Here are 10 strategies that all electrical distributors can use to start harnessing more mobile customers today.
In the first article in this series, we looked at why electrical distributors can’t afford to ignore their mobile customers. Whether it’s a regular customer who is trying to place an order from his phone while standing out on the jobsite, a prospective buyer who is doing research from her iPad, or an overseas customer that wants to place an order from his tablet at 3AM Eastern Standard Time, distributors that aren’t using a “mobile-first” mindset may miss out on some or all of these opportunities.
Here are 10 steps you can take to make sure this doesn’t happen to your company:
- Put your mobile users first. Too many companies are still designing their websites with desktop users in mind, and have yet to embrace the reality that over 50% of web traffic is coming from mobile phones and devices. “People don’t think enough about the customer journey,” says Matt Benevento, senior SEO specialist for Geek Powered Studios in Austin, Texas. “They just build a website and hope it works.”
- Walk through every step of your customers’ research and purchasing process. Think about what your users need to know and how your site will help them to make a purchase (i.e., convert them into buyers). “Use A/B testing to determine what aspects of the conversion process your users like and which areas are causing issues,” says Benevento.
- Follow the user funnel to see what is and isn’t working. If your customers are abandoning their shopping cart, evaluate related factors like shipping times and payment options. “If users are not adding items to their cart at all,” Benevento says, “you may need to add more trust builders to it, like reviews and product information.”
- Develop a smartphone app. A good smartphone app will help mobile customers order, research, and check stock without having to pull up a browser on their small screens. The app should display all the essential stock availability figures and data in real-time, and can be configured to send alerts (i.e., for stock-outs) and notifications to customers. “Apps are the best fit for smartphones and tablets versus websites,” says RishitShah, a blogger at TallySchool. “A well-designed app can also increase sales since it makes it easier for customers to place orders.
- Use a good call to action. This is an important point, according to Benevento, who has seen too many B2B sites fail due to a lack of a good CTA. In fact, a well-placed and compelling CTA may be the single most important factor that determines if a site visitor becomes a customer. If a “Contact Us” button is hidden within the deeper pages of a B2B website, for example, or if it doesn’t visually stand out, it may be completely passed over by a website visitor. “The CTA should also be visually appealing and welcoming. A user may avoid it if it’s confusing or if it asks for too much information on the form,” Danielle Hill writes in Tips to Make Your B2B Website Design Lead Centric. “The CTA is the initial point of contact and should make it easy for the user to reach out to your company.”
- Think beyond the “navigation hamburger.” When you use good navigation on your site, your mobile users will understand where to go to find what they’re looking for. A lot of mobile sites skip this step, says Benevento, and instead just use the little hamburger icon (in the upper righthand corner of the screen) in hopes that users will find it and use it. Instead, he suggests using a function with the site that allows users to search for products (versus having to navigate to the drop-down hamburger menu).
- Streamline order management. Morgan Lathaen, marketing and brand coordinator at thumbprint, advises distributors to use performance barcode scanning technology that allows customers to “scan” product barcodes using their own smartphones. They can then add those products to their orders, search for product details, or take some other action on your site. “Allow customers to access your entire product catalog online so they can create and submit orders anywhere, anytime without the need of assistance,” says Lathaen. “This will lead to greater efficiency, more frequent ordering, and smoother order management.”
- Try placing an order on your own site. I recently interviewed a CEO who told me that that he had four different tablets on his desk—all from different brands and of different sizes—and that he was testing out his company’s site on all of those devices. This is a great strategy that distributors can emulate, starting with the basic exercise of placing an order from their own websites. “See what happens,” encourages Benevento. “Was it a good experience? Was it easy to use? Could it have been better? The answers to these questions can really help you hone your mobile-first experience.”
- Help your customers get back to work. At CNC Machines in Sanford, Fla., Marketing Director Jonathan Alonso says his company puts both time and effort into creating a mobile-first environment. Like an electrical distributorship, CNC Machines is also working with customers who have little time to waste during the workday, and who need easy, straightforward ways to order the products they need to be able to get their own jobs done. “B2B decision makers are busy individuals,” says Alonso. “As a distributor, you need to speed up the process of buying your products so that your customers can get back to work.”
- Speed it up. According to Alonso, the average person loses interest in a website in two seconds or less if the information he or she is looking for isn’t readily apparent. “Make sure your site is fast enough for potential customers,” he says. “If someone has to wait more than two seconds, he or she will leave—and fast.” To keep those short-attention-span visitors interested, Alonso tells electrical distributors to use “mobile-specific opportunities” that make their lives easier, including text reminders (for when they might be running low on stock), special offers, and one-step logins using their Google or Microsoft accounts. “Mobile is the new way of doing business in the B2B world,” he says, “so just focus on optimizing your current digital assets and expanding on them in ways to help the customers get what they need quickly and efficiently.”
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