During and following the COVID-19 crisis of 2020, the demand for digital interactions has spiked and continues to stay elevated. Many businesses are working to meet customer demands and are moving from physical to digital-only sales models. Increased marketing strategies are being put in place to help boost these sales and lead generation opportunities. But—if there are no analytics to provide actionable insights, how can you determine if your digital efforts are driving success for your customers and sales staff or just adding friction to their experience?
Let me introduce you to digital analytics: the collection, measurement, and analysis of multi-channel data to gain insight for the strategic purposes of online optimization and organizational success. These analytics are the key to managing and prioritizing new initiatives and can provide invaluable input when determining customer behavior trends and storefront features.
How Data Improves B2B Insights
Some believe that digital analytics are of limited value to the B2B company because, typically, the site-user base is known and finite, marketing channels are limited, and success criteria and purchase paths are not defined. As a result, business owners frequently have limited data on which to base digital decisions.
In my experience, what you think site users do and what they actually do are different—and sometimes contradicting. Data does not lie. With digital analytics, we can understand and optimize with confidence.
Websites are Just for Research, Right?
Twenty years ago, companies built websites because they thought they had to. If customers ventured online, they did so only for research; ultimately, they would complete the transaction at a physical store, via their sales reps or by using customer service/phone sales. We see parallels in today’s B2B e-commerce, where often the sales rep still reigns supreme. In reality, the sweet spot of transactional success is a multi-touch, cross-channel mix in an ongoing relationship between B2B buyers and companies.
Business owners and B2B buyers, like B2C consumers, are looking for quick, easy ways to transact. So let’s consider which transaction type has the highest cost. In-person resources (perhaps things of the past?) generate cost in worker wages, regardless of whether a sale occurs. Once a site is set up, however, B2B e-commerce transactions have more fixed, predictable costs. And because many B2B buyers who place reorders prefer to avoid human interaction, this process should be particularly low-touch and automated whenever possible.
I’m not saying a B2B e-commerce site can replace the expertise of a sales rep; rather, they can enhance the rep’s sales ability to provide real-time digital analytics data that aids in product recommendations and selection. The sales rep’s role becomes twofold: to deliver top-level customer service and to help their customers with more complex purchases, pricing, or product options.
What Does All the Data Mean?
B2B e-commerce digital analytics is more than numbers on a grid with a few pretty pie charts. It helps us understand seasonal trends in traffic, channels, and transactions. And it allows us to identify potential product mix opportunities or issues with trended measurement of conversion rates, average order value, and units per order. If promotional content is on the site, we can understand its effectiveness by measuring user interaction. If users are struggling, we’re able to identify and rectify the UX problem. B2B e-commerce digital analytics also allows us to understand product performance and customer experience gaps that drive buyers back to the more expensive, hands-on/assisted selling via reps and customer service.
Next Steps for You
The goal of a B2B e-commerce site should align with the organization’s overall mission and allow for measurable success criterion. Digital analytics provides us with just that—a way to measure and define success. Leadership provides the criteria, and digital analytics provides a mean to measure and optimize it.
Decide what data is important for your business by:
- Identifying business objectives
- Determining your KPIs
- Defining success
- Evaluating existing analytics platform configurations (see if they’re working or need modifications)
- Setting up dashboards and reporting views
- Driving business!