Five tips for creating a content-powered commerce experience that helps B2B buyers make faster, more confident decisions. Content is more important to B2B sales than ever. 59 percent of B2B buyers now prefer to research online instead of talking with a sales rep.[i] And the typical B2B purchase decision is 57 percent complete before a customer ever contacts a sales rep.[ii] That’s why B2B organizations have embraced content marketing. Some have adopted an “arms race” mentality, rushing to build more content than the competition. But too much content can backfire. B2B buyers can be overwhelmed by too much information. At the same time, more than half of all B2B purchases are made by committees composed of multiple stakeholders who have various distinct interests. What does this mean for your content strategy? Your B2B eCommerce site must get the right content in the right amount to the right people. In other words, you need content-powered commerce. This blog post outlines five tips for delivering content-powered commerce that make it easier for B2B buyers to find the right content and make better buying decisions. 1 Define your buyers’ customer journey and key personas. Before you develop your content plan, you need to know how your customers shop and who they are. This means defining their customer journey and key personas. If your product is simple or consumable, like janitorial supplies, your buyers’ customer journey may be straightforward and involve only a few personas. You may also make almost all sales online. If your product is costlier and more complex, has multiple configurations, or involves co-development, the customer journey may include more steps and more stakeholders. You may also sell some products online and others through a more traditional offline sales process—or maybe each of your larger customers buys through a secure and highly customized eCommerce portal. The more complex the customer journey is, the greater your opportunity to use content as a way to answer questions and clarify next steps. 2 Make content an integral part of the commerce experience. Content should be a part of your entire commerce experience from beginning to end. It should answer buyers’ questions, reduce uncertainty, and eliminate obstacles to purchase. Once you have defined your personas and understand what your sales cycle looks like, you can begin to identify content that can accomplish these goals at each stage of the customer journey. Help them find you. Most B2B product searches begin with Google, which means your commerce experience actually begins before buyers click through to your site. To engage B2B buyers at an early research stage, it’s critical to make sure your content and product SKUs are seen by Google and ranked as highly as possible. At a minimum, you’ll need to understand what search terms your customers are using and integrate those terms into your content in meaningful ways. A search engine optimization (SEO) provider can help increase the visibility of your content in search engines. Or you can simply focus on creating in-depth, useful content for your niche. Google no longer ranks content on how many keywords are crammed into a single article. Instead, today’s algorithms focus on surfacing comprehensive and authoritative content that humans—not bots—will want to read. In addition, Google ranks faster-loading, mobile-friendly sites higher. If your eCommerce site doesn’t play nicely with mobile, you may need a redesign before you invest in more content. 3 Let buyers choose their own path. Matching buyers to the right content can make the purchase experience feel more personalized and relevant. One easy way to connect buyers with the right content is to simply ask who they are. For example, buyers might choose their title or function from a short menu the first time they visit your site. Or you can use AI-based personalization tools like Adobe Target to deliver a custom experience based on how visitors interact with your site. You can also encourage buyers to set up a customer account, so they can receive a more tailored experience and log in for quick access to saved content, price quotes, and order histories. User accounts also let you send emails with personalized content and special offers. 4 Build your eCommerce content map. Once you have you have defined your buyers’ customer journey and identified key personas and their needs, you can begin filling in your eCommerce content map. Your content map contains the different types of content and experiences for each key persona at each stage of the customer journey. 5 Don’t forget the mobile experience. It is a myth that B2B buyers are still tethered to their desktops. Mobile-friendly content drives or influences, on average, over 40 percent of revenue in leading B2B organizations.[iii] And that figure is likely to increase sharply as Google continues to surface mobile-friendly sites over older designs. As millennials research and buy B2B products in growing numbers, your mobile experience will become even more important. An excellent B2B mobile experience should be highly personalized and content rich. It should also integrate phone functions like the camera and push notifications, and it should perform well even in low-connectivity environments. [i] “Death of a B2B Salesman,” Forrester Research, March 2015. [ii] IBID. [iii] “Mobile Marketing and the New B2B Buyer”, The Boston Consulting Group in partnership with Google, October 2017.