4 Key Performance Metrics that Affect B2B eCommerce Conversion Rates
You made $60 million in quarterly sales, the most you’ve ever made. Does that mean it was a good month? Not necessarily (although you should still pop a bottle of something bubbly to celebrate). It’s nice to see that your sales improve, but can you identify key performance indicators (KPI’s) that led to this increase? And what can you do to leverage them in 2016 to see a higher growth rate? Some of the most important KPI’s are pretty complex equations, and some of them are data from surveys with B2B decision makers.
A good starting place to measure your success is Conversion Rate.
If you took a Performance Metrics 101 course in college, you would probably learn about conversion rates by the start of chapter 2. Conversion rates can refer to the number of sales you make per visitor, or the number of visitors who come to your website after clicking on an ad through a search engine such as Google.
Conversion Rate = total number of sales / number of unique visitors.
The higher the number, the better. The reason why conversion rate is a good overall metric to look at is because if it seems too low, you know something is wrong and needs to be fixed – maybe the copy needs to be adjusted or your pricing needs to be lowered. Here are four key metrics that play a fundamental role in upping your conversion rates and making business better.
A beautifully designed website is useless if your customers can’t find what they are looking for. That’s why 76% of customers say the most important factor in a website’s design is “the website makes it easy for me to find what I want.” What this translates to in practical terms is sticking to the tried and true design principle of form meets function. Forgo the temptation to use a fancy layout that makes navigation complicated, bog down site load times with too many graphics or videos, or rely on flash players or other hit-or-miss plugins.
Your website should be comfortable and as intuitive as possible to use; if your visitors have to think hard about how to search for products or learn more about your warranty then this will seriously diminish your conversion rate. Looking at the website for Ace Exhibits (which we are proud to have designed), the simple header menu and catalog of products makes it easy for customers to find what they want. One increasingly fundamental aspect of website layouts that cannot be overlooked is mobile responsiveness; currently 30% of eCommerce in the USA is mobile, a 20% jump from last year. If your website is only designed for desktops, you risk losing a third of your sales just because you didn’t think to include a mobile-friendly version of your website.
If you are not sure your site is easy to use, try adding a nifty user recording tool like Inspectlet that records your visitors and tracks their clicks and other actions. Once you have videos of actual customers using your website you can determine:
Can users navigate my website easily?
Was the checkout process easy or were people confused or frustrated, leading to abandoned carts?
Were users able to find my products quickly?
Once you resolve your website’s usability issues you should begin to notice a higher conversion rate as navigation becomes easier.
2. Enhanced Search
The search bar on your eCommerce page is one of your best weapons; a number of studies suggest that enhanced search can improve your conversion rate by up to 82%. There are a number of methods for making your search engine smarter and your sales higher. It might seem like a no-brainer, but you should maximize the color contrast between the search button and the rest of your website. You should also tailor your site’s search engine to include sophisticated filters that include as many variables as possible to give customers the easiest possible search experience.
Even better is if you can make your search engine understand long tail semantic searches and utilize autocomplete, which gives the upper hand to buyers who have a very good idea of what they want from you. Lastly, don’t let committed buyers slip away with lax search breadcrumbs--give them as tight of a search breadcrumb trail to follow so that more sales follow. With a more refined search tool you should start to notice higher conversion rates as buyers find the exact products they want with less hassle.
As the market gets ever more competitive, the best way to distinguish your company from the competition is by targeting customers with more personalized offers and products. 65% of B2B buyers report that their online spending has increased in the last year, which means that it’s more important than ever to properly target customers. With that in mind, it makes sense that personalization is a key feature for suppliers looking to increase their B2B sales. While camera sales are mostly B2C, there's no doubt that Amazon has mastered the art of personalized product offers.
Depending on how you get most of your traffic your method for personalizing your website may vary. For example, if you rely on affiliate ads or partners to send traffic your way, you should create customized pop-ups and banners that feature the name of the website the customer clicked through plus the relevant coupon code or offer to let customers know the special offer still applies. It’s also a really good idea to give your customers recommendations based on their behavior and preferences as well as the purchasing patterns of similar customers; by analyzing insights into customer data, how many times a particular product has been viewed, added to a cart, or purchased, you should have a wealth of data to give customers personalized recommendations for their purchases.
57% of the buying process is done prior to engaging with Sales. B2B sites should be sales tools that assist in the buying process, because decision makers such as CEOs will already have consulted with many resources including bloggers, forums, and word of mouth before they contact a single salesperson. This leaves your marketing team with the task of filling in the inevitable gaps that occur before contact is made with your sales department -- if it is made at all. The pressure is on your marketing people to create compelling and useful content that informs potential clients and most importantly drives them to put your company on their shortlist when they finally engage with sellers and begin shopping around. Unbounce is a fantastic example of a B2B business that utilizes a blog to establish credibility, authority, and trust.
Crucial to whether your marketing team succeeds in properly engaging buyers is the sort of content you are putting out there. How focused is it on teaching your customers the value of your product? How well does it get across the combination of quality or affordability or utility that sets it apart from the competition, and how consistent is it in doing this? In order to curate the most effective marketing program possible, you need to have the right mix of freebies such as ebooks or simple PDF checklist whitepapers, offer actionable blog posts that give people quality ideas, and distribute said content across multiple social media channels in as efficient a manner as possible using social media management tools such as Edgar or HootSuite. If you correctly engage customers in the initial stages of their search for the right product they will be more likely to turn to you when it’s time to sign up.
Going from here
With a better understanding of these important metrics you should hopefully be able to make a positive impact on your conversion rate and look at your most recent high-performing quarter in a new light. Don’t be afraid to make bold changes to your website to make sure that it’s as user-friendly as possible. Take the time to ensure your search features are as detailed and nuanced as can be. With a lot of help from Google Analytics, make your website as dynamic as possible and model it on the behavior of potential customers. And if you don’t already have a company blog set up and a useful product feature page established, now is the time. If you put these plans into action, business can only get better.