Over the past few months, I’ve been following Risetime’s four-part B2B Optimization Series. It was written by Sophia Drivalas, the head of Risetime’s e-commerce practice to address an often-neglected crowd of marketers looking to improve their customer experience with optimization.
Now that the series has ended, I’ve endeavored to look back and run through some of the most important takeaways from Risetime’s series.
Here's what I came up with:
B2B marketing benefits enormously from a data-driven methodology like testing. Testing is the best way to optimize the customer experience for what can be an idiosyncratic audience. Drivalas points out several things a B2B buyer may need that a B2C customer may not, such as an online workflow for request approval from another purchasing role, customer-specific product assortments, and different product offer views. The B2B buyer wants to quickly and easily narrow down their options, validate technical specs, and achieve a high level of certainty in their purchase decision.
So how do you optimize for these and countless other B2B needs that you haven’t anticipated? Test. Test marketing methods, price points, and the capabilities that influence how users interact with your site.
Drivalas sets up the next three posts for a B2B audience which will offer test ideas, cross-functional alignment to develop impactful tests, and how to get you buy-in for a B2B testing and optimization program.
Part II: In B2B, one size does not fit all
We’ve already covered the difference between the B2B and B2C experiences. These notable differences will have a huge impact on your optimization roadmap and test analysis. When it comes to developing a testing program, Risetime’s advice is to have your monthly testing plan vetted by an operational, cross-functional optimization team.
I’m going to include the benefits as outlined by Drivalas here:
- Ensures that required resources are available since the operational team is engaged in all planning discussions (Example: some complex tests may require developers, others may be simple changes to an existing marketing campaign)
- Gives team members an opportunity to discuss tests early in the process and identify any roadblocks or timing issues
- Creates alignment between test outcomes and organizational goals (Example: testing to improve online acquisition vs. testing to increase Average Order Value)
- Provides visibility to program sponsors and business stakeholders. The more your leadership team knows about your optimization plans and the results, the more support you’ll get for expanding your program.
When it comes to creating your monthly testing plan, Drivalas advises the B2B marketer to test high traffic, global features for maximum impact (and I agree!). Focus on these global elements such as design of search results page, global header, email sign-up, log-in/registration, and homepage layout.
By the same token, you must understand the user segments and personas that will impact every step in your optimization planning because of different roles within a customer account and features that are customized by account or user. Understanding these roles and behaviors is critical to a productive optimization program.
Part III: Usability tests aren’t enough
That’s why we’re around! But really, user feedback can be a great tool. It can inform your testing efforts by pinpointing problem areas on your site. The issue with this kind of qualitative feedback is just that, it’s qualitative. With relatively small sample sizes and possible bias, it’s only right Drivalas urges readers to not depend too heavily on usability research.
The best approach to a comprehensive customer experience optimization program is one that uses A/B testing to validate what you might have discovered in other research formats. Drivalas offers this example: A company discovers 7 out of 8 customers appreciate a new reminder feature on the shopping cart page. Testing the new feature (with an expected positive outcome) reveals that mobile users don’t touch it, logged-in users prefer it, and Safari users can’t even get it to work. To Sophia’s point, usability testing is great, but it needs to be verified. She explains further that A/B testing new site features is imperative to reduce risk of launching a sub-optimal experience and wasting developer resources. On more positive note, it can help you go to market faster with a new feature and target marketing materials based on segment behavior. Her message: “Trust, but verify!”
Part IV: Why B2B Personalization Should be the New Black
I love the title on this one. Personalization is absolutely the new black when it comes to optimizing the customer experience. Drivalas does a great job explaining that good personalization is good customer service; a satisfying experience that gives customers confidence in their purchase decision, an easy, efficient transaction, a relevant shopping experience, and aptly targeted offers.
There’s no reason to be intimidated by cost or complexity – a basic level of personalization starts by leveraging existing behavioral and profile data from your optimization and analytics tools. You can do the following examples Drivalas :
As with any marketing initiative, before personalizing, you must identify your goals. Drivalas suggests you may want to personalize for your first time visitors, paid search, and retargeting offers. On the other hand, it’s possible you’re looking to increase the order value of your existing clients with cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.
For those B2B marketers who are further along the optimization maturity curve, Drivalas councils then to share product recommendation logic across email and with customer customer reps to improve offline AOV, as well. A more holistic channel strategy, Risetime advises, takes time to develop. However, by getting a few speedy optimization wins, your omni-channel strategy will continue to wow customers.
Whether you're at the beginning of your optimization initiative, running simple tests or getting sophisticated with personalization, optimizing the B2B customer experience requires specific considerations. I hope my recap of Sophia's great advice can help you get on the path to a B2B customer experience that drives revenue, loyalty, and conversions where they matter most!
As always, if you have specific questions about how we help B2B companies run impactful tests and personalization campaigns, feel free to reach out!