eCommerce Marketing Operations 101: Tips for Scalable Sales Growth
When it comes to your eCommerce marketing operations, are you deploying all the best marketing strategies to tip the scales in your favor?
Today’s customers have more options, less attention span, and higher expectations than ever before. That means your marketing operations must deploy all the tools available to optimize the customer experience from every angle in a way that's efficient and scalable for your team.
Watch our on-demand webinar with Dynamicweb VP of Global Marketing, Eric Jan C. van Putten, as we discuss the state of eCommerce marketing operations and what your business can be do today to stand out admidst the flood of competition.
We'll discuss these topics and more:
- Cutting edge eCommerce marketing strategies
- Expanding across channels and marketplaces
- Personalization at scale
- Building your digital brand
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: The broadcast is now starting, all attendees are in listen-only mode.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Hi, everyone. I'm Eric Jan van Putten. I will be today your speaker and host. We're going to give everyone a minute to figure out how to install, go to webinar, and then we will start the presentation. So bear with me for another minute and then we'll get started. [Pause 00:00:25-00:01:15]
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Okay, let's get going. Welcome to today's webinar about e-commerce and marketing operations. It's great having you on the line. I see that we have people from all over the world. USA. We have Europe. We even have Japan. Good to see you guys again as well. Who am I? I'm Eric Jan van Putten. I am the VP of Marketing at Dynamicweb. I am an enthusiast of marketing technology and what that can really do for an organization. I am also a big fan of the people process and technology framework. I've been at it for approximately 15 years. I started as a field marketer, went into marketing operations, and am now the VP of Marketing. I've had the luck of working with teams, building teams all over the world. I've inherited teams and we've always had a good focus on helping organizations scale their marketing performance.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: An element that I've often seen throughout scaling an organization's performance is something I simplistically call Focus and Hustle: focus on what drives the needle. I have a full book of activities with the right type of activities, of course, but when you have this, it becomes easier to scale the marketing performance and help making selling easier and then of course, as I'm a fan of marketing technology, make technology work for you. Reduce manual labor, reduce human risk, and all this gives you more time back to focus on helping to drive business success.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: So before we dive into the webinar, if there are any questions- I have a question screen open here- if I see it, I will try to answer it. I might try it at the end if time allows. Otherwise, I or my colleagues will get back to you at a later phase. So with that, let's get going.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: If we take a quick look on e-commerce, e-commerce growth is honestly you can't miss it. Google it, and within a couple of seconds, you should have seen at least five different reports saying that e-commerce is growing and it is growing fast. Even before COVID, it was steadily growing between 10 and 15 percent, and in the last couple of years, we're absolutely going well over 20 percent. This differs a little bit for industry, but e-commerce is doing quite good. There are two divisions between them. I would say there is the B2B and the B2C kind of e-commerce, and sometimes surprising, the B2B is actually a much bigger market. We see higher average order values. It can be more complex. With that combination, it's also longer sales projects to get the thing going, and if that wasn't enough growth, there are also more channels being added on a fairly regular basis.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: We have marketplaces being added every year, a couple. There are partner networks, resellers are adding to it, social commerce, you name it. There are more sales channels becoming available on a regular basis. So how can you stand out if there are so many channels, so many competitors around you? It really comes down to managing the total commerce experience both on and offline, and that is what we are going to touch on today's webinar as well. The buyer really expects that seamless commerce experience when they switch between contact with a sales manager, when they are checking your website, or even going offline into a store.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: There's a great report on this which comes out every year by Salesforce: State of the Connected Customer. I would highly recommend that you download this, and this really goes into how important experience is in both B2C as in B2B. Forrester also has a report on that. These days, it says that 42 percent of all B2B purchases are happening through digital commerce. Self-service and rep assistant are some of the main drivers why this number keeps growing on a yearly basis. So now that we know the world of commerce is growing and that experience matters, how can you address these matters while we want to scale our e-commerce success? It is something that is oversimplified, I want to call, Plan for Scale.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: In this presentation, as we're talking marketing operations, we are going to take a look at how you can plan for this kind of scaling. It is often about building a good foundation that will allow you to grow. If you, in marketing, are going to double the numbers, what would be necessary to handle this and doubling the numbers could be more traffic, more regions to service, more marketing activities to be done, lead generation, you name it. But what needs to happen to be able to handle this kind of growth? This might be in marketing. This might be in the sales part after you. This might be in product development. If you're able to build an element of that foundation that is able to handle this, it will make things a lot easier for marketing. An element of that is also certainly in B2B.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Are you able to trace where revenue is coming from? There are many hip wordings for that: Closing the Loop, leads To Revenue, but basically is I got revenue. What was the cause of this revenue? Where was the starting point of that. Simple graphic representation on the screen here goes in to, you have a touchpoint that relates to a contact, relates to an account and that relates to an opportunity, which then has a value on it, making it pipeline revenue, being able to see how much did marketing help contribute to the sales organization. The UTM, which you can put on any URL that goes back to your website, is a great, easy to implement function that allows you to track where did this touchpoint come from? That could be channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, certain marketplaces or at a specific website, but it could also be certain campaigns, a campaign you've done, a webinar like this one, and you track that all the way down to opportunities. So if you're able to do that that will make life a lot easier. So you can showcase the contribution that marketing has been able to do for the organization.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Then the second part related to this is having a tech strategy. There are many ways in building a marketing technology stack, MarTech stack, but there are better ways sometimes of doing it than others. This depends on building for flexibility and extendability and able to scale, and if you keep all that in mind, that will help you make decisions on how to build your tech strategy. An element not to forget when building this is keeping the maturity state of the organization in mind. Sometimes it is really cool to talk about very cool solutions out there, but are you actually going to use this? Are you going to use all the features, or are you bringing a world of pain in trying to get it to work in your organization? And that really plays into the element of bringing it into operational excellence.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Strategies, theoretical architectures, and processes can be really fun to talk about. But it really comes down to how can you execute as best as possible against these kinds of operational technologies? Can you have a process that is feasible in your organization? Do you need to make steps to adjust so that there is more automation possible? This level could really be something where it all means nothing if the operational excellence is not done right.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: As we are talking about planning for scale, an important part of that is automation, and with automation trying to make things more efficient. Why? Well, if you are able to do more automated ways, you can actually reduce risk. You can get the time back in terms of that you can use for something else. So how many companies do really spent hours and hours a week in managing that systems are leveled in stock orders. It leads across the systems, your email system able to follow everyone. It's highly inefficient and costly to do so. It also increases the risk quite a bit because when it's a human error that gets into play, you get into investigations. Where did it go wrong? You might be actually depending on one person for a specific part of the process. So if that person gets sick or goes on vacation, then your process might grind to a halt. So automation will get rid of all that kind of headache situations.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Customer self-service, something we just touch on with the Forrester experience part, is also something that is sometimes seen as a negative thing because people say, I will have my customers themselves order the next batch, or they need to find the manuals themselves online. It sometimes feels counter to what you offer in an optimal experience. But with research showing customers do want to have self-service: They do want to be able to find manuals, see what they ordered before, their next order placed by themselves without having to depend on an account manager to help out with this kind of stuff. The extra benefit of that, it's also a huge time saver for your salesforce because they don't have to help with every little thing for the customer anymore because they are self-servicing. This comes into play with the ERP integrated e-commerce.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: So when you have an ERP system that could be Microsoft, that could be any other kind of ERP system. The moment you have these systems work together, you are reducing manual labor for quite a bit because the whole order management, stock information, all that stuff gets synchronized automated. So you reduce the manual elements. You reduce the risk of unintentionally running out of stock in certain locations because the systems can keep track of it and manage to a degree, that action needs to be taken. It also allows to fill in for the customer self-service to have customer-specific pricing in place. You can really bring the often online together by integrating into your e-commerce or ERP, your CRM, you name it.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: A quick side note. When I'm talking about ERP integration is an example of a couple of ways how you could be doing that. One way would be that you bolt on your e-commerce onto your ERP system, or you crawl into the ERP system which might save you sometimes a bit of time, couple of hours of integration. But you run the risk that when your ERP system is slow, sluggish as a bug, or is down for maintenance, that your whole web store, your storefront goes offline. It doesn't work anymore. Or you take the other way that you are loosely coupled to your ERP system via recommended plugin code units like the standard Microsoft Dynamics Integration that Dynamicweb offers. With that, you connect your ERP system to your e-commerce environment where when the ERP system is having maintenance or is slow, your e-commerce just spins happily and keeps selling, and that is the way how different approaches of integration can make a huge difference in performance and be able to sell more.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: As we are talking a little bit about selling and products, there's another element in there with ERP is product information. Sometimes companies choose for a while to have a lot of product data stored in the ERP system, and the ERP system isn't really made for that. It doesn't handle chunks of product assets as well as a dedicated product information management solution, a PIM. So if you are able to connect your ERP to a product information management solution, you will be able to streamline the creation of product data, get rid of an endless amount of excel sheets, folder storage with images, you name it, have all that stored in your PIM system. It will highly influence positively the workflows and the efficiency in bringing your product to market. It will also make it easier to distribute your product data into all kinds of channels of the choice of the customer.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: In bringing me to product data, have product data work for you, because if you have a rich product data available, why not publish it on your website and have it work for you? Rich data product pages filled with descriptions, tables of information, images, videos, you name it, it will help you attract more traffic as your value goes up quite a bit, and not only that, it also helps to offer a better product experience. If you are able to not only have one picture of your product but also have a video where you see a dress moving around. You'll have a better understanding of the material, how it moves, how it could look like. The same goes for technical information. Have an explanation video on how this cogwheel actually works. It can give a lot of elements in experiencing the product, making it easier to sell it.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: I have a small example of that. I like to go sailing when I'm not watching screens, and I need it at some moment a new sheave, a block, a wheel to replace in a steering environment. So I went to the brand manufacturing, of which all the other parts are and the only thing I could find on their website was a computer generated image and a screenshot of a table containing very little information. So I wasn't sure if they are new products, their younger version of the product would actually be a drop-in replacement. So I went to a reseller, a partner of theirs and I asked. I emailed them. Can you give me more information? Sizes, distances, wire size, you name it? No one was able to give me more information, so I ended up buying from their competitor, sadly. So being able to have this rich product information, this product data and sharing that with your resellers, making it available on your website will help you scale traffic, make it easier for you or your resellers to sell. There's a lot of value in that.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: With a PIM, you're also able to connect to marketplaces. So talking about marketplaces, it's a great way to get access to new customers, new audiences because otherwise, you need to do all the work: marketing-wise, branding-wise, getting your product and your brand known out there where marketplaces went a little bit more, well-known and, of course, we all know Amazon. There are plenty of B2B marketplaces out there as well. It will help you gain access instantly to potential customers out there. There are some downsides to it because you have less control over the presentation of your product. You need to hook it up to different systems. You have less brand control because you're piggybacking on a marketplace, and you don't always have access to the actual buyer.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: At the same time, with that, you can gain a new market,. You can scale your actual selling along the way. That can be a great strategy for you to help you scale your e-commerce success. Sometimes you could see marketplaces almost as a Google. It is important to continue having consistent product data out there so that your customers are well known to how you communicate. They like it. You can build your brand experience across the channels of the choices of your customer, which again includes marketplaces, and with that, with rich product data, you also get the benefit of being found on these marketplaces like search. So that is why it still continues to be quite important to have rich and accurate product data in your PIM and be able to connect it to the channels of the customer's choosing.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Then one of the last growing areas is really the ability to go cross-border, go international, have a strategy. Depending on the region, numbers anywhere between five and 50 percent are seen where countries or organizations in countries are able to go cross-border international strategies. This, of course, raises some additional challenges. You need to all of a sudden have multiple languages. You need to have VAT taxes available in all the local rules. Legislation is involved. So cross-border can be a great growth market, but it does influence how you approach it. There is a level of complexity in it. As you can imagine, it might be quite different if you're selling in the U.S. than that you're selling to Canada, or you're in the Netherlands and you are selling to Belgium, or you're going off to China. These are differences that will have an influence on how you approach the strategy of cross-border, which has influences on your technical strategy as well.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Then maybe a step back almost to start talking about the experience. Earlier, I said that experience makes out 85 percent of importance in the buying process. So being able to manage the experience is what makes a real difference. If we're talking about that, it's really about managing the relation with your customer through the channels of their choosing. You need to start blending on and offline by, for example, tracking the visitors behavior on your website, the product pages they visited, other pages on your website. Maybe they've been in touch in local stores, you name it, and tracking all that back into your CRM system makes it possible to use that and manage a better experience.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: If your prospect or existing customer is on your website visiting product pages but doesn't actually convert, how about you have that information and send that off to your regional sales manager so that he or she is aware of that and could decide to take action on that, reach out. You can also apply marketing automation to that. I will get to that in a moment. But the way around, it actually applies as well. So if the salesperson actually connected with the customer and they put something in, a special first-time discount into the CRM, your e-commerce environment can keep that into account when this person actually comes around and is ready to make that first order.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: So building that complete Omnichannel approach is not that hard anymore these days, and it really sets you apart from the competition. You are able to offer a better, true Omnichannel experience to your customers in that, that is also a little bit with earlier said rep-assisted selling. When you have a customer that has quite a complex ordering with you so maybe customize products, they sometimes need a little bit of support in ordering their next batch. With rep-assistant selling, you could go in, impersonate the customer in their customer portal and preload the complete cart. You can set everything ready and send that off as a quote or an offer to the customer, and they can come back and double-check. I like this. I like that. You know what? I have a question about this thing. I want to skip this time, and they are assisted with their more complex ordering, and they can still in their time of choosing, finalize the purchase of the product you're offering. And that is quite a strong offer you can have in this market.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Of course, there are all kinds of other related examples to this. Have some automation in play? I drink a healthy amount of Nespresso. I order three times a year and then I order a couple of boxes. And still, every time there's a chance I run out. Why doesn't Nespresso send me a reminder that it is probably time for me to order again? Then with a click or two, I should be able to order that. Right now, it's not that hard to do, but I do sometimes run out of coffee, and that doesn't give the best experience with certain people at home.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: So another thing and we're getting into the homestretch of the webinar. These are going to be elements that I have quite a strong feeling about. Personalization is such an underutilized option for organizations to succeed with, and it really isn't that hard to do. Technology certainly isn't the problem these days. There's plenty of technology out there that will allow you to recognize the visitor, the returning visitor, customer, partner, you name it, and make for a better browsing experience on your website.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Now, interestingly enough, Gartner a year issue ago released a report saying that a healthy part of organizations that have invested into the technology for being able to do personalization, are not going to continue on the path for personalization, which is not a good development I would say because technology isn't the problem. It really is about taking baby steps. Don't try to run before you can crawl. The biggest tip I have around this is take baby steps, change your homepage product images. If you recognize the visitor's industry, or it is a partner, have slightly adjusted messaging, different homepage image, different title. Maybe you're pushing different products on the homepage. Maybe you're pushing a different asset. A call to action can be adjusted. With simple adjustments like that, you can see quite a change on all the softer marketing numbers: time on site, page visits, and conversions will be higher. Overall, the experience will be better. With that, you are able to sell more by simply pushing products that are better fit to whoever is on the website at that stage.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Related to personalization also. Why are you potentially promoting or pushing products that are out of stock? Why not actually show a product that people can purchase that solves the same problem, that solves the same challenge, but at the same time will help you also get to your goals. That doesn't always work. It depends on the situation quite a bit. But when something is out of stock, it should almost always be possible then to show this other recommended solution that will get the job done as well. So measuring all that- that was one of the things that Gartner saw as a challenge, should also not be that much of a problem because you track the same kind of things as without personalization. The only thing you add is a personalized page, a personalized product page, and by having that kind of tag on it, that information becomes available, and you should be able to track the impact of the personalization efforts.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Also elements that will help is, of course, the marketing and automation elements and the Google Lighthouse case for you that are not that familiar with it. I would say Google it as well, but it basically tells Google how good your website is and you can have Google [inaudible 00:31:35-00:31:35]. It's quite fun. It's quite easy to do. If you have Chrome, then just anywhere on a website, right-click @inspect. Then somewhere in the pop-up bar, either in the bottom or on the side, it says measuring or lighthouse instantly. Then you can say run it. It will test the website you are on. It will give you information on how fast your website is: Are you doing best practices? Is your SEO in order? Accessibility? All that stuff in place? It will also tell you where to potentially focus on in improving. Super easy, simple tips. It will have a massive impact on how much Google will like you. If your website is slow, then Google will penalize you for it. It will actually drop your places in the search: that could very well be depending on how you host or set up again your web store, your e-commerce, and your website environment. There are many ways of addressing that, but speed is certainly not new, and it continues to be important.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: So where sales also then has the Glengarry leads of the ABC-Always Be Closing, in marketing, I believe we have the ABT-Always Be Testing. In marketing, there's always something to optimize: Apply a new best practice. Update some of the semi-technical SEO values. Change that image if for some reason a heavy image has been uploaded. Improve some of the coding on your website. Everything to make things go better. Testing is an answer to figuring out how you can make things better. Different color button, longer text, shorter text, different images. It's really in the details, and it will surprise you. There are some websites about that. It's always a surprise which wins, but have the data talk to help make drive data insights.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: It is about keeping people on your side and having them come back. So any e-commerce website has to work with abandoned carts. Either you can just sit back and accept these abandoned carts or have some marketing automation trigger a follow-up email. In that case, offer a free shipping, offer a 10 percent discount. After they've actually purchased something, maybe offer them a voucher for X percent off on the next purchase. There's many ways of being able to keep people on your website and having them come back for more. It is the process and technology that will help you in this way of hitting goals.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: And that also brings it into the culmination of many of the things just discussed. It's about making selling easier, helping the sales organization reach their goals easier, feed them with information that will help them. So not every web visit always needs to be sent over, but the right ones with prospects they are working on. I'm pretty sure they do want to know that the information or when the prospect all of a sudden unsubscribes. That's maybe a signal that the sales manager wants to know about. So all that stuff is able to automate.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Also to touch on the brand experience. It really makes a difference in how you're being perceived. If your customers can only send orders in via fax machine, that has an influence on how your organization is perceived. If you're happy with that and it works. Great! If you want to scale and you want to be able to hit extra markets, there are probably some changes to be made. This has an influence on the bottom-line results.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: As we're talking market operations and the branding perspective, there's one element that so often bugs me that I did want to work it in. This is very operational and very easy to address. But if you want to manage the brand and you want to build more success for your organization, then don't have landing pages offsite. If you use Zoom because you're doing webinars like everyone else these days or go to Webinars or other solutions, don't have them offsite: have them on your website, on your domain. Why? Because if you're having this stuff offsite, which is sometimes easier to set up, you are missing out on quite a bit. You have a lot less control about how your brand is being perceived. Yes, you might be putting a logo in there. You might be able to put the right colors in there, but that's roughly it. You are not adding content on your own website. Though you're not refreshing this [inaudible 00:37:11-00:37:12], it doesn't do anything for you, but you're helping these other website. Link building? Same story. If you're promoting your webinars, you are putting links out there on social media. Maybe an article, blog post page, you name it. Basically, you're sending all this traffic off to another domain, not your website, so you're not building any SEO value there.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Then there's also the missing out on traffic numbers. For all you know, you're growing your traffic nicely, but you have no idea. IP tracking? Meaning that sales could see to a degree which companies are on your website. Sadly, we don't convert 100 percent of traffic just yet, but if the website is able to recognize which companies are on your website, it might give your inside sales an opportunity to reach out and say, Hey, I've seen you've been browsing our websites. Can I be of service? Can I do something for you? It also makes it harder to track the source. So if you're using LinkedIn, Facebook, local website, email, et cetera, these local or these offsite landing pages like GoToWebinar and Zoom, they can track it. But how are you then tracking that back into your CRM or back into your system? So basically you're losing out if you're doing that offsite.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Talking about technology in general, the whole marketing technology stack is a fascinating world. This is an old one from last year. Scott was able to share with me that the new one, they don't have an ETA on that yet, simply because it's too much work, it seems and they don't have the resources currently. But the next one is probably not going to be 8,000 solutions out there. There's going to be 12,000 solutions out there, if not way more. Dynamicweb is somewhere in here, should be in the left bottom somewhere. The chiefmartec.com or Google technology landscape, it's quite an interesting thing to see. It tells you how much flexibility, and with that also, the complexity you have in building your own MarTech stack. This is bringing me a little bit to the customized versus compose, build versus buy discussion that you have. You can build your own point solutions. So you buy a digital marketing solution: you buy a PIM solution, a CMS, e-commerce, you name it. You need to hook everything up so that you're able to use product data in your marketing. Your CMS actually has an idea on digital marketing data, customer data, but you need to integrate all that stuff, and that could turn into a Frankenstack.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Integrations can be fun, but they can also be a lot of pain. A lot of complexity goes in there. A simple example of that is, even if on the Frankenstack, each integration only breaks once a year. In this case, we're talking six issues a year already. So that means you have to go to your partner, some extra costs are involved constantly to get it fixed again. You have the challenge of missing out on potential revenue and you have to go to your sales team or manager and telling that the solution is broken again. So the Frankenstack of point solutions is [inaudible 00:41:06-00:41:06] doing it, but there are risks involved.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: Then we have the eCommerce Suite approach of Dynamicweb, where the four solutions on the screen are all in one platform. So that reduces complexity tremendously while you can still be flexible and integrate with other solutions that are already in place or needed to achieve the growth. So to sum that up, point solutions, you can really build the solution you are after. Implementation can be lengthy/more costly. There is a risk involved with that kind of stuff and how often do you use the 100 percent functionality of any solution? Whereas the e-Commerce Suite approach really allows you to cover everything you need. There's a potential quicker go-to-market with it because there's less time involved in having everything set up and working. There's also less risk involved of things breaking and, therefore, also often a better total cost of ownership.
Speaker Mr Eric Jan van Putten: With that, I would like to thank everyone for attending these marketing operations webinar. I've seen a couple of questions come by, but as I'm already running over almost 15 minutes, I want to thank you for your time. Find me on LinkedIn. I'm happy to chat. Happy to talk. I hope that there are some good tangible takeaways from this. Thank you very much.