The essential guide to personalisation in B2B eCommerce

Introduction

eCommerce is a key route to market for both B2C and B2B products and services. However, the attention has historically been placed on B2C. Notably, the disruption eCommerce has played in the retail sector.

Yet the UK B2B eCommerce market is almost two and a half times larger than B2C. With the global B2B eCommerce market being an enormous six times larger.

While the overall growth of eCommerce has been strong in recent years. Above the overall growth of the UK economy, in fact. The B2B sector still lags behind B2C’s more innovative strategy and tactics.

This is surprising, as personalisation for B2B eCommerce has proven to be incredibly effective.  80% of B2B eCommerce businesses say that personalising their website is more effective in reaching their objectives than unpersonalised content. And B2B businesses who personalise their sites generally perform 30% better than those who don’t.

Add to this that B2B customers, just like B2C, now expect far more from their buying experience. Mass marketing is no longer acceptable. Instead, businesses need to focus on the most important message for each specific buyer. Else risk losing them.

It’s clear that the B2B eCommerce industry has a wealth of opportunities in front of it. At Pure360 we believe that personalisation is key to making the most of these.

This guide takes you through the challenges and objectives that the UK B2B eCommerce industry should be focusing on today. And introduces the strategies and tactics that can help businesses smash them.

For the B2B eCommerce industry, better starts here.

Challenges

It’s clear that there are significant challenges in the B2B eCommerce industry. Before businesses can tackle these, it’s important that they fully understand what they are facing.

Data management

Businesses within B2B eCommerce have a significant product offering. And each product has different attributes, such as size, height and colour. This results in huge amounts of data, all of which can become messy, quickly, if not managed correctly.

Add to this the copious ways of storing data; from legacy systems to spreadsheets and hard copies. And businesses may find themselves in a daunting situation.

Marketing technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated. And data, which is the foundation of it, holds vital importance for any B2B eCommerce business.

With 40% of B2B businesses claiming their data management strategy is only somewhat successful or even unsuccessful, there is clearly a lot of room for improvement.

Strong competition

The B2B eCommerce industry is growing. Fast. With B2B businesses starting to learn from their more innovative B2C counterparts.

However, the competitive landscape is proving a challenge for many businesses. B2C giants, such as Amazon, are spilling over into the B2B realm. Offering hyper-personalisation, convenience and making the most out of their established brand.

With such intense competition, B2B eCommerce businesses have the significant challenge of playing catch up whilst also standing out from the established industry giants.

Complex buying process

Selling to a B2C customer is often a straightforward process. Customer sees the product. Customer looks at reviews. Customers buy products. Simple.

Selling to a B2B customer is often not so straightforward.

There are many additional steps involved. Product comparisons, quotes, negotiations, approval. The process can quickly become complex and lengthy.

B2B customers require information to support this process. And lots of it. They need to know about product features, specs, fit, model number, accessories, pricing and delivery. The information needs to be clear and organised. But more importantly, handed to them at the perfect time.

Changing customer demands

The average B2B eCommerce buyer is changing rapidly.

Research has found that 73% of 20 to 35 year olds are now involved in the purchasing of products and services for their company. With one-third reporting that they are the sole decision-maker for their department.

And this increasing audience are some of the world’s most powerful consumers.

73% of B2B executives agree that customer expectations for personalised experiences are significantly higher than just a few years ago. Customers now demand a personalised, efficient and seamless shopping experience across multiple channels.

Businesses should consider tailored pricing and shipping options, personalised product recommendations and offers, and a variety of payment options to suit every type of buyer.

Objectives

To overcome these challenges businesses need to take a fresh look at their objectives. Updating them for the new and ever-changing face of the UK.

Here are some of our suggestions.

Consolidate data

We understand. Businesses have a lot of data. That sits in a lot of places. It can be overwhelming.

Consolidating various data systems, from CRM to ESP, spreadsheets to hard copies, is essential for keeping operations in check. It offers prospects and customers a personalised, engaging experience.

And according to 37% of marketers, successful personalisation needs to draw from a single data source. One that is developed with data across the entire business.

Engage with prospects

Acquisition is a key objective for many online businesses. But with competition within B2B eCommerce becoming increasingly high, brands need to work even harder to get noticed.

57% of the buying process is done prior to contacting sales. Meaning engaging with prospects in the early stages of the process is essential.

B2B products are vast, so businesses need to show prospects what they want, when they want it, to make the buying process engaging and efficient. Hooking in those all-important new customers straight away.

Personalise the buying process

Personalised shopping experiences are fast becoming the norm.

In fact, research shows that nearly half of B2B customers want pricing options specific to them as part of their buying process. And an additional 36% want personalised payment methods.

A further 38% of customers say that tailored shipping options would make the purchasing process more personalised.

It’s clear that customer expectations are on the rise. And they show no sign of slowing down.

Boost loyalty

42% of B2B businesses state that retaining customers is a key measurement of success of their business. And rightly so. Loyal customers have a huge financial impact on businesses.

In fact, 70% of businesses say it’s cheaper to retain customers than to bring on new ones. They cost less to serve, buy more products through cross-selling, and will remain in the relationship longer.

Once a business has secured a new customer, they need to do everything they can to keep them happy and engaged.

Email and web personalisation

With B2B eCommerce booming, businesses are becoming more innovative than ever with their marketing tactics.

This opens up a great opportunity for businesses to enhance their relevance and value by engaging more frequently, with more personalised services.

And it’s not as difficult as it might sound.

Data insight

Prospect and customer data enables B2B eCommerce businesses to create a holistic view of their customer which can be utilised across multiple departments and channels.

Combine data sources

Separate business systems are a thing of the past. By combining all prospect and customer data into one accessible place, B2B eCommerce businesses can begin their journey to delivering the most personalised communications and targeted campaigns.

Data analytics

Once all data is collated, businesses can really start to build a view of who their customers actually are. They will be able to identify their ideal customer and those who are most likely to convert.

They can even create specific segments to automate highly targeted and personalised campaigns based on behaviour, preferences and previous activity.

RFM modelling and reporting

With all of their data in one place, businesses can also conduct RFM (recency, frequency, monetary) modelling and analysis. This helps them to identify the customers who are most likely to churn. With this segment they can use different tactics to drive engagement and deliver the right offers to the right people at the right time.

Email automation

Personalised emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10%. And with so many options available, there’s an email for every stage of the buying process.

Browse abandonment

Businesses can use browse abandonment emails to remind a visitor of specific products they viewed, but didn’t add to their basket. This encourages the visitor to have another look and nudges them towards buying.

This is also the perfect stage to offer further information regarding the specific product. Dimensions, accessories and reviews could be just what the visitor needs to move the buying process along.

Cart abandonment

With 75.6% of carts being left abandoned, cart abandonment is a challenge for any eCommerce business.

This can be easily remedied by simply reaching out through email; offering a gentle reminder of the potential purchase or further product information.

Unsurprisingly, these are among the most effective emails in terms of open rates and conversion. Especially when combined with discounts.

Upsell and cross-sell

B2B eCommerce businesses can make the most of behavioural data by serving website visitors personalised product recommendations based on previous browsing and purchasing behaviour.

This gives businesses the opportunity to upsell and cross-sell their product, in a way that is useful and relevant. As opposed to heavy-handed sales.

Loyalty and retention campaigns

Businesses can treat their loyal customers to the VIP experience through loyalty and retention campaigns.

Popular campaigns include birthday or anniversary vouchers, thank you emails and VIP discounts. Or for customers that haven’t purchased in a while, a re-engagement campaign to let them know they are missed.

Website personalisation

Up to 70% of customers say that websites are the most influential factor in making a purchase. So businesses need to offer each unique visitor the unique experience that they not only deserve. But they now expect.

Product recommendations

Recommendation engines will analyse purchase history, real-time behaviour, and purchase intent to ensure the right products are shown to each customer, at the right time.

Businesses can even segment their recommendations based on customer life cycle stage, for added relevancy.

Personalised offers

Businesses can greet their website visitors with personalised content based on what they know about them. Whether that be demographics, location, purchase history or lifecycle stage.

They could even tailor their content to reflect real-time weather forecasts. Particularly useful for couriers, our outdoor businesses.

Tailored pricing and shipping

38% of customers say that tailored shipping options make the buying process more personalised.

Businesses can use a variety of data such as location and purchase history to personalise pricing and shipping, amongst many other options. This creates a highly personalised website experience, that is incredibly useful for customers.

Personalisation examples

Following expert advice, like within this guide, is the first step to implementing a successful personalisation strategy. But sometimes it helps to see it in action.

Here are some of our top picks of B2B eCommerce businesses that are doing personalisation well.

Staples

Staples truly understands website personalisation.

When visiting their website, you are greeted by a personalised landing page pop up. Tailored to your behaviour on their website.

The first pop up is for new visitors. It captures important information regarding the type of customer you are, meaning that they can further personalise your browsing experience through tailored pricing.

The second pop is for more frequent visitors, rewarding them with a promotional offer. Not only does this help keep visitors engaged, but it captures even more data for further personalisation.

Staples

Staples Competition

Ryman

Ryman offers another example of perfect multi-channel personalisation by combining web personalisation with personalised email.

Once you register as a customer, you are immediately greeted with a series of personalised, welcoming emails full of useful information, content and promotions.

But they don’t stop there. This is supported by landing page pop-ups, aiming to up-sell their Business Account to customers who have already registered.

Ryman

Ryman Sign up

Ryman Business

Ryman Thanks

Ryman Stationery

 

Amazon

We couldn’t write a piece on personalisation without including Amazon.

Hugely successful in the B2C space, Amazon also provides a wealth of options for the B2B customer too.

They perfectly combine email and web personalisation to cross-sell and encourage repeat purchases. Amazon does this in a variety of different guises, including suggestions related to previous purchases, your wish lists, and even inspired by your browsing behaviour.

Amazon

Amazon Viewed


10 steps to personalisation

Data management, strong competition, a complex buying process and changing customer demands are making the UK B2B eCommerce industry a fast-paced market to navigate.

To help businesses succeed, we have put together a checklist of our 10 steps to personalisation. Tailored specifically to the B2B eCommerce industry.

Consolidate data. Engage with prospects. Improve the buying cycle. And boost loyalty.

Step 1. Combine data sources

Multiple data sources are a thing of the past. Start by combining all of your prospect and customer data sources into one place.

Step 2: Understand your data

Build a view of your audience through data analytics and RFM modelling. Identify those who are most likely to convert or churn.

Step 3: Implement an AI marketing platform

By implementing an industry-leading AI marketing platform you can make the most out of your data to automate highly targeted and personalised campaigns.

Step 4: Improve acquisition through email

Automate product recommendation and cart abandonment emails to keep your prospects engaged and give them that final ‘nudge’ to buy.

Step 5: Boost loyalty through email

For current customers, automate nurturing campaigns and renewal reminders to keep them engaged and ensure you’re at the front of their mind come renewal-time.

Step 6: Utilise website personalisation tools

Every good AI marketing platform comes with a host of website personalisation tools. Use your data to offer a highly personalised website experience to both prospects and customers.

Step 7: Improve acquisition through your website

Offer personalised product recommendations, pricing and promotions directly on your website to guide prospects and make buying even easier.

Step 8: Improve retention through your website

For current customers, keep them engaged and make them feel like a VIP with personalised, dynamic website content that serves the information they really want to see.

Step 9: Analyse results

Dive into the insight offered in your AI marketing platform to review engagement levels and ROI. Identify what is working. And what isn’t.

Step 10: Rinse. Repeat.

Personalisation isn’t a one off campaign or singular automation series. To keep prospects and customers engaged, learn from your results and continue to tweak, build and innovate your most successful personalisation campaigns and tactics.

We would love to offer you a no-obligation free personalisation audit, simply contact us today and we will offer you expert advice on how to implement your own personalisation strategy.

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