PIM B2B 1 | Inform buyers thanks to Product Information Management
In the digital era, providing real value to B2B customers means supplying content which precisely meets their needs: whitepapers, case histories, 2D/3D models, videos, detailed instructions … The best example of content in the production or retail B2B sectors is undoubtedly the product and the solutions storytelling that each product carries with it.
Communicating the product by providing the customer with relevant information at the right time increases its perceived value, and thus helps improve sales margins.
But how can we be sure that we are communicating with the other party consistently?
3 Variables for Mapping Out Product Content
The first step is mapping out the content, in other words the product information, taking into account all variables in play:
1) Target: who is our offering aimed at? Resellers, manufacturers or end users?
Different targets require different content. Resellers, who in turn have customers they have to answer to in terms of time to market and accuracy of information, need technical content and constant updates on new references and functions, with highly detailed content (images of assemblies, technical drawings etc.).
Manufacturers (in the case of components) or B2B end users (in the case of finished products), on the other hand, need product content which is not only technical, but also oriented towards storytelling, with multimedia content which can:
- Highlight the advantages of the company (history, Italian design, reliability)
- Improve the brand awareness
- Stimulate reseller product requests by highlighting the usage contexts and product search support, with optimized filters for the various product categories
2) Roles and types of customer contact. Are we communicating with the buyer or the technicians who will actually use the product?
In the B2B sector, the customer purchasing journey is highly fragmented, and the purchase decision involves multiple stakeholders, just like there are different players who influence customer retention. The person who decides to purchase the product is rarely its end user, and as such it is necessary to consider the requirements and different information to supply in order to intercept the players concerned.
3) Market and customer habits in that market/country
In the UK and US market, 68% of buyers prefer to be independent in product searches, while in Italy, SMEs still require significant support from the sales force to find the solutions to their requirements, even though the trend for self-service is becoming more pronounced. Communicating with customers in different markets also means taking such peculiarities into account.
These three variables determine:
- Different ways that customers search for solutions and products on the digital channel, using different keywords depending on their role: buyers will carry out a search for the solution to a problem, while a technician will search for a specific product because they already know it, or will look for support with an incidental problem or a doubt which has come up during assembly.
- A presentation of the offering on the digital channel which must be able to respond with the right content/product at the right time to the right contact, in a personalized manner.
Acting in accordance with these premises is key to providing value to such contacts, as the company shows its real strength in responding to the concrete difficulties and requirements they encounter, either in their day-to-day work (technicians) or in supporting them to sell in turn to their own customers (buyer).
Storytelling, product SEO and information architecture for optimization of the digital catalog
Mapping out the product content is the basis for:
1. Creating content (or presenting existing content in an optimized manner) linked to the usage context of the product and its application:
- Dedicated content which starts out with a description of a specific problem or requirement, created in different formats and distributed across multiple channels (dedicated landing pages on the site and indexed on search engines, communications on corporate social media profiles, newsletters, videos ...)
- Case histories and use cases which describe the customer's problem, highlighting the sector and application so that the customer can recognize themselves in it and feel that what is being described is relevant to them.
- Additional information on the individual products connecting them to use cases in which they have been used and problems they have solved (e.g. in the form of FAQs or case history downloads) and which allow a product to be linked to other products which can meet these needs.
2. Optimizing product search to make the digital catalog the real sales tool in the b2b sector. Optimization of product search is crucial:
- On the search engines, through a keyword strategy targeted to different needs, with a global SEO strategy.
- Within the proprietary site, through an internal search engine structured on the basis of keywords actually used by the target, with the support of customer experience analytics solutions, given that product search is always biased towards “searchandising” and not just browsing.
- This matter inevitably has an impact on the architecture of the digital catalog information (taxonomy, categorization, labels) and the different paths within the site which a contact can take to find the answer to their needs, whether it be a product, the answer to a question/support, or a guided search by specific sector: paths which can start out from the hierarchical sales category, from dynamic categories created on the basis of business requirements/usage context, from the sector, usage application etc., or with the opposite approach, from the product code.
By following this approach, we will increase product awareness and create the digital identity of the product, thus reaching customers whom we would never have reached with traditional channels such as sector trade fairs, allowing them to:
- Easily find a product and information
- Engage them through a lead generation touchpoint in order to contact the company, either still on the digital channel or through traditional channels (direct email, telephone).
- Finalizing the purchase on the e-commerce channel, thanks to the extensive and accurate information they have been provided with and the optimized customer experience.
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