Inbound and eCommerce on Grow Live with Safety Marketing Services

We’re back with Episode 2 for our new weekly Facebook Live show, Grow Live! Today, hosts Matt and Renia are joined by SMS team members Stefen and Brady to talk about eCommerce

You may already utilize eCommerce to sell your products and services online. But how do you get more people to come across and explore your online catalog?

You can easily enhance your eCommerce strategies using inbound marketing.

This episode provides an in-depth explanation of the intersection between eCommerce and inbound. We even share practical tips you can apply to your business today to generate more website traffic and revenue.

It all comes down to knowing your audience and where they are in the buyer’s journey. When you know when a prospect is just beginning to browse the market versus when they’re ready to make a purchase, you can better position yourself to fulfill their needs.

Watch and listen as Matt, Renia, Stefen, and Brady help you delight your customers through eCommerce.

Watch Grow Live on YouTube...


Listen to the Podcast...

Click here to listen to the audio-only version of the show on your favorite podcast app.  

Read the Grow Live transcript...

Matt:   Hey everybody, welcome to Grow Live, I'm your host today Matt Johnson, CMO and managing partner of SMS and we are coming to you broadcasting live from the SMS studios. I’ve brought some friends with me today to have a conversation about eCommerce and inbound marketing.

We’ll talk a little bit about each of those subjects and maybe a little bit about how they work together to help you drive growth. I brought our full stack developer here, Stefen Philips, Stefen thank you so much for coming on the show man.

Stefen:  Thanks, happy to be here.

Matt:  With me also is Rena, she’ll be a regular, she’s our digital director and on my left is Brady Price. He is eCommerce director and business development director here at SMS.

Brady:  Hey guys.

Matt:  We are so glad for you guys to join us on this live show where we are excited about kicking off the second show. Like we said last time, it's a little bit nerve-racking coming on here and starting something brand new.

I'm sure there’ll be lots of trips and stumbles and falls along the way, so appreciate your patience, thank you for hanging in there with us as we figure this all out.

But we are excited about bringing some cool content that we think is relevant to you guys as industrial marketers and we hope that it adds a lot of value and something to think about.

Of course, we want to have this be a conversation. We don't want to just be talking amongst ourselves or talking to you or lecturing you, that’s not what we are here to do.

We are here to have a conversation about the things that are impacting our business and impacting our daily work lives. As we go about having this conversation today, I really would encourage you guys if you are out there listening live, if you could join in the … what do you call them?

The comments. The comments section. I was going to say chat feature because I’ve done some webinars recently. But that’s not what it is, it's the comment-

Renia:  The comment, if you are watching us live on Facebook, we’d love for you to leave a comment below in the stream. If you are watching it back on YouTube, you can leave comments and ask question in YouTube as well.

If you are catching this as an audio on the Podcast we would love you to go and leave us a review. Five star reviews are awesome, but if you want to give us worse reviews than that is okay too, we take constructive criticism pretty well at SMS.

Matt:  I would love, love, love to see some constructive criticism, even if it's about me not knowing where the comment section is on Facebook link, that would be cool. Thank you Renia for explaining that. We also have an email that I want to throw out there so you guys know you can send us emails as well. There’s about 25 different ways you can get in contact with us, that’s the beauty of the world we live in right?

Let’s jump into this conversation and sort of the goal today is to establish the differences and compliments of content marketing and eCommerce optimization right?

We want to distinguish areas that might be relevant depending on where you are at in your journey with eCommerce or if you are looking at implementing Inbound Marketing and how that can impact growth at your busines

Let’s just start really, really simple. At the sake of condescending two folks, I'm going to risk it and let’s just talk a little bit about what is eCommerce and specifically how does that relate to industrial distribution and supply. You might want to take a stub at that first question, what is eCommerce and how is it working for our customers?

Brady:  Yeah, I’ll start. eCommerce at a simple level is just transactions that happen online, I mean that’s really it, that’s eCommerce at its basic level. How it impacts industrial safety distributors, it's a huge impact. I mean look at where we are today 2017 with eCommerce sales.

Not to get too analytical or anything but I just so happen to look at the first quarter for eCommerce sales and right now 51% of people are shopping online. I would say that could have a pretty big impact to your business if you are not participating in eCommerce.

Matt:   That’s an industrial supply?

Brady:  That’s the world.

Matt:    Yeah that’s the world.

Brady:  Yeah.

Matt:   In terms of traditional forms of purchasing, have we seen a big shift towards eCommerce, Brady have you noticed anything like that in terms of hearing from distributors out there and what their customers are expecting?

Brady:  Yeah, I definitely, I mean first off I’ll just preface, for our industry we deal with customers that are all shapes and sizes, so I'm not speaking to one particular person. But yeah, I'm fortunate to have 10 years in this company and this industry. I remember when I first started, eCommerce was something that very few people did.

Matt:   Right.

Brady:  The conversation back then was, “Should I do eCommerce?” the conversation today is, “Of course we are doing eCommerce but what do we do? What else can we do? How do we drive traffic at eCommerce?” Yeah the conversation has changed dramatically in the last 10 years.

It’s funny I used to just beg and these people would listen to me like you have to consider eCommerce. Back then it was faxing, phone calls, purchase orders. eCommerce was this cool trend that maybe we’ll look at later.

Matt:   Yeah like an add-on, like was a nice to have.

Brady:  Right.

Matt:   But is it really a nice to have Rena?

Renia:  It’s nice to have if you want to be in business. It's just the way the world has gone and I will put it like every barrier that I’ve watched, I’ve been in digital marketing for 10 years, started in eCommerce. Every barrier where people have said, “Not this industry, not this industry.”

When I started it was shoes and it was Zappos and “No, you can’t sell shoes online, nobody is going to buy shoes online.” Zappos came and knocked down that wall. Then it was makeup, and Birchbox came and knocked down that wall. Then it was mattresses and now they’ve even come and knocked down that wall.

It's no different here and I would say it's maybe even more so, because in B2B, none of us have any time. None of us are going to the industrial mall and walking around just shopping for our products because it's fun, we don't have any time.

Matt: Right.

Renia: The easier or faster we can make it, the better business is going to be.

Brady:  Yeah, actually it's funny you say that, I’ve never really thought about an industrial mall, that’s actually great because I ask a lot of my distributors, “How many store fronts do you have?” The trend is that those broken motors are going away and so a lot of them don't even have a store front and those same customers also don't have a really robust eCommerce system.

If you don't have a breaking motor and you don't have eCommerce, how exactly are you making sales? It's interesting.

Matt:  One at a time brother, one at a time. The other part of our today’s conversation that we wanted to touch on is Inbound marketing. Stefen maybe can you give a quick overview of what we mean when we talk about inbound marketing?

Stefen: Yeah, inbound marketing is just creating content that is helpful to customers at all levels of the buyer’s journey, whether they are actually looking to purchase something.

That’s more of where the eCommerce side comes in, but if someone is just researching and they know they have a problem and they are trying to figure out how to solve their problem, that’s where inbound marketing comes in and they can introduce or you can introduce your company and how you would solve that problem.

When it comes to eCommerce, every page should have like a purpose and so a product page or a category page their purpose is to sell you that product. When it comes to inbound marketing, the page’s purpose is to help explain a problem or provide information that they are looking for.

Renia: That's really good.

Matt:  Right. One of the ways I like to explain it is, I think what you said there is important is about content, it's about a buyer’s journey, you are talking about eCommerce thing, that decision stage of buyer’s journey. There’s also these other stages that come before that right?

If you think of it this way there is the awareness stage of where the buyer is at and that’s where their are understanding what their problem is. We have workers who keep getting cut when they are working in this particular area so they are feeling the pain of that. They are looking for a solution, how do I find gloves for this particular application?

Then you need to produce content that is relevant to that area. Then you are going to move them into consideration stage. The consideration stage is where they may consider several different options that would be solutions to their problems.

That decision stage is the part of the buyer’s journey where that eCommerce page comes into plan. That’s where you are really driving to make a decision.

Stefen:  Yeah and if you can come in prior to one of the earlier stages, prior to them making the decision then you can help influence the decision that they are going to make.

Matt: Why is it important to have content for those first two stages? Why not just put out an eCommerce website with nothing but product content and then when somebody is ready to buy they can just go to the page and buy?

Is it really necessary do you think to have content for the awareness at the consideration stage? Renia looks like she’s ready to answer that one.

Renia:  I am because I'm sitting here with the three guys and I just have to answer that questions with … What happens when you went out on a date? They are all married but back in the day when you went out on a date-

Stefen:                That was a long time ago I don't remember.

Renia:                 … and you like moved in for that first kiss too fast, what happens?

Brady:                 Yeah it's awkward.

Renia:                 It's awkward or you get smacked in the face.

Matt:                  Rejected.

Renia:  Yeah, if you try to go from someone from just hearing that you exist to “Please buy this thing,” it's like going in for that first kiss too fast. It’ll get you rejected and it may even get you smacked in the face and never getting a second date.

Brady:  From a PR, SEO perspective, if somebody has a problem they are going to search for, “How do I stop getting people cut in their work environment?”

Stefen:                Or slapped in the face.

Brady:                 Yeah they are not-

Matt:                  Stop from getting slapped on the face on the first date.

Stefen:   It's going to be a question it's not going to be a specific skew or part number, they are not going to know that.

Matt:                  Right.

Stefen:                That’s another reason.

Matt:  It does work I guess theoretically if you know exactly what skew, exactly what product you are looking for and you are just looking to get in and get out. There’s a place for that right?

Renia:                 It's at Google Shopping.

Matt:  Right, there’s a place for that, but most of the time your safety directors and operation managers out there are trouble shooting right?

Renia:                 Yeah.

Matt:   The question is, where are they going to find the kind of content to help them troubleshoot their problems?

Stefen:    Yeah, 100% agree. I'm assuming 10, 15 years ago your dad, my dad, our parents when they had a question, when they had a problem they asked their neighbor right? “How do you build a tree house? My kid just won’t stop bugging me about it.” What do you do today? Get on Google and you look for a video that explains exactly how you do that.

That journey people are taking every day all day long. If you are not answering the question that they are asking and they are asking it, then they are going to go to the person that is. I mean it's as simple as that.

Renia:  They still kind of are asking their neighbor right? Because like when you are asking your neighbor for the answer but where do you ask for it?

Brady:                 Then your neighbor goes to Google.

Renia:   I'm thinking like, when I think of my neighbors, well one of my neighbors happens to be a best friend, but for the most part, I don't know my neighbors really. My neighbors are my friends on Facebook or my friends on Twitter.

Matt:                  Yeah.

Renia:                 Those are the people that I go and ask for, “How do I do this?”

Matt:                  Social?

Renia:                 Yeah.

Stefen:   Yeah you are right, I mean it's much easier to ask, if I really want to get a good recommendation, the most efficient was is ask Facebook or Twitter or any of the social platforms because I know I'm going to get realistically 50, a hundred responses, because people love to provide recommendations. I mean it's just the nature of social and sharing.

Matt:  It's interesting that even though if those aren’t people that are subject matter experts, they are people that you trust.

Brady:                 Yeah.

Matt:   That goes a long way right? I think we are getting a little bit down a trail so to speak, but that’s okay we’ll come back to that. But I want us to kind of stay top level for a minute and sort of talk about Inbound Marketing, we're talking about providing content that’s going to help the buyer make an informed decision on your eCommerce page.

Is there ways that you think that people confuse inbound marketing and eCommerce and they are not really sure about all it all works together? Have you seen any confusion out there? I guess I might start with you Brady just because I know you’ve talked to people in sales capacity about this sort of thing.

Brady:  Yes, this is actually a big problem I'm starting to discover because in this industry and I'm very empathetic of our customers in this industry, I realized that we are working with small distributors the CEO might also be the sales person. Marketing customer support, these guys wear a lot of hats.

I see often someone being moved into a position, let’s say marketing director, who I'm grateful for they have an opportunity to grow in that position but they may not have any background. It's easy to grab the whole to buzz words like digital marketing and content marketing and SEO.

My gosh, the first five years of working in this industry I’d explained what SEO meant to a lot of people and they still don't really understand. That’s fine because I think you should be really good at what you are good at and you should lean on people who are experts to help you in these areas that you are not. Kind of back to your question is, there’s a lot of confusion.

 I think a lot of people are going to spend just enormous amount of time trying to become an expert or travel through the weeds of digital marketing space and really not come up with anything. I think it's important to understand that if you don't know don't risk it.

Because you are going to do more harm than good and I know you can touch on that. But if you are going to enter the space incorrectly, it's going to be worse than if you didn’t enter at all.

Matt:    Where you going to say something?

Stefen:  A specific example I was just thinking of recently is, going back to every page has a purpose, you have the product page and so people are thinking, “Oh, I need lots of content, lets fill up the product page with content,” then they put all the content at the top, the add to cart button is way down, so if someone did want to buy it, can they even find that in the curt button? You got to do it a little wrong.

Matt:    Yeah that’s interesting.

Renia:   You actually see that a lot, is the confusion between what the purpose of eCommerce is and the purpose of inbound and where they should be used. I like to talk to people about pulling the right levers. For instance, if conversion is your problem on an eCommerce store, Inbound is not necessarily the lever you need to pull.

It might be if you have no awareness and you are trying to convert people at the beginning in the funnel but a lot of times what their problem is, is actually it's hard to buy from you.

 Inbound won’t fix that, you have to optimize that eCommerce side to fix that. You can publish all the blogs in the world if it's hard to buy from you, they are probably not going to do it right?

On the other sign of every blog you write and every social media post you put out is about your product, then you’ll have an eCommerce blog not an inbound marketing strategy.

 In my original days, back in the 2008 days, we used to post products and product blogs directly on Facebook and people would buy from them, but customers are a lot more savvy now. They need you to warm them up a little bit, so you got to make sure you are pulling the right lever for what you really need.

Matt:  That reminds me of a common misconception that’s going on right now and it's really running rampant in industrial distribution. That is this, it's almost like an obsession with rich content at the product level.

Renia:                 Yeah.

Matt:  There’s entire agencies and companies and buying groups that are spending thousands upon thousands of thousands of dollars to bringing the suppliers together to provide this rich level of content. This rich level of content, they think that that’s what’s going to improve the conversion rate at the product pages.

Sometimes it does but sometimes if you go to a product page and there’s not buyer’s journey that proceeds that product page, it doesn’t really matter how good the rich content on the product page is, if the buyer is in their consideration page but they are on your product page and the decision stage piece of content. Does that makes sense?

Brady:                 Yeah.

Renia:  It absolutely makes sense and I just want to … One of our marketing managers Will, and Stefen and I were having a conversation a couple of weeks ago, we were like, “Should your product page be long or should it be short?” I was like “Well yes.” It depends, but the easiest things to optimize is not content, content is hard to optimize on a product.

To Stefen’s point, I’d make sure that, that add to cart button is in the right place and that your checkout process is perfect. All those things are optimized before I went the content route, because that’s hard. I do the easy stuff first right? Do you think they do the easy stuff?

Stefen:  Yeah, the lowest time through. How do you know what lever you need to pull, you can use some tools on the website really?

Renia:  Yeah, there’s a lot of different tools you can use and it depends on what platform you are in. I really like Heat maps personally, for those of you that do know what Heat maps are, it basically puts like picture over the top of your website where it shows in different colors where people click and where they scroll and how they leave your site.

It can really tell you where the holes are, where you are losing people in a really efficient, quick way. It's a little easier for most people to dive into then say like all your Google analytics, which can be really confusing. I would like to start with something easy like that but what’s your favorite tool Stefen?

Stefen:  Hot spot analytics are nice in between Google analytics and something like Hotjar, but I mean all the above.

Renia:                 Yeah.

Stefen:                They all have their own use cases.

Renia:   There’s another trick I really like, that I think is very highly underestimated and it has a really big world attached to it, we call it usability studies. But really what it is, is getting six friends in a room with some pizzas and their laptops.

Stefen:                Sign me up.

Renia:   Ask them to take certain actions on your sight, get people that are similar to your persona ideally. People that are the same age, maybe the same education level and ask them to take certain actions. Here’s the hard part-

Stefen:                Never seen your website before.

Renia:                 … that have never seen your website before yeah.

Stefen:                It's good.

Renia:   Stand behind them, don't talk to them and have them make these actions. You will see in a really simple way, no extra technology needed where the gaps are. Where can they not make a purchase? Where do they not have enough product information?

Stefen:     That’s great.

Matt:  Yeah that’s an excellent tip. I think that’s easy enough to do really, isn’t it?

Renia:  Yeah.

Matt:  I mean couldn’t anybody do that?

Renia:    No technology needed.

Matt:   Do you need to hire an agency to do something like that?

Renia:   No but you can hire an agency and pay them thousands and thousands of dollars to do it and they’ll give you a really, really pretty report. It's a great thing to hire an agency for if you have a very huge, very complex site and there’s a lot of actions that need to be done, but most of us really you can start that tomorrow.

Matt:   Right. That kind of brings me into the next thing I want to talk a little bit about, this is a lot to take in for the average industrial retailer.

If you are, let’s just say that you are a marketing manager at an industrial supplier distributor and you are tasked with this job of bringing your eCommerce website up to speed and maybe you have something but maybe it's not really moving the needle, it's not a revenue generator for the business.

Your strategic leadership team comes to you and say, “We need to go from one million in sales to five million in sales in the next years and a half.” Something crazy like that, that you are like, “Oh my god, what I'm I going to do!” where do we start?

If you are that marketing manager where do you begin? Do you start looking internally, how can I pull this off with my existing resources? Do you look at an agency?

If you do look at the agency realm what are some things that we should be thinking about? What are some questions that we should be asking if you were that person? [Crosstalk 00:22:45] a step.

Stefen:  I would start 100% with several questions. One being, what are you currently doing? What happens if you don't meet this goal? What is your budget for this goal? How fast do you need to hit this goal? Its one thing to say I need to go from one to five million but there’s a lot of gap in there.

I need to find out what’s going to happen to you if you don't meet this goal, personally and also your company. I think there’s a lot of discussion that would have to happen before we put together a plan in order to effectively move forward.

Matt:   Do they need to take like an inventory of their current technology and content?

Renia:  Yes, my sales team right here, again I'm going to get fired live on this show, my sales team right here-

Matt:  If you are going to go out that’s the way to go out.

Renia:  My sales team might not like this.

Matt:   We’ll make it go viral.

Renia: But especially sitting with the three of you right? I am going to say what I would do if I was tasked with that and by the way I’ve been in a similar situation so I have some thought on that.

I would hire an agency to do a site audit, to audit my technology, what’s working on my site. You are going to pay some money for that, but that piece of information will become like your roadmap to do the things that you need to do.

It’ll also allow you to test that agency so that if you want agency help once you have that audit you’ll know whether or not that agency is a good fit for you. You’ll have that audit to either use with them or to take to another agency or to run with yourself but … It's like that Abraham Lincoln quote that you were telling us in leadership trainings all the time.

Like “If I have a date to cut down I'm going to spend half of it sharpening the axe.” I think of a full site audit like sharpening the axe, so I would probably start there.

Matt:  I love that idea and Brady from a sales perspective, we are not here to sell anything, but that’s a good idea. We should be selling site audits.

Brady:                 Yeah.

Matt:  Yeah that’s a great tip Rena. If you start with a site audit what are some things you are going to find Stefen? Like what are we going to find in terms of maybe we want to explore the platform or as I like to call it, the car, the vehicle that’s driving this whole thing.

Stefen:   I mean there’s a whole crap tone of things I can get into right now. Can I say that?

Matt:                  You just did.

Stefen:   The basics I guess for 2017 would just be responsive design, is your website mobile friendly because that’s where everything is going towards. On page SCO for all of your pages, does every page have an H1 tag, a meta description and proper semantics coding stuff that you don't want to hear about?

 Just like page loading speed, that was the thing that Facebook just announced I think last week, if your page that you are sharing, even if it's a blog post, it's not going to ranked in the news feed if it's a slow loading page.

Matt:   That’s really a point, which makes me kind of ready to announce like a little preview for you guys out there. We will be eventually moving to a cloud base eCommerce platform solution. One of the things we realized was that a big conversion hindrance or stumbling block is the page loading speed and the server speed.

Hosting it on premises verses hosting in the cloud, everything’s moving to the cloud and so be on the lookout for that. Guys were excited about eventually moving to a cloud base hosting solution. But that’s going to make a big impact.

Then in terms of responsive design, you might think really my customers are not ordering online with their phones at home. I get that. But that’s not exactly what we’re talking about.

What I mean when I say responsive design is important for industrial retailers is your sales team is always on the go and they need to be able to use their tablet or their mobile phone to pull up content.

If your end user is on the job site and they don’t have access to a desktop computer and they need to research a product or a solution, you need to make sure your website is optimized for that type of interaction.

Because people are just expecting to go to websites with their mobile browser and the question is, what are they going to find, are they going to do a lot of pinching all over the place or are they going to have a nice smooth user experience.

Renia:    Well and If you want a rank you’ll have to do it.

Matt:   Oh, yeah there is that.

Stefen:   There is a whole ranking thing and then it’s even more important when you’re doing inbound marketing and trying to share your content on social media and stuff like that. People read contents on their phones probably majority of the time. They may not purchase yet, but if you’re doing inbound marketing it’s a no brainer.

Renia:  Another thing that you’re going to find with a side audit that I just, I know Stefen want to hear is this one too, so if your website has been around for a long time and you’ve ever hired an SCO Company or an agency especially prior to 2012, which a lot of us have, a lot of our clients, a lot of our distributors they have websites that have been around for a long time.

If you’ve worked with an SCO Company they might have done things like bought links or had articles written with … That are kind of staffed full of keywords that are hanging out on your site, stuff like that. That stuff is all going to come out in a side audit. That stuff that if you want your site to perform well has to go away and you won’t even know about it, without a full audit.

 If you don’t go back and really look at all these links coming into your site, if you’ve got a bunch of spam links, it doesn’t matter what you do to your site, you will never show up until you get rid of all spam links. You can have the best highest optimized site in the world, you’ve got to get rid of all that.

Matt:  No doubt, when it comes to next steps where I’m I going I’m this marketing manager and let’s say that I have some work to do and I’m looking at my eCommerce options out there, I suppose that a big next step is trying to wrap your arms around content right? And your product catalog. Brady you have any tips in terms of how I go about choosing my product selection and how do I get that content on the website?

Brady:  Yeah, I have some thoughts well first off I use existing technology you have to choose your product selection. Again in this space there is no reason to have a million products on your website if you can’t actually source that many. I would start with the product search selling you’ll have some sort of ERP system or inventory management system.

 Look at what selling, look at what your customers are buying or have bought in the past, I would start there because that’s manageable for a smaller midsize safety distributor and of course you’re going to expand, but again low hanging truth, people who are buying these products are asking for them.

  Listen to your customers if they are asking for products, then they should be on your website. I think that’s a really good place to start in efficient approach, how to get it on this site that’s a little bit more difficult.

That you really have to look at your time and how much that’s worth to you. If you have someone on stuff or if you can hire a team, take a team to produce 20 or 30,000 line items and gather imagery and logos and good content and make sure that it stays up to date, if you have a team that can do that great.

But if you don’t, then you need to look for a system that has some sort of PIM a database that you can integrate to. Again we’re not selling here but just a good example, we have a PIM that integrates with our eCommerce and we have a team that manages that data because it’s really tough. We find for our business and our products and services that it takes an army to keep ½ a million up to date.

Renia:                 Can I interrupt you man?

Brady:                 You seem like you got something to say.

Renia:   I do, I just want to say to Brady’s original thing when he was talking about, you really don’t need to start with a million products I think Stefen would be on board with me here like you don’t even want to start with all those products.

I would rather you start with your top 250 than to start with 250,000 because it will actually hurt you in terms of usability and in terms of rankings if you have tons and tons of pages that nobody ever visits.

Matt:  What do you say to somebody who is like, I don’t want to start with just my top sellers I want to have everything that my competitors have because if my customers come there and I don’t have everything they are going to be turned away by that. They may not think that I’m big enough supplier. What do you say to that?

Stefen:  I’m going to jump in because I get that all the time. I’m very frank with our customers because I know the size of most of customers and the resources they have. If you think with a team of 10 you can compete with Amazon you’re mistaking, it just won’t happen.

I rather you have a catalog you can manage and again because I know how big these guys are, I try to big them back, this is what you guys can handle at the first of the year when price increase happens and you have to go through and add pricing to 250,000 products, it’s going to take you a year and then by then you’ll need to do it again.

It’s just too much work, so I really try to set out an expectation of, this is what you’re going to deal with if you go down this road and also second to that, it’s based on the buyer they are trying to attract and I know most in our industry B2B is really big. Rightfully so, if you want to buy a pair of gloves go to Amazon go to Google shopping.

If you want to create a relationship with the safety specialist, she is going to provide you with the products you actually need then call your local safety distributor and they are going to have a more well-rounded comprehensive safety product that’s this big as opposed to an Amazon size.

Renia: Yeah, I think about this way, it’s a fine line between having too much selection and not having enough but think about you’ve heard that like drinking from a fire hose you can’t drink from a fire hose, you will die of thirst trying to do it. A slow constant stream is better.

 If you start with a small amount, then every time one of your customers calls you and asks for a product or every time you get an inquiry about a product you don’t have on your site, maybe add that one and then add five more.

 Then you’re giving a slow constant drip instead of trying to get everything on there at once.

Stefen:                Yeah, that’s a great queue.

Matt:  One of the things I always advice also is to lean if you’re a distributor, to lean on your suppliers for your product selection. After all, nobody knows the category, nobody knows the product better than your suppliers.

What we’ve done pretty well in the past is, we put together an organized communication campaign for our distributors and we reach out to our suppliers, their suppliers on their behalf and we explain what the initiative is, we explain what we’re looking for in terms of the content.

We explain that we’re looking for their expertise in the category and by doing so in an organized way and communicating clear timelines most of your suppliers out there are going to be able to provide you with the content.

Now, not saying there’s not going to be any gaps, there are certain manufactures and suppliers out there who just simply are strap for resources just like you and they don’t have the ability to get all of that content back to you.

They may never will be able to and that’s where you’ll want to leverage a team or hire or bring in somebody from your inside team and task them with this job of collecting the data manually.

 You can pull this off to yourself actually believe it I’ve seen it done but of course I think outsourcing it to somebody who has done this a lot is going to be your most cost effective and time efficient way of doing it.

Renia: Can I just ask Stefen to touch, I think it would be really useful about what types of data beyond what might be, we all know product descriptions and colors and different things like that but what types of data do they need to think about for eCommerce that they are probably not thinking about every day?

Stefen: One of the more common things I’ve seen is you get an image and just one image is probably too small or maybe too big but that’s the one you use.

Really you need to have a thumbnail image small and then you need to have an image for every size so that way if they are loading a website on a larger device it will have the right size resolution image so it’s going to be pixilated.

 If they are loading the website on a smaller device or a phone it’s going to have a fast loading smaller image for that device, that’s not going to take forever in a day to load. I think that’s probably the biggest issue I see or come across.

Matt: Nice, kind of as we turn the corner on this conversation a little bit, what are some things that we need to, if I’m the manager and I have eCommerce project is my baby and I am tackling this.

What are some things that I need to look for to make sure that my website is optimized that I’m doing all the right things. What are some key indicators that I need to look out for and phrase another way, what are some common mistakes that you see out there in terms of industrial retail sites.

Stefen:  I mean on industrial retails and eCommerce websites I think we should probably spend a little more time on the check out process, in the customer new account creation process. A lot of times it’s multiple steps and each step causes a whole page refresh.

You can put it all under one step and if that becomes too long of a page you can design it in a way that doesn’t cause the page refresh so you don’t have to take a longer amount of time to do something like that because nobody filling out forms.

Renia:                 Yeah.

Matt:  One of the things that I notice with the Shopify platform is once you use a Shopify one Shopify website and use their checkout process since the checkout page is the same for every Shopify website it remembers you when you come back to them.

As long as I’ve bought something at once Shopify website, I go to another one, I can just boom! It remembers all of my information and I can speed through the checkout I’m like just a couple of clicks. That’s what we’re talking about right?

Stefen:  Yeah, something like that where you can log in with Facebook, Amazon has blog in or pay with Amazon or pay with PayPal that kind of fixes that issue, so those are good ideas as well. There is also some new stuff coming out, that comes out this year and still going to come out next year support and browsers and stuff like that.

One of them is you can pay with Apple Pay on your website. If you’re on your iPhone and you see checkout, you know how much of a pain it is to feel out forms on a phone, you can just click the Apple Pay button and put your fingerprint down and it will pay for the entire thing. It’s even quicker than PayPal or something like that.

Matt:                  Wow! That’s great.

Stefen:  The next thing is Chrome and a bunch of the other web browsers are building in native support for this in the next year, so you’ll be able to do this on more than just Apple Pay.

Matt: Wow! That’s interesting that seems like it’s far out there but that will probably be an adopted common practice soon and our industry will be behind and we’ll be catching up to it in five years.

But that’s cool good information. What about your Renia what are some things you look for or some things that you’ve seen that our marketing manager needs to have on their ladder?

Renia:  Well, I’m 100% with Stefan I wanted to clap and cheer that checkout process because I think people think of it last and it’s really so important.

Matt:                  Because it is last.

Renia:  But I also want you to think about your search and this is a place where you probably are not doing this on your own, you really need to bring in some technical help I think you’d agree to customize search really well. If your search functionality on your site is not robust enough, that’s going to make it really hard for someone to shop.

I want you to think about Amazon because I know that’s a lot of our, keeps us up at night with the online shopping. When you go to Amazon it’s a huge giant search bar and Amazon it’s not a pretty site but they’ve dropped millions and millions and millions of dollars into really good search.

If you’re big distributor or a big supplier with a lot of products and you really want to get a lot of bang for your book in terms of conversion, put some money into a project to customize your search. If you’re smaller, look for a platform that makes making your search easy.

Shopify is really great for that because they use the tagging feature where if you set your tags correct, which is your title and it’s work you have to put those tags on every product and you have to set them all up.

But if you do that as a smaller distributor you’ll be able to have that really nice robust search, which is going to help tremendously with your conversion. Most people they don’t want to browse categories anymore, they are not there to browse they want the things that they want and that happens in the search bar not through the categories.

Matt:                  Cool, Brady you got anything?

Brady:                 I can‘t top those.

Matt:   Yeah, there is lots of things to say I think that one of the biggest I notice is, again trying to I think do too much and end up having a larger catalog that you can really maintain is actually a big backfire. I would just circle back to that idea, I don’t think just because you can sell 20,000 skews means you should.

Because, maintaining that data becomes a task that you’re not capable of pulling off. It’s kind of like you have … You’re going out and buying a mansion and then not being able to afford the upkeep of that mansion.

Then you’re like to really keep this mansion I need to hire a full time gardener and a pool service and a maid, housekeeping and you don’t have the budget to do that, so you shouldn’t have bought the mansion.

It’s kind of where I would just encourage folks out there to think about that. That’s why it’s so much better to start small and scale up as you grow. Then I kind of want to circle back to the inbound side of things.

We started talking about that, moved into the conversation about eCommerce and now I’d like to come back to that and let’s talk about some things that we see are areas of improvement or some things that you notice in the particular industrial distributors and suppliers.

What are they doing from their content marketing standpoint and their inbound marketing? What are they doing wrong and what are some things they can do that might be quick wins? We’ll just go this way again.

Stefen:  I would suggest if you do have a blog or something, whatever you want to call it, news that’s great, but make sure you’re hitting all the levels of the buyer’s journey that we keep mentioning.

Don’t just make it about specials for the week because nobody is going to find that in search, they’re going to want to find an answer to their problem, which you need to go back and kind of think about who are you trying to sell to and what questions can you help them answer.

Renia: I would say close the circle. If you’re talking about something in your blog, you’re talking about fall protection and how to keep people safe when they are working at height. Make sure that you’ve closed the circle with something that can take them into your eCommerce side so that they know if they do want to buy, where to buy.

I kind of see people go one way or the other, they are all buy all the time or they never ask people to buy. Make sure that you close that circle and on the other side in your eCommerce on particularly complex products, make sure that you’re dropping in some triggers to pull them into where they can get more information.

If they are not ready to buy at that point, take them to an FAQ page or to a blog that explains that or something like that, so that you’ve closed the circle of your inbound and eCommerce because these should always be working together, they should never hang out on their own.

Matt:  Yeah, and to that point, I would say and you talked a little bit about this idea earlier of just us going for that kiss on the first day and getting rejected alterably failing. Here is what I see a lot of times is, if you are doing content marketing let’s say you do have a blog and you write a post about a product.

Let’s say you are good enough to make sure that blog post has links back to your catalog where they can … If they are at consideration stage of the journal they can click a link back to a product page and perhaps make a purchasing decision, but there is not in between. You’re going from just getting to know to let’s marry and let’s sell some products.

What I would say is, somewhere in that blog, somewhere in that place where they land when they come off of the web search and they land on your website, where are they converting? Do they always have to only convert at the product page and purchase the product? Or is there a marketing higher level top of the funnel type of conversion opportunity.

Is there a place for them to subscribe? Is there a discount code they can code by entering in their email information? Is there a content offer that they can download and in exchange for their contact information?

Those are all ways where you may not get to sell but you may get somebody who you can add into your marketing funnel and then start communicating with them and then who knows later down the road they might turn into a customer.

Renia:                 Can I have a totally transparent moment right here?

Matt:                  Yeah.

Renia:  You might not like this, but okay I’m really excited that you said that because here’s total transparency.

Matt: I thought you were going to say I have simply a.... you scared me.

Renia:   We said we were going to tell you guys exactly what we’re doing right? If you’re watching this right now, if you watch this for at least 25 seconds, you are likely to see an Ad from SMS over the next couple of days that’s asking you to go and read a blog. We have some very specific long form blogs that are built out specifically for people who watch the show.

You and read that blog and in that blog, we’re going to ask you if you’re really liking what you’re reading there to click a button we call it a CTA and fill out a form on a learning page to download a fee offer.

That free offer is going to put on our email list, which is going to allow us to get in touch with you and we’re going to probably start at that point talking to you about a consultation.

We’ve warmed you up from the live show, from the Ad, from the blog but we haven’t asked you to buy anything through that process.

We’ve taken you through a lot of stages before we ever start talking to you about buying and that’s what you want to do with your customers too. Now the smaller the ticket price, the shorter that journey is because the less trust you need.

We need a lot of trust on our side and most of you probably do too. You’re looking for nice sales, bigger clients that are going to last you over time not one best at a time, which means you need a lot of steps in that journey.

If I went and delivered an ad from this for them to buy a package from us, nobody is going to do that right? All we’re going to ask to do is, go and read a blog.

Think about what journey looks like for you because remember it’s a cycle not just a straight line across.

Matt:  I love that, you thought that I was going to be upset about that or something but what Renia is saying there and I’m so happy she brought that up is because being really transparent of course that’s one of our core values means that we’re trying to show you guys how to do this. All of our marketing, it really should be educational, it should be instructive.

We really do want to show you, so this is like a top level content and then hopefully you guys if you’re out there and you subscribe to our content and you get into some of our marketing communication you’ll see exactly what Renia is talking about.

That really is meant to … As much as it is to try to be a way of us to obviously earn your business it really is about teaching you guys to do this same thing.

Brady what do you think about inbound and what are some things you’ve seen out there that people are doing.

Brady: Actually I want to talk about some bad habits because I’m seeing them and I think there is an opportunity to correct them.

Matt:                  Spanking time.

Brady:                 Yeah it is, it really is.

Renia:                 He’s going to take my coffee away.

Brady: I See … I’m glad that a lot of you guys are participating in some social sharing you’re starting to put information on LinkedIn Facebook and tweeter and various platform but you need to do a little more research on how to use those platforms. For example, I see a lot of LinkedIn post where we’re just sharing an image that has all the information on it but no links no context.

It’s kind of like handing a business card over to someone versus me quickly texting you my full contact information, that’s a little more efficient. If someone sees a post from you on LinkedIn that has some valuable product information but they have to download that photograph to get your email address and phone number, that’s not a good experience.

I’d just did a little research on how people are using those platforms.

Matt:  That is going to be a great thing for us to include in the show notes maybe and some links about how to optimize your social posts. I’ve seen the same thing and it reminds me of we see a ton of images that are just, they just suck guys, they are just horrible.

Of course on social media if you’re sharing content, it’s really all about the image and I have on our team here pretty regularly about making sure that we’re picking good quality photography and try to avoid the cheesy stock images as much as possible.

Renia:  Yeah, big believer in reading the terms of service on the platform that you’re on, I know it’s super boring but some of the things that we see happen a lot on Facebook in LinkedIn actually violate the terms and service like putting an email address on an image. It’s super big bummer to get your account banned after you’ve done a whole bunch of work to build it up.

Matt:  Wow! You do not want to get banned from LinkedIn guys. Okay, if we can just save one of you from being banned, we’ve accomplished a mission. All right guys as we wrap up here I just want to thank everyone out there for joining us after the fact here podcast at let’

You can catch the podcast there, you can also subscribe to the podcast via favorite podcast capture, you can also see us on YouTube, we’ll include a link to that YouTube channel in the notes of the show.

But looking forward guys, we are excited about next week. We’re going to start diving in a little bit more into more detail here. We’re going to talk about building personas for industrial marketing.

We’re going to talk about building personas for industrial marketing. We’re going to nerd out on writing persona stories and researching your ideal buyers and that will be a fantastic show hope you guys can join us for that.

But in the meantime guys, Stefen and Brady thank you so much for joining us on Grow Live Cheers.

Renia:                 Cheers.

Matt: We’ll go get some more coffee after this, but until next time you guys have a fantastic day, we’ll catch you next time on Grow Live with SMS. And I’m waiting for him to say cut.

Renia:                 We are waiting on our digital team.

Matt:                  He wanted some after … He wanted us to do something afterwards.

Renia:                 Oh, all right.

New Call-to-action

Do you have questions about your eCommerce optimization? Share in the comments below.