Now more than ever, we live in an ever-changing, often-uncertain world. And now more than ever, we’re witnessing a profound change in the world of e-commerce, too. As the digital age continues to evolve, the entire e-commerce – and overall advertising and marketing – ecosystem is in a constant state of flux. The lines between B2B and B2C are blurring more and more by the day.
Technology, by its very nature, is always changing and evolving. And so is consumer behavior. Some of these consumer shifts are reactionary; an instinctual response to changes or challenges in society and life. Say, for example, a scary pandemic. Other transitions are more proactive; quiet rebellions driven by consumers’ own demands to do things differently.
Whether they’re driving these shifts through product or technological innovation, or scrambling not to lose click-throughs and conversions in reaction to demanding consumers, marketers and e-commerce providers must stay at least a few steps ahead of everyone else in the marketplace. Especially during, say, a scary pandemic.
As marketers and e-commerce providers continue to “cross the floor” and smartly select the best attributes from both B2B and B2C marketing practices, the term “integrated marketing” – along with its alternate term, “omnichannel marketing” – become more recognizable and relevant by the day.
Like any form of marketing, especially in the era of the algorithm and amidst the expansive landscape of smartphone societies, much of integrated/omnichannel marketing is a finely-polished science. But like all great marketing, advertising, connecting, communicating and selling, it’s also something else:
It’s an art. A fine blend of engaging with unpredictable human beings and presenting them with a high-quality, low-effort, smart, streamlined customer experience.
Traditionally focused on delivering down-and-dirty, no-nonsense, mostly dry data and information, B2B marketers are increasingly working towards building a more emotional and evocative connection between brand and consumer. Meanwhile, B2C marketers are producing more educational and info-intense content (including “infotainment” and “advertorial” media pieces) to meet the needs and demands of today’s consumer — who is smarter, savvier, more prepared and more demanding than ever before (thanks in large part to social media and online communities and communications).
Not only is the modern consumer more demanding, discerning and in control, but he or she is also overwhelmed by media messaging. In fact, click-fraud protection provider PPC Protect estimates that today’s consumer digests anywhere between 6,000 and 10,000 marketing messages on a given day. That’s an awful lot. It’s also a sharp rise from the 500 to 1,600 ads an American consumer in the 1970s was likely to be exposed to each day.
To succeed, survive and thrive, today’s e-commerce merchant must learn to master the emerging fine art of omnichannel/integrated marketing — while also finding a way to cut through all that clutter. They must always remember that this line between B2B and B2C – once a much clearer distinction and demarcation – gets a little bit blurrier every day.
As Boston-based e-commerce marketing software platform provider Klaviyo stated in a recent blog post:
“Integrated marketing is nothing new, but with the explosive growth of digital marketing channels, having a solid integrated marketing strategy is more important than ever. With the rise of digital, companies now need to ensure that their display ads, social ads, search ads, website messaging, social profiles, email marketing, and much more are all aligned in addition to these original channels, often called out-of-home advertising channels.”
These channels, like the marketing messages that populate all of them, seem to grow in number by the day. According to a guest blog post by NICE inContact CEO Paul Jarman on Unified Communications/UC Today, today’s digitally-adept consumer averages nearly six different channels, or touchpoints, before making a purchase — with nearly 50% regularly using more than four channels. Jarman wisely states:
“Providing an excellent customer experience across all available channels is not just a nice thing to do. It is essential to maintaining success and staying one step ahead of the competition. But delivering this winning experience is easier said than done, and there is a lot at stake and not much room for error. Businesses need to make sure they are doing all they can to deliver the winning experience customers want.”
Obviously, you want to maintain consistent messaging, tone and voice across digital and traditional advertising channels. And obviously, you need to have a strong social media presence for your brand and/or online shop today. Once an option or add-on, social media is nothing short of a necessity in today’s always-on, hyper-connected world. Even better, your presence on LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, SnapChat, Facebook and/or YouTube should be not only updated regularly, but monitored by someone who can respond in a timely fashion (the faster the better) to any complaints, gripes, criticisms or “haters” registered on any posts by your brand.
In addition to social media, one area of execution that has become absolutely imperative today – and readily represents the blending of B2B with B2C tactics today – is what is now known as content marketing.
The more engaging and informative content marketing pieces you can provide your consumer, the more likely they are to appreciate and trust you (and provide you with business, revenue and ROI). You can help build this brand loyalty – and drive true relationship-driven purchases – by delivering engaging content that both informs intellectually and connects on a more visceral and emotional level. In other words, connect with their heads…and hearts. And make it all pleasing to their eyes and ears.
This content can take a variety of forms — from quick, fun “how to” or “explainer” videos to high-level, info-dense industry or company “whitepapers” or e-books to engaging-yet-informative podcasts and webinars and, of course, blog posts.
Hit these notes right, and you can really start to build customer loyalty around your brand. As Klaviyo states:
“Your brand needs to be consistently represented to stand out and be remembered by this heavily distracted group of customers. A great experience with your brand is what will attract them in the first place—and is also what will keep them loyal long-term!”
At the end of the day, today’s super-savvy, always-online, time-crunched consumer has to not only be engaged — but satisfied. And few things will make your e-commerce shopper happier than a smooth, streamlined experience.
A lot of this includes a quick, easy and safe checkout experience, obviously. But don’t discount the power and value of the overall experience — from initial enticement and engagement to final purchase decision. At the end of the day (and their online shopping time), your consumer will remember you as a “brand” — and associate either positive or negative emotions with you, based on whether or not you made their e-commerce interaction with you as smooth, pleasant and entertaining as possible.
This is where a true “omnichannel experience” comes in. One of the more fascinating and impactful details to emerge from the Klaviyo post is that omnichannel customers spend 30 percent more than other shoppers.
As The Ayden Unified Commerce Index explains on their site:
“Linking your online and offline sales channels increases loyalty and drives higher spend – unified commerce shoppers spend more often and for higher amounts.”
Of course, the more time you can save them in the process…the better. Take too much time…and you’re likely to lose their interest. As well as their business. Nobody likes an abandoned shopping cart. Least of all, e-tailers and e-commerce providers.
When it comes to the dreaded abandoned carts, our friends at Klaviyo have provided a helpful look – and set of strategies to help reduce this unwanted occurrence – via another one of their excellent blog posts.
The experts at Klaviyo also provide some strong insight on what they term“buyer friction,” explaining:
“Modern consumers have so many different channels, platforms, and devices on which to conduct their shopping business. Having to click on a variety of links and pages to get back to your old school website is not the most optimal experience. Instead, developing an omnichannel strategy is a great way to add a ton of value to your brand by keeping buying friction to a minimum.”
We all know that buyer friction, abandoned carts and mixed messages are no way to true e-commerce success. But do you know how to avoid these pitfalls and connect with your consumers in a way that builds real brand loyalty over time? Are you practiced in the art of blending B2B and B2C practices to create a truly integrated experience?
If you feel you could use some help navigating and coloring in between these increasingly blurring lines – and boosting your bottom line – our talented team here at Imagination Media would love to talk to you. And then get to work helping you.
Our customized e-commerce solutions are always fast, secure, smart and reliable. They’re also tailored to your unique operational needs — and designed to make your entire business engine faster, leaner, more efficient and easier to run. You thought those lines were blurry? Wait until you see how fast we can make your business move.
Contact us today to learn more!