Digital strategies are frameworks. Just as architects design great blueprints and 3D renderings for buildings, your organization needs structure and perspective for your digital ecosystem. If done well, digital strategies will provide pathways for taking your customers from Awareness to Advocacy. Construction experts know that a good project has many steps: site selection, space allocation, and materials management to name a few. They also know it all starts with knowing a building’s purpose. So, when you’re developing or overhauling your digital strategy, it’s good to begin with your objectives. Do you want to:
- Grow your business? How? With a larger share of wallet? Customer acquisition?
- Increase Efficiency? How? By automating processes? Leveraging artificial intelligence? Channel shift?
Focusing on larger business objectives and their impact on the organization can help to define the overarching vision. Breaking these objectives into smaller, more tangible goals, and then mapping those to measurable strategies, will help to ensure technology decisions and operational change imperatives are aligned and executed in lockstep.
Next: Reviewing your technology stack
Technology management is an enterprise-level undertaking. Typically technology expenses range from 2-7% of a firm’s total operating budget, with an average of 3.28%. It’s the infrastructure on which any digital plan is executed. Your objectives should guide those investments. Your technical experts should be designing an ecosystem to meet (and exceed) objectives with the best integrated solutions, including:
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Platforms
- Product Information Management Systems
- Digital Asset Management (DAM) Systems
- Content and Commerce Management Systems
- eProcurement and Punchout
- Plug-ins, like chat services
- Analytics capture, reporting and visualization
A partner can help prioritize your options and review the entire system to make sure that it’s connected and working efficiently. Just like a General Contractor hired to manage a building project, our Xngage team and network of trusted partners can make suggestions for your unique business needs and the types of technologies that offer the best return on-investment over time and, most importantly, can assure your technology decisions are tied to business value.
The key to leveraging a strong, integrated tech stack is data integration. When data is integrated, unified, and systematically leveraged to support B2B commerce processes, then your integrated digital ecosystem works harder and smarter for the business so that objectives are met or even exceeded.
Good data for valuable insights and analytics
In the era of big data, analytics are everywhere. How do you know which ones are best for your business? Performance markers based on financial, web and campaign metrics are critical to a digital strategy.
- Are you tracking sales, margin, average order value and average order frequency?
- If ecommerce is a prime channel for you, how often are you reviewing registered users, sessions, page views and abandoned cart metrics?
- And most importantly in a B2B environment, how are you driving customer engagement? How do you measure customer engagement across channels?
Understanding what makes your customers come back for more, more often, is a key metric in B2B ecommerce. Good analytics, stemming from good data, can open your eyes to valuable business opportunities, such as better user experiences, improved customer conversions, or increased loyalty. In the customer journey from segmentation to targeting to converting to tracking, the metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) along that journey will tell you where you’re succeeding and where you have room to improve. Using that data is essential in an era where customers expect you to know their preferred products, patterns or particular likes.
Showcasing your wares
Merchandising is an essential part of a digital strategy. In a full-systems view it incorporates:
- Customer-specific Product Assortments
- Personalized Catalogs or Order Guides
- The Product Exploration Journey: Findability to Onsite Search
- Customer-specific Pricing and Location-based Availability
Products and services are increasingly personalized for the user on your website. Just as an Interior Designer knows which patterns, textures and colors will create the desired experience in a room, so will your UX experts with your websites. And beyond the people you employ, AI-powered recommendations and intelligence-based solutions (both based on purchase history) are becoming mainstays in merchandizing and online purchasing.
Each step in the journey should facilitate engagement. Knowing if buyers have ordered previously, or have lapsed for many months, allows you to tailor that journey. Creating that first sale and turning it into loyalty requires an effective marriage of merchandising and marketing.
The best curated B2B website experiences help customers navigate a variety of choices quickly. Ensuring your customers save time with each digital touchpoint will create loyalty since B2B buyers want to make their jobs easier. They want to procure, be smarter in replenishing, and free to interact on their terms 24/7.
As any good builder knows, the planning is just as important as the execution. Leveraging a digital strategy that includes objectives, tech stack review, data management and merchandising is critical to building your long-term digital success.