Three Great Tips For Assessing and Improving B2B Lead Quality

magician*Autumn Leads – As summer becomes fall, generating and nurturing B2B leads becomes more important. The effort now pays off when buyers have budget surpluses in the winter and begin making purchases for the New Year. In this blog series, we look at how to generate and nurture B2B leads, with special consideration for the longer B2B sales cycle.

More! We all want more leads. Quantity matters. And the good news is that you can’t get lead poisoning by having too many leads. But just as important as lead quantity is lead quality. The best use of time for your B2B sales team is spent on genuine opportunities that convert leads into sales.

Unfortunately, not every lead amounts to a rich opportunity. Higher quality leads means more opportunity. In order to increase your opportunities and increase your B2B sales, here are three great tips to assess and improve your lead quality:

1. Identify your target market. You probably already have a good idea of who your ideal customer is, but try to dig deeper if you want better quality leads. Think about what your buyers’ pain points are. Put yourself in their shoes.

Consider a variety of different B2B buyer personas. Who are your various customer types? What interests them most about your solution? What type of content engages them? What are the perceived challenges they have, both before and after a purchase?

To answer these deceptively tough questions, gather your sales team and your marketing team for a discussion. (Luring people with a nice dessert tray is one such way to get everyone in the same room.)  You want to answer these questions before spending extra time and money towards improving your lead quality.

2. Content marketing. Once you’ve identified what your ideal prospect looks, feels, and smells like, you want to take action to attract that person to your website. What attracts visitors is unique, compelling online content. Because that content is tailored towards your target market, an inbound marketing strategy attracts the attention and engagement of the higher quality prospects and leads.

There are B2B buyers out there right this second who are searching Google and reading social networks, and they’re interested in what you have to sell. But unless your content appears in front of them on search engines, social networks, etc., those potential customers may never know you exist. And they may never find your solution. Content is all about the power of attraction.

Content is also useful in converting prospects to leads. By gating whitepapers, webinars, and other valued content behind lead forms, you offer website visitors a fair exchange for their contact information. And again, this practice boosts the quality of your leads because these leads have already shown a deep interest in your business.

3. Lead scoring. As you attract higher-quality leads to your website, you want a way to determine which are the most valuable, where they are in the buying cycle, and when your sales team should reach out. A lead scoring tool uses the data you gather about your leads and provides analysis for these questions.  The higher the score, the more likely a lead is to buy your B2B solution.

You might choose to assess leads by how often you are contacted, where the leads came from, or even a detailed statistical analysis based on data from previous conversions. A lead tool also gives you information on leads who may not be as far along in the buying cycle. In that case, you want to personalize their experience on your website and present these leads with content and offers that push them closer towards a sale.

Higher-quality leads begets higher-quality opportunities. Identify your target market and buyer personas. Create and leverage content to attract that type of buyer. Score those leads and act on the data. If you follow those three tips, you have a much better chance to capture great leads and convert them into great sales.

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Utilizing e-Commerce Personalization for B2B Companies

handshake*Autumn Leads – As summer becomes fall, generating and nurturing B2B leads becomes more important. The effort now pays off when buyers have budget surpluses in the winter and begin making purchases for the New Year. In this blog series, we look at how to generate and nurture B2B leads, with special consideration for the longer B2B sales cycle.

A long, long, long time ago… sometime in the 90’s… people used to enter stores and get a face-to-face greeting. They’d speak with the vendor, and the vendor would even get to know the customer. The vendor would personally learn the needs and wants of the individual. And the customer was satisfied with this interaction.

How do we replicate this important feeling of trust with selling in the digital age? The goal is to greet your customer with a tailored experience and relevant recommendations. The solution is e-commerce personalization.

By offering your webshop visitor an experience tailored to their needs, it’s like you’re right there in the store with them. But according to a survey by eConsultancy, less than half (43%) of companies deliver a personalized experience to customers on desktop. And those numbers drop dramatically for eCommerce personalization on tablets (14%) and mobile (14%).

B2B companies do have added complications when thinking about the personalized experience. Unlike companies that directly target a singular consumer, the B2B sales cycle often involves multiple people. Also, purchases are often few and far between, decreasing your predictive capabilities.

So how do you find out what the customer wants?

Ask. We know, that seems too simple. Sometimes asking them what they want is the best way. Let’s say you sell products to a diverse range of IT, marketing, and manufacturing companies. If you present a banner or pop-up window asking which field your customer works in, the answer gives an opportunity to further personalize their experience with relevant content.

As a bonus, a question like this applies to the customer’s whole company and not just a singular person. So in a B2B situation, if the customer passes the transaction along to their manager, the knowledge you’ve gained is still relevant for e-commerce personalization.

Asking questions about the type of solution your customer is looking for also gives you more information to present them with relevant content or information. Allowing your customers to click on windows with options such as “Improve ROI” or “Improve customer retention” gives them the ability to define their own goals.

If you provide a log-in and user profile, then that’s an easy way to make sure you only have to ask these questions once. Once your customer logs in, you’ve got all the information in their profile and purchase history at your disposal for e-commerce personalization. Log-ins really benefit B2B companies because they allow instant recognition of customers, even if those customers haven’t purchased from you in a long while. Integrate your e-commerce solution into your CRM to also provide your sales team with all the relevant information.

E-commerce personalization even allows you to predefine what your customers want to do before they answer any questions, which is as close to telepathy as we can get. For example, Dynamicweb’s e-commerce suite knows where a customer is coming from (search, external ad link, etc.) and uses that information to customize the landing page or other content presented to them. Other information at your disposal includes how many times a person has visited your website, their geographical location, and more.

You don’t need to give each and every single individual a 100% unique experience. It would take too much time and cost too much to create all that unique content. Segmenting your customers into 3-5 groups at first is a good way to start presenting tailored experiences.

When we talk about “tailored experiences”, this is the content you present to your customer. In addition to offering them related products for cross-selling and up-selling, e-commerce personalization also lets you offer each customer a different piece of content, according to their group.

What you offer each customer is up to you and your marketing team, so you are able to really get to the heart of what each business needs. This is why content marketing is so important. The more content you have, the more relevant options you have to show off to your customers.

A tailored experience is what helps you offer that face-to-face feeling of a small shop. Even though you’re digital, the selling game hasn’t changed that much. After all, e-commerce personalization is about defining your target audience and giving them relevant information to help you make the sale.

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Straight From The Source: What Do B2B Customers Want From You?

Autumn Customer*Autumn Leads – As summer becomes fall, generating and nurturing B2B leads becomes more important. The effort now pays off when buyers have budget surpluses in the winter and begin making purchases for the New Year. In this blog series, we look at how to generate and nurture B2B leads, with special consideration for the longer B2B sales cycle.

A lot of blood, sweat, and data has been spilled trying to determine what B2B prospects and customers want. It’s a seemingly endless battle to figure out what content they want to see when they arrive at your e-commerce website. And once in a while, a brave soul ventures forth with the idea: “Why don’t we ask them?”

In the first annual B2B Website Usability Report from KoMarketing Associates, the firm went straight to the source and asked B2B web buyers what exactly they want. According to the report, B2B buyers demand that the online sales process be made easy. Ease-of-use includes navigation of the site, finding relevant information, and reaching out to the vendor. If your e-commerce site doesn’t make it easy for your prospects, then they’re onto the next site.

B2B prospects and customers start out their journey very goal-oriented. They’re on a mission to qualify a vendor and move towards a purchase. Like the “B” in B2B, your customers are all business. And where do they go first? To your products and services pages.

Product and services information ranked highest (90%) in the types of pages and content deemed important by survey respondents. This makes sense given the focus on fastidiously qualifying vendors and then moving ahead. Prospects want to know if this is a journey worth making.

Because the potential customer’s initial attention is given to the product pages, we recommend using high-quality images and rich descriptions for each offering. Visually dynamic and evocative images (like 360 degree views) go a long way towards instantly grabbing a visitor’s attention. Video content also allows you to demonstrate complex and technical products. If you neglect your product pages, your customers may never reach your other content.

After your product and services info, 61% of B2B prospects and customers find the “About” page to be important. Many B2B buyers don’t just look to buy products. They look to enter long-lasting relationships. Your own company info, such as what your values are and who works there, go a long way to proving that you’re worth the time investment.

The next part of your website that B2B buyers consider important (37%) is your marketing collateral. After your website guests confirm interest in you and your products, the next step is research. This is where you impress them with your unique value proposition, your special knowledge of the industry, and a one-of-a-kind viewpoint. Your marketing materials are how you make your case and differentiate yourself from your competitors.

The desired marketing materials on your website include case studies, white papers, articles, and blog posts.   Articles and blogs are great for education and continued engagement, while whitepapers and case studies are more in-depth content useful for capturing leads via specialized landing pages and lead forms. According to the survey, B2B prospects and customers find that these four types of content are consistently lacking from B2B e-commerce sites.

Case studies, whitepapers, articles, and blogs also make the “must-have content” list for B2B buyers. Other “must-have content” from the study includes pricing info, technical details, and shipping information. These three types of information reflect the goal-oriented nature of B2B shoppers.

Asking B2B buyers directly what they want reveals a lot about their behavior. According to this research, they go straight from the product pages. Then when the product is right, they want to learn about the company and brand behind the solution. When both of those check out, B2B buyers look to the marketing collateral for convincing. So if you want to impress your online visitors, stand above your competition, and increase sales, then optimize your content for all three of these stages. That’s straight from the source.

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Does It Take A Village to Raise Conversion Rates?

village*The Biggest Shopping Day(s) of the Year – We’re only a couple months away from Thanksgiving, which means two things: turkey; and the biggest shopping days of the year. In this blog series, we look at ways for you to prepare your e-business to increase revenues during this time.

Some say it takes a village to raise a child. But according to new research, it’s best to use a whole village of tools to raise conversion rates. Econsultancy’s Conversion Rate Optimization Report researches the top tools and tactics that companies are using to boost their business. So let’s take a look at what tools are available to maximize your conversions.

Many of the usual suspects topped the list. A/B testing, multivariate testing, usability improvements, customer journey analysis, segmentation, cart abandonment analysis, and more. These are all effective tactics for your company to use to improve conversion rates for your eCommerce website.

But if you’re thinking, “Which one is best for me?” then you’re asking the wrong question. The research proves that it’s not about “which one”, but which ones. Plural. eCommerce companies found the most success in boosting conversion rates when combining multiple tactics.

Two-thirds of companies that use three or more of these tools for optimization saw a significant increase in conversion rates.

Sure, some tactics prove to be more effective than others. A/B testing, customer journey analysis, and shopping cart abandonment analysis are used by many companies. But by combining the powers (like Captain Planet), the different tools are able to build on each other, multiplying their effectiveness.

For example, let’s look at shopping cart abandonment analysis. By analyzing the process of checkout when users leave your website, you have a better idea of why they’re leaving behind their carts and how to encourage them to complete the purchase.

There are a number of reasons people leave their shopping carts. One frequent reason is when they discover a surprise cost (such as shipping). Other reasons to abandon their cart include a difficult or long checkout process or because a certain part of the site didn’t work well on mobile. By identifying when and where the customer leaves the site, analytics gives you the opportunity to rectify the problem.

For our hypothetical, imagine that you notice a lot of potential customers are bouncing from your site on page three of your checkout process. Obviously, this is no good. Maybe your checkout is too long?   Or unclear? Maybe you’re forcing them to register in a cumbersome process?

So with the goal of raising conversion rates, you create a new checkout process.

The lesson to take away from this study is that one is not always the best number. So instead of creating one new checkout process, you create two different checkout pages. The registration fields, the calls-to-action, and the design still feature your brand, but they are different.

As eager as you are to increase your conversion rates, there’s just no way to use your two great checkout processes at the same time for the same customer. How do you know which one is better?

The answer to that is to use A/B testing. One of the aforementioned study’s top tactics, A/B testing allows you to send some customers to checkout page A and others to checkout page B and then determine which has the higher conversion rates.

By utilizing two tactics in shopping cart abandonment analysis and A/B testing, you’ve further improved your chance that the customer will take their cart all the way from checkout to purchase. Like peanut butter and chocolate, different tastes work even better when they’re together.

When choosing which tactics to deploy, you’re limited only by time, money, and imagination. Shopping cart analysis and A/B testing are just the beginning. The companies that use three or more of the top tools are the most successful at raising conversion rates, so reach into your toolbox and grab a handful.

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Prove and Improve Your Marketing: Using Business Metrics for eCommerce

Scale*The Biggest Shopping Day(s) of the Year – We’re only a couple months away from Thanksgiving, which means two things: turkey; and the biggest shopping days of the year. In this blog series, we look at ways for you to prepare your e-business to increase revenues during this time.

Rulers, scales, software analytics. Three ways to measure. How important is measuring, particularly for the results of your online marketing? Turns out the answer is “very important.”

According to the 11th Annual Marketing Performance Management Survey (a joint effort by Forrester, ITSMA, and Vision Edge Marketing), the marketers that use business metrics and analytics are the ones that lead in customer acquisition, customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, and market share.

Why Use Business Metrics?

Business metrics are used to set goals and objectives prior to embarking on a new marketing campaign. They also help you analyze the success of your current marketing plans to give you more information if you decide to change course. Business metrics are especially useful for eCommerce because your own website analytics give you tons of information to assess your performance.

So Everyone Uses Business Metrics, Right?

Surprisingly, everyone does not use business metrics! According to the Marketing Performance Management Survey, only 40% of marketers felt that measuring the value of marketing is either “very important” or “critical” to success. Worse, less than 10% of senior executives relied on this marketing data to help make decisions. There’s a lot of knowledge being left unused. So if you want to not only improve your marketing, but also prove its worth to your company, here are three metrics to consider when setting objectives for your marketing campaigns:

Average Order Value.

When it comes to business metrics for eCommerce, average order value is at the top of our list. One of the benefits of using this metric is that it’s relatively easy to determine. Average order value is simply the average amount of money your customers spend per order.

This metric is used in several ways. One successful strategy is to segment visitors based on their average order value. If higher order values come from specific ads or search queries, this is valuable knowledge. Average order value is also used as a baseline to test new campaigns and promotions. If you embark on a new strategy of upselling, cross-selling, or bundling of products, you might see your average order value rise. On the other hand, if these business metrics drop, you know to reassess your marketing and potentially reverse course.

Customer Lifetime Value.

Rather than calculating a simple difference between how much it costs to acquire a customer and how much they bought on their first purchase, why not consider the entire long-term relationship? Take a bird’s eye view of your customers. You get a better idea of your return on investment when you see that larger picture of the lifetime value of the customer. Customer lifetime value also makes our list of important business metrics because it takes fewer resources to keep a customer than to get an all new one!

eCommerce, especially in the B2B space, benefits greatly from repeat customers and brand loyalty. Online registrations, profile creation, and community involvement are all signs of engaged customers. Email campaigns and online discounts are often used to entice customers to return. Customer lifetime value allows you to look at both your acquisition costs as well as costs related to customer retention, and then you compare those with the customer’s entire worth to your company.

Conversion Rate.

Conversion rate is another one of the key eCommerce business metrics. Your conversion rate is the percentage of people that actually complete a purchase on your site, rather than simply visiting and leaving. On one hand, a low conversion rate might tell you that your quality of referrals is poor. If you have a broadly targeted ad, your visitors may be coming from all over without a specific interest in your solution. On the other hand, if you are confident with your quality of visitors, take a look at your site design, presentation, or even your value offerings for improvement.

A/B testing is an excellent way to improve conversion rates. A/B testing pits variations of two different pages against each other. Whether testing landing pages, product pages, or even designs of your checkout process, A/B testing determines whichever page or design has the better conversion rate, so you always know what’s working. Sometimes a simple change in your call-to- action is all it takes to raise conversions.

Prove and Improve.

By using business metrics, you prove how well your company’s marketing is working while simultaneously pinpointing where you have room for improvement. So take a look at your average order value, customer lifetime values, and conversion rates, and set some new goals for yourself based on tangible improvements. The data we’ve outlined helps you reach those objectives by building a foundation for prediction of the future and measurement of the past. Make good enough predictions, and your executives might just go from ignoring marketing data to thinking you’re a psychic.

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