After discussing the proper use of available resources, we can dive into explaining major differences between buyers, customers, and advocates. But, first, it is important to outline the fact that before putting any effort in marketing and sales, you have to be sure your products or services really serve the needs of your customers. No marketing and sales strategies and tactics can bring revenues if your product doesn’t provide the needed quality, ease of use, and an empowering customer experience.
Well organized, attractive looking online store will attract buyers, and you will sell products. But, what you don’t want is to attract one time buyers only. You want satisfied customers who will return to buy more, and become advocates for your online store. You want to spread their story, their satisfaction with your products, and attract even more loyal customers. So, take care your products are worth both your and your customer’s effort.
There are three different stages that your buyer will go through if your eCommerce implements a successful Account Based Marketing strategy:
- Stage one: Account (contact), or potential customer
- Stage two: Customer
- Stage three: Advocate
What you want is for all your buyers and customers to become your advocates. But, that is the third step. Go step by step towards this huge goal.
- Stage One: The Account (contact), or potential customer
In this stage the focus is on generating demand. For B2B businesses this means engaging new and existing accounts, and for B2C businesses, reaching and engaging potential customers with the ideal profile. Brand promotion, and building brand awareness is done through:
- Visiting and attending fairs, events, shows
- Offline advertising campaigns
- Online advertising campaigns, content, email, social, paid…
- Direct account and potential customer targeting
- Creating account and potential customers segments
Again, when measuring results of all mentioned activities, having in mind the support and close cooperation of the marketing and sales teams, the generated demand should show the potential revenue for each potential customer (B2C), or account (B2B).
Now, the potential customer or account becomes an opportunity for revenue. Your potential customers are searching your retail online store, comparing products, reading reviews, comparing prices. In B2B, contacts within your accounts are comparing options, checking your platform, negotiating terms. It is the right time to do some serious nurturing of potential customers and accounts by:
- Creating whitepapers and distributing them through your site, email campaigns and newsletters, social media
- Organizing events for socializing with your customers and accounts
- Spreading the word about your success and satisfaction of your accounts and customers, by sharing their stories and experiences with your products and services
- Stage Two: The Customer
Both marketing and sales teams work together in this stage to bring opportunities to closing the deal. Now, when the deal is closed, products purchased and used, you have a customer. You can measure the number of sales, and of course the revenue. However, this is not the end. Account Based Marketing aims higher than just producing buyers, or one time customers. It transforms them into advocates.
- Stage Three: The Advocate
Retaining customers in eCommerce (both B2B and B2C) requires forming one more team, besides marketing and sales teams. It’s the Customer Success Team. The real support to your customers begins here, and continues throughout their use of your products.
Customers implement and adopt your products, they use them, and your customer success team helps them adopt the technology and make the best possible use of it through:
- Written guides and instructions for use and successful implementation
- High quality videos with implementation guides, and practical usage showing
- Detailed checklists for better product usage
- Online training materials
- Direct support with short response time
You successfully upsell and cross-sell to your customers. By upselling you provide a new value to the customer, from the same product or service (for example: your eLearning platform may have two levels of service, the limited, and unlimited ones, with different prices and user experiences). On the other hand, with cross-selling you achieve the great goal of selling the same product to a different contact within the account, or to its different business unit.
Persistence in Account Based Marketing approach, at this stage consists of:
- Creating and sharing whitepapers and press releases about new products, or existing product’s improvements
- Rich infographics visually describing the key product features
- Discounts and special offers
Expand your customer base. By learning more about your customers, you will be able to focus your activities on creating case studies, and exploit testimonials of customers who are satisfied with your products. Moreover, you may create and share studies about how certain groups of customers use your products, to empower the need for your products and strengthen the demand generation process. Use cases speak for themselves, and you should make as many as possible.
Continue to send strong and unified messages to customers. At the point when most of eCommerce businesses stop communicating with customers, after the purchase, your Account Based Marketing battle continues. Nurturing your customers now becomes even more important, as now you have the opportunity to make them your advocates. Provide your customers with:
- Webinars to both teach and discuss
- Trainings and full support for advanced product use, totally free of charge
- Constant email contacting with newsletters, content marketing, whitepapers
- Promoting quality content that includes your customers
- Regular (monthly or weekly) announcements of new content, product improvements, company success stories and milestones
- Meeting with customers at events, fairs, conferences
- Supporting local initiatives in sports, education, health, through charity
All these activities of Account Based Marketing in eCommerce should result in higher revenues. You should measure the revenue against each and every customer. Measuring is equally important because it gives you the needed information about how successful your marketing efforts are.
Stay with me for more content about Account Based Marketing. Until then, try to implement some of the advice, and measure the results. You can only benefit from the effort.