As the world battles the novel coronavirus, everyone is spending more time inside and online. This represents a huge opportunity for customer acquisition in B2B eCommerce and for optimizing the eCommerce conversion rate – even though the pandemic is having a negative economic impact. Sites are receiving more traffic but most of these new visitors are just window-shopping. They aren’t adding items to their cart and they aren’t checking out.
The challenge for today’s websites is to curb cart abandonment and convert incomplete orders to paid orders. That’s why it’s time to be thinking about conversion rates and tactics to retain existing customers and attract new ones. By embracing personalization and looking at data in new ways, you’ll convert more of those clicks into sales.
Conversion Rates by Industry, Channel, and Device
When looking at your analytics, do you wonder what your eCommerce conversion rate should be? Conversion rates vary greatly by channel, industry, and the device your customers are using when they visit the site. It also depends on your headlines, messaging, user experience, and the call to action.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to boosting your numbers as every business, product and customer base is different. For example, B2B professional and financial services conversion rates may average 10% while manufactured and packaged goods convert at about 4% based on B2B conversion rate data from MarketingSherpa.
Conversion rate by industry
As said before, conversion rates in B2B eCommerce vary widely according to industry. MarketingSherpa’s analysis of B2B conversion rates is often cited for its accurate portrayal of average B2B website rates. Industries such as manufacturing, technology, software and professional services range widely.
Conversion rate by channel
Traffic channels are how eCommerce traffic arrives. Visitors can originate from a social network such as Facebook, from a search engine query, a direct link, or an email campaign. According to Salesforce, the top B2B lead-to-opportunity converting traffic channel is the website, while for opportunity-to-deal is referrals.
Conversion rate by device
While cellphones are attractive for quick purchases, large expenditures and contract generation typically associated with B2Bs tend to occur through a desktop. This is quickly changing as mobile gains more popularity. In fact, mobile usage in the workplace is projected to increase from 2 to 3 hours a day and will likely continue rising.
Conversion rates matter in B2B
Conversion rates are one of the top performance metrics for B2B sellers. In a survey of 43 businesses, B2BecNews revealed that the majority of companies give a score of 8 or higher when asked how important is knowing the average B2B eCommerce conversion rate in their business.
The process of improving conversion rates in B2B is more complicated than in B2C. B2C eCommerce websites typically aim at a large scale market. End-user purchase decisions are emotionally driven and involve a single individual. B2B businesses typically deal with much larger orders. Due to their longer sales cycles involving many individuals, B2B companies tend to be more attuned to customer journeys as they spend time on nurturing leads that are more qualified. Also, B2B buyers may start their search on a smartphone and make the purchase on a desktop. B2B buyers are omnichannel creatures.
Set the Right B2B eCommerce Conversion Goals
It’s important to set a conversion goal as a KPI. Within the overall goal you should also set supporting goals. Most B2B eCommerce sellers don’t expect first-time site visitors to buy during their initial visit. So, you need to measure the smaller actions that lead to the purchase. These are known as micro-conversions. A micro-conversion could be filling out a form or adding a product to favorites. Other examples include:
- Creating an account
- Number of reviews read
- Number of browsed pages
- Number of products compared
- Downloaded product specifications
- Added product to cart
Once you’ve evaluated what micro-conversions lead to the main conversion – the purchase, then you can determine the KPIs to measure how close you are to your goals. They can include metrics like:
- Email subscriber rate
- Pages per session
- Traffic distribution
The most popular (and perhaps easiest) way to monitor your metrics and calculate your conversion rate is through Google Analytics. It allows you to track many KPIs at once including signups, email marketing campaigns, or best performing landing or exit pages. Lastly, map your conversion goals to your customer journeys. Not every customer decision journey (CDJ) will look the same, so the actions within every customer journey must be optimized.
Conversion Rate Optimization in eCommerce
Your analytics are the “engine” that works behind the scenes of your business to give you real insights on how people are interacting with your website. First of all, where are they coming from, how do they navigate the site and product pages. Most importantly, are there any patterns in this data?
It’s tempting to make marketing decisions based on inconclusive customer opinions or what you think the competition is doing. However, your eCommerce conversion rate optimization strategy should be all about keeping a close eye on analytics and making data-driven decisions. Don’t be afraid to experiment and conduct A/B testing. For example, if testing shows that a lengthy product description results in a 3 percent conversion while a product video results in 5 percent conversion, then using the video is the correct path for conversion rate optimization.
Something as simple as a video can reveal a lot about what a customer does or their intent when landing on your page. Qualitative data tools such as CrazyEgg, HotJar or FullStory allow you to capture pageviews and analyze customer behavior in real-time.
Tips to Improve Your B2B eCommerce Conversion Rate
How do you increase the conversion rate of your B2B eCommerce site? Start by recognizing the goal is overall improved conversion. So don’t focus solely on the website. Use these tips to help conversion with all channels and traffic sources. Don’t forget to look at your email and account-based marketing (ABM) strategies to help you with this.
Integrate with CRM
During down cycles, customers cut unessential spending, so only messaging and products that offer real value stand out. B2B eCommerce platforms such as OroCommerce come with an integrated OroCRM to give sales 360-degree visibility into customer data. This allows you to segment customers according to their purchase habits, group them in personas, and offer tailored marketing to them.
Map out customer personas
Speaking of personas, don’t forget that B2B buyers are people too. They have their own demographics, lifestyles and goals. They don’t all shop the same way. Customer personas can also include hobbies, interests, marital status and more. By targeting your personas you can fine-tune your marketing campaigns and improve your B2B eCommerce conversion rate.
Build for mobile devices
While smartphone conversion rates are lower than those of desktops and tablets, mobile traffic sees a steady 22% traffic increase year over year, making it a market you can’t ignore. In addition, 2017 research by Boston Consulting Group saw that over 80% of B2B buyers are already using mobile at work, and mobile-optimized sites greatly increase their chance of making purchases.
Those looking for ways of improving eCommerce conversion rates should focus on their mobile shopping experience. Instead of developing mobile apps, businesses can focus on responsive design and their eCommerce APIs for headless applications.
Improve search functionality
Online searchers are used to Google offering them accurate suggestions based on their needs. Similarly, customers expect contextual searches with advanced autocomplete functionality. This increases the odds that site visitors will find what they seek, especially if the product has many different names, SKUs, part numbers, or other identifiers.
Improve site navigation
It takes more than great search functionality to help customers find their desired product. Customers expect to easily navigate categories, product trees, and pages. Breadcrumbs help them keep track of their current location. For instance, Petra offers a full-page menu that takes the user to the right category with just two clicks. It’s perfect for large product catalogs and product configurations that combine different sizes, prices, color and other characteristics.
Personalize the B2B experience
Consumers have come to expect personalized experiences based on past purchases and behavior. For B2B customers, it’s not merely a nice-to-have. Business customers require eCommerce experiences that closely mirror their business structures, user access requirements, invoicing and payment needs.
Businesses can span multiple vertical or horizontal industries with unique management structures consisting of branches, divisions, and departments. Let users set roles and authorities for their account and make it easy for them to manage quotes and place orders. Not only will they convert, you’ll increase the chance of another purchase.
Provide clear shipping and pricing
One of the most common reasons for shopping cart abandonment is lack of shipping information. Studies have shown that just like B2C customers, B2B buyers gravitate towards free shipping more than any other regular incentive. The same goes for pricing. By posting shipping rates and return policies upfront, customers know charges before they place an item in their cart. Using a flexible pricing engine can boost your B2B eCommerce conversion rate by dynamically offering customers the best price.
Optimize your landing pages
You can’t bank on every visitor to convert. In a 2017 study, the best landing pages converted at 30%, while the average rate stood at 4%. The marketing and advertising principle AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) is useful for creating powerful landing pages. Test a number of titles; pique their curiosity in the form of a compelling statement; identify their pain points, and suggest a solution with a CTA. Intercom, Hootsuite and Optimizely offer great examples of landing pages done right:
Make CTAs consistent
Make sure your call to action buttons are consistent with your personas – down to their copy, color, and placement. Studies show even the smallest changes have an effect on conversion. At the same time, a great CTA is not everything. Your title, images, layout, and product descriptions all play into a visitor’s decision whether to convert or to bounce.
Communicate value clearly
When crafting content, think from the point of view of the customer. For example, why should they purchase from you instead of the competition and what makes your product special? How does your product help someone like them? When creating landing pages and product descriptions, make the information clear, concise, and easy to remember.
Allow pre-ordering of out of stock items
No one is happy when the item they want is out of stock, but it’s more frustrating when the out-of-stock status isn’t identified. Aside from clearly displaying stock status with every product and product configuration, offer to notify customers when stock is replenished or allow them to preorder it as shown in the example by Growmap.
Keep track of your SEO
According to BrightEdge, organic search drives more than 53% of revenues for B2B and other verticals. Positions matter, too – the first position can get as much as 20% of clicks, while the ninth position nets you only 5%. To rank higher. update every product page with SEO-friendly descriptions, multimedia tags, and URL structures to increase your chances of ranking higher. Optimize page load speeds and compatibility with mobile devices. Remember, investing in SEO today gives you a stable, long-term supply of well-converting traffic in the future.
Improve product descriptions
One easy way to increase conversion rates is by providing as much information about your product as possible. Depending on what you are selling, you may want to list all features, instruction manuals, or safety certificates in your product pages. For example, PBE jobbers allow customers to download TDS and SDS sheets.
Adding rich multimedia such as high-resolution images, interactive zooming, or videos brings your product pages to life. Offer a more immersive experience with little effort and improve the customer experience. They will be more inclined to buy once they fully understand the product.
Examine page load speed
Slow load times have a detrimental effect on the shopping experience. Sites that take longer than 2 seconds to load lose desktop and mobile customers. It can also hurt your SEO rankings, CPC campaigns, and by extension your B2B eCommerce conversion rates. What’s more, Hubspot revealed that slow sites make 80% of customers less likely to buy again, which is a huge loss in potential customers.
Promote high converting products
Focus your marketing initiatives on what already does well. Highlight best selling, high-margin products, or suggest bundles of items that sell well together. This can be done with custom pricing labels or other indicators. You can also create “recommended”, “similar” or “bought with” product banners that may offer social proof for customers sitting on the fence.
Display your contact options
With any online business, and with B2B eCommerce in particular, customer service is key. Make sure all support options including telephone numbers, options to chat, or email are prominently visible on your website. Managing these contact options allows you to quickly resolve customer issues and answer product questions.
Push demand generation strategies
A great low hanging fruit tactic is demand generation. Experiment with gated content such as whitepapers, presentations, or webinars. An account-based-marketing strategy can target hot leads within key accounts. Lastly, AI chatbots are great for demand generation, particularly with leads who abandon key pages, may not want to fill out a form, or leave a page.
Create loyalty programs
Since B2B buyers are naturally looking for long-term partnerships, it’s a great idea to offer them a loyalty program as a reward. Since a B2B customer often orders larger volumes and has larger lifetime values, a loyalty program is a great financial investment. This can take the form of partnerships, referral programs, discounts, or tiered purchases. Benefits of the program should be prominently displayed.
Include product testimonials
Social proof is important for everyone, not just retail consumers. B2B buyers are always on the lookout for products that help businesses like theirs succeed. A face and a brand behind a name is not enough. If you want customers to take notice and convert, include some hard-hitting numbers that uncover increased efficiency or money saved by existing customers.
Focus on channels that work
If a high B2B eCommerce conversion rate is your top priority, focusing on your best-performing channels will yield better results. For example, review your analytics to track email opens, social media engagement, and organic search clicks. Determine where your best converting traffic is coming from and divert marketing resources to where they create the highest ROI.
Never Stop Testing!
Your product pages aren’t the only place to practice split testing. You can test different layouts, a different form of navigation, product categorization, and the checkout steps. See if conversion rates are affected when you replace “Add to Cart” with “Buy Now” as the CTA on your purchase button. See if removing one or two unnecessary steps can boost conversion and give you measurable benefits. Try one page checkout workflows versus multi-page checkout.
For most effective testing use the same traffic referral sources. For some tests, you can split traffic to different pages. In others, you can route different types of traffic (SEO traffic and social media) to the pages they might prefer.
Strive for Continuous Improvement
While everyone else is preoccupied with the health crisis, you should take this opportunity to put in the time and effort to increase the average conversion rate of your B2B eCommerce store.
Determine the rate at which you are converting today and set benchmarks for improvement. Experiment with the way users interact with various website functions, rethink your landing pages and checkout steps, optimize for speed and SEO. Never stop testing and never stop improving.