November 3, 2021
If you’re a wholesaler, it’s really simple: You want more customers, and you prefer them to buy in bulk.
Well, finding the right customers, and them finding you, is where it gets hard.
Fortunately, if you’re a wholesaler that’s recently started an e-commerce platform, then you’ve probably already been marketing for years.
Do you know your products? Great! Do you know your customers? We hope so, and if you do then there are several digital marketing methods that help you find customers, and more importantly, help them find you.
That’s the hard part after all, and learning how to implement a digital marketing strategy from top to bottom is the key to e-commerce success.
How is your business model set up? Is your sales funnel built to generate leads for your sellers, and are they getting quality leads?
We hope the answer is “yes” to the second question, but even before the pandemic, e-commerce sales channels were already growing and the sales process was becoming increasingly automated.
A Gartner research study found that In 2021, 33 percent of all buyers desire a seller-free sales experience, and for millennials, the number is 44 percent.
The fact is, that not only are B2B buyers becoming more like B2C buyers, but millennials are taking over the buying decisions, as a 2021 Demand Gen report found that 73 percent of B2B buyers are now millennials, and that number is climbing.
One of the reasons we bring up the changing nature of the customer is that understanding your clients and their needs is a big part of your success. You want to find them where they are, and there’s a lot of data that suggest that they are online.
In the same Gartner research report it was found that 80 percent of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels by 2025. And a definition of “interaction” doesn’t necessarily mean human-to-human contact; a digital asset, such as a blog or infographic, can provide that experience.
Furthermore, if your customers are online, then you can bet that some, if not all of your competitors are online as well, whether you are or not.
How did you find your first customers? Was it as easy as a Field of Dreams moment (“If you build it, [they] will come”)? Of course not! Or if it was, you certainly had to turn to some form of marketing strategy to sustain your business, and help it grow.
So in the digital space, much of the traditional marketing tactics are different, but they are trying to accomplish the same thing: contact your customer at each phase during the buyer’s journey. That means providing your potential customers with resources from inception, to research, to comparing, and to closing.
So, your digital marketing strategy should aim to hit your customer with something valuable at each one of these stages. That’s easier said than done, because digital marketing has so many channels for contact points.
But before we get too far into the weeds with tactics, let’s agree to never deviate from our bottom line, shall we: Turn leads into sales. So let’s start at the end, because actually, that’s where we need to start.
From top of the sales funnel and all the way down the buyer's journey, it all ends at your website. The reason is because your website should contain a reliable, speedy, and wonderfully designed buying process.
There are several e-commerce platforms for wholesalers that support a fantastic buying experience, such as Shopify, Woocommerce (from Wordpress), BigCommerce and Magento.
Whether you pay for extra plug-ins, or use their baseline features, these sites provide the user experience (UX) that shoppers are looking for.
But that’s not all, as a great website will have a robust collection of resources to offer clients who are researching, or just happen to be perusing your website. This means that wholesalers need a development team that can capture core Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to understand how users are interacting with your website.
If you find that users bounce within less than a minute of arriving at your website, then that’s a serious problem that needs to be fixed. If users love one page, duplicate that type of content and experience found on that page elsewhere. And if users aren’t moving from page-to-page on your website, you need more content.
And whether it’s the buying process or navigating your website, the experience needs to be optimized for mobile use, as a Google survey discovered that 50 percent of B2B decision makers use a mobile device to do at least some of their online research.
And the good news is, a big part of digital marketing strategy has to do with getting content that you created into the hands of potential wholesale customers during the research process.
If you’re a B2B wholesaler, and/or have customers that buy in bulk, then you’re used to encountering customers that come to you well-informed and knowing exactly what they want.
Your average customer has conducted some, or a lot of research before they arrived at their buying decision. Especially when it comes to large orders that they will then resell to their own customers. Their reputation is at stake, so they need to be sure of what they are purchasing.
So what are they using for research?
Hopefully, in a perfect world, they’re reading your content.
Content marketing uses Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to get your content in front of your customers.
If you have key market statistics, then you can create an infographic that displays these numbers. If you have key insight into problems that your customers are facing, you can create a blog article that addresses their concerns.
Then, an SEO expert does their magic to get your content to rank on search engines such as Google. Using keywords that your customers use, and targeting specific topics, over time, the goal is to get your content on page one of Google, and if done right, the number one hit.
If you’re wondering how this strategy leads to our bottom line (turn leads into sales), consider that leads generated from SEO have a 14.6 percent close rate.
The reason is that you’ve provided something of value -- information and insight -- to your clients without you even reaching out to them directly. And being that source of truth builds trust, and trust leads to loyal customers.
Another form of digital marketing that is excellent for delivering content of value to customers is through email marketing.
We know, we know, you get enough spam emails to fill up the Grand Canyon.
But there are ways to differentiate yourself from others, and that’s mainly accomplished by not spamming your potential customers.
Instead, offer them something of value, such as a newsletter with market insights, a one-page downloadable guide to navigating supply-chain issues or even a promotional offer (see below).
Email marketing has become so popular and successful that a recent study found that 87 percent of B2B marketers say that email marketing generates the most sales out of any free, organic distribution channels.
Not all forms of marketing are free, but the old adage is still true: You have to spend money to make money. Running paid advertisements is a fantastic use of your marketing capital, but finding the right channel to target takes some work.
Over 70 percent of people who use search engines (which is just about everyone in the world with an internet connection) use Google over others. This isn’t to say that other search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo, should be ignored, but the majority of capital should go to Google.
Of course, there are other digital channels to advertise on such as social media. Facebook and Twitter are popular ad platforms, but for B2B buyers and sellers, LinkedIn is the much preferred platform.
A recent study by the social media platform revealed that advertisements on LinkedIn leads to a 33 percent increase in purchase intent. And that’s not even half of what wholesalers can do with LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is far more valuable to wholesalers than just an advertisement platform, as it’s a chance for CEOs, C-suite executives and managers to become thought leaders in their industry.
One interesting caveat to LinkedIn advertising is that paid ads cannot originate from a business profile. That means advertisements have to come from a human being, and those are the people who will showcase your brand.
But advertisements are just a small part of the reach you can achieve with LinkedIn.
Posting on LinkedIn is free, and if you apply a similar strategy to LinkedIn as you do with your content marketing and SEO, then you’ll find success.
The reason is that people want good, solid information, and solutions to their problems and road blocks. Posts on LinkedIn should aim to achieve this goal, as becoming a source of truth and being a thought leader has a powerful impact on a customer’s willingness to give you their business.
One of the ways you can add value for your customers, without providing insights and knowledge, is to provide them something more specific -- a deal.
Insights and knowledge effectively offer the same thing as a special promotion, as each provides value, in its own way, to the customer.
But what customer isn’t conscious of their wallet, and how full it is?
Offering a deal on a purchase adds tremendous value to customers, and if done correctly, can help wholesalers out as well.
Ultimately, wholesalers almost always prefer customers to buy in bulk, and come back when they need more of your product.
So, encourage them to do these things!
You can offer free shipping for purchases of a certain amount, or freebies or discounts to returning customers.
Each offer should be defined by what your needs are, so if you’re struggling to find new customers, for example, give special discounts to first-time customers.
Your promotions can also be advertised on Google, and your company’s social media accounts, which links different marketing channels to the same collective effort.
As you can probably tell, deciding how to embark on your digital marketing strategy involves a lot of decisions about what channels to pursue. However, it’s important not to overthink all of it, and leverage a resource that’s already at your disposal:
That’s right, and who better to sing your praises than the very people who’ve benefited from your products and services?
You really can’t put a price on loyalty, but you can certainly reward it. This can be accomplished by introducing a referral program that gives incentive to your existing customers to help provide new customers to you.
This can best be distributed through an email marketing campaign, which provides another fantastic opportunity for you to contact your clients, let them know you value their business and are rewarding them for it.
The main thrust of marketing is to provide information to potential customers about your products, and generate leads for your sales process. As you can see, digital marketing provides several different channels to pursue that will touch your clients at many points during the buyer’s journey.
Don’t let your competitors beat you in this expanding marketplace, as e-commerce is poised to grow far into the future. To take advantage takes a little bit of adaptation, but doesn’t require you to stray from your bottom line: Turn leads into sales.
Digital marketing will deliver the leads, and help you capture your potential customer’s business.
Get the support you need to grow your Wholesale business online. Get in the ring with Main Event Digital.