Your B2B ecommerce website is finally live and you're ready to hit the ground running with online sales. To gain customers, drive conversions and generate revenue in the digital world, your site also has to be optimized.
This begs the question: what does website optimization mean for a B2B ecommerce site? Essentially, it's about using various tools and strategies to improve your site performance, increase traffic, create a positive customer experience, reduce your bounce rate and ultimately sell more products.
With 25 years in the industry and countless B2B ecommerce website builds, our team at Guidance has the knowledge and experience to help your business thrive online. Below, we outline five tips your company should consider when optimizing its B2B ecommerce website, and use Guidance’s Farmer Boy case study as an example of these principles.
1. B2B Ecommerce SEO Strategy
Short for Search Engine Optimization, SEO is the process of helping a website rank in search results on Google and other search engines. Whether you're familiar with SEO or the concept is totally new, now is the time to really dive in if you want to develop a great ecommerce strategy.
When your company has a good SEO strategy, it tells the customer (and search engines) that your site is useful, relevant and trustworthy. In other words, SEO is a pillar of online marketing for all entities, including B2B businesses.
There's a long list of factors that contribute to search engine optimization and it's a good idea to cover as many as possible in your ecommerce strategy. Some of the most important factors for B2B merchants include keyword density, title tags, meta descriptions, internal linking, backlinks, on-page word count, relevant URLs, original content, optimized images, synced social media pages, on-site product reviews, an SSL certificate (HTTPS), a Google business page and continuous content updates.
As I’m sure you know, one of the ways a new customer will find your company is through Google searches. If you want your company to be visible to the buyer, you'll need to make sure your website has these SEO strategies in place. Otherwise, your ecommerce site won't show up organically when people search for your industry or the types of products you sell.
We recommend optimizing each individual product page across your entire B2B ecommerce website. When assessing each page, be sure to include a detailed description, optimized images, and product specs. You might also consider posting a few blogs a month on your website. This will give you an opportunity to provide customers with helpful information while including keywords and keeping your site updated.
The Farmer Boy case study is a great example of SEO integration. The family-owned livestock machinery and equipment company needed a full website overhaul. Historically, Farmer Boy had been managing all of their product information manually. Because they have both B2B and B2C transactions, using a PIM (Product Information Management) solution that accounted for this functionality was essential. In the end, Salsify’s native integration with BigCommerce was the perfect option. Not only did it give the company a centralized source of truth for their products, but it also allowed them to fully revamp their entire digital catalog--with a focus on SEO. Instead of manually managing each product, they can now go to a single source and optimize every single product for SEO purposes. These product optimizations helped them to gain more search visibility and to reach more customers effortlessly.
2. Call-to-Action (CTA)
In the marketing realm, a call-to-action (CTA) is a statement that's supposed to entice or motivate people to respond immediately. With B2B ecommerce, the goal is usually to prompt your customer to make a purchase. It might also call on them to take advantage of a sale, request a free quote on a custom order, watch a video tutorial, or contact you for more information.
As a B2B company, CTAs are a critical component of your website optimization. We suggest including a call-to-action at least once per page. This includes your company landing page, about page, blog posts, contact page, category pages and each individual product description page. Calls-to-action are typically placed at the end of a piece of content, kind of like a sign-off. You might want to use A/B testing to see which CTAs are most effective.
Aside from compelling the buyer to purchase, calls-to-action can also keep people on your site longer by encouraging them to read blog content, watch videos, or browse through product pages. Increasing the average time each potential customer stays on your website is important, because it boosts your SEO by sending signals to Google that you're a reliable resource.
Let’s take a look at a CTA example from Farmer Boy. Below, you can see the before and after photos of their check-out CTA. The first CTA is standard but not very compelling with only one option to purchase. The second CTA, however, takes their customers into account. Instead of just one button, there are now four options for checkout.
In the updated CTA, the traditional “add to cart” is still present as the first and most apparent option. It’s streamlined, traditional and proven. The second button by “CREDIT KEY”, however, is new. Many of Farmer Boy’s customers are family-owned small businesses and farm equipment can be a big upfront investment. Giving potential customers another option for checkout, where they can pay off their purchase over time instead of upfront, makes the price tag look less intimidating and gives users a new and unique incentive to purchase.
The third and fourth options “add to quote” and “add to wish list” are focused on retaining new potential customers. These options help to avoid shopping cart abandonment and keep potential customers by giving them the option to save their search history. If a user isn’t sure they are ready to purchase or they have more questions for the company, these options allow them to easily save their research and incentivizes them to continue interacting with Farmer Boy. Furthermore, these options allow Farmer Boy to potentially capture the user’s email address, making it easier to retarget them in the future.
3. Mobile Optimization
Another thing you'll need to consider is mobile optimization. Just because you're in the B2B market, don't assume your customers are only visiting your website through a desktop browser. Around 70% of B2B search queries are made on smartphones or tablets, and mobile engagement drives upwards of 40% of revenue for B2B internet retailers.
The importance of a mobile-friendly ecommerce website shouldn't be overlooked. When an existing or potential customer visits your site through a mobile device, it should be easy to read and navigate. If they need to zoom in to read your web page copy, can't find what they're looking for, or are unable to click the button they need, you can't expect them to stay long. It's in your best interest to make the customer experience as smooth as possible.
People are becoming more comfortable using their smartphones for most online activities, including emailing, shopping, and work. Not only that, but many conduct business on their phones before and after official work hours—not to mention while traveling, in meetings, or even right at their desk. As a B2B business, it's important that you don't miss out on the opportunity to reach customers through their mobile devices.
One of the most essential factors of website optimization for B2B ecommerce is mobile checkout. Ecommerce sales rely on a good customer experience throughout the website, but if a potential customer cannot checkout easily, they will take their business elsewhere. B2B ecommerce sales already face a unique set of challenges. With many decision-makers and long complex sales processes, it is important for B2B commerce companies to address these kinds of barriers early on to ensure continued success and customer satisfaction.
A great example of successful mobile optimization can once again be seen in Guidance’s Farmer Boy case study. The company needed to adapt to the ever-changing needs of their customers. In Farmer Boy’s case, many of their customers were also family-owned and operated. When looking at their purchasing data from the last several years, it became clear that these customers had been using mobile devices as their only platform for purchasing. Focusing on developing a great mobile experience was essential for Farmer Boy’s continued success. By adapting to the behaviors and needs of their customers, Farmer Boy ensured they remained relevant to their customer base and secured continued long-term relationships with current customers.
4. B2B Ecommerce User Experience (UX)
UX (user experience) refers to the customer experience while visiting your ecommerce website.
Having a mobile-friendly B2B website is a vital piece of the equation, but UX goes beyond that. For example, when thinking about a great customer and user experience for a B2B ecommerce business, website design and a seamless checkout page are essential.
When selling products to another business, you'll need to create an efficient, user-friendly sales funnel. Having easy navigation, will allow for more B2B transactions, since the buyer will be easily led through your website- from product to checkout.
This means the most important aspects of your site should be clear, identifiable, and accessible. Links, buttons, and other clickable items should be easy to identify and use. Things like having a primarily white background with easy-to-read text, for example, can go a long way.
You can also enhance UX by allowing customers to create their own account. Not only does this promote customer loyalty, it also makes the buying process smoother. As the customer will be able to review previous purchases, reorder products as needed, and have all their purchasing information already saved.
Additionally, people should be able to contact you or get their questions answered without much effort. This means having clear contact information on your site and Google business page, as well as a FAQ page and a chat box.
Once again, the Farmer Boy case study is a great example. In this case, they used BigCommerce to fully re-platform their b2b ecommerce site, with UX as the main focus. BigCommerce’s long-term scalability, immense process automation, and customer visibility was a game-changer. For example, inventory management had been a long-standing challenge for Farmer Boy. Now, with BigCommerce’s process automation and streamlined UX, the platform now allows them to offer customers real-time inventory feeds - preventing potential churn.
Overall, using BigCommerce has allowed Farmer Boy to create a b2b website that addresses customer needs. By adapting a great user experience, the company was able to remove several barriers to entry for potential customers, while maintaining positive existing relationships.
These are just a few examples of UX strategies that you can add to your current website. But, as you can see, factors like these influence the B2B ecommerce shopping experience. When a b2b buyer completes their purchase, the goal is to leave them with a good impression. Your brand's image is about more than just the products you sell-it's the overall experience people have with your business and b2b platform.
5. B2B Educational Content
Whether it's blog posts, instructional videos, how-to-guides, whitepapers, or infographics, educational content can make a big impact on your website’s optimization. Data shows that a B2B customer is more likely to make a purchase from your business after consuming some of its content. And as we mentioned above, it will increase the average time people spend on your site, which boosts your SEO.
Educational content or “self-service” has been one of the top trends seen in B2B ecommerce. It may not be a new concept, but according to Accenture, most buyers have completed 57% of the purchase process before ever meeting with a sales rep. Giving potential customers the ability to do their own research helps them to have a grasp of the product, allowing them to feel more confident about their choice, and therefore more likely to purchase.
Plus, educational content shows other businesses that you are an expert in their field, and understand their needs. When you provide your customer group with relevant information and products, they will view your business as the solution to their challenges. And therefore, are more likely to become a customer.
At Guidance, we're seasoned in B2B ecommerce. B2b sales already have a lot of different facets, and adding an ecommerce sales strategy to the equation can feel overwhelming. That's why we are here to help. With over two decades of experience providing B2B ecommerce solutions, we have all the tools, resources, and experience you need to take your business to the next level.