Psychographics Current Key to B2B

Are Psychographics The Next Big Breakthrough In B2B Demand Generation?

As we look to planning for 2017, one emerging trend that is really beginning to excite many marketers I’ve spoken with (myself included!) is the technological advances that will let B2B marketers target customers based on psychographics and likely behaviors.

Say goodbye to title/role/function-based targeting and hello to mobilizer-targeting.

As background, recall the research that CEB has done into customer stakeholders who are in some form or fashion involved in purchase decisions. The upshot is, your marketing and sales efforts ought to target Mobilizers—customer stakeholders who are especially good at driving change and building consensus within their organizations. You want to avoid wasting time with what we call Talkers (who will engage with your content and sellers’ all day long, but won’t actually be able to advance a deal) and Blockers (those who put status quo above all else).

We know from that research, published in The Challenger Customer, that Mobilizers defy a simple title/role/function description. In fact, you’re more likely to get a Talker or a Blocker than you are a Mobilizer if you just grabbed a group of decision-makers who share the same title/role/function.

Traditionally, the best that B2B marketers could really do with their targeting efforts has been to target title/role/function. Based on the data point above, that’s far from ideal. Lots of wasted effort and resources, some of which counter-productive. On a good day, B2B marketers can bring in wisps of “intent” based on observed behavior to identify those prospects who might be in the market for your solution. However, even then you can end up engaging customers who are out there learning and dreaming, but not able to actually help you get the deal done.

But here’s the exciting part: there are some groundbreaking marketing technology players who are pushing the envelope on identifying the psychographic “signature” of prospects who would be more likely to mobilize (and not just talk). And, I’ve been tinkering with our data to pressure test the underlying ideas.

Recommended by Forbes

My early view is that psychographic targeting in B2B shows real promise. Specifically, we’re talking about examining the digital and social footprint that customer stakeholders lay down every day through their comings-and-goings online and in social media. Couple that with, in some cases, natural-language processing that can parse written (and even spoken) language a hundred different ways. All with the idea of finding little clues that signify a customer’s likelihood to be a Mobilizer.

The underlying hypothesis here is that Mobilizers show up in subtly different ways—their social profile is nuanced, or they use different turns of phrase and language—than Talkers and Blockers. It seems to take deep analytics to spot these clues, but our early research here is promising.

With this type of intelligence in-hand, B2B marketers will be able to drop the title/role/function-based targeting and shift to a much more precise approach. They’ll be able to deliver content to audiences that are far more likely to drive change and build consensus around change in their organizations. Pair that with the kind of content that actually engages Mobilizers (not thought leadership, but Commercial Insight-based content that teaches the customer something new about their business they haven’t considered or appreciated before), and you’ve got yourself a recipe for much more effective B2B demand generation.


Patrick Spenner wrote this for Forbes. See the original article and great graphics.



Give me Online Video ROAS v CPA and ROI

Great eMarketer piece on how brand marketers measure digital video advertising. Brand Marketers need to value video advertising too. eMarketer report below, plus check out the original article (link at bottom) for great graphs.

How Brand Marketers Measure Digital Video Advertising

US brand marketers gauge how well, or otherwise, their digital video ads perform in a variety of different ways. Today, most measure digital video ad performance by looking at site traffic, June 2016 research indicates, but in the next year or two, more respondents want to be able to measure via cost per acquisition.

Brand and media consultancy Sequent Partners and Eyeview, a video marketing technology company, surveyed 202 US brand marketers who worked in the automotive, CPG, retail and travel industries. Respondents all worked for companies that currently buy digital video ads and are involved in their company’s media budget setting and allocation process.

Nearly three-quarters (71%) of brand marketers said they currently determine their digital video ad performance by watching site traffic. And more than half of respondents said they look at their return on investment (ROI). Brand metrics, as well as store traffic, are other ways they currently measure digital video advertising.

When asked how would they want to measure it in the next year or two, site traffic was still the top measurement mentioned. Indeed, 73% of respondents said they would want to measure it that way. Meanwhile, 38% of brand marketers said they would want to measure digital video ad performance by looking at the return on ad sales (ROAS). To compare, just 29% of respondents said they measure it that way today.

And one of the biggest differences was that nearly two-thirds of brand marketers said they would want to measure digital video ad performance by the cost per acquisition, order or sale. Only 40% of respondents said they do just that today.

Measuring effectiveness across devices and content platforms is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. June 2016 research from ad tech firm FreeWheel of ads on its network found that completion rates were better with larger screens and longer content. In Q1 2016, completion rates for US digital video ads on over-the-top (OTT) devices such as connected TVs were 93%, compared with 78% for smartphones and rates in between for tablets and desktops.

See original 11/14/16 article and great graphs at eMarketer



Specialization is Key in B2B

There’s A B2B Marketplace For That (Or There Soon Will Be)

One B2B marketplace trend that is gaining momentum is specialization. Niche players are creating more and better platforms to put buyers and sellers together, and receiving a small piece of each transaction in the process. I recently came across a niche marketplace platform that exemplifies this trend, and provides insights into how entrepreneurs with expertise in a given industry segment can succeed.

In sharp contrast to primarily B2C marketplaces, Thumbtack, TaskRabbit, and HomeAdvisor (all of which give customers access to a wide range of providers who can do just about anything), imagine, as an example, a B2B marketplace designed to connect telecom engineers with businesses needing telecom services. That’s a niche play, and it’s indicative of numerous specialized marketplaces that either exist already, or will be coming soon.

According to Malik Zakaria, Founder and CEO of Field Engineer, “In today’s economy it’s all about providing a scalable workforce.” While Field Engineer is an online marketplace that deals with one narrow segment (telecom engineers on demand), the success factors Zakaria describes could easily apply to any industry. Here are five points he talked about in a recent interview:

1. Minimize labor costs. There isn’t a business owner alive who wouldn’t be interested in the prospect of permanently driving down personnel-related expenditures. But minimizing labor costs often means relying on a skeleton crew, which could push current employees to burnout or make customers wait. And trying to hire the cheapest permanent staff possible can lead to subpar results and costly rework, not to mention severe customer dissatisfaction. Relying on a scalable, flexible workforce of prequalified providers through a marketplace can amount to significant savings for a company and its customers, while keeping quality high.

2. Reduce risk. Although hiring talent on a per-project basis is not new, for many companies, working with an unknown entity is simply not worth the risk. Traditional recruitment agencies can be costly, but they often justify the cost by qualifying and filtering candidates. How can a marketplace serve the same vetting function as a temp agency, while at the same time taking the cost of an intermediary out of the equation? “We knew this was something we had to deal with right upfront,” remembers Zakaria. “So we built into our process background checks, in-depth work history disclosures, and an online rating system. We also verify certifications that technicians claim to have received.”

3. Help customers rapidly scale up (or down). When you have access to prequalified candidates at any location, they can hit the ground running and tackle problems without the need for lengthy training periods. Zakaria explains, “A specialized contractor can help your organization ramp up productivity by bringing with them the necessary skill set for the job. A full-time hire on the other hand, may take longer to become fully productive. And if your workload tapers off, you will avoid the dreadful experience of laying off employees.”

4. Offer the right expertise for each contract. Making use of a scalable workforce allows companies in all industries the luxury of picking and choosing the skill sets they need for any given project. If there isn’t yet a marketplace where you can find the experienced providers you are looking for, there soon will be, given the rate at which new online marketplaces are filling niche needs. If you see the need for such a marketplace, and have the needed expertise to create it, you could be the first mover in your specialty.

5. Do you bring providers onboard before customers, or vice versa? Here is the chicken-and-egg question: Should you get customers onboard to attract providers, or must you have providers before your marketplace can be a viable solution for customers? An excellent article describes how Uber, Airbnb, and Etsy attracted their first 1,000 customers. Field Engineer, now a couple of months into its launch, began by recruiting 1,000 providers, allowing it to transact its first $100,000 in customer contracts.

The marketplace trend of specialization is picking up steam. Entrepreneurs will be both consumers and creators of new niche marketplaces in the B2B space. Which role will you play?


See original at Forbes by Larry Myler


They Believe Content Shared by Someone They Trust

Straightforward and practical B2B + social media article by AJ Agarwal in Forbes:

The Real Truth About B2B Marketing And Social Media

Marketing in B2B requires an understanding of social media. Social media marketing and selling are constants for any business looking to grow themselves further. This is no different in a B2B design. You want to make sure your time is going to be dedicated to the right social network as a B2B. Here are some of the real truths behind which social media accounts you should be maintaining for your marketing strategy.

Facebook Is More Relevant To B2B Marketing Than Most Realize

One of the truths about B2B marketing is that Facebook is a staple no matter what niche you’re in. Much of the content out there will suggest that Twitter and LinkedIn are more relevant, but studies recently done showed otherwise.

The research asked people what channel they would turn to regarding a purchase. 24% of people answered that their decision would be used from looking at Facebook first. That means one in four people sought out Facebook specifically.

Furthermore, studies show that the average decision-maker uses Facebook around 18 days per month versus the 13 days per month using LinkedIn and Twitter. When making any decision, most people are more prone to go to their most-visited channels for the information first before heading elsewhere.

If Content Is Shared By Someone They Trust — They Believe It

Making yourself relevant on social media is imperative for a B2B looking to improve their marketing strategy. If you focus on getting content up on social media websites and can get the connections to help get exposure to that piece, then you will show as a more reputable company.

It’s important for a B2B to get to bloggers on LinkedIn and professionals on Facebook to help with promoting their products and writing quality content on it. A person is more likely to believe that they should select your company over another vendor based on the credibility of the information they find on all social media channels.

Research What Your Competitors Are Doing

It’s important to find the top performing brands in your niche and analyze their methods. See what they are doing to be successful and which platforms they are using to do this.

While Facebook might be the most-used of social media, this doesn’t mean that you won’t have a need to use marketing on other social media channels like LinkedIn and Twitter. Every social media has a different end-game that can help with improving your sales. Learning how they work specifically for your niche and how active those professionals are for your B2B decision will be imperative.

The successful vendors in your niche have already laid out a platform of success. Research it, learn it, and use it to your advantage to succeed. Look at where these vendors are going wrong and find ways to implement slight improvements to make your vendor more qualified and reputable.

Paid Advertisement On Social Media

Social media has also become a huge hit for paid advertisements. This is how many of these social media websites are able to stay running. This is an opportunity for any B2B looking to enhance their marketing strategy.

Knowing your audience is important for paid advertisement because it will maximize your conversions and bring in a better profit margin by lowering costs. You may not find it effective for your B2B marketing strategy to include paid advertisement for every social media connection. You may want to limit it to the one or two most successful for your niche that can really pull in more interest.

Keep Your Social Media Accounts Updated

In B2B marketing, social media has become a crucial part of the success. With the internet being a top source for most professionals to look into vendors, you want your internet presence to grow and flourish. Have some professionals share your work to build credibility for you and to help with gaining relevance to your own content on it.


see the original article by  AJ Agrawal, Forbes Contributor 10.3.16



Future of Video Advertising


SEO + PPC = SEM Harmony

Anna Crowe wrote this sponsored post for Search Engine Journal on behalf of Bing Network, and I found it to be a good summary of the current marketplace with useful suggestions.

The Effectiveness of Search

SEM is considered one of the most powerful marketing channels. But does SEM really help drive traffic to your site?

It’s a question many search marketers have heard from clients 🙋, especially since SEM is taking up a large chunk of marketing budgets.

With so much of our time being spent optimizing for user experience and so much of our work measured on conversions, SEM has become a major part of our marketing roadmap — a new way to optimize your brand without leaving your desk.

Understanding the success of your search campaigns is a must for any business looking to drive traffic to their website. To better understand the effectiveness of SEM, let’s look at the research.

In An Overcrowded Space, SEM Finds Your Niche

SEM’s effectiveness is dependent on how strategic you are in your roadmap.

When your tasks and goals are clearly defined, and you have a little wiggle room for experimentation, SEM will be a consistent lead generation for your business.

“Search engine marketing and search engine optimization are critically important to online businesses. You can spend every penny you have on a website, but it will all be for nothing if nobody knows your site is there.” — Marc Ostrofsky, Author of Get Rich Quick

Take a look at these case studies to investigate how SEM can be a lead generator.

Teri Merrit discusses how Marriott International used SEM and SEO to drive demand and customer engagement to book group meetings. By setting growth metrics and tracking the analytics, they exceeded their total booking revenue, received a high conversion rate of 14%, and increased online submissions by 84%.

In 2015, Seer Interactive had 76,587 incremental conversions on Bing Ads for all their clients. One of their clients generated $461,159 in revenue from just Bing Ads! I’m not surprised because Bing has seen a massive 35% click growth year over year.

No, this isn’t magic. It’s the work of a great SEM strategy. Some industry experts would argue that it isn’t SEM itself, but rather improvements from the business as a whole. As you can see from above, the proof is in the numbers.

Search Ads Drive In-Store Sales

For businesses who want to see in-store sales, search ads seem to work the best.

Consider case studies like this one from Century Novelty. Utilizing Bing Shopping Campaigns Century, Novelty saw an increase in revenue by 1237% and return on investment grew by 20%. This isn’t shocking, as 25% of clicks on Bing Network are queried only through Bing.

Or, look at this study from Pinterest and Oracle Data Cloud. Together, they measured in-store sales of 26 different Promoted Pin categories. The results? Promoted Pins drove five times more incremental in-store sales per impression.

And, of course, Facebook recently launched several new local advertising options. French retailer E.Leclerc tested a Local Awareness campaign, and they saw 12% of clicks on their Facebook ads were then followed by an in-store visit within a week.

Chobani even saw a 9% increase in sales by utilizing SEM and SEO on multiple search engines.

As you can see above, research has proven that a strategic approach to search ads can not only build awareness but improve your bottom line.

SEO + PPC Create SEM Harmony

It is beneficial for a business to combine the powerful forces of SEO and PPC together if you need to produce results at a faster rate.

The reason is that new SEO tactics take time; since you don’t know what to expect from your competitors or the SERPs, you are inclined to create an SEO strategy for long-term growth.

With a PPC strategy, you know what lies ahead. Growth and lead generation require less time.
The combined efforts of SEM creates benefits in other ways too; it’s best to start with an idea and experiment to see what works best in your niche.

Let’s take a look at a few case studies:

  • Maryland Tub & Tile partnered with G3 Group to restructure their PPC campaigns and overhaul their SEO strategy. The combination of paid search and organic resulted in 325% increase in traffic.
  • Hedges & Company saw a 30% increase in sales from organic traffic and a 68% increase in PPC traffic with an automotive client.
  • Through targeting more relevant keyword terms, A/B testing, and creating content that attracts links, Digital Third Coast increased organic conversions by 49.4% and gained 851 view-through remarketing conversions for Olivet Nazarene University.

The SEM strategy you create impacts the overall goals of the business. When deciding what tactics will fill your marketing calendar, be specific; test until you discover what is most effective for your brand.


See the original SEJ article



Paid Traffic to Paying Traffic

Practical tips by Neil Patel; from headlines to offers, there’s an art to converting traffic.

The Simple 3-Step Process to Converting Paid Traffic Through Email Marketing

Most entrepreneurs who invest in paid traffic make one very critical error: They don’t know how to convert that paid traffic into profit!

If this is you, then pay attention: You cannot expect a positive ROI or a sustainable advertising campaign unless you learn how to master the art of converting paid traffic. While there are dozens of ways to convert paid traffic into profit, I’m going to focus in on just one: email autoresponders, meaning a computer program that immediately provides information to prospective customers, then follows up with them at preset time intervals.

If you put in the work on the front end and create a high-quality email autoresponder sequence, you will be able to convert paid traffic with almost no effort at all. While this may sound like an impossible task (if you have never created an autoresponder sequence before), it is actually a lot easier than you think.

So, here are three simple steps to creating an epic autoresponder series that will allow you to generate massive amounts of income . . . while you sleep. Sound like something you are interested in? Here are the steps.

  1. Make customers an offer they can’t refuse.

The first step to converting paid traffic through your email autoresponder sequence is to make your audience members an offer they cannot refuse. Specifically, offer a high-quality, free giveaway. You want the giveaway to be a no-brainer. You want it to be irresistible.

Creating a giveaway like this is actually much simpler than you think.

The key is, first, to know your market, figure out what one problem they want solved more than anything else, then create a giveaway that solves that problem. There are dozens of places where you can find the information you need to create your offer. Browse through books in the Kindle store related to your niche. Check out Reddit or Quora to see what questions people in your target market are asking.

For example, if you are in the health and fitness industry for men, you may find some of the biggest problems your market is asking to be:

  • How do I lose weight without losing muscle?
  • How can I gain muscle without spending thousands on a crazy diet?
  • I don’t have time for the gym; how can I stay healthy?

The list goes on and on. Based off these problems, you could create any one of the following giveaways.

  • A free video series titled How to Shred Belly Fat without Losing Muscle
  • An ebook titled Bodybuilding on a Budget: How to Gain Muscle, Get Huge and Turn Heads without Expensive Diets
  • A pre-recorded webinar titled Shredded in No Time: How to Get and Stay Lean for the Man on the Go

Pretty simple, right? Like anything in business, creating your irresistible offer is about identifying a problem and providing an effective solution.

  1. Craft compelling headlines.

Once you have successfully created a giveaway that people want and need, the next step is to create compelling headlines that actually generate a high open rate.

It doesn’t matter how good your giveaway is. If people sign up for your autoresponder series and then receive emails with poorly crafted headlines, they will take their free resource and promptly run for the hills.

While writing amazing headlines is a skill that can take years to master, you can get started today by keeping a few things in mind. First, you want to make sure that your headline is neither too long nor too short. Six to ten words seems to perform best.

It is important to realize that you only have a few words to pique your reader’s attention, get your message across and earn the open. Make sure that you utilize one or all of these six tips (in no particular order) to maximize open rates.

  1. Your headlines are specific and useful: People know what the email is about and what to expect.
  2. You clearly identify yourself: Make sure that in the first couple of emails the audience is very clear who is emailing them.
  3. Your headlines stand out: Use numbers, symbols and capitalization to grab the reader’s attention.
  4. Your headline is timely: Relate your headline to a recent event or issue pressing on your audience members’ minds.
  5. Your headline has a call to action: For some reason, people respond well when they’re told to do something. Use your next headline to bark out orders.
  6. Your headline is tested: Always split-test headlines to see what clicks (no pun intended) with your audience.


     3. Ask for the sale.

The final piece to the puzzle is to master the art of offering value and know when to ask for the sale. You want to make sure that (at least) the first week or so of your email series is dedicated 100 percent to giving value without asking for anything in return.

This will build trust with your audience members, increase the open rate on future emails and make them more likely to purchase from you whenever you actually do ask for the sale.

Providing value in your emails is pretty simple. Just continue to help your audience solve problems related to the problem that you solved in the giveaway. I recommend that you send at least four emails that are 100 percent value-based before you ask for the sale.

And when you do ask for the sale, it is important that the product you offer solve a problem similar to those you have been solving in the email series. If your series is all about how your audience members can grow their business through content marketing, but you then offer an online course devoted 100 percent to Facebook Advertising, you are going to lose sales.

Keep your emails congruent, and offer as much value as possible.


Converting paid traffic through an email autoresponder sequence is not easy. But it is one of the best ways to start generating passive/residual income while building your brand and creating customer loyalty. If you can master these three steps, your business, and your marketing will never be the same.


See the original article at Entrepreneur.com


Influencers Try Video

Interesting piece below on LinkedIn.  The company’s push to have ‘influencers’ publish content has been moderately successful, this is an argument for adding video to the repertoire.  Goals for LinkedIn: (a) increase average users’ time on their site, (b) provide new opportunities for ad revenue.

Why Videos Can Increase User Engagement on LinkedIn?

Facebook and Twitter have been going all out in the digital video space acquiring streaming rights and looking to create interesting video content. On the other hand, LinkedIn finally seems to be trying to catch up with this new trend. The company recently added new features to its platform where viewers can watch 30 second videos posted by “influencers”. These videos are expected to be crisp and to the point, while addressing a specific question or issue. The company has reached out to a small group of “influencers” who will post these videos. Consumption of videos online has increased significantly in the past few years, with YouTube reporting 50% year on year increase in videos watched on its platform. As LinkedIn finally jumps onto this bandwagon, the new feature should help the company to increase user engagement on its platform. Marketers are shifting their ad spending towards digital videos and LinkedIn should be able to grab a share in this growing video advertising market, driving revenues in the long term.

Growth In Digital Content Revenues To Be Driven By Video Services

According to a new study from Juniper Research, consumer spending on digital content will reach $180 million by 2017, 30% higher than last year’s figure of $130 million. This growth will primarily be driven by migration into streamed video services, as broadcasters look at original content to build a competitive edge. LinkedIn is working towards positioning itself as the “go to” place for professional networking and updates. As such, video streaming on its platform that contains expert views on trending issues can drive higher user engagement. According to a 2015 eMarketer study, digital video viewing (outside of television) among U.S. adults grew at a CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of nearly 40% between 2011 and 2015, from 21 minutes in 2011 to nearly 1 hr and 16 minutes in 2015. This indicates the high level of engagement of users while watching videos online. For the last three years, growth in watch time on YouTube has increased 50% year on year and the number of people watching YouTube per day is up 40% since March 2014. These numbers clearly indicate that videos are engaging users on the internet much more than textual posts. LinkedIn can tap into this trend through this new feature.

Ads and Marketing is a significant segment for Linked (according to our estimates), accounting for nearly 20% of its current valuation. Two key drivers of this segment are LinkedIn’s average monthly unique visitors and monthly page views per LinkedIn visitor. We expect both these drivers to increase steadily over our forecast period as the company adds new features on its platform.

As LinkedIn moves towards becoming a Microsoft company, an enhanced platform with new features is being expected by its users with the combined expertise of both companies. While the professional networking platform is behind its competitors in introducing video content, this beginning will help the company retain users and increase the time they spend on its platform.


check out the original article for Trefis graphics


Require Logins. Remember IA.

I’ve edited this article slightly to make it more clear.  Some decent quick B2B e-commerce tips below.

B2B E-Commerce Should Take a Page From Amazon’s Book

It’s been 20 plus years since e-commerce emerged and we’re still only seeing the tip of the business to business (B2B) e-commerce iceberg.

One sign that it’s still early days is the recent release of Internet Retailer’s (IR) inaugural issue of its B2B eCommerce 300 list. This list tracks leading B2B e-commerce company revenues.

While the estimated 2015 revenue quoted in the list — over $547 billion — suggests a more mature market, there’s still plenty of room to grow.

While each can be considered a form of e-commerce, let’s narrow the focus to how companies sell directly through their primary e-commerce site in order to compare with the more established business to consumer (B2C) e-commerce space.

Using the data from the report as a base, we can estimate a worldwide 2015 revenue of roughly $205 billion from B2B primary e-commerce sites and marketplaces, in comparison with the overall 2015 B2C e-commerce revenue of over $341 billion in the US alone.

While not a perfect comparison, it does suggest B2B eCommerce hasn’t progressed as quickly as its B2C counterpart.

Selling through one’s own e-commerce site suggests a greater level of maturity than outsourcing to a third party marketplace: it’s an indication that a company is trying to develop its own capabilities. Of the top 100 companies on the B2B 300, 50 of them derive at least a quarter or more of their online revenue on their own e-commerce sites and 21 of those sell half of their online revenues through their own site(s).

This suggests that revenues generated through a company’s own e-commerce site(s) aren’t as high as one might expect. While some might dispute that point, for the purpose of this article we are going to assume it’s valid and propose some better practices leveraging Amazon’s expertise.

Taking a Page (or Two or Three) from Amazon’s Book

Gated Product Information

A striking area for improvement is the login requirement of many B2B companies e-commerce sites. Requiring a login to view detailed product information seems onerous at best.

Having built an early B2B e-commerce solution in the late 90s targeting industrial distributors, it surprises me that companies still feel the need to hide their product information behind a gate. Amazon doesn’t limit access to product information and excluding certain, very specific product information, neither should B2B companies.

At least eighty percent or more of product information should be accessible to anyone. Removing barriers to reviewing product information is in a company’s best interests as it helps educate and inform prospective customers.

Displaying certain information, such as customer-specific pricing and available inventory, only to the relevant audience makes sense. But this is easily handled using a list price and/or a “request a quote” function and the term “In Stock” for the general public.

Whether the gated approach reflects the company’s own thinking or a lack of capabilities in the e-commerce solutions being used, it’s a problem that needs to be solved.

Information Architecture

B2B companies would also do well emulating Amazon when it comes to information architecture, taxonomy and usability. How a business organizes and presents information is highly relevant to getting people to use it.

Yes, B2B is often more complex than B2C. This will require more work in delivering a superior experience, but the customer experience has to be front and center, whether you’re B2C or B2B.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t receive the attention that it should in most companies. As with many things, Amazon does this extremely well so there should be no issues with companies benchmarking against known best practices.

Leaving In the Details

One last area where B2B companies can learn from Amazon is the immense detail in the product detail page (pdp).

Facilitating a buying decision online with minimal to no human intervention and numerous exit points is a challenging process. While each of the previous points chips away at people’s ability to complete an online transaction, the lack of rich product content on the product detail page probably has the greatest impact.

It’s precisely here where a customer is making their decision on whether to add the item to their cart. When they don’t, it’s often because they can’t cross the purchase decision threshold due to lack of information.

Amazon really has mastered the art of the product catalog, so again, for any company looking to benchmark, why not do so against the best in breed?


Check out the original article by Bill Davis



Understand Products. Cater to Their Needs.

Valuable blog post by Varkita Gupata entitled

B2B vertical e-commerce – the strategy for smart survival

When I say B2C e-commerce, you can probably name a minimum of 10 companies within a minute.

When I talk about B2B e-commerce, I presume an average audience to be struggling after Alibaba. Well, considering Alibaba’s GMV on November 11 last year alone was $14.4 billion, I will not hold it against you. They are a name to reckon with!

However, the popularity of a B2C company stems solely from its products. One advertisement around “dresses on sale” conveys everything, from a range of products, prices, variety and discounts to delivery and customer support. The more products there are, the merrier it is. The more discounts there are, the better it is.

You, me, your neighbour, my neighbour, your parents, my siblings, siblings of friends, teachers in German class, doctors in rural postings, the guy working in the garage, my boss, our maids – we all shop online the same way. We all get attracted to e-commerce companies thanks to that one ad. We all buy things on discounts. All of us will visit the website as and when we need a particular electronic or baby product. Thus establishing horizontal e-commerce as the ‘Big Daddy of Online Shopping’.

A B2B company is slightly different.

B2B is Business to Business. A business easing the lives of other businesses. A business directing all its resources into making their clients’ businesses thrive. It is about making processes simpler and faster to increase efficiency, productivity and profitability.

Which is exactly where the problem arises.

These SMEs and various multinational businesses are all selling the same product but want to be unique at the same time. They are looking for specifications and customisations. They are all looking for food containers or stretch films of great quality which are unique.

So what important role does B2B e-commerce play?

The importance of B2B e-commerce lies in streamlining various industrial sectors which build the backbone of a country’s economy.

Assuming how unaware one is about the B2B e-commerce scene, let’s get familiar with the concept through a few examples.

B2B e-commerce #1: Quill.

Quill sells office supplies online (well, at least 70 percent of their sales are online). So, it is safe to say that they are an e-commerce provider of office supplies. In bulk or small quantities, they provide all kinds of products required in an office setup.

Quill is owned by Staples Inc., and is recognised as their most profitable division, accounting for about 25 percent of the company’s net income. That is a huge chunk of business coming in from just one division. In a matter of 10 years, between 1998 and 2009, Quill grew from $500 million in revenues to over $1.3 billion.

B2B e-commerce #2: Xiameter.

Another page from history: Xiameter.

When silicone, the chief product of Dow Corning, started becoming a commodity, they decided to adapt themselves with the maturing market.

In 2002, Dow Corning created the Xiameter brand, an online-only distributor of silicone-based products likes gels, resins and fluids.

In only 3 months, Dow Corning earned back its investment.

Dow Corning saw sales rise from $2.49 billion in 1995 to $3.37 billion in 2004, a compound annual growth rate of 3 percent.. Its sales then rose a staggering 62 percent in the next four years, reaching $5.45 billion in 2008; its net income increased more than two-and-a-half times to $739 million.

As of 2011, Xiameter offers 2,100 of Dow Corning’s 7,000 products. That is 30 percent of Dow Corning’s product portfolio!

This is B2B e-commerce powerplay in first world countries.

Let’s shift focus to the Indian scenario.

A quick search on Google about “B2B e-commerce in India” results in news about top B2B startups venturing into various sectors like software, technology, hardware, logistics and industrial goods in India.

Yes. Startups.

This reveals two things:

  1. There is huge untapped market potential.
  2. Young entrepreneurs are looking for opportunities in the unexplored B2B avenue.

In India, the B2B sector is unevaluated, unexplored and a mystery, and established businesses have left it at that.

Their way of doing business has been set. We cannot really change it – is the attitude at large.

Forgetting the power of innovation.

The Indian B2B scene has not witnessed much success, unfortunately. There have been many players – Alibaba included – who could not establish their foothold. Multiple reasons like lack of infrastructure, purchase on credit and orthodox ways of doing business have been cited.

But the biggest reason is the variety of ways in which businesses in India function for different products. For example, logistics for chemicals is designed differently from packaging or machinery. This is true for other countries, but more so for India.

Hence earlier, businesses failed to project a strong presence despite resources, financial backup and branding. These businesses followed a horizontal e-commerce business model when the country was in dire need of business models with a deep understanding of that particular product market.

The examples mentioned above indicate the differences between B2C and B2B companies in terms of revenue or products. But, there is more to them than meets the eye.

Quill sells office supplies. Xiameter sells silicone products. Bizongo supplies packaging. Zhaosuliao supplies plastic raw materials.

All the companies above have one thing in common: business model.

Their business models strongly believe in adopting vertical e-commerce. Their success is the result. In a nutshell, vertical e-commerce is one goal and multidimensional audiences; one category and multiple product variations; one client and multiple customisations.

Vertical e-commerce: a smart survival strategy for B2B e-commerce in India?

This is a question I have been asking, researching, surveying, and digging deep into to discover whether e-commerce is really a bubble and who can survive it smartly.

Undoubtedly, browsing the internet has become a habit now. Social media presence has become inevitable. Online shopping is following suit.

With so much information at the tip of your fingers, one wants value for money more than anything. Indians are definitely a step ahead in demanding the best rates and discounts, and we are not even shy about it. In fact, we proudly accept the global attention showered on us for being “discount mongers and coupon grabbers”.

Anyway, here’s a list (there is always a list!) of why vertical e-commerce could be the perfect solution.

  1. Deeper range and understanding of products
    I respect it when a salesperson knows his product. In fact, I love it when I ask for one thing and end up getting a range of choices for it: from colours and brands to designs for that particular type of product. Let’s just say they have a customer for life! Bizongo deals in packaging products. We have 438 types of plastic crates alone.
    Need I say more?
  2. User Experience: perfected
    A vertical business knows what you are looking for. If the courier bag needs a POD jacket or if a particular brand is more trusted than others, the filters are extremely intuitive. It is like someone reading your mind!These guys are well researched. They know exactly where the customer will face a problem. Their in-depth understanding of user behaviour stems from months of research, surveys, and facing practical problems.
  3. Did somebody call for a specialist?
    When there is a major leakage problem in your home repeatedly, you look beyond the maintenance guy. You look for a plumber- a specialist in handling water faucets and piping. Scale this scenario to a multinational corporation. That’s right, you would give the plumber a contract.A B2B e-commerce company has a minimum ticket size of thousands of dollars in just one transaction. They would willingly put their faith in a specialist. This specialist expertly handles one aspect of their business.
  4. ONLY cater to your own needs
    When I receive mails from horizontal e-commerce companies, they are quite generic. There would be a blender here, a phone there, maybe shoes, fruits, books and a dish washing soap thrown in; discounts blinking all over the mail.When I shop from a clothing e-commerce website, I get suggestions based on the filters I had chosen at one point of time in the past. They take the pain to remember, and design to my needs accordingly.There, my friend, lies the difference. If a company makes an effort to help me find what I am looking for or what I really need, they can take all my money.As I write this, my marketing team is working on a mailer which blends perfectly with the mindset of our clients. Being a B2B company, these clients have been segregated, categorised and listed based on their choice of industry.

In a vertical e-commerce company like ours, sending out generic emails is not even an option. Imagine a horizontal e-commerce model taking so much pain for customisation. With the popularity these companies tend to gain, their resources are unable to keep an in-depth track of each and every customer.

By fine tuning customer experience and becoming a wizard in a specific domain, vertical e-commerce identifies its roots in smart survival and long term growth.

With a huge market at its disposal and a mindset willing to acknowledge the internet, the B2B space in India is gaining traction. To persevere against the various policies surrounding several sectors, a vertical e-commerce business model will prove to be an effective strategy for sustenance.

After all, a jack of all trades, but master of none soon fades, because he could not perfect any one single trade.

See the original post plus useful links

Vartika Gupta 8/1/16