It is certainly true that individuals used to buying their home goods online are now expecting the same opportunities at work. And customized marketing as used by some major retailers is being taken up by B2B via their online web shops.
This is not quite as straight forward in all B2B companies – the long term nature and complexity of many accounts are not always suited to e-commerce. But this does not stop the business website from being a hub of useful information for the buyer, nor of providing lead nurturing for the seller.
Our marketing specialists have been pro-active in visiting many of our distributors throughout Europe to discuss how we can work together to increase sales. It has become obvious that the company website is now central to this - it is likely that very few purchasing decisions take place without the prospective buyer visiting the seller’s website at some point.
We’re not saying that these are the only marketing options open to us. We still think that the direct mailer (post may have more impact now that it is seldom used), the printed catalogue, trade show and show room are all very relevant. Schachermayer certainly thinks so.
So we now have myriad sales channels that need to deliver consistent and on-brand messages. The ability to collect customer data has added an odd mix of both complexity and simplicity. Complexity because the data needs to be understood and harnessed correctly – simplicity because it has never been easier to send out such well targeted messages.
Relationship building used to be the domain of the sales team. Now the marketing team has taken over the initial stages of bonding with the potential customer. By using data collected by visitor journeys, buying profiles and downloads we can now base communications on customer behaviours rather than on demographics.
But all this is only possible if you have the technology that can continually collect and compile rich data, and then target your buyers based on that data. This is one of the challenges facing B2B companies; finding the right systems and implementing them well.
Another issue is standing out from the crowd. If you want your buyers to find your company and its products or services online then Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has to be at the heart of a website.
The aim of most marketers is to get their company website listed as high up on Google (and possibly other search engines dependent on location) as possible.
It is evident from our own experience at Accuride and after discussions with our partners that marketers must keep abreast of new trends in technology. Assessing each tool with respect to your own business is just as important; we don’t need to jump on every passing fad.
There’s now so much to learn that 2015 is promising to be a busy one.
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