Editor’s note: This blog was originally published in 2020. It has been updated for accuracy and modern practices.
If you want to develop powerful B2B eCommerce strategies to attract and convert your customers, you’ll need to invest in a few key areas.
Sure, classic marketing strategies like asking for referrals, promoting at industry events, and doing cold outreach have their place. However, if you want significant ROI for your business-to-business company, you need to focus on search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per click advertising (PPC), and conversion rate optimization (CRO).
But, with such complex digital marketing practices, where do you even begin?
In this post, we’ll explain 11 online marketing strategies that B2B eCommerce stores should take advantage of, based on our decades of experience helping all kinds of businesses market themselves.
We’ll break these into three sections:
- SEO Strategies
- PPC Strategies
- CRO Strategies
B2B eCommerce Strategies for SEO
- Scale content to target B2B personas.
- Prune thin content to drive traffic to strategic content.
- Optimize your design and speed across devices.
1. Scale your strategic content to target buyer personas.
Before anything else, we recommend scaling content production to target all of your important customer segments.
When you produce content that’s personalized to your most important customer segments, your audience will be more likely to find and respond well to that content. Because B2B buyers prefer content that is specific to their industry, this approach works better than a “one-size-fits-all” strategy.
Publishing helpful articles, guides, videos and other content to answer questions that target customers are typing into search engines is a key part of your SEO content marketing strategy. This means creating content at scale to target specific industries and use cases relevant to your business.
When paired with keyword research and good SEO copywriting, publishing this type of content for eCommerce sites brings in more targeted organic traffic — and a portion converts into purchases. As you scale up the production of strategic content, you increase the potential amount of organic traffic all of your content brings in.
But what if your clients fall across a few different verticals?
One of our clients in the warehouse supplies niche does business with government contractors, healthcare, manufacturing, and other industries. The specific needs for a healthcare supply warehouse (medical supplies) and a manufacturing warehouse are entirely different. In turn, their questions, pain points, and products purchased along the buyer’s journey are going to be different.
Rather than attempting to capture multiple segments with content that attempts a “one-size-fits-all” approach, call out your different customers directly and structure your website’s content by each segment. Yes, this means more work, but it will pay off in the end.
An example: BigCommerce divides the “Solutions” section of their website into use cases like “B2B” and “Wholesale,” as well as different industries:
Then, they publish content specific to that use case or industry, like these manufacturing-specific case studies on their “Manufacturing” industry page:
As another example of this in action, Discount Vials offers an industry navigation menu:
Each industry option takes you to relevant products frequently purchased by that industry.
Chances are you already know who the different audience segments in your customer base are. If you also know their buying process and needs, you can optimize your pages to match their needs and intentions.
Pinpoint this by looking at the organic keywords your website is getting clicks for in Google Search Console, running surveys to customers, and doing more keyword research. Use this search query information to create strategic content that appeals to each customer base, and use the keywords you find to further optimize that on-page content (including long tail keywords).
You can also test advertising this content in your paid ads.
2. Prune thin content to drive more traffic to strategic content.
If you haven’t done a content audit and deindexed low-quality pages from your B2B eCommerce website lately, you’re well overdue. Pruning the right website content is a guaranteed way to boost your overall performance.
The amount of “index bloat” on a website is a big factor in how Google perceives overall site quality. Google doesn’t want to see a bunch of thin and duplicate content but, unfortunately, B2B eCommerce businesses tend to have a lot on their websites.
The usual culprits: product and category filters, site search, and old or out-of-stock products. These low-quality pages can all lead to index bloat, which reduces the power of your high-quality pages in search engines.
Learn more about running content audits and cutting low quality pages from your website below:
- How Pruning This Online Store’s Blog Boosted Strategic Content Revenue by 64%
- Fixing Index Bloat: Why It’s Great for SEO in 2021
- Common Content Audit Scenarios & Strategies
3. Optimize your website’s design and speed across devices.
Mobile-first indexing is now Google’s default for all websites. If you want to increase your discoverability in the search engine results pages (SERPs), you need to maximize your desktop and mobile design and speed.
Not only does this strategy improve your SEO, it also frequently improves conversion rates. People tend to start shopping on mobile devices and complete their purchase on desktop. But, if they don’t have a good initial user experience browsing your website on mobile, they might not necessarily come back to it on desktop.
In other words, prioritize the mobile version of your website to provide a seamless buying experience, wherever the purchase ends up occurring.
You can use Google’s Lighthouse tool to perform audits of your site’s pages and ensure they’re optimized for mobile. This tool provides scores for your performance, accessibility, SEO, and more.
To quickly test only your website’s speed across different devices, use Google’s Pagespeed Insights.
B2B eCommerce Marketing Strategies for PPC
- Use negative keywords and tiered campaigns.
- Optimize branded campaigns.
- Take up more space in the SERPs.
4. Use negative keywords and tiered campaigns.
A big part of increasing the return on ad spend (ROAS) from Shopping and Search Ads campaigns? It involves avoiding wasted spend whenever possible.
There are two ways to maximize profitability from your PPC marketing campaigns:
- Add negative keywords
- Adopt a tiered campaign strategy
Find and Add Negative Keywords
Finding and cutting out keywords that produce poor results and bad quality scores can improve your campaign’s health. For example, if you sell luxury items, you certainly don’t want your ads to show for queries using “cheap” as a search phrase.
Find negative keywords using Google’s Search Terms Report:
- Once you sign into your Google Ads account, click “Keywords” in the page menu.
- Click on “Search terms” and check the boxes next to the search terms you want to add as negative keywords.
- Finally, click “Add as negative keyword” to add it to a negative keyword list, ad group, or campaign.
Use a Tiered Campaign to Isolate High-Performing Products
One of the most successful B2B eCommerce strategies we regularly implement for PPC clients is a tiered campaign structure. This model separates campaigns into three tiers based on relevant search terms to product and brand.
First, you bid lower on broad terms at the top tier to generate brand awareness for new customers and to avoid overspending on search terms customers use early in their journey (which also tend to have a low ROAS).
Then, when these customers are looking for specific products, you bid more in the second tier.
Finally, you bid the most aggressively on terms directly related to your specific products and brand (those with the highest ROAS).
By bidding on search terms using this PPC eCommerce strategy, you can more efficiently optimize ad spend and conversions.
5. Optimize branded search campaigns.
Owning your B2B company’s brand in search results is crucial. We often see competitors bidding on our clients’ brand names, trying to outbid them — especially when clients have more generic names, such as “Modern Shelving:”
Branded campaigns should be relatively inexpensive, once you optimize them toward a high quality score and click-through rate. Do this by adding negative keywords to your campaigns to avoid triggering irrelevant search terms.
Not only will this ensure your branded campaigns don’t overspend, it will also improve the overall position of your ads in the SERPs.
Follow our branded search campaigns best practices for a step-by-step guide to making it happen.
6. Take up more real estate in the SERPs.
Did you know it is possible to increase your ad placement and ad size to take over more of the search engine page results? Sounds simple, but it’s a commonly overlooked strategy.
There are two ways to make it happen:
- Add at least three ad copies per ad group.
- Use ad extensions.
Add at least three ad copies
Google recommends running at least three ads at any time, per ad group. These ad groups should target specific product categories you sell.
For example, if you’re a shipping supplies store, you should have separate ad groups for bubble wrap, cardboard boxes, packing tape, etc. — with different ads for each product.
Doing this will instantly improve the quality score of your ads, helping them to get more clicks.
Use ad extensions
You can take advantage of Google’s ad extensions to increase the amount of space your ads take up and make them more visually appealing. Some good ones to use:
By using Callout Extensions and Sitelink Extensions, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise ad below takes up more vertical space for the term “servers business buy,” something a technology buyer at a business might search for when they shop for new servers:
It’s not only eye-catching; this ad is double the size of most ads. It pushes other ads and search results even further down the page and away from customers’ eyes.
B2B eCommerce Marketing Strategies for CRO
- Publish unique case studies.
- Integrate live chat.
- Prepare for low stock and custom orders.
- Optimize your upsells.
- Confirm tracking is accurate.
7. Publish unique case studies for customer segments.
Case studies that feature client testimonials and successes are crucially important for B2B businesses. They provide added trust and paint a picture of benefits that your business can offer.
As you create your case studies, target each toward a specific customer persona or segment. Why?
- Sales representatives have helpful tools to use when speaking with different customer segments.
- You can link out to the appropriate industry case study from the sales/product pages on your site that are relevant.
- You can use keyword research to match a case study with a relevant search term used by that industry when they are looking for a solution.
- You can advertise your case studies via PPC ads on social media, search engines, and across the web to drive more targeted traffic.
Whether you provide products or services, featuring your own B2B customers in case studies is a no-brainer. Don’t forget to link your product and services from these pages!
8. Integrate a live chat function.
While live chat is important for B2C eCommerce stores, it may be even more important for B2B buyers — because they tend to have very specific and varying questions about their orders.
We recommend implementing a live chat that proactively reaches out to users on your website, asking if they want to speak with a specialist. This keeps prospects engaged on the website and initiates more sales conversations.
Your messaging should center around the main value proposition in terms of helping users figure out which products to use. In other words, anticipate the common questions and needs that frequently arise in a sales conversation so that you can help direct people to the right solution.
For example: If one of your B2B prospects is looking at a specific product or service on your site, the chat should ask them if they have questions or need help with “that” product. Then, if they provide you with their contact information, you can later retarget them with segmented email marketing.
9. Prepare for low stock and custom orders.
When your customers purchase large quantities of products, you want to notify them that you have limited stock to fulfill it. To solve this problem, have a pop-up appear if they go to order a higher quantity of product than you have in stock.
The pop-up should encourage the user to contact your business (via phone or email) to help. The copy should also offer alternative options for the product or other ways to help meet the customer’s needs.
Many eCommerce platforms — like BigCommerce, Shopify, and Magento — offer this solution in their backend.
If you offer custom orders to shoppers, make sure you provide a clear path to making that happen. Consider creating “build a quote” links on product pages that direct to custom quote landing pages.
See this example from Berlin Packaging:
Rather than a landing page with a form, they add messaging of “Added to Quote Cart” once you click “Build a quote:”
The website allows a customer to pay list price or submit the order for a custom quote during checkout, giving buyers the option to full price if they need stock now or seek a negotiated quote with less urgency.
10. Optimize your upsells.
Many online merchants allow their eCommerce platform to automate recommended items. However, these product recommendations aren’t always relevant to what the customer came to purchase — and they don’t convert. Because B2B buyers often come to your online store looking for very specific things, this can severely impact your sales.
We recommend only offering upsells that are relevant to the product in the customer’s cart. Since many B2B purchases include only one or several main items, recommending accessories that complement the items in their purchasing decisions is a better tactic.
You can establish this in the backend of your eCommerce B2B platform. For example, if your business sells wares to restaurants, recommend dessert plates and salad plates in their cart if they have already added a dinner plate:
11. Confirm tracking is accurate.
The more you track on your website, the more information you have to view and optimize.
We recommend using Google Analytics to track your internal site searches for SEO purposes. By seeing what people are typing into your store search bar, you can identify popular items and bring any difficult-to-find items to the front of your navigation.
You also want to make sure that you can properly track calls, quotes, and contact forms. For that, link Google Ads Conversion Tracking to your Google Analytics account. Don’t forget to set up inbound call conversion tracking for those calls that come in directly from the SERPs. CallRail is a great tool for monitoring these actions.
Try These B2B eCommerce Marketing Strategies Today
The common thread between all these strategies? Make sure your B2B eCommerce website is up to B2C standards.
Remember: Today’s B2B buyer shops much like a B2C buyer. They prefer to shop online, which means your B2B brands need to be found by decision makers and provide a stellar customer experience that drives them to purchase.
These strategies work, but they are by no means exhaustive. For the best results, you should implement a multi-pronged eCommerce digital marketing strategy tailored to your brand and target audience. Want help making it happen? Our team is always happy to provide a free, personalized proposal for your business goals and needs. Contact us any time to get started.