result, B2B marketing teams are struggling to build customer relationships.
Forrester recently reported that B2B companies have an average customer experience score of less than 50%, far lower than 75% for B2C companies. Business customers expect experiences that simplify their B2B purchase process at every stage of the customer journey.
According to a recent Forbes article, buyers want easy access to pricing and competitive information, easy access to content (no long registration forms required or gated content), and a website that speaks directly to their industry's pain points and shows expertise in the buyer's business.
What techniques can marketers learn from B2C commerce to transform their B2B customer journey map? Let's find out.
Technique 1: Google experience updates
Recently, Google announced a new ranking algorithm designed to judge web pages based on how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. This update is called the Google Page Experience and will evaluate if the website is mobile-friendly, whether it is secure, whether content jumps around as the page loads, and whether the page loads quickly.
Merchants should adhere to the guidelines for user experience improvements before the change is rolled out; otherwise, their websites will lose ranking. Improving page performance and easing the buying process should be one of the critical priorities for marketers as it can significantly impact ROI. Here are some simple steps to improve page performance and boost the B2B customer experience:
1. Use a CDN
Content Delivery Networks use servers close to users to serve them content, which reduces the round-trip time and makes your website load faster.
2. Lazy load images
Optimizing images and other visual content on your website is a must as it reduces file sizes. It is a best practice to lazy load images to increase your website speed.
3. Optimize your code
Another user experience improvement you can make is to remove code comments, commas, spaces, formatting, etc. to lessen page load times. Identify and remove unnecessary scripts. For the essential scripts, add the script directly into the HTML code of the page where they will be loaded once needed. If not, defer the script until all other elements have been rendered.
4. Enable caching
Fetching and downloading resources over a network every time a user visits your website is expensive and wastes time—so browsers cache information to speed up this process. You can also enable caching at the server level using your CDN to shorten website load time as well.
5. Be mindful of content placement
To avoid shifting your web page layout, be mindful of where you place content on your website. Dynamic content that pops up like sign-up forms, GDPR notices distort the page layout when they show up at the top or bottom of the viewport. It is best to reserve enough space for your pop-up, so it doesn’t distort other content on your page.
Technique 2: Site search enhancements
Merchants need to think beyond necessary search enhancements such as spell checking, auto-completion, price ranges, and sorting. Businesses must have a strategic roadmap for more advanced search tactics, such as query fallbacks, to have meaningful customer interaction. Retailers must prioritize customer journey mapping and optimize the site search function. Almost three-quarters of respondents reported being likely or very likely to leave a retail site that doesn’t provide them with good search results. Below are four key tactics to improve a merchant’s search capability:
1. Make the search box user-friendly
Make the search box intuitive in several important ways. First, place the search box in plain view in a location that makes sense. Make sure it’s large enough to accept an average search string. If you need to save space, make sure the search box can expand when clicked. Use microcopy as a textual prompt to help the user out.
2. Analyze search data
Site search data is crucial to your marketing strategy. It helps identify the most popular products on your eCommerce site, see new trends arise in search, and then configure the search accordingly. Every time a user interacts with your site, they generate valuable and actionable data you can use to clarify user intents and drive business priorities. Analyzing your site search data can help you evaluate your search function's quality, reveal essential keywords, and give you insights to improve conversion rates. Make popular products easy to find, highlight on-trend or on-sale items, and help searchers discover popular related products.
3. Optimize for mobile searching & all touchpoints
Mobile search must be built on great search with enhancements such as instant results, typo tolerance, and query suggestions. Mobile search should also consider mobile-specific UX elements, such as whether a tab bar, full search bar, or icon is best for your content.
Voice search functionality is also a must-have. Roughly 36% of consumers have smart speakers, and 75% of smart speaker owners use it every day. Great voice search provides relevant results by using dynamic filtering and giving context, and personalizing results. Make sure your site meets this challenge.
4. Use autocomplete, autocorrect, filters, and facets to assist search
Unfortunately, online visitors are not always search experts. Research shows that customers need proper search, excellent navigation, and UX to find what they need on a website. Here are two suggestions to help make the search easier:
- Leave the search terms in the search box so users can easily edit their current search. This approach can be especially important if the search uses auto-correct.
- Use auto-suggest and recommended search terms to help users further refine their searches.
Site search is so integral to the day-to-day health and operation of a site that it should not be treated as an afterthought. For some brands, site search accounts for 40% of GMV.
Technique 3: Mobility and PWA
A PWA is an independent front-end layer built using the mobile-first approach. It’s a web page that acts like a native mobile app and can function offline. PWAs can push notifications to let shoppers know, for example, when ‘Wish List’ items go on sale. PWAs can be accessed from an icon on a smartphone’s home screen, like native apps. And PWAs are very fast, sometimes even quicker than the app. Below are three main advantages of a PWA for B2B merchants:
More offline access
B2B orders happen everywhere, on the construction site, on the farm, in a remote area outside of the city, with poor access to the internet. Yes, the buyer will phone the order into their representative when the internet is limited. Yet I believe – companies looking to increase operational efficiency would opt to avoid taking calls into a call center.
Conversions when offline
With PWA to access products offline, shoppers need to have previously navigated a category to cache the product for future offline viewing. Furthermore, a B2C shopper has to finish the purchase path and make a payment after reconnection. Push notifications will help buyers not to forget. Sounds decent, but B2B buyers typically repeat orders and won’t need online access to process credit cards as payment is based on credit and invoices. All the mechanisms required to process an order are available without further actions while offline. There is less conversion risk due to being offline.
Unique functionalities with PWA
Let’s understand this with an example. Say, a business-to-business company is seeking a barcode scanner functionality. Traditional barcode systems require scanner hardware and some type of software, such as a separate application. With PWA users have access to the scanner, without the extra costs related to native app implementation. This is just one example of unique functionality. PWA will replace the native mobile apps that we know today. And why? Simply put - not every potential customer will install your native app especially in the era of app fatigue with the average smartphone having 60 and 90 apps installed.
Competitive B2B businesses are reassessing their sales approach and are beginning to shift their standard B2B customer journey flow from the traditional linear model to a dynamic, personalized approach using personas, segmentation, and personalization to enhance the buyers’ experience. In the next blog, we will discover more techniques that B2B marketers can implement from B2C commerce.
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