It is widely known and understood that prospects and customers begin their online product search on a search engine or on Amazon. In fact, according to a survey by PowerReviews 35% of customers begin their search on Google and 38% on Amazon.
Customers are looking for convenience when considering a purchase. Most prefer to search online rather than talking to one of your sales reps or walking into a store. Depending on the industry, as many as 80% of customers have researched their product purchase online before they even talk to you.
To take advantage of these growing customer habits, you must ensure that your products are findable through online search engines. Here are three tips to help make that happen.
When a prospect enters key words into the search field in Google or Amazon or another vendor site, how will they know that the best results will be presented? What can be very frustrating for the prospect, and a lost customer for you, is when no suitable results are presented. What the user will see will be the results crafted by the best search engine optimizers, pay-per-click managers, and feature advertisers. What the user is not necessarily seeing are the results that meet their needs.
We understand that search engine ranking is important, but consider this: What it you reallocated some of the resources spent on SEO or PPC advertising and used it for producing and displaying great content? What if you really let your products tell their stories? Not only would you be rewarded by Google’s website crawlers organically for having great content, but also your potential customers would find your products more easily and buy from you. In addition, as you review key word usage on your site, you will be able to more appropriately refine your key word selection through a feedback loop to reflect the words that your customers use to find products on your site. Read more on this topic.
Once a potential customer has found your site, you want them to be able to find suitable products within your assortment quickly and easily. By setting up a great taxonomy within inRiver, your products and associated attributes will be organized and properly classified, assisting users in being able to efficiently search and filter for the SKU that best meets their needs.
Read more on taxonomy and how it benefits your downstream channels in this blog by our partner, Earley Information Science.
Product Up-sell and Cross-sell
One way your business adds value is by helping customers make informed purchasing decisions. This does not just apply to the way you promote single products ― it also applies to the way you cross-sell and up-sell.
When you have high-quality information—categorized and tagged appropriately—it is easy to show customers how to combine complementary products. You gain a competitive advantage and increase revenue because you give your customers an in-depth understanding of the product and guide them toward the ideal solution for their needs.
When you deploy inRiver Product Marketing Cloud, you are able to quickly and easily create product assortments and relationships—in the manner of a “look book” for retailers or “additional parts and services” for B2B vendors. Contact us for a demo!
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager, inRiver
Let me introduce you to my new best friend. Yes, in a household with three active children, a busy, distracted husband, and two “unruly” dogs (as described by my curmudgeonly neighbor), my Amazon Echo is my dearest friend. She actually listens to what I say and acknowledges my requests!
Yesterday, I had Alexa read me the news. The day before, she set a timer for 25 minutes so I wouldn’t burn the muffins. She plays my favourite music on demand and adjusts the volume to my liking. If she had arms, I would hug her—every day.
But there is more to Alexa than meets the eye. Did you know that she is also the ultimate shopper? Yes, indeed! Assuming that the items that you are seeking are either commodity—such as pet food or packaged goods—or easily described, such as a book or a song, Alexa can do your buying for you—at the sound of your voice.
This is your newest retail channel. We will be discussing this and more in our upcoming webinar on February 15.
As retailers and manufacturers, who are targeting consumers directly, strive to get the right offer to the right consumer at the right time, an additional channel can open up new opportunities, while also adding operational complexity. In the case of voice, the ability to utilize the technology and the channel effectively is key. And to do this, you need great product information.
Since consumers who order products via Amazon Echo, Apple’s Siri, Google Voice, or other voice-activated apps are likely not looking at a mobile device or laptop at the same time, they are not seeing product images or reading descriptions and specifications. It is imperative that your product information is complete enough for the service to recognize what the consumer is trying to order.
Not only that, but also your product description needs to utilize the key words that a consumer would use. Chances are, a consumer will order a “blue phone case for Samsung Galaxy S7” not an “aqua ombre glitter sparkles” S7 phone case. Your product information needs to tell appealing product stories using common, everyday terms.
Because consumers will be able to review a shopping cart to ensure that their order is correct, your product information needs to be discrete and concise enough to select the needed product with a superior level of accuracy. Basic information such as product titles, brands, and SKU numbers needs to be exact. In addition, your product information needs to be consistent across channels so that your consumer can view a product online and then be able to order the product later via voice with a high degree of confidence that the selection is the same product.
The advent of voice shopping can help retailers truly meet shoppers where they are, in those “micro-moments” when a product need crosses their minds. However, to make that great first impression and keep shoppers coming back to you through this channel, it is critical that you serve up the right content and product options. Keep this new channel in mind when you are crafting your product information. It might mean telling a simpler, more concise product story.
In the meantime, join inRiver and our partner Absolunet on February 15, 2017 at 2PM CST for a webinar on this and other eCommerce trends affecting retailers. Register here for this informational event!
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager North America, inRiver
Forrester analyst Andy Hoar wrote an excellent report—“Death of a (B2B) Salesman”—about how B2B buyer preferences have quickly and fundamentally shifted. The name of the report refers to the trend that B2B buyers increasingly prefer to self-educate versus talk to sales representatives to learn about products and services. They also think that buying online is more convenient than buying from a salesperson. As Andy Hoar concludes, the B2B buyer behavior has changed signiﬁcantly in the past few years, but B2B corporate sales activity has not.
When more than 70% of customers do not want to interact with sales representatives, the appearance of the sales funnel changes in a dramatic way. Instead of looking in a printed catalog and calling the sales rep, B2B buyers are now starting their buying journey—and their entry into the funnel—by searching Google, Amazon Business, or other B2B eCommerce sites, increasingly using a mobile device while being on the go. You need to quickly help them find you, guide them to the right solution, and gain their trust without any human interaction. This is not easy to do, but a lot of business and revenue will be lost if you fail. In contrast, a lot of business will be won if you succeed.
So how can you turn this dramatic shift to your advantage and gain B2B sales superpowers?
Step 1: Get found.
To be found you need to be great at SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and provide Google and Amazon with the right high-quality content. SEO is constantly changing as Google and others optimize and modify their search algorithms, and many people make a good living out of consulting on the subject. However, without that high-quality content, these consultants cannot help you, because the foundation for successful SEO is high-quality, keyword-rich content. You need to provide this content to all your attracting channels, and to do so, you need to produce large amounts of it. It is much more efficient if it is created and stored granularly—instead of as large chunks of text—and is professionally localized.
Step 2: Guide the customer.
If you succeed with step 1, congratulations! The buyer has found you. You now need to guide them, as they most likely landed on a product page and not on a Home or category page. Your goal now is to provide the buyer with a guided navigation that quickly presents relevant products and the associated ecosystem of up-sells and cross-sells. Since the buyer may be using a mobile device, time is of the essence, and your on-site search and navigation will determine if they will find what you have to sell.
Your on-site search must be fast and efficient. Most likely, your search functionality is driving the guided (faceted) navigation. It is called a search engine for a reason, and the fuel for that engine is product content—high-quality, granular content.
Step 3: Gain trust.
If you have your product attributes and assortment in order, the B2B buyer should now have a few alternatives to choose from that match their need. Like any great sales rep, your goal now is to build rapport and trust with the customer—through your website interaction. You need to make it fast and easy to compare products, by providing all the necessary information. Most importantly, you need to display accurate information that is consistent across all the touchpoints in the customer's buying journey. Even small errors, such as the gross weight being lower than the net weight, will make the rest of your information not seem very trustworthy. On the other hand, a product video or a 360-degree spin will increase the chances of a sale, by increasing the customer's confidence in your product.
Selling complex products
If you sell complex products, it is often necessary to have an expert, such as a customer care or sales representative, help the customer to create a correct order. However, even if that is the case, most buyers will have done considerable research before they contact your sales rep or product expert. B2B buyers are empowered buyers, and you need to empower your sales team to meet this new challenge. Buyers and sellers alike need access to all the knowledge you have about the product, and they need it in real time, just like your website. You may also need to augment this information with a CPQ tool (Configure Price Quote) with configuration capabilities, which will unquestionably drive the need for more and extremely accurate product information.
Content is still king!
I hope you get my point. Content is the foundation for turning this dramatic shift to your advantage, in all phases of the buying journey, and irrespective of the systems and tools you invest in. Don't get me wrong: digital marketing and sales tools are necessary to manage the new B2B sales funnel efficiently. But before you invest in tools that empower customers and sales reps alike, invest in your content and keep investing in it. Content is a lot like fruit; it is a perishable asset with a shelf life, and you can never stop producing and updating it.
Johan Boström, Co-founder and Evangelist, inRiver