Digital Strategies for B2B Commerce

Digital strategies are frameworks. Just as architects design great blueprints and 3D renderings for buildings, your organization needs structure and perspective for your digital ecosystem. If done well, digital strategies will provide pathways for taking your customers from Awareness to Advocacy. Your goal is to define the entire digital ecosystem so business leaders can drive lead flow, e.g. segment, target, convert and track any prospect or buyer, especially in a digital commerce environment.

Digital ecosystems and their corresponding digital strategies involve marketing but are much broader than digital marketing strategies. They should include:

  • Technology Architecture and Management
  • Analytics and Data Capture and Derived Insights
  • Product and Portfolio Management
  • Customer Identification and Journey Mapping
  • Paid, Owned and Earned Media
  • Content Creation and Management

Building industry experts know that a good project has many steps: site selection, space allocation, and materials management to name a few. They also know it all starts with knowing a building’s purpose. So when you’re developing or overhauling your digital strategy, begin with your objectives. Do you want to:

  • Grow your business? How? With a larger share of wallet? Customer acquisition?
  • Increase Efficiency? How? By automating processes? Leveraging artificial intelligence? Channel shift?

Sometimes, initiatives focus on the technology selection too soon and the important step of defining big business objectives is omitted. Focusing on big business objectives and impact on the organization can help organizations to define the overarching vision. Breaking these objectives into smaller, more tangible goals, and then mapping those to measurable strategies, will help to ensure technology decisions and operational change imperatives are aligned and executed in lock-step.

Reviewing Your Technology Stack

Technology management is an enterprise-level undertaking. Typically technology expenses range from 2-7% of a firm’s total operating budget, with an average of 3.28%. It's the infrastructure on which any digital plan is executed. Your objectives should guide those investments. Your IT team should offer technical expertise within your digital strategy about the best integrated solutions, including:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Platforms
  • Product Information Management Systems
  • Digital Asset Management (DAM) Systems
  • Content Management Systems
  • eProcurement and Punchout
  • Plug-ins, like chat services
  • Analytics capture, reporting and visualization

B2B commerce experts at Xngage can offer practical advice from the field and can help your organization ensure that technology ecosystem decisions are aligned with business objectives. A partner with integrated and holistic services offerings across important pillars of the digital experience stack can offer valuable guidance and expedite platform vetting, selection, and implementation.

One of our B2B Commerce Platform Partners, Episerver, shared these thoughts on choosing systems:

Today’s digital experience does not stop at content on a website. Instead businesses need to share digital assets on a website, in a store, on mobile, on an ecommerce site, in customer portals or elsewhere. It’s no longer about getting traffic to your site, it’s also about optimizing the experience once they are there.

With a DXP, or Digital Experience Platform, the focus is not on consistency and control of the experience, but rather allows you to orchestrate an integrated, seamless customer experience across digital channels.

And having an experienced digital commerce partner like Xngage helps to manage those experiences. A partner can help prioritize your options and review the entire system to make sure that it's connected and working efficiently. Just like a General Contractor hired to manage a building project, our team and ecosystem of trusted partners can make suggestions for your unique business needs and the types of technologies that offer the best return-on-investment over time and most importantly can assure your technology decisions are tied to business value.

The key to leveraging a strong, integrated tech stack is data integration. When data is integrated, unified, and systematically leveraged to support B2B commerce processes, then your integrated digital ecosystem works harder and smarter for the business. Want to know how to manage data unification? Our blog post next month will cover that in more detail.

Good Data for Valuable Insights and Analytics

In the era of Big Data, analytics are everywhere. How do you know which ones are best for your business? Performance markers based on financial, web and campaign metrics are critical to a digital strategy.

  • Are you tracking sales, margin, average order value and average order frequency?
  • If ecommerce is a prime channel for you, how often are you reviewing registered users, sessions, page views and abandoned cart metrics?
  • If you use digital marketing, what are your click-through rates, cost-per-clicks, and conversions?
  • And most importantly in a B2B environment, how are you driving customer engagement? How do you measure customer engagement across channels?

Understanding what makes customers come back for more, more often, is the most important metric in B2B commerce. Most digital strategies leverage a combination of analytics tools, including Google Analytics. But there are also analytics services that go deeper to tell the story of your customer experiences beyond transactions. Good analytics, stemming from good data, can open your eyes to valuable business opportunities, such as better user experiences, improved customer conversions, or increased loyalty. In the customer journey from segmentation to targeting to converting to tracking, the metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) along that journey will tell you where you’re succeeding and where you have room to improve. Using that data is essential in an era where customers expect you to know their preferred products, patterns or particular likes.

Showcasing Your Wares

Merchandising is an essential part of a digital strategy. In a full-systems view it incorporates:

  • Customer-specific Product Assortments
  • Personalized Catalogs or Order Guides
  • The Product Exploration Journey: Findability to Online Search
  • Customer-specific Pricing and Location-based Availability
  • Visibility into Fulfillment and Logistics

Products and services are increasingly suggested throughout the buyer journey rather than requested. AI-powered recommendations and intelligence-based suggestive selling (based on purchase history) are emerging trends in merchandizing and online purchasing. Each step should facilitate engagement. Knowing if buyers have ordered previously, or have lapsed for many months, allows you to tailor that journey. Xngage has deep expertise with B2B user design, and can help you with choices related to:

  • Intelligent Search and AI-powered Product Recommendations
  • Optimized Path-to-Purchase Website Design
  • Target Audience and Persona Development
  • Personalization
  • Customer Journey Mapping
  • Digital Marketing and Flywheel Acceleration

Whether a prospect finds your website through category research or repeat customers are on auto-replenishment, creating that first sale and turning it into loyalty requires an effective marriage of merchandising and marketing. Interior Designers who select colors, fabrics and textures know how to select and arrange the elements to make a space feel unique, and one you’d like to return to often. The best curated B2B website experiences, from an optimized bundle to the checkout experience, help customers navigate a variety of product choices quickly. Ensuring your customers save time when interacting with your digital touchpoints will create loyalty because B2B buyers (unlike consumer) are coming to you because you can make their jobs easier. They seek to be faster in procuring, smarter in replenishing, and free to interact on their terms 24/7.

Digital strategies also need to consider your “Day 1 Live” plans, or your launch day activities. A strong paid, owned and earned digital marketing plan incorporating content strategy will help drive customers through your commerce platform and drive results that tie to your objectives. Just like a “Grand (Re)Opening” sign for a new bricks-and-mortar business, customers need to know you’re ready and excited to do business with them, and that you’re checking back on them frequently to see if they’re satisfied or need any help.

Thinking about Day 1 Live plans for your B2B Sales Teams is important too. As Joe Albrecht, Managing Partner, counsels:

In B2B, adoption and channel shift can be accelerated when organizations take an integrated and holistic approach by ensuring the sales team is fully included in the rollout. Educating customers and sales staff alike is mandatory to achieving high levels of adoption, and ultimately obtaining the desired channel shifting to grow your business.

Partnering

Are you thinking about a digital strategy for 2021 and beyond? A solid framework with clear objectives will optimize your digital transformation. As leaders in B2B Commerce and Content, Xngage can help you frame, grow and scale your business and help you develop a digital strategy to guide investments from technology to analytics to merchandising and digital marketing. Building great businesses that drive customers from Awareness to Advocacy is key to Digital Commerce Success and we’d like to partner with you to achieve that.

(C) 2020 Xngage LLC

 

 
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