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WEBINAR OVERVIEW The role of multichannel for B2B ecommerce

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In a recent Internet Retailing webinar, The role of multichannel for B2B ecommerce, Skip Fidura, client services director at dotmailer, joined us to discuss ways that B2B online retailers can use email marketing in their business. Here’s a bulletpoint overview of the main points that he covered.

“Just because I’m in the office and wearing a suit, doesn’t mean I’m going to purchase differently,” said Skip Fidura, client services director at dotmailer (pictured left), as he opened the webinar with a poll. “I’m going to expect the exact same experience when I’m buying at home as I do buying in the office.”

POLL: How far has your company progressed with B2B ecommerce?

I’m currently selling via a B2B ecommerce site: 60%. I’ve plans to sell online in the next 12 months: 25%. I know it’s important but I’ve no plans to sell online yet: 5%. My customers are not interested in buying online: 10%.

How the experience of ordering at home translates to business: instead ordering groceries for the week at home, instead a chef might be ordering food for a restaurant. Want to order whenever they want, as they go, with flexibility and functionality. “This is an example of how a consumer activity mirrors a business activity.”

• Making everything like Amazon means transactions become sterile. “We’re finding that gone are the days of people buying from people. People still want to buy from people, but the reality is that we don’t any more. We don’t build a relationship with a sales rep any more, or with someone in the back office who always puts your order through. As marketers we’ve lost the ability to control our customer’s feeling about our brand with that interaction.”

• Customers’ expectations are changing. They want fast delivery, and they want you to recognise them across all channels. They want to connect through LinkedIn.

The challenges of B2B: with examples from Econsultancy and City & Guilds

Getting the data infrastructure right

•Dealing with ordering systems that weren’t built for ecommerce: building on the legacy data structure: examples of how retailers used information from Magento, CRM and Salesforce to source marketing data.

• Collecting and using data: detailed discussion of how to build segments and ensure clean data.

Takeaways: focus on the data you need, normalize data, prioritise the data that you have greatest control over.

The importance of a multichannel strategy

• “Most of us don’t have the marketing department or budget to deliver omnichannel – but most of us are already doing multichannel. It’s really about the right message from a content perspective and a channel perspective.”

• Email remains popular across channels, in all age groups.

• Example: Econsultancy and how it uses email to engage customers across channels.

• Role of email in the multichannel hub that ties the disparate elements of multichannel together.

• Consumers use a range of platforms in purchase decision-making.

Takeaways: Multichannel isn’t new, it’s marketing across channels: “it is more about what you say and less about the mechanics used to deliver the message.”


• Dealing with ecommerce at scale: enables the team to deal with more than they can individually. “The value in email marketing is the strategy and content rather than pushing the send button. Automation lets you achieve this.”

• Potential triggers, from dates, events, behaviours, scheduled campaigns (with examples)

Example: City & Guilds: email marketing from sign-up to the programme that lies behind its strategy

Takeaways: Automation is how you give your marketing team time to focus on tactics. It also meets the needs of customers who want to move beyond sterile transations. Any situation where a specific customer behaviour generates a consistent response is good for automation.

Example: how this was put into practice by a B2B clothing client: modelled on the in-store experience from greet to browse, to buy to good to see you – and how this was translated into an email strategy.


• B2B is moving towards, and can learn from, the approaches that B2C retailers and marketers take.

• Customer attitudes are changing.

• Some challenges are unique to B2B but they are not insurmountable.

• Think big, start small, scale quickly.

To listen to the webinar in full, see the slides and hear the Q&A session, watch the dotmailer webinar recording on our IRTV page.


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