A dedicated content destination in your B2B platform informs your buyers, keeps them up to date, and engages them in your key stories. As a result, you build greater brand loyalty and grow your wholesale channels.
According to research firm Forrester, the e-commerce market will reach almost $900 billion by the end of 2017, representing 11% of all B2B sales in the U.S. What’s more, by mid-2021 the percentage of B2B buyers who research their purchases online will be 55% (up from less than 40%).
Given the size of the e-commerce market, companies would do well to adopt a content destination model. By establishing a destination in your B2B that houses all your key stories and materials, you can reap the benefit of a loyal, well-informed customer base and grow your wholesale channels as a result.
Think for a minute about the rich digital experience that B2C companies such as Amazon offer their customers. Shoppers can easily and quickly research products, get detailed delivery information, and read reviews from other customers.
What if your buyers’ B2B experience were as rich?
Treating content as a destination means creating a centralized repository for all of your company’s product materials. Product specs, lookbooks, and video testimonials are all in one spot.
But a content destination isn’t just about images of beautiful people or video with great production value. It’s about enhancing the functional experience for your buyers.
Segmentation rules allow you to deliver meaningful content to individual buyers. This strengthens the buyer/brand relationship and creates long-term bonds of loyalty.
In fact, according to research by KPMG, 88% of CEOs are concerned about customer loyalty. It only makes sense to provide your buyers with a customer experience that reinforces or even augments brand loyalty.
Buyers understand that when a brand makes the effort to consistently keep them educated that the brand is investing in their success. The buyer builds a strong base of product knowledge and brand loyalty, and the result is an increase in wholesale sales.
Here are four key reasons to make sure your B2B has a destination for all your content.
Posting files into a shared drive or FTP isn’t good enough anymore. Your B2B needs a destination where you can craft a narrative and create meaningful engagements with your buyers.
A content destination is an opportunity to introduce new buyers to your brand. It’s the place to tell your story, track what they are engaging with, and convert that into sales. And for existing buyers a destination enables you to segment your buyers for a tailored experience.
Until recently, there’s been a lag between the time that a product becomes available for buyers and the time that the buyers are aware of that product’s existence.
But in a content destination approach, you can make your buyers aware of an item before it even leaves the production facility. This ability to feature items available for a futures order greatly reduces the time lag inherent in production cycles involving print catalogs.
Many of your buyers are likely used to shopping online. The engagement cycle is easy—look up a product, learn about it, and then buy it—and allows the user to make informed, confident purchases.
Retail giant Target provides its customers with an online shopping platform—and it’s working. Despite disappointing overall sales in Q4 2016 (a 4.3% decline from Q4 2015), the company saw a 34% increase in digital sales over the same period.
There’s no reason that your buyers shouldn’t enjoy the same access to product images, specs, and promotions that retail customers do. A content destination within your B2B empowers your buyers by giving them that familiar, direct-to-consumer experience.
Think of it as a B2C experience on a B2B platform—convenient, informative, and appealing. An immersive and positive digital experience is one that a buyer can comfortably engage in. It leads to better informed, confident purchases on the part of your buyer.
Your buyers will need to log in regularly to replenish stock or place futures orders. This is the perfect time to re-engage them in the conversation about your products.
A content destination in your B2B allows you to effectively tell key stories, highlight promotions, and ensure that buyers stay informed all season long, not just when you release new product.
Let’s say that you've contracted with a professional surfer to endorse your gear. Your marketing team produces a series of videos featuring the surfer wearing and talking about the product.
That's a more compelling story than a small, flat picture with product specs—and one that you can feature prominently when a buyer logs in. In other words, you can shape the experience that your buyers have before they place their orders.
This approach lets you tell your buyers a story, and who doesn’t like a good story?
In addition to narrative possibilities, there’s the practical matter of getting your content seen. After all, if you rely solely on email blasts, your buyers may not even see a promotion.
So forget about emails that are text-heavy and frequently ignored. You’ll see greater traction with powerful visuals. In fact, according to 2015 data from video creation firm Animoto, 4 out of 5 customers would prefer to watch a video about a product than read about it.
A centralized content destination lets you put your promotions front and center so that your buyers won't miss an opportunity.
A destination lets you keep your buyers better informed in less time. It also highlights what’s important to them so they stay knowledgeable and engaged with your brand.
And this increase in knowledge and engagement creates a knock-on effect. Buyers can pass on the knowledge that they’ve gained to their customers, which facilitates the in-store sales process.
Imagine that: buyers helping you to move more product off the shelves because they can talk with even greater expertise about features and materials.
Big box, specialty, and online retailers all have different needs, and they serve the market in different ways. As such, a one-size-fits-all approach to delivering useful content for your buyers is going to miss the mark.
A content destination gives you the ability to segment your buyers by role, company size, or geography, just to name a few. The result is content targeted to the specific needs of your individual buyers. As a result, they receive the most important and effective information they need to support their customers.
Here's what this might look like in practice: a big box store that sells motorcycle apparel as one of its product lines and a specialty shop selling only motorcycle apparel can both use the same platform.
The difference is that when a buyer from the big box store logs in, the platform can display pricing options for large orders. When the owner of the specialty shop uses the platform, he sees limited-edition items that are available only in small product runs.
Each user sees products, pricing, and delivery options that are specific to that user's role in the market. This segmentation saves buyers time.
The predicted increase in B2B buyers who research future purchases online is reason enough to consider a B2B e-commerce platform.
The benefits of a content destination for your buyers are clear. Product knowledge and system usability increase, go-to-market times get faster, and content customization becomes possible.
Your company will benefit, too. Buyers are more likely to become brand advocates when they’re informed and when they can engage with products.
And brand advocates help you grow sales.