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B2B product information

How to please B2B buyers with winning product information [+ webinar]

B2B buyers have complex needs. Trying to cater to their searching and buying habits requires a variety of tools and practices. How can a seller manage creating a worthwhile product while also mastering search, marketing, and sales? There’s no easy answer. However, as this webinar explains, some needs are more crucial than others. Buyers need to know that they’re getting the right products at the right price. They need reliable information. This is where product information and data feeds come in, and this is where it gets interesting.

We held a webinar with Forrester just to explore this topic. Forrester’s Bruce Eppinger, senior analyst for digital business, walked us through the role of Product Information Management systems (PIMs) and product data in the age of digital transformation. His research had found that B2B buyers relied heavily on locating the most credible product details and information, and he even pinpointed 6 exact ways for sellers to understand and optimize their product content. But more on that below.

The numbers: B2B buyers want product information

26% of B2B buyers surveyed choose to buy from an online site because it is the most credible source of product details and information.

[Survey] “I typically make my final purchase of products and services I buy for work on an online site because it is….”

The most credible source of product details and information

26%

Easiest to use

17%

Where I get the fastest delivery/shipment

15%

Where I consistently find the lowest prices.

14%

B2B buyers need to know that they aren’t just getting an affordable and practical product but also that they can consistently get this same product. They want to add reliable cogs to their business machine—cogs that fix problems, not make problems and cost money in the long term. That’s why product information must be always be precise and clean.

However, to make things even more interesting, Eppinger also found key differences in the way buyers explore their options in the digitized market.

In 2017, 68% of buyers surveyed believed that finding product content themselves was superior to interacting with a sales rep. This is compared to 53% in 2015, and a likely far, far lower percentage in the preceding years and decades. In short, it’s not just good product content that B2B buyers want; they want to be able to find it on their own. They want to feel empowered and self-sufficient, rather than having to rely on third parties. Again, this is entirely related to the importance of clean and accurate data. Modern buyers don’t want inflated numbers or uncertain specs. They want precise data, and they want it to be readily available.

First-hand access to prefect product content will be increasingly common. The next generation of buyers are experiencing the world in new, digital-first ways: search online first, ask sales representatives later. Luckily, delivering great product content is also easier than ever. Digitization is empowering old tools and supporting brand new ones that make the management, optimization, and syndication of product content a smooth process. In many ways, it’s even IT-free.

How to deliver data that makes B2B buyers happy

Of course, making a sale or closing a deal is never just about having raw product data. Businesses need to enrich and optimize for numerous scenarios, channels, and needs. The market can be fierce with competition, and every stage of the funnel will have different data needs. In order to succeed, marketing and sales must both be on board and ready to work together. External partners must also be considered, and how they can be seamlessly integrated into the product onboarding, optimizing, and exporting process. Then, it’s time to look at your product content.

According to Eppinger, there are 6 traits of excellent product content. These will help support a healthy workflow while also ensuring that results are optimized for returns. The six facets can be divided into two categories: content excellence and operational excellence.

Excellent product content: 6 facets

Content excellence is key to ensuring that the data delivered is accurate, actionable, and well-targeted. It’s about pushing performance on the channel and driving actual sales or clicks.

  • Completeness: Ensure that your product content actually exists in full. This includes features and descriptions as well as unique media and images. These images should not only be standard product images, but those that tell a story and are relevant to the buyer. You’ll need these later, so ensure they exist from the very beginning. Also, make sure translations exist where necessary and are also complete. Lastly, be sure all of the above data is completed for all personas throughout the customer lifecycle. Only then is the data really “complete” and fully ready to go.
  • Quality: As Eppinger aptly put it: good content “wins the search box,” meaning, good product content will do more than exist. It will own search and gain attention. This also means that the content fully adheres to branding guidelines and is rich with meta data and image tagging. This is where product data optimization will really start to play a role. Searchers have their pick of everything, so all product data must be optimized for them, their searches, needs, and questions.
  • Targeting: Before product information is ready to be shipped, it must be transformed for the unique channel and audience. Marketing channels will have different requirements (and users) than a reseller site, and data feeds for each should be uniquely analyzed as necessary. Plus, even within these options, you’ll need to prepare data for better targeting to persona, location, device type, and anything else that may impact the buyer’s decisions.

Operational excellence is key to ensuring your product data is accessible and usable as well as safe. There are always going to be several users from different departments, even businesses, that will want to be part of operations. Smart planning and proper tool usage is what will make this process easy.

  • Accessibility: Product content doesn’t have just one owner—it has many, and all of these owners will want access to their information. The product information should be located somewhere central and safe, so partners can also onboard or download content as needed. Ease for all parties involved is crucial here. Without ease of access, hiccups and roadblocks will occur repeatedly, disrupting operations instead of supported them.
  • Distribution: In B2B, there’s never just one channel. Be sure your operations are ready to distribute product content anywhere in digital or print. Internal endpoints and those on your marketing or sales channels are all important. Make it easy to reach resellers old or new, distributors, partners, and marketplaces. Ensuring ease at this step will also make you more agile, so growing and adapting in the future will be easier. For example, product content syndication solutions like Productsup allow businesses to add online channels to their strategy quickly and easily.
  • Governance: There are a lot of technical needs when it comes to product content. Reliable access control is an operational necessity. Clear workflows as well as logging and rollback capabilities help the product content machine run smoothly especially as it scales.

We asked our webinar viewers: What’s the top information management challenge? 45% said content completeness and 36% said content quality.

Understand your software solution toolkit

The growth of SKUs out there, and the speed with which the modern business scales, are also pushing something new: the need for more advanced solutions. Modern businesses simply cannot keep up with the growing demands of buyers without new tools. For product content, two of the most popular tools are the PIM and product data feed management and syndicators.

PIMs, for example, are a central repository for product information. These have long been home to the “Golden Record” of product data, and they are becoming more important as data, channels, and needs grow. This raw data is the foundation of any product data variations that come after it, online or offline. It’s a centralized point of reference for just about everything related to your product information.

Data feed management, on the other hand, takes that raw data and allows businesses to easily transform it. In ecommerce, and any online channel, this is incredibly useful, as the solution provider makes it easy for businesses of all kinds and verticals to adhere to numerous, often changing, requirements. Take Productsup. Should you want to export to a new channel, Productsup can recommend the required attributes and help make raw data export-ready almost instantly.

Evaluate your product content standing

Now that you know what goes into great product content, it’s time to examine your own. Start by taking a step back. What are your actual product content needs? What do you know about your customers, how to reach them, and what makes them tick? Understand your personas and customer journey, especially information like where they buy and how.

Going forward, you might want to conduct a self-assessment of existing product content and how it appears across the different channels. Is it flawless on your own site but mangled on a distributor’s site?

Want to get the complete scoop on how to understand the opportunities of product content within the customer life cycle? Our webinar with Forrester covers this and much more.

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