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Navigating through Departments: The Key to Making Impactful Changes in SEO

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Navigating through Departments: The Key to Making Impactful Changes in SEO

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.

SEO is unlike any other digital channel. It does not and cannot live in a silo, while something like a paid search program can be run by a single person with minimal help.

From our experience, the biggest deficiency in SEO campaigns is not a lack of understanding of the craft, rather, it’s the roadblocks that occur during implementation and cross-team collaboration. Great ideas can be presented and discussed, but taking an idea from a whiteboard or a slide to actually living on a site where it can impact performance can be difficult.

Whether in-house or on the agency side, blockers to success often come from internal site teams or long development queues. The key to making progress comes from two primary avenues:

The departments that SEO impacts (and how to work with each)

With a channel like SEO where progress is not solely achieved by one consultant or advocate for the channel, but from the implementation of recommendations, it’s critical to understand how to navigate through a business to make progress.

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We break down the departments as follows:

Business / Marketing

The business and marketing teams are the stakeholders whose resources will be used to execute your SEO strategies. These are the individuals at a company who you must win over to be successful. Ever had an amazing idea only to be squashed by leadership? Many of us have been in that situation at one point or another, so the key is to make the case for SEO.

Unlike other marketing channels where ROI can be predicted, it can be difficult to forecast growth for SEO. How do we provide statistical evidence that our strategies will be a driver for success? Although there’s no perfect science, we break down our methodology below:

Step 1: Start by quantifying potential traffic gains through ranking improvements by utilizing average click-through-rate at various positions.

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Step 2: Utilize this data to build a forecast based on investment and potential growth using conversion rate and average order value to predict potential revenue.

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Step 3: Agree on a reasonable forecast and set expectations with the client. Ensure both parties are on the same page about the opportunity in the vertical to avoid any potential pitfalls, and keep growth conservative.

Step 4: Start audit and planning exercises. Our audits serve as the roadmap for success and the forecasting exercise occurs during this phase as a compliment to the strategy.

Design / Creative / UX & UI

Once your strategy is approved and you’re ready to build out new pages, new sections of the site, or redesign pages, it’s time to consult with the design team. They’ll be the ones to help you move your recommendations from ideation into a design, but that process isn’t always as simple as it sounds.

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The first issue is not a lack of resources, but the incessant battle between UX (site teams) and SEO. Ever heard any of these statements before?

  • We shouldn’t expand our main navigation because our users want a more simplified approach

  • This doesn’t meet our brand guidelines as we don’t want any text content on our pages

  • These site changes don’t seem to ladder up to our goal of getting people to convert

  • We can’t change that because our users are used to it that way

Although these are all valid statements, they do present an issue with being able to progress and grow organic traffic.

SEO and UX need a balance. Finding it can be hard, but necessary. As the advocate for the organic channel, you must always be willing to argue how and why your recommendations can help the business grow. You can do so by providing clear, concise, and effective instructions to design and site teams.

We utilize checklist templates to provide to design teams an idea of what needs to be included with examples (after marketing / business teams have approved our recommendations, of course).

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We finalize these recommendations by signing off on designs prior to development, when the real site work begins.

Development / Engineering

Why are development and engineering resources the largest blocker to SEO success at the mid-market and enterprise level?

SEO is de-prioritized (YES! Even after executives are bought in). We see it again, and again, and again. As engineering and development teams have urgent things come up, it’s easy to move around other projects that are less time sensitive. On average, website migrations we’ve worked on are delayed one to two months at the mid-market level. For enterprises, this can be much more severe. So how do you get around your projects being moved to the back of a development queue?

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It can be hard. I have personal horror stories of asking for the same on-site changes for over three years with no movement due to other internal pressure for other things to be done, or blockers from other teams.

There are two main tips we have for ensuring that SEO development projects move through the pipeline properly once they’re scheduled:

Tip #1: Create in-depth tickets to help alleviate potential development problems. Many times, projects stall out because development can be difficult. The first thing you can do is document in detail what needs to happen. What does the final state need to look like?

Many of our clients work in JIRA, and we are able to integrate directly in to create tickets, comment on them, and QA them upon completion.

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Tip #2: Create an accountability tracker. Whether you’re a consultant, and in-house SEO, or an agency partner, a “next actions” or project tracker sometimes isn’t enough. We create an accountability tracker where we can discuss weekly where projects are when they fall on other teams, specifically on engineering teams that are pulled in many different directions.

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Project Tracker Template

PR / Thought Leadership

Ever engaged in some sort of authority building? Well, there’s undoubtedly some overlap with PR efforts, especially with how link building looks at this point in Google’s existence. There is no gaming or tricking the algorithm anymore- linking needs to be through concentrated content development and promotion.

Link building is outreach, and therefore, some of the efforts an SEO agency or SEO team might be working on may intersect. We have three main tips to ensure your outreach efforts are successful and well received.

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Tip #1: Ensure that relationship boundaries are defined between PR and SEO. We start every engagement by first asking for a “Do Not Contact” list from any existing PR agencies. You do not want to be contacting a media outlet that a PR agency or an internal team has an existing relationship with. Start by understanding the types of relationships that already exist.

Tip #2: Don’t just email everyone. Similar to establishing boundaries between PR and SEO, consider other areas of the business that have relationships with website owners. For example, affiliates are another area that you want to think more in-depth about. There are strategies you can use to acquire links that are valuable from affiliates, but you’d want to ensure you’re touching base with whoever manages those affiliate teams first. Start by setting a meeting and strategizing with them.

In addition, you want to be careful about contacting websites that may not be a fan of your company or client. Be sensitive to the information in an article. When performing a service like link reclamation, be sure that the sites you’re reaching out to weren’t saying something negative or are not a fan of a company. Although this isn’t extremely common, it does happen and can cause internal issues.

Tip #3: There is always opportunity. Don’t get discouraged. Even if you’re working on outreach where there are a lot of blockers in place, there are still sites you can contact that will add SEO value. Focus on sites that are strong and receive organic traffic, but aren’t in the same tier of what a PR agency would be focusing on (think USA Today, or Seventeen Magazine). Although these are amazing sites to be featured on, you can still get value from mommy blogs that have strong rankings and some authority. These sites can still move the needle (as long as they are high-quality and don’t have high spam scores).

Content

Content creation is crucial to SEO progress, and sometimes it is the most critical piece. This varies by business type, but generally every business can benefit in some way from having SEO-focused content on a website (content built to rank for a specific query).

Most businesses have some sort of copywriting resources in-house. These individuals are not always focused on web content, but might be focused on many other types of content to support awareness initiatives or internal processes.

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When looking at the content process, there are many areas that SEO teams need to support. No matter who is actually creating content, the SEO team needs to provide strategy and direction.

Our content process is as follows:

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Just like all other departments that we’ve discussed so far, content teams also need to be aligned with SEO goals and understand how to produce content that ranks.

We recommend creating content maps to help guide content teams. These roadmaps should contain everything that a copywriter needs to understand how to write for SEO.

As the SEO strategist is working towards the goal of ranking for a keyword that drives business results, the strategy for the content should be coming from someone who knows the goals of the business on a deep level.

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Content Roadmap Example

These are two key areas that impact rankings that can sometimes be harder to deliver on:

1. Content comprehensiveness: Although not always true, longer content does tend to rank better for informational / research queries. While a 2,500 word post may not always be the preference for the business, sometimes it is necessary to rank. It’s important as an SEO to advocate for comprehensive content (when we believe that the result should be an in-depth response).

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2. Keyword targeting in content titles: There is no such thing as “writing for search engines” anymore. The truth is that content needs to be written for users. However, we still must use keywords in the title tag and in the title of the post. These are still the strongest on-page signals we have. Many times, the title of posts are written with brand or marketing language, without considering its ability to rank competitively. For example, a content team might title a post about workplace efficiency as “7 Ways to Improve Your Efficiency Throughout the Day” without taking into consideration a keyword focus for SEO. Whereas, an SEO might recommend a title such as, “Workplace Efficiency: Tips to Improve Workflows”. As the title holds so much weight, the SEO team needs to advocate for ensuring that the title of the post has a balance between being optimized and engaging.

Conclusion

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Making meaningful progress towards growth in SEO takes an entire company. It is our job as SEOs to serve as the project manager and guide projects through the pipeline. We’re also responsible for ensuring that stakeholders on different teams know and understand our initiatives, and that everyone is working towards the same goals.

When everything is working as it should, the results will follow.


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Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.


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Tinuiti Marketing Analytics Recognized by Forrester

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Tinuiti Marketing Analytics Recognized by Forrester

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By Tinuiti Team

Rapid Media Mix Modeling and Proprietary Tech Transform Brand Performance

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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

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Ecommerce evolution: Blurring the lines between B2B and B2C

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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)

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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.” 

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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. 

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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. 

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