Connect with us

MARKETING

2023 Local SEO Success: Human Power in a Year of Change

Published

on

2023 Local SEO Success: Human Power in a Year of Change

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

2023 will be a run-up to the Olympics for the world’s top athletes who will be competing in a variety of events to prove themselves ready to represent their countries in the Paris Games, and I have a strong hunch that the coming months will be a strenuous exercise in fortitude for local business owners and their marketers, as well.

Having weathered the extraordinary events that occurred in local search in the second half of 2022 – most particularly the deprecation of the historic Google Business Profile Manager Dashboard and a slew of business-impacting bugs – it’s my prediction that 2023 is going to be a year of notable change for the millions of local brands for whom Google’s local search interfaces have become integral to discovery, communications, and sales. Meanwhile, ChatGPT is stirring up the whole SEO industry, with many wondering how long a shadow AI will cast over work and life.

It’s my gut feeling that the developments we’ve seen over the past few months presage greater change ahead driven by Google’s attitude toward and handling of local and general search philosophy. Let’s prepare ourselves by getting an outlook on organic SEO (which bounds our local world) from Moz’s own Tom Capper and Dr. Peter J. Meyers. Then, let’s gather local wisdom from thoughtful industry commentators including Amanda Jordan, Ben Fisher, David Mihm, Garrett Sussman, Greg Sterling, and Mike Blumenthal. Finally, I’ll offer 3 areas of local search marketing I recommend focusing on in 2023.

Citius, Altius, Fortius

Image of four men running along a tree-lined road.
Image credit: St Dennis Band

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” ― Aristotle

We come running into the arena of 2023 carrying, as always, the bright torch of human intelligence, but this year, our steps are a little dogged; AI is on everyone’s mind. On our road to Paris, we can reflect on the Olympic motto that was first introduced in that city in the 1924 games: Swifter, Higher, Stronger. As a species, we are always hoping for improvements in ourselves and society. But, it was Aristotle who said that the mark of an educated mind was to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it, and right now, many of my SEO colleagues are questioning whether the rise of artificial intelligence and a life so ordered by machines is, in fact, anyone’s idea of a smart move. Simply said, just because people can do something, it doesn’t mean that they should.

Advertisement

I asked my fellow Subject Matter Experts here at Moz what is on their minds in organic SEO for the new year, and their answers help shed a particular light by which we can better see the larger stadium in which all businesses are competing.

From Tom Capper:

The big SEO topic in the tail end of 2022 has been AI content – both ChatGPT and before that Google’s Helpful Content update bringing this topic to the front of people’s minds. Said update now looks rather prescient, with a new wave of increasingly coherent bot-written content surely to follow. Expect this to be a major battleground for Google in 2023. As I am writing this in the first week of December 2022, there is already an update to Google’s “Helpful Content system” rolling out – and that brings me to the other big change we’ll see more of. Ranking system updates. This is likely more of a terminology change than a practice change from Google, but I’d still expect it to somewhat shake up how SEOs think about and contextualise these updates — in my opinion, a shake-up that is long overdue.

Lastly, a carry over from my predictions for 2022 — I predicted an increasingly volatile SERP feature landscape, and I think that prediction has aged well. But it still stands. Again, as I write this, Google has just rolled out continuous scroll desktop SERPs in the US, and numerous feature changes in the last few weeks. There is nothing sacred here, from Google’s perspective, and with increasing threat from dissimilar competitors like Apple or AI assistants, they may feel like slightly less gradual change is justified.”

From Dr. Pete Meyers:

Echoing Tom, because it’s so important that I’m forced to agree with Tom, expect a flood of low-quality, machine-generated content in 2023 and a corresponding pushback from Google. Whether this will be part of the Helpful Content system updates or something entirely new remains to be seen, but creating Machine Learning content that doesn’t look like ML content will likely (and sadly) become a new obsession of some corners of the SEO industry.

This trend may force Google to re-evaluate E-A-T and/or more clearly define how they measure Expertise, Authority, and Trust, in order to encourage positive best practices. Google is aggressively experimenting with product listings, including the large-format product “grid” that seems to blur the lines between free and paid product listings. As Google seeks to compete with Amazon and other product searches (including an increasing amount of purchases driven by social platforms like TikTok), expect these lines to blur even more. Some competitive product search results are going to be unrecognizable from a traditional, organic SEO perspective.

My riskiest prediction — Expect Google to re-evaluate Featured Snippets, especially given quality concerns, both around trustworthiness of content (including disinformation) and the impact of low-value ML content. We’ve already seen snippets being pulled from a chunk of competitive queries in 2022, and I suspect Google may substantially re-invent the Featured Snippet or set a higher bar on when and how often they’re displayed.”

Advertisement

In sum, Tom and Pete are expecting volatility in the SERPs, including SERP features like local packs, which Moz has been tracking a decrease in the visibility of for some months. Both SMEs are looking closely at the disruption of AI and how it may impact search and searchers. 

Local SEOs may well be feeling like they’ve already experienced quite enough change in recent times with the loss of the dashboard for managing Google listings and an onslaught of bugs, but when I asked my peers to look ahead, many of them predict significant challenges yet to come for local businesses and their marketers.

From Mike Blumenthal:

“I would say that while a lot of levers are being pulled getting the Search Interface (NMX) off the ground, it was a change that was totally unnecessary and brought with it both bugs and an attitude of total apathy towards the multi user/agency dashboard.

The other big, hardly reported on changes were the move to AI first moderation of reviews AND images, introducing GPB behaviors that are perceived as totally illogical by the small business community.

If the intention of the NMX was to simplify and engage, why layer on totally obtuse moderation decisions for reviews and images while providing no clear guidance as to what was happening and how to deal with it?”

From David Mihm:

Advertisement

“What Google is doing in Local is officially anyone’s guess at this point.

Regardless of the level of internal resources devoted to Google Business Profiles as a product (which clearly fell off a cliff beginning in late 2021), the current NMX/skeleton dashboard version of GBP lacks a coherent vision and a poor (any?) understanding of user needs and pain points. Not to mention myriad functional bugs including 404 errors when trying to upload photos, inability to save store codes on newly-created locations, and inability to deny (or even confirm, in many cases!) user-suggested edits.

As usual, there seems to be no institutional knowledge of Google’s long history of internal failures and weak spots in its Local product or Maps data, or anyone with power making a strong case for the centrality of GBP in the marketing ecosystem — even for large multi-location brands which are spending millions of dollars annually on Ads.

It feels to me as if Google’s “strategy,” such as it is, is to simply ignore SMBs as a meaningful source of data for Maps and Universal results, and to force multi-location brands to work with a partner like Yext/Uberall/etc. for a real product interface. Given that Big Tech is cutting headcount and investment across the board, I can’t imagine the situation will change for the better in 2023.” 

From Amanda Jordan:

“I expect to continue to see pretty drastic changes for local for at least the next couple of years. I think local has been under the radar for Google for awhile and COVID has really brought Google’s shortcomings for local to light. Now they are correcting the experience for SMBs who may have been neglecting SEO until they depended on it during COVID and were overwhelmed by GBP management. I think we’re going to see Google testing a lot of changes for local in SERPs. Local mobile SERPs will be one of the most interesting places to watch next year.” 

Meanwhile, Greg Sterling offers a candid theory on why some of the local changes may be taking place:

“Google recognizes local content and maps remain critical for its users, especially mobile users. But the company is disappointed by the number of SMBs engaging with GBP, and GMB before it. Hence the move from the app to the web. In many ways Google has been less successful monetizing small businesses than Facebook, which doesn’t have a consumer-facing local product. GBP isn’t the onramp to ads Google had hoped. I believe, internally, there are now reduced expectations and support for local on the B2B side. NMX comes out of this larger context.”

I find all of the above comments to be probable, realistic, and insightful, but I also want to be sure to mention that there isn’t a complete consensus on trends. At least one respected colleague, Ben Fisher, has a more comforting view that we may already have weathered the biggest changes:

Advertisement

“The big stuff is behind us for now I think. Mainly the name change and in-Search experience.

The in-Search experience was planned for a long time and Google in their infinite wisdom decided it was the best route to go based on data. I think that with the rollout of this new in-Search experience that new ‘bugs’ and aggressive ‘features’ will come to pass.

Next year I think we are going to see ongoing tweaks. I would predict that the review filtering will probably get worse as we have seen with reviews leaking on a daily basis. Also it took over three months for reinstatements to go back to a normal timeframe. Next year I think we can expect this to go haywire again. It feels like it happens yearly.

One thing I think is certain: Google looks to fix problems at scale and all but ignores the little guy, and in some cases can cause horrible consequences to non-guilty merchants. That being said, one other thing is constant, they will do their best to ‘fix’ the issue.”

Finally, Garrett Sussman’s take on the impact of MUM should not be missed:

“In 2022, Local SEO has felt the impact of Google’s MUM algorithm more than anyone. A local search on a mobile device is sliced and diced by various contextual query refinements:

• Places
• ‘Find places through photos’
• Google Explore
• Deals

They’re all showing up and influencing every single local result. It forces local business owners to improve their content on their own site, build out their listings on review sites, and earn mentions in local media.

Advertisement

You can’t only focus on your Google Business Profile. But when people do search for your business specifically, you need to provide as much information as possible, because people expect it:

• You need your office hours to be accurate
• You need fresh and positive reviews
• You need photos of your business

It’s never been more important for a local business owner to have a digital presence on Google.”

Taken altogether, there is a high level of dissatisfaction with Google’s handling of local as we throw the discus into 2023, and there is a definite sense that there will be bug and feature hurdles all along our lane. Our expert commentary depicts Google local search in a marked state of flux. I personally find it counterintuitive that Google is shortchanging local right now, given that local data is the biggest ace the search titan has up its sleeve in its contest with Amazon. Whatever their motives, It’s not great news for our industry, but it’s vital to be real about the present state of local so that we can cut our coat to suit our cloth. Even amid volatility, good strategy is absolutely still possible.

Harnessing the human power of local in 2023

Image of two men in white track suits passing the Olympic fire from golden torches in front of a crowd and cloudy sky.
Image credit: Memories of Days Gone By

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ― Socrates

When I consider the level of concern currently being expressed in the SEO industry over the rise of disinformation that may ensue as a result of inventions like ChatGPT, the pitfalls of programmatic moderation of key local content like reviews and images, and the failure of Google to adequately support the millions of local brands they represent on their platform, I think we have to dig deep into human resources to counterbalance the shortcomings of machines. Here are my top three recommendations for a smart local business strategy for 2023.

1. Shortcut the path to a real human in every way you can

I see signs everywhere that people are at a tipping point of fatigue over being “handled” by robots. Multi-step phone trees and long hold times are truly wearing. Chat functions that never result in human contact feel cold and impersonal. Websites that hinder rather than assist customer journeys are no-win on both sides of transactions.

Advertisement

In 2023, achieve the least possible distance between customers and live customer service with the following methodologies:

  • 69% of surveyed American consumers prefer talking to a live person by phone for customer support. The majority list their top pain points as being long hold times, disconnects, and having to start over again with each phone agent so that issues take too long to get resolved. If short staffing is causing long hold times at your business, implement call-back technology so that the customer can go about their life while waiting to hear from a live person, and be sure that every public-facing staff member is well-trained in your products, services and policies so that a customer has to talk to the fewest possible people in your organization to get answers to their questions.

  • 46% of customers believe businesses use chatbots to prevent them from reaching a live person and 60% would rather wait for a live person than talk to a bot. However, if you are using chatbots as after-hours support, it can be a useful tool. Just be sure your interface clearly identifies that it is automated, covers FAQs so that answers are provided in a pinch, and then capture customer contact information so that a human engagement can begin as quickly as possible following the chat.

  • If you’re using livechat, know that over ½ of customers expect a response within minutes. Applications like this must be staffed just as you would staff your phones to avoid customers feeling ignored and abandoning the brand.

  • 44.5% of customers aged 35-54 say that texting is their preferred method of communicating with businesses and the previously-cited Leadferno study found that about ⅓ of people expect a response within a day when they text a company. Given the difference in expected response times, texting may be a better option for brands with minimal staff, so that customers aren’t being lost to unfulfilled expectations.

  • Email remains a key channel for customer support, but one survey found that 62% of companies don’t respond to email-based customer service requests, 90% don’t send an email confirming that the question has been received, and just 20% of businesses are able to provide a complete answer on the first reply. These are startling statistics that speak to the need to staff your inbox so that customers are receiving prompt, well-informed emails to every inquiry.

  • Finally, one of the greatest challenges of the past few years has been short staffing for local businesses due to the ongoing pandemic. Wherever doors are open, customers still want to be greeted and assisted by well-trained staff, but the realities of a labor shortage, COVID, and Long COVID mean businesses and customers need to lean more heavily on additional, non-human resources such as the answering of FAQs on in-store and storefront signage, company websites, and local business listings. We’ll examine these points next.

2. Let good tools come to your rescue in tough times

Regardless of what AI fans may say, there is no replacement for the human relationships that are the basis of doing business locally. That being said, when external conditions cause staffing shortages, it’s time to consider the long history of humans’ ingenious use of tools to aid labor. Like the sea otter and the heron, we can select props to make it easier to achieve our goals, and in 2023, local business owners should ensure that customers are being served even when a staff member isn’t immediately available. Focus on these areas:

  • The New Merchant Experience that replaced the former Google Business Profile dashboard in 2022 was widely judged to be a usability fiasco, particularly for multi-location brands. Restore ease of management by using software like Moz Local to regain the quiet, dedicated workspace you need to manage your listing on Google and on the most prevalent local business listing platforms, all in one place.

  • Be sure the listings you’ve created are fully filled out with accurate information so that customers get fast answers to common questions about your location, contact info, hours, services, products, and policies. Add your products, take more photos this year, and set yourself up to begin filming aspects of your business. Google has finally started featuring local business videos and I would recommend filming 30 second videos in which a friendly person from your company answers your top FAQs.

  • 96% of your customers read reviews and 60% of review writers expect a response from your business within 2-or-less days. Make this the year you envision reviews as a two-way conversation, charged with the knowledge that when your responses resolve complaints, 63% of reviewers will update their negative review and 62% will give your business a second chance. Make 2023 your most communicative year yet by studying The Impact of Local Business Reviews on Consumer Behavior. But, do be careful how you are asking for reviews this year, given recent research from Mike Blumenthal on the startling causes of reviews being filtered out by Google.

  • Broaden your communications channels. Try an after-hours text hotline if you’ve never had one before. Experiment with video-based support, live chat, and callbacks. Make 2023 the year you emphatically decide whether channels like TikTok or Instagram are a good fit for your customers and brand. The easier it is for people to discover and reach your business, the better.

3. Faced with facelessness, buck trends

Why is it that Patagonia’s founder declared Earth its only shareholder? Why is it that when everyone was saying that bricks-and-mortar was dead and all sales would be happening via e-commerce, Warby Parker began doubling down on physical storefronts so that people lacking prescriptions could get an on-site eye exam? Why, despite looming recession, has someone opened a successful restaurant for dogs in San Francisco, betting that people will splurge on their animal friends even if they are budgeting for themselves?

These scenarios aren’t just about fighting the tide and daring to be different – they’re about daring to be human and to understand what people care about, need, and love. The people behind ideas like these really took time to understand the realities of a society longing to fight Climate Change, needing accessible vision care, and wanting to have low spirits raised by doing something special for a cherished pet. Having a real face (and a real heart behind it) in an increasingly automated, impersonalized world could be the thing that sets your local business apart in 2023.

In some executives’ strange dreams, human value is measured in the mass consumption of products, and now, of AI-driven content. Local business owners know better, from lived experience. In this new year, embrace the narrative of your business being operated by real people who serve real neighbors in real ways, with personality and charm that can’t be replaced by bots. This won’t be an easy race, but it’s worth running, whatever the odds.

In wishing you success in the local business year ahead, I’d like to close with the words of Wilma Rudolph, who overcame infantile paralysis caused by polio and went on to become an Olympic champion: “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”

Advertisement
Black and white photo of three women running on a race track with Wilma Rudolph in front.



Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

MARKETING

Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

Published

on

Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

As we march closer to the 2024 U.S. presidential election, CMOs and marketing leaders need to prepare for a significant shift in the digital advertising landscape. Election years have always posed unique challenges for advertisers, but the growing dominance of digital media has made the impact more profound than ever before.

In this article, we’ll explore the key factors that will shape the advertising environment in the coming months and provide actionable insights to help you navigate these turbulent waters.

The Digital Battleground

The rise of cord-cutting and the shift towards digital media consumption have fundamentally altered the advertising landscape in recent years. As traditional TV viewership declines, political campaigns have had to adapt their strategies to reach voters where they are spending their time: on digital platforms.

1713626763 903 Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy1713626763 903 Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

According to a recent report by eMarketer, the number of cord-cutters in the U.S. is expected to reach 65.1 million by the end of 2023, representing a 6.9% increase from 2022. This trend is projected to continue, with the number of cord-cutters reaching 72.2 million by 2025.

Moreover, a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2023 found that 62% of U.S. adults do not have a cable or satellite TV subscription, up from 61% in 2022 and 50% in 2019. This data further underscores the accelerating shift away from traditional TV and towards streaming and digital media platforms.

As these trends continue, political advertisers will have no choice but to follow their audiences to digital channels. In the 2022 midterm elections, digital ad spending by political campaigns reached $1.2 billion, a 50% increase from the 2018 midterms. With the 2024 presidential election on the horizon, this figure is expected to grow exponentially, as campaigns compete for the attention of an increasingly digital-first electorate.

For brands and advertisers, this means that the competition for digital ad space will be fiercer than ever before. As political ad spending continues to migrate to platforms like Meta, YouTube, and connected TV, the cost of advertising will likely surge, making it more challenging for non-political advertisers to reach their target audiences.

Advertisement

To navigate this complex and constantly evolving landscape, CMOs and their teams will need to be proactive, data-driven, and willing to experiment with new strategies and channels. By staying ahead of the curve and adapting to the changing media consumption habits of their audiences, brands can position themselves for success in the face of the electoral advertising onslaught.

Rising Costs and Limited Inventory

As political advertisers flood the digital market, the cost of advertising is expected to skyrocket. CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) will likely experience a steady climb throughout the year, with significant spikes anticipated in May, as college students come home from school and become more engaged in political conversations, and around major campaign events like presidential debates.

1713626764 529 Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy1713626764 529 Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

For media buyers and their teams, this means that the tried-and-true strategies of years past may no longer be sufficient. Brands will need to be nimble, adaptable, and willing to explore new tactics to stay ahead of the game.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday: A Perfect Storm

The challenges of election year advertising will be particularly acute during the critical holiday shopping season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which have historically been goldmines for advertisers, will be more expensive and competitive than ever in 2024, as they coincide with the final weeks of the presidential campaign.

To avoid being drowned out by the political noise, brands will need to start planning their holiday campaigns earlier than usual. Building up audiences and crafting compelling creative assets well in advance will be essential to success, as will a willingness to explore alternative channels and tactics. Relying on cold audiences come Q4 will lead to exceptionally high costs that may be detrimental to many businesses.

Navigating the Chaos

While the challenges of election year advertising can seem daunting, there are steps that media buyers and their teams can take to mitigate the impact and even thrive in this environment. Here are a few key strategies to keep in mind:

Start early and plan for contingencies: Begin planning your Q3 and Q4 campaigns as early as possible, with a focus on building up your target audiences and developing a robust library of creative assets.

Advertisement

Be sure to build in contingency budgets to account for potential cost increases, and be prepared to pivot your strategy as the landscape evolves.

1713626764 197 Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy1713626764 197 Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

Embrace alternative channels: Consider diversifying your media mix to include channels that may be less impacted by political ad spending, such as influencer marketing, podcast advertising, or sponsored content. Investing in owned media channels, like email marketing and mobile apps, can also provide a direct line to your customers without the need to compete for ad space.

Owned channels will be more important than ever. Use cheaper months leading up to the election to build your email lists and existing customer base so that your BF/CM can leverage your owned channels and warm audiences.

Craft compelling, shareable content: In a crowded and noisy advertising environment, creating content that resonates with your target audience will be more important than ever. Focus on developing authentic, engaging content that aligns with your brand values and speaks directly to your customers’ needs and desires.

By tapping into the power of emotional triggers and social proof, you can create content that not only cuts through the clutter but also inspires organic sharing and amplification.

Reflections

The 2024 election year will undoubtedly bring new challenges and complexities to the world of digital advertising. But by staying informed, adaptable, and strategic in your approach, you can navigate this landscape successfully and even find new opportunities for growth and engagement.

As a media buyer or agnecy, your role in steering your brand through these uncharted waters will be critical. By starting your planning early, embracing alternative channels and tactics, and focusing on creating authentic, resonant content, you can not only survive but thrive in the face of election year disruptions.

Advertisement

So while the road ahead may be uncertain, one thing is clear: the brands that approach this challenge with creativity, agility, and a steadfast commitment to their customers will be the ones that emerge stronger on the other side.


Disruptive Design Raising the Bar of Content Marketing with Graphic

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

MARKETING

Tinuiti Marketing Analytics Recognized by Forrester

Published

on

Tinuiti Marketing Analytics Recognized by Forrester

News


By Tinuiti Team

Rapid Media Mix Modeling and Proprietary Tech Transform Brand Performance

Advertisement

Tinuiti, the largest independent full-funnel performance marketing agency, has been included in a recent Forrester Research report titled, “The Marketing Analytics Landscape, Q2 2024.” This report comprehensively overviews marketing analytics markets, use cases, and capabilities. B2C marketing leaders can use this research by Principal Analyst Tina Moffett to understand the intersection of marketing analytics capabilities and use cases to determine the vendor or service provider best positioned for their analytics and insights needs. Moffett describes the top marketing analytics markets as advertising agencies, marketing dashboards and business intelligence tools, marketing measurement and optimization platforms and service providers, and media analytics tools.

As an advertising agency, we believe Tinuiti is uniquely positioned to manage advertising campaigns for brands including buying, targeting, and measurement. Our proprietary measurement technology, Bliss Point by Tinuiti, allows us to measure the optimal level of investment to maximize impact and efficiency. According to the Forrester report, “only 30% of B2C marketing decision-makers say their organization uses marketing or media mix modeling (MMM),” so having a partner that knows, embraces, and utilizes MMM is important. As Tina astutely explains, data-driven agencies have amplified their marketing analytics competencies with data science expertise; and proprietary tools; and tailored their marketing analytics techniques based on industry, business, and data challenges. 

Our Rapid Media Mix Modeling sets a new standard in the market with its exceptional speed, precision, and transparency. Our patented tech includes Rapid Media Mix Modeling, Always-on Incrementality, Brand Equity, Creative Insights, and Forecasting – it will get you to your Marketing Bliss Point in each channel, across your entire media mix, and your overall brand performance. 

As a marketing leader you may ask yourself: 

  • How much of our marketing budget should we allocate to driving store traffic versus e-commerce traffic?
  • How should we allocate our budget by channel to generate the most traffic and revenue possible?
  • How many customers did we acquire in a specific region with our media spend?
  • What is the impact of seasonality on our media mix?
  • How should we adjust our budget accordingly?
  • What is the optimal marketing channel mix to maximize brand awareness? 

These are just a few of the questions that Bliss Point by Tinuiti can help you answer.

Learn more about our customer-obsessed, product-enabled, and fully integrated approach and how we’ve helped fuel full-funnel outcomes for the world’s most digital-forward brands like Poppi & Toms.

The Landscape report is available online to Forrester customers or for purchase here

Advertisement

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

MARKETING

Ecommerce evolution: Blurring the lines between B2B and B2C

Published

on

Ecommerce evolution: Blurring the lines between B2B and B2C

Understanding convergence 

B2B and B2C ecommerce are two distinct models of online selling. B2B ecommerce is between businesses, such as wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers. B2C ecommerce refers to transactions between businesses like retailers and consumer brands, directly to individual shoppers. 

However, in recent years, the boundaries between these two models have started to fade. This is known as the convergence between B2B and B2C ecommerce and how they are becoming more similar and integrated. 

Source: White Paper: The evolution of the B2B Consumer Buyer (ClientPoint, Jan 2024)

Advertisement

What’s driving this change? 

Ever increasing customer expectations  

Customers today expect the same level of convenience, speed, and personalization in their B2B transactions as they do in their B2C interactions. B2B buyers are increasingly influenced by their B2C experiences. They want research, compare, and purchase products online, seamlessly transitioning between devices and channels.  They also prefer to research and purchase online, using multiple devices and channels.

Forrester, 68% of buyers prefer to research on their own, online . Customers today expect the same level of convenience, speed, and personalization in their B2B transactions as they do in their B2C interactions. B2B buyers are increasingly influenced by their B2C experiences. They want research, compare, and purchase products online, seamlessly transitioning between devices and channels.  They also prefer to research and purchase online, using multiple devices and channels

Technology and omnichannel strategies

Technology enables B2B and B2C ecommerce platforms to offer more features and functionalities, such as mobile optimization, chatbots, AI, and augmented reality. Omnichannel strategies allow B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to provide a seamless and consistent customer experience across different touchpoints, such as websites, social media, email, and physical stores. 

However, with every great leap forward comes its own set of challenges. The convergence of B2B and B2C markets means increased competition.  Businesses now not only have to compete with their traditional rivals, but also with new entrants and disruptors from different sectors. For example, Amazon Business, a B2B ecommerce platform, has become a major threat to many B2B ecommerce businesses, as it offers a wide range of products, low prices, and fast delivery

“Amazon Business has proven that B2B ecommerce can leverage popular B2C-like functionality” argues Joe Albrecht, CEO / Managing Partner, Xngage. . With features like Subscribe-and-Save (auto-replenishment), one-click buying, and curated assortments by job role or work location, they make it easy for B2B buyers to go to their website and never leave. Plus, with exceptional customer service and promotional incentives like Amazon Business Prime Days, they have created a reinforcing loyalty loop.

And yet, according to Barron’s, Amazon Business is only expected to capture 1.5% of the $5.7 Trillion addressable business market by 2025. If other B2B companies can truly become digital-first organizations, they can compete and win in this fragmented space, too.” 

Advertisement

If other B2B companies can truly become digital-first organizations, they can also compete and win in this fragmented space

Joe Albrecht
CEO/Managing Partner, XNGAGE

Increasing complexity 

Another challenge is the increased complexity and cost of managing a converging ecommerce business. Businesses have to deal with different customer segments, requirements, and expectations, which may require different strategies, processes, and systems. For instance, B2B ecommerce businesses may have to handle more complex transactions, such as bulk orders, contract negotiations, and invoicing, while B2C ecommerce businesses may have to handle more customer service, returns, and loyalty programs. Moreover, B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses must invest in technology and infrastructure to support their convergence efforts, which may increase their operational and maintenance costs. 

How to win

Here are a few ways companies can get ahead of the game:

Adopt B2C-like features in B2B platforms

User-friendly design, easy navigation, product reviews, personalization, recommendations, and ratings can help B2B ecommerce businesses to attract and retain more customers, as well as to increase their conversion and retention rates.  

According to McKinsey, ecommerce businesses that offer B2C-like features like personalization can increase their revenues by 15% and reduce their costs by 20%. You can do this through personalization of your website with tools like Product Recommendations that help suggest related products to increase sales. 

Advertisement

Focus on personalization and customer experience

B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses need to understand their customers’ needs, preferences, and behaviors, and tailor their offerings and interactions accordingly. Personalization and customer experience can help B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy, as well as to improve their brand reputation and competitive advantage. According to a Salesforce report, 88% of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services.

Related: Redefining personalization for B2B commerce

Market based on customer insights

Data and analytics can help B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to gain insights into their customers, markets, competitors, and performance, and to optimize their strategies and operations accordingly. Data and analytics can also help B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to identify new opportunities, trends, and innovations, and to anticipate and respond to customer needs and expectations. According to McKinsey, data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times more likely to retain customers, and 19 times more likely to be profitable. 

What’s next? 

The convergence of B2B and B2C ecommerce is not a temporary phenomenon, but a long-term trend that will continue to shape the future of ecommerce. According to Statista, the global B2B ecommerce market is expected to reach $20.9 trillion by 2027, surpassing the B2C ecommerce market, which is expected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2027. Moreover, the report predicts that the convergence of B2B and B2C ecommerce will create new business models, such as B2B2C, B2A (business to anyone), and C2B (consumer to business). 

Therefore, B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses need to prepare for the converging ecommerce landscape and take advantage of the opportunities and challenges it presents. Here are some recommendations for B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to navigate the converging landscape: 

  • Conduct a thorough analysis of your customers, competitors, and market, and identify the gaps and opportunities for convergence. 
  • Develop a clear vision and strategy for convergence, and align your goals, objectives, and metrics with it. 
  • Invest in technology and infrastructure that can support your convergence efforts, such as cloud, mobile, AI, and omnichannel platforms. 
  • Implement B2C-like features in your B2B platforms, and vice versa, to enhance your customer experience and satisfaction.
  • Personalize your offerings and interactions with your customers, and provide them with relevant and valuable content and solutions.
  • Leverage data and analytics to optimize your performance and decision making, and to innovate and differentiate your business.
  • Collaborate and partner with other B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses, as well as with other stakeholders, such as suppliers, distributors, and customers, to create value and synergy.
  • Monitor and evaluate your convergence efforts, and adapt and improve them as needed. 

By following these recommendations, B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses can bridge the gap between their models and create a more integrated and seamless ecommerce experience for their customers and themselves. 

Advertisement

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

Trending

Follow by Email
RSS