Interprofessional Group of Manufacturers for Marketing Study
09/02/2022 | The digital transformation of companies

Many retailers still rely on outdated marketing practices when new tools are available.

B2B buyers research products, compare prices and create what they hope will be lasting relationships with trusted suppliers. This activity is increasingly taking place on digital channels. Unfortunately, many retailers still rely on outdated marketing practices, while others purchase expensive and inefficient marketing tools. 


Understanding digital marketing for retailers

A digital marketing strategy for B2B distributors requires a thorough understanding of your audience and the competition. With this basis, you can focus marketing efforts on the activities that yield the best results.


Traditional techniques

Traditionally, distributors have relied on the telephone, print media and trade shows. They used physical brochures and catalogues to attract prospects, communicate with customers and develop their business in new markets. Today, all these activities and materials are online.


The development of digital marketing

According to Gartner, B2B buyers spend 45% of their time conducting independent research and only 17% interacting with potential suppliers. Your brand's online presence is crucial for new clients to find you.

Marketing budgets have exploded following the COVID-19 pandemic. Although marketing spending as a percentage of turnover has declined in 2021, a CMO Survey has revealed that digital marketing accounts for more than half of the marketing budget.

Companies also benefit from a better return on investment from their digital marketing activities. According to SmartInsights, email marketing has the highest return on investment, followed by SEO and content marketing. In comparison, the return on investment for display advertising is the lowest.


What is digital marketing?

But what is digital marketing? This is any activity that drives traffic to your digital presence. A good digital presence is not limited to a website with a contact page. To attract and convert customers, you need to offer them the right information at the right time. An effective digital presence uses search engine optimisation (SEO) for visibility, leverages content to position your brand as a thought leader and increases brand awareness through email marketing.

 Retailers going online need to create a comprehensive digital presence. Determining how to target customers, what content to provide them with, and how to use technology to optimise your efforts is what online marketing is all about for retailers.

 Determining how to target customers, what content to provide them with, and how to use technology to optimise your efforts is what online marketing is all about for retailers.

 The diversity and number of wholesalers and distributors creates intense competition for the attention of online customers. To better meet customer needs, you need to understand who your customers are, how they perceive the competition and how you can differentiate your brand.


Know your customers

To develop effective messages, you need to know your customer. Start by defining their characteristics and then group them accordingly.


Defining your audience

You cannot address your audience if you cannot identify and understand them. For example, if you sell restaurant and hotel supplies, do you sell to hotels and restaurants, restaurants only, hotels only or other resellers only? Depending on the number of different markets you serve, you can create one or more customer profiles. Ask questions such as: 

  • Who do you currently sell to? Are they your ideal customers?
  • What are their interests and difficulties?
  • How do they find your website?
  • Where and when do they buy?
  • How often do they buy?
  • How do they make their purchases?

Developing customer profiles helps you use marketing methods and messages that resonate with that customer.


Segment your customers

Once you have created your customer profiles, you can group them by common characteristics. This is known as creating customer segments. Segmentation helps you develop messages that add the most value to customers.

If your customers are wholesalers or retailers, the content of your website, blog posts, guides, emails and advertisements should be tailored to their needs. If you sell primarily to manufacturers, your digital marketing should highlight your knowledge of their industry and supply chain. Messages that include case studies provide the information this segment is looking for.

B2B procurement often involves several people in different roles. These customers can be segmented according to their role. By refining the characteristics of each role, you can create segments by decision maker. For example:

Users of finished products may place importance on product delivery and after-sales service;

Engineering is more concerned with product specifications, testing and compliance;

Purchasing agents value competitive pricing and product availability;

Sales managers value long-term partnerships.


While it is possible to segment by role in the buying process, it should be remembered that these people still have their own biases and interpret and retain information based on their past experiences and future expectations.


Know your competitors

Unless you are the only company supplying your product or service, you are probably competing with other suppliers. To create your own effective digital strategy, you need to know what the competition is doing in the marketing field. In the online world, website traffic is an essential measure. But traffic in itself is not enough.

The inclusion of your competitors in the quadrant will give you a better idea of your position in the market and help you to determine what makes you different. If you notice a trend, you can address it by improving your SEO, changing your website or adopting a content strategy.


 4 digital tools for B2B distribution

Sales are changing and much of that change is happening online. Although many countries are trying to get back to normal after being hit hard by the pandemic, some companies have adapted very well to the change. This has been made possible by websites, customer relationship management tools and the power to connect people even if they are on the other side of the world.

  • The CRM

A CRM software is a cloud platform that manages your costumer relationship process from a single system. The main objective of a CRM is to manage your sales cycle from lead capture, discovery calls, follow-ups, customer conversion and finally improving the overall customer retention rate. As the B2B sales cycle involves a complicated process with multiple touch points, a comprehensive CRM strategy provides greater productivity and visibility.

  • Video conferencing 

With the pandemic, face-to-face meetings could not take place for several months. In order to maintain their customer relationships and continue to sell, companies in the B2B sector have had to find a new way to communicate. This is where videoconferencing has shown its advantages. In addition to being able to communicate with companies remotely, video meetings have also saved travel costs, especially for companies located in different cities or countries.

  • E-commerce

An e-commerce site is a powerful way to reach new B2B customers. Not only will you reach new customers, but an e-commerce site also allows you to easily implement an automated cross-selling and up-selling recommendation program. This goes hand in hand with offering a personalised experience. You will be able to help them find the products they are looking for, without them having to ask, much like a salesperson would. An e-commerce is also the ideal platform for an organisation to launch a comprehensive analysis campaign. Through analytics, B2B salespeople can make better business decisions.

  • Marketplaces

The B2B marketplace allows retailers to standardise the way they market their products. B2B marketplace technology allows a supplier to easily put their entire product catalogue online, update it and access global demand in one place. By managing a single interface for many disparate buyers, the marketplace allows suppliers to also maintain a singular interface for orders, easing the burden of automating the order flow and significantly reducing processing costs.