Quality content is an essential part of any business-to-business (B2B) organization’s ecommerce success, including distributors. The ultimate role of ecommerce content is to create a user experience as well as educate, engage and convert site visitors to site customers. Without quality content, your B2B ecommerce site is liable to wind up feeling a little anemic and being less than effective in driving sales. The reality is that quality content takes time and resources to develop and this can leave a distributor wondering how they can manage content for the variety of products that they offer.
Look Outside Your Organization
There’s no rule that says a distributor has to create all of the content on its website. In fact, the savviest distributors know how to leverage the content that has already been created by other sources to populate their own websites. To get a solid start on all sorts of content for your ecommerce site, start by looking outside of your own organization.
Product manufacturers. Why recreate the wheel if you don’t have to? The first source you should consider for product content is the manufacturers of the products you sell. Since they are the company responsible for creating the product, it’s likely that they will have a sizeable supply of content available to support the distributors who sell their products. The trick is to ask them for the content you need and the use it. Consider asking for product-specific resources like approved marketing and product copy, downloadable resources such as user manuals and technical guides, professional product images, product specifications, product videos, forum links, etc.
Partner organizations. Do you have partnerships with other companies within your industry? If so, you may find that these partner organizations have access to content that you don’t. Leverage those relationships and utilize the content your partners are able to share whenever you can.
Create It Yourself
Sometimes, for whatever reason, you can’t get your hands on a piece of content that you know would drive sales for your products. In times like these, if you want that piece of content, you are going to have to create it yourself. Here are some suggestions on how to get started down the path to powerful content creation.
Use what you already have in marketing. Creating your own content? Your first stop should be in the marketing department of your organization. The sole purpose of your marketing department is to create content that drives sales across all channels. Tap into their product brochures for images and copy, their creative resources for design and layout capability, and into their ability to create powerful calls to action and targeted promotions. The other reality is that your marketing department probably has an established relationship with the marketing folks over at your manufacturers and suppliers. Ask marketing to secure the content you need on your behalf—sometimes it’s the relationship that makes all the difference.
Ask your sales people. They are in the trenches every day and probably have small libraries of information inside their heads. Ask your salespeople for help on creating content to sell your products online—they are an often-untapped resource. Ask to see the presentations and sales sheets that they have created for their own use—it’s likely that they have done a lot of the work for you already. Additionally, ask your sales people for suggestions on which product downloads and other product support materials would most benefit your customer base. No one will know these things better than sales.
Considerations for Content Creation and Wrangling
Content is a huge portion of your ecommerce effort. I would argue that it’s actually the lion’s share of your online presence and as such, it deserves to be thought of as the intensive project that it is. As you embark on the quest for creating your own and wrangling content from external sources, consider the following.
Resource allocation. It always comes down to resources, doesn’t it? Content creation and wrangling is no different.
- Keeper of Content. Regardless of the route that you take to populating your ecommerce site with rich content, you are going to need to have a point person assigned to managing all things content related. This person should be detail oriented, computer savvy, and should like to write (and be good at it).
- Money. Budget is another consideration—you will need financial resources whether you have to create your own content or you plan to leverage the content that others supply you. Make sure you allot an appropriate amount of cash for content management and creation.
- Time. Good content takes time, whether you create your own or borrow someone else’s. Don’t leave content creation and sourcing until the end of your project or you are going to find yourself playing beat the clock in a bad way.
Timing. The companies that start gathering and creating content at the outset of an ecommerce project are likely to have more successful site launches. Leaving content creation and management to the end of the project is likely to leave you playing catch up. Start working on site content immediately after you begin your project.
Expect the Unexpected. They aren’t called surprises for nothing. Nothing surfaces inconsistencies with an organization’s with ERP data—including pricing, taxation, shipping charges—faster than an ecommerce launch. Likewise you might discover that your customer service team has been handling a host of exceptions each day via manual override. Knowing that your ecommerce project will flush out a bunch of inconsistencies throughout the launch process allows you to plan ahead to deal with them. Sandbag a little time for the unexpected challenges that arise. You’ll be glad you did.
Content plays a critical role in a distributor’s success with B2B ecommerce. By leveraging both internal and external resources, distributors can populate their ecommerce sites with the best content available and drive channel sales.
To learn more about the successful use of content on your B2B ecommerce website, download the white paper, Content is King: How Updating Website Content Improves Ecommerce Sales.