I’m sure you’ve heard of the importance of setting goals. Goals help us arrow in on what we’re trying to achieve and give us a meaningful sense of growth and motivation when we reach them.
Goals aren’t just a set of crosshairs in the far distance, they’re the things we do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis that get us that little bit closer to the dream we have in the future. They should be regular, incremental and achievable, but most of all, they should be SMART.
I. The Goals For Your Store
01. Getting SMART with your Shopify Store’s B2B Goals
SMART goals are vital for both new B2B businesses and transitioning ones. Image credit
In the age of digital B2B buying, SMART goals are all based on quantifiable data. SMART is an acronym that can help you plan what’s attainable and measure what’s achievable for your B2B Shopify store.
In the world of B2B, where a single buying decision can take up to a year, setting regular SMART goals along that path is vital for keeping yourself up-to-date with what’s happening and keeping you motivated for what’s yet to come.
If you’re currently working in offline B2B, you’ve probably got your B2B goals defined already. However, it’s essential that you revisit and rejig them to make sure they align with your ambition to establish your impending online Shopify B2B business.
Let’s have a look at the SMART breakdown:
S – Specific
Your goals need to be more focused than simply ‘sell more products’. They need to be put into specific categories that specify exactly what you want to achieve in as much detail as possible.
‘Increase awareness of product’
‘Improve social media interactions by 15% within 6 months’
‘Improve the number of backlinks to top 5 product pages by 20% within a year’
Narrowing down exactly what it is that you want helps you focus your vision and streamline the process of achieving your goals.
M – Measurable
It’s hard to know how well you’re advancing towards your ultimate goal if you don’t have numbers and data that can build a clear picture. Make sure there’s always countable progress in each of your goals.
‘Improve customer satisfaction’
‘Improve review ratings from 4 stars to 4.5 stars and increase the number of reviews by 50% within 6 months’
Shopify’s B2B analytics is full of tools that can help measure your goals through tracking sales, conversion rates, average order rates, ad efficacy and much, much more.
A – Achievable
Be realistic when you’re setting your goals. There’s nothing more demotivating than planning to be at a certain level in 6 months’ time, only to watch yourself get nowhere near it because it was impossible to reach in the first place. Setting unachievable goals can overshadow the growth that you’ve accomplished and make you feel worthless despite the success you’ve managed nonetheless. Scale it back a little.
‘80% more leads within 4 weeks’
‘20% more leads within 3 months’
You’ll only know your limits and the limits of your business through trial and error, so figure out what goals are achievable for you and stick to them.
R – Relevant
You’ll probably have a lot of goals when you’re starting a Shopify B2B store, but the trick is to prioritize. Choosing the most relevant goals on which to focus is the best way to stay on track and to conserve your much needed energy for the things that really matter.
‘Upsell and cross-sell products to boost average order value’ at the beginning of your Shopify B2B business
‘Sell 10 products and receive positive customer feedback’
When making a new goal, ask yourself: is now the right time? Is it really a priority? What benefits am I going to see from this goal compared to other goals?
T – Timed
Everyone needs time to achieve their goals and every goal needs a time-frame in which to be achieved. Leaving open-ended goals with no discernible time-frame makes them unspecific, hard to measure and hard to achieve.
‘Write a series of five blog posts’
‘Write a series of five blog posts by the 31st of May – article 1 by the 15th of May, article 2 by the 19th of May, etc.’
Putting up time posts lets you know how close or how far from your milestone you are and what you can do to work towards it more quickly and efficiently in the future.
02. When to Set New Goals for your B2B Shopify Store
Shopify Analytics has many great tools to keep track of your SMART goals throughout the buyer’s journey. Image credit
Defining your SMART goals is not just something you do at the start of your journey. You need to set a whole bunch of SMART goals for every step that your B2B Shopify store reaches along its path to success.
Remember that the object of these goals is to keep you totally focussed on what you want to achieve and to clearly outline the ways in which you can do it.
Here are a few stages where you can usher your buyers through the buyer’s journey and set your some SMART goals that increase your efficiency at doing so:
a. Promoting your product
Like in B2C, raising awareness of your product in B2B is all about the content. Once your product or service is ready for use, this will be the first set of SMART goals you’ll want to set.
What can you do?
- Set up a blog with regular posts to alert researchers to your product.
- Have active social media accounts with decent followings and good social proof.
- Host webinars aimed at solving researchers’ pain points.
- Publish white papers about the drawbacks of the pain point your product is looking to solve, as well as how your product can help.
- Optimize the SEO score of your B2B Shopify store to make it easier to find on Google.
b. Increasing leads
Once interested buyers are coming to your site, you’ll need to set goals to turn them into leads. Leads are site visitors who have reached out to you through direct contact or a sign-up form, therefore expressing an interest in your product. Typically in B2B, this stage happens 60% of the way through the buyer’s journey, as everything beforehand is down to the buyer to research.
What can you do?
- Offer free demos or product samples.
- Encourage interested site visitors to sign up to a newsletter that keeps them up-to-date with product improvements and deals.
- Increasing conversions
Now that you have your leads, you need to drive home the deal. Your conversion rate can make or break your B2B Shopify store, so be tactful and set yourself some great SMART goals.
What can you do?
- Write case studies about how other companies have found success with your product and emphasize how the results are replicable.
- Set up automated emails that subtly draw, but don’t obnoxiously push, your leads towards a sale.
- Be readily available to answer the inevitable questions your buyers will have.
- Sweeten the deal with a few offers.
- Improving satisfaction
You’ve made some sales by now and noticed that satisfaction for your product isn’t as high as you’d like. You need to improve satisfaction, which will lead to better and more numerous reviews that end up pulling in more buyers.
What can you do?
- Look at your Shopify B2B store’s analytics to see where you’re losing your customers.
- Check out your current reviews to see how you can improve your product’s quality.
- Ask customers to fill out surveys and improve your product based on their suggestions.
c. Increasing upsells and cross-sells
Satisfaction has increased and now you need to focus on improving your average order per customer, or AOV. You have a good amount of sales, but customers are only buying the bare minimum for your product and disregarding the add-ons.
What can you do?
- Optimize your product pages to lay out the add-ons more clearly.
- Change the tone of writing on your store and emails to be less pushy.
- Offer bundle discounts to see if they help drive up your AOV.
d. Improving customer retention
You’ve got a good app and are making a good amount of sales with a high AOV to other businesses. The problem now is that customers who purchased once with you tend to stop using your service after a certain period of time. You got to find out why that is and improve your customer retention rate.
What can you do?
- Send follow-up emails with incentives and offers.
- Reinforce on social media and through other repeated publications how your product solves pain points for other businesses.
- Create a loyalty program that offers discounts and benefits for repeated buying.
- Create an affiliate program to harvest referrals from other content creators in your field.
Remember: every single one of these actions that you can take at each stage in your journey requires one or more SMART goals before it can be put into action. Define exactly what you want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it through the SMART method, and you’ll have a clear path for your B2B Shopify store moving forward.
I’ll leave you with a great example of how to approach your SMART goals, which comes from Power Digital Marketing.
Power Digital Marketing is a B2B company that provides all manners of online marketing services to other businesses. Their CEO, Grayson Lafrenz, says that each department of Power Digital sets 3 short-term SMART goals to achieve per week, as well as 5 long-term SMART goals to achieve by the end of the year. Cash and holiday incentives for departments that reach their targets keep his team motivated to reach their goals and laser targeted on what needs to be done, even on a weekly basis.
II. An Introduction to Defining Buyer Personas and the Buyer’s Journey for your B2B Shopify Store
Before you can truly lay out your goals, you need to learn who you’re selling to. There are two great ways to do this for your B2B Shopify store: building a buyer persona and mapping your buyer’s journey.
If you’ve heard of these principles before, it’s because they’re a central part of online B2C marketing as well as B2B. Knowing the kind of people you’re selling to, along with how to usher them from stage 1 awareness to stage 4 sale, is imperative to make any kind of headway as a digital B2B business on Shopify.
01. Creating the Perfect Buyer Persona for a Shopify B2B Store
Getting to grips with your B2B Shopify store’s ideal buyers is a crucial early step. Image credit
Establishing a B2B buyer persona helps you understand the needs of the opposite company and their way of getting business done. The point of making a buyer persona is to personify your targets and to see clearly the exact type of people you should be aiming to sell to.
If you’re running your store solo, creating a B2B buyer persona really helps you to narrow in on your goal. If you’re working with a team, buyer personas get everyone in your company singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to attracting and converting potential clients.
Even if you’re running an offline B2B company that already has its buyer personas established, it’s time to freshen up your info. You’re going to be selling to a different crowd once you step foot into Shopify, and there are several things you’ll need to know about your new demographic, such as where they get their information and what kind of digital content they consume.
Now, you may have already heard of the importance in buyer personas for B2C operations, but are B2B buyer personas any different? Actually, yes they are. Here’s the big distinction: in B2C, you’re targeting an individual, in B2B however, you’re targeting an entire team.
When you’re constructing your ideal B2B buyer persona, you need to always keep in mind the different kind of people you’ll be dealing with in your targeted buying team. Generally speaking, they boil down to 3 key roles:
|Roles||Traits||How to Approach|
|Researching product options from different companies and presenting their findings to the boss.||Takes up a junior position in the buying team.
Doesn’t hold the power in making buying decisions.
|Provide them with readily available, research-backed information and great customer service once they contact you.|
|Roles||Traits||How to Approach|
|Screening calls and scouring incoming emails.
Perhaps helping out with researching or even with eventual buying decisions.
|Assistant to the key decision maker.
Holds a decent sway of influence in the buying team.
|Be pleasant and friendly, but especially avoid being pushy about your product.
Find out their preferred method of contact (calls, emails, instant messenger) and target your campaigns through these media.
|Roles||Traits||How to Approach|
|Making the final decisions to buy or not to buy based on the information provided by the researcher and the doorman.
Maybe doing some personal research into your company or product before making the big decision.
|The big cheese – has the final say and most likely doesn’t have to confer with anyone.||Be patient – reaching the Honcho is the final stage of your journey.
Approaching a Honcho is 70% addressing their pain points and 30% mentioning your product.
In the ideal, well-oiled machine, these 3 different roles should boil down to one single buyer persona. After all, a buying team’s researcher, doorman and honcho should all be dancing to the beat of the same drum and should all be moving the company in the same exact direction.
In reality, though, people are not machines. Each role in a company’s B2B buying team will consist of multiple people with multiple ideas, meaning that you’ll need to create at least 3 different buyer personas to perfect your approach to the 3 different roles I just mentioned.
It’s true that the researcher, doorman and honcho should all share the company’s targeted drive, but they will also have their own aims, pain points and needs, depending on what matters most for them and what most affects their specific role.
We’ll take an in-depth look at these in chapter 2 of this series – Defining your Online B2B Buyer Personas and their Online Buying Journey
02. Mapping out the Buyer’s Journey for your Shopify B2B Store
The modern B2B buying journey is much more lengthy and convoluted than it used to be. Image credit
To truly understand your buyers, you have to know every step they take along their journey from identifying their pain point to purchasing your solution to that pain point.
The very first thing you should know about this journey is that it’s long. Selling B2C might be based on quick impulses that rise and fade within minutes, but pragmatic B2B buyers do serious research, confer with peers, perform return on investment (ROI) analysis, and then do it all over again to ensure they’re getting the best product.
Knowing these steps gives you a better idea of how to act when your buyers are at each point in their journey. You can do this by constructing your own sales funnel and aligning each step in the buyer’s journey with a segment of your sales funnel.
a. The Awareness Stage
The very first thing that happens in a B2B sale is that a customer with an identified pain point gains awareness of your product. They’ll search for resources online that suggest a possible solution to this pain point; your job is to highlight the negative effects of their pain point and subtly suggest how your product can help.
You can do this through an informative blog, which brings invaluable organic traffic to your B2B Shopify store, or you can do it by improving the search engine optimization score, or SEO, of your store. You can also run Facebook ads or Google ads that promote your landing pages, or you can establish your presence on a forum that your targeted buyers use.
Remember that you should try all of these and should set SMART goals for each to test their effectiveness.
b. The Consideration Stage
The consideration stage is where your buyer will thoroughly research solutions to their pain point, such as your product, and then weigh up their options.
This product research often takes the form of trawling through case studies, checking out publications, participating in webinars or reading white papers, all of which you can either write or have some contribution to. These are all forms of content marketing and, as you may know, quality content means serious business in online B2B.
During this consideration stage, buyers will also research your company to learn about your experience, your reviews, your policies and your social media prestige. You’ll want to make all of this information sound as impressive as possible, but you’ll also want to make it very clear and very easy to find, so as not to waste the buyer’s time.
c. The Intent Stage
The intent stage is the time when a customer becomes a lead, which involves expressing to you their interest in your product or service.
They might do this through signing up to a newsletter, downloading a free trial or by speaking to you directly.
As this stage is the first point where a customer reaches out to you, you should focus on offering them fantastic service, but remember to try and keep it relaxed. For most B2B buyers, there’s nothing worse than an overly-pushy seller.
d. The Decision Stage
Then comes the big one, the decision stage. This will take place in the final few weeks of the entire buyer’s journey, where a buying team will gather all of their knowledge of your product and your company and decide whether or not they want to gamble on you.
This usually involves a lot of meetings, in-depth ROI analysis, conferring and re-conferring.
There’s not too much that you can do during this stage, but keep in mind that 40% of B2B buyers list their biggest grievance with vendors as slow response time. Above all else, give them timely responses if they need further information. Hopefully, that and everything else you’ve done until this point is enough to earn the green light.
e. The Loyalty Stage
Finally, we have the loyalty stage. If your customer has bought your product and is happy with it and with you, they’ll continue to buy from you. Never neglect customer loyalty; the cost of acquiring a new customer can be about 5 times higher than the cost of retaining a good one.
Your buyers will always be researching new market trends and looking for new products, but you can keep them happy with yours through email marketing, a loyalty program and regular social, blog and product updates. You can even develop an affiliate program so that if they refer your store to others, you’ll both reap the rewards.
Chapter 2 of this Ultimate Shopify B2B Guide talks more about what you can do at each of these stages to draw in your buyers.
III. Is Shopify Good for Building an Online B2B Store?
Once you’ve set your goals and gotten a basic understanding of your ideal buyers, the next step is to get yourself online and start building your store’s digital presence. Having a sleek, professional-looking website is one of the main draws for B2B buyers, but what’s the best ecommerce wholesale solution out there?
Many people moving into online B2B put their trust in Shopify. The web’s number 1 ecommerce platform announced their intention to help B2B companies by establishing Shopify Plus in 2014, and its results ever since have been monumental.
01. Shopify B2B – The Pros and Cons
Shopify Plus is Shopify’s premium B2B service, launched in 2014. Image credit
That said, is Shopify’s B2B service really the best out there? Below is a brief look at some of what Shopify Plus has to offer, but you can find our full article in chapter 3 of our guide – Shopify Plus and Wholesales
- Great for hosting and scaling – If you’re transitioning an offline B2B store to an online one, Shopify Plus can accommodate you. The service boasts 99.99% uptime and can handle pretty much any amount of traffic thrown at it. That’s a big relief for existing B2B businesses with a large client base and the need to throw mega sales over the holidays.
- Fantastic and personalized service – A ‘merchant success manager’ may sound like a pretty questionable job title, but that’s the name that Shopify gives to its personalized set-up gurus who help new Shopify B2B store owners to get started. This can include transitioning formidable waves of offline B2B data into digital format, building a store’s design and even helping you to establish business goals.
- Automotive processes – Shopify Plus certainly helps B2B businesses make the most of their resources. Almost everything that can be automated on your wholesale Shopify store is automated, including inventory restock, new product cataloguing and even keeping track of your buyers’ progress through their buying journey.
Of course, Shopify’s B2B features are not without their drawbacks. There’s a few to mention, but the biggest is the platform’s limited scope for page building. According to a Huff Industrial Marketing Study in 2015, 37% of B2B buyers rate poor design and navigation as one of the top reasons for an abandoned sale.
Building a professional, well-designed store on Shopify, without the aid of third-party apps, is almost unheard of. If you’re looking to start an online B2B store on Shopify, you can try out its number 1 page builder, PageFly, for absolutely free by clicking here.
02. Is Shopify Plus Right for you?
Get the right pricing plan for your Shopify B2B store. Image credit
Shopify really only had one target audience in mind when they set up Shopify Plus: large-scale businesses looking to transition from traditional, offline B2B to progressive, online B2B. To put it bluntly, Shopify Plus is not really interested in you if you’re a new B2B business looking to start selling from scratch.
The biggest indicator of this is the whopping $2,000 per month price tag of Shopify Plus. For new entrepreneurs in the world of B2B, this takes Shopify Plus straight off the table. However, if you’re simply moving your offline B2B operations online, there are plenty of arguments that justify such a deep reach into the pockets:
- Shopify’s B2B service is still way cheaper than what you’d pay in rental for your brick-and-mortar stores.
- An online Shopify B2B store gives you the potential to dropship, a model that significantly reduces or entirely eradicates overheads relating to inventory, warehouse and staff.
- Your dedicated merchant success manager is included in the price and eliminates the need to hire your own costly transition specialist.
Don’t despair if you’re of the other persuasion, by which we mean a B2B entrepreneur looking to start a business online. Shopify Plus might not be right for you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sell B2B on Shopify with another plan.
Shopify’s 3 other options: Basic Shopify, Shopify and Advanced Shopify can’t boast the same qualities as Shopify Plus, but they’re still very suitable for establishing a small-scale B2B store that gives you great potential to scale your business upwards.
At a fraction of the price, it’s certainly worth a go. If you’re interested in starting a Shopify B2B business, check out our fully interactive Shopify pricing calculator to see which plan is right for you.
Head to chapter 3 of our Ultimate Shopify B2B Guide for the full run-down of Shopify as a B2B and wholesale service provider.
We’ll talk in more detail about how to build your B2B buyer personas and map out their buying journey. To start building your store today with Shopify’s number 1 page builder, click on the button below to give PageFly a go for free.