Welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast, everyone, I am your host, Arlen Robinson, and today we have a very special guest, Mike Maynard, Mike is a self-confessed geek who loves talking about technology. He believes that combining the measurement, accountability and innovation that he learnt as an engineer with a passion for communicating ensures Napier delivers great campaigns and tangible return on investment.
We’re really excited to talk to Mike today. Welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast, Mike.
Thanks for having me on the show, Arlen. All right. Not a problem.
And, you know, today we’re going to be diving into an area that we don’t talk about too much, which is B2B e-commerce. It’s something that I only know it’s very near and dear to my heart because running OS I affiliate software, we’re a business company, so I’m definitely on pins and needles waiting to hear what you’re going to say because I got my notepad ready. I’m going to seriously take as many jobs as possible to see if that can help us out in our and our quest to always be improving.
But before we dig deep into all of that, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your background and specifically how you got into what you’re doing today? Great question.
And so I actually started off, as you said, as an electronics design engineer. And my early career was all about designing electronic systems. I very quickly realized that actually I was probably better at talking about the systems than I was designing them. So I moved into technical support, which was a classic route to go, and started talking about stuff rather than actually doing it, which was great. I really enjoyed that. So I thought actually I could talk more if I was in marketing.
So that was my next career move. I was a marketing manager for an American Semiconductor company for about five years running the market in Europe. And then back in 2001, I recklessly decided that the best thing to do would be to buy an agency. And so I actually purchased an IPO back in 2001. Yeah, good stuff.
That’s really an interesting transition. As you said, you kind of transition kind of from the kind of heavy technical side of the design components dealing with semiconductors and things like that, and then kind of shifted to more of the business side of things. A lot of times you don’t often see that happening because personally, you know, I have an engineering background, computer systems engineering. And I went to school with all engineers. And usually it’s kind of a different type of person.
A a really techie engineer type person usually isn’t one that’s running a business. They really prefer to be in a basement writing code or fiddling around with semiconductors. But that’s, I guess, not always the case. So I see that we’re not the norm and made the transition, which is awesome because I know it kind of takes a leap of faith to kind of jump into the business space.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I still have my geek moments, but we’re try and focus on the business side, rather Michy side in the podcast.
Okay. Not problem.
Well, you know, as I mentioned at the start of the podcast today, we’re going to be talking about B2B e-commerce and how you can be successful if you’re in the B2B space. So what I would first want to do is kind of let’s set the groundwork for it for the listeners, that may not be that familiar with what it takes to be successful in the B2B space. So first, I want to really ask you, would really are the differences between B2B purchasers or consumers versus B2C consumers and kind of what are the different requirements that each have?
Because there are definitely a different set of requirements if you’re on the business side looking to make a business purchase versus a business versus a consumer purchasing consumable product.
Absolutely. You’re completely right there.
So you can start off and you can say, well, actually, at the end of the day, it’s always a person that buys so that there are actually some similarities because ultimately you want to get an individual to buy from you whether you’re selling a consumer product or a business to business product. So the first thing I’d say is, is if your listeners are thinking about selling to other businesses, don’t be scared, because actually you’re talking probably to the same individuals that you might talk to in a consumer market.
But there is a huge difference in the way businesses buy products. And basically businesses tend to think an awful lot about how they buy products.
So they might have a a big group of people who get together to decide which products they’re going to buy. Once they’ve decided which products they’re going to buy, then quite often the people who need the product will then have to pass that over to the purchasing department and then the purchasing department will try and buy something that is cheaper or more cost effective. So there’s this incredibly long process and lots of different people.
You know, there’s people who are in the budget, people who want to use the products. And then the purchasing department who really want to control the expense of purchasing and finance. So I think the big difference is, is the B2B purchases can get very complex. And that’s really the challenge. Of course, the great thing about B2B purchases is that people buy a lot more as a business. So as a vendor, you can actually make a lot more money selling to businesses than selling to consumers.
Yeah, that makes total sense. You know, I can just really attest to the fact that the purchasing decision does definitely when you’re dealing with the business, because I know that internally here at and all sinfully software, certain tools and things that we use. Yeah, it’s a more collaborative effort as far as people in our end that are making that ultimate decision. Because the bottom line is usually with products or services that a business uses, it’s something that’s going to be used over a long span of time and a lot of people’s hands are going to be on it.
And so I think there’s a lot more thought, a lot more research that has to be done when doing these types of purchases. If you’re a business and there’s demos involved, test trials, the whole thing.
So it’s definitely a lot more involved. And I could definitely see that it’s usually not a quick decision just because of the amount of time that the business is anticipating dealing with these particular products or services. So you’re totally right about that.
Now, for all of the businesses out there that are in the B2B space these days, that can be a little daunting as far as when you’re thinking about marketing and you’re thinking about what channels do you really want to focus on? Where are you going to find your end customer? Because it seems like every day there’s a there’s a new marketing channel that’s popping up. And a lot of times it’s hard to keep track of the different channels. So are there specific marketing channels that you deal with, typically the B2B space that a business should focus on?
And what are they? That’s a great question.
I mean, I find it amusing and I do the same thing, you know, complaining about the number of channels. This is great. There are so many opportunities to reach your customers. Business to business, though, is somewhat different. And I think what you really need to do is understand your customer. And when it comes down to understand the customer, it’s really about understanding the individuals who are involved in the buying decision. So your customer is not just one person said earlier there might be someone who uses the product that might be their boss is got to approve the purchase that might be purchasing or finance department who wants to keep costs under control.
So you need to understand what those people are. If you look at what we do, a lot of is selling to engineers and that typically you have an engineer and an engineering manager and these guys are super geeks. They want technology, they want the latest, they want the best and they want all the information about it. It’s all about getting that right information. And these people hang out in different places. So they might hang out on LinkedIn, which clearly is the biggest B2B social network and a great way to go reach your audience.
But equally, you know, some of the geeks might hang out on some more technology specific websites as well. So there’s lots of different places you can go find these people, the purchasing side. On the other hand, these guys are not engineers. They’re not technical. They’re business people. They don’t care about the technology. They want to know, you know, if you buy the product, is it going to work? And with technology, you get a lot of those problems.
And they also want to know how much is it going to cost to maintain the product if it’s software, you know, in terms of upgrade costs and things like that.
So you need to look at where those guys are. And again, you need to talk to them about the things they care about, not necessarily just about your product.
Very true. Yeah. And that’s really kind of goes back to what I initially said about why it’s a collaborative effort, because the business people, of course, the people that are making the buying decisions, yeah, they have the corporate credit card or they have access to the the financial aspects of the purchasing decisions and they can pull the trigger, but they usually are not going to do that without consulting with their engineering team and seeing what their needs are.
But yeah, you definitely want to target them because of course they’re making the ultimate buying decision. So I think they’re you’re they are your gateway, the business people, and then they can kind of pull in who they need and get those other technical, more technical people to ask those important questions that they may be familiar with. So, yeah, that’s very important. And I can kind of always really see this as to why it’s a collaborative effort. Now, you know, a lot of the businesses that are listening are familiar with, you know, really what it takes for someone to make a decision to purchase their product.
You know, a lot of this as far as in the B2B e-commerce space is going to involve. Someone, an interested customer, going to their website, looking at their marketing materials, looking at their features, said, you know, maybe communicating with sales staff and you chat or via email and, you know, just going through that that process. And usually there’s going to be a lot more time spent from the first time that that person, that interested person comes to the website and makes the initial inquiry usually in a B2B space, they may they’re probably not going to make an initial and immediate purchase after five minutes of looking at the at the website, which is definitely a lot different than on the B2C side, where somebody is purchasing a consumer product, they go on there.
Take a quick look. The prices of features make quick decision to just kind of go through and purchase like that. So with that in mind, I guess the businesses that are listening, they know that there’s an actual sales process or a sales cycle. And how exactly is that with the B2B space and kind of what are the different phases of that cycle that the businesses should be mindful of? Absolutely.
I mean, that’s a fantastic point. And we talk about a lot about the sales journey with our clients. So when you’re looking at the process, you know, there may be someone who is going to be perhaps the user finds the product, they might talk to their managers, there’ll be some internal discussion. They’ll go do some research on competitive products. They’ll perhaps get some quotes, then they’ll then pick a product, make a recommendation, then purchasing will come in.
And you can see that this can take weeks, months or sometimes even years. And to me, that’s a really big difference between B2C and B2B as you want to gather contact information in some way for your B2B customers. Now, ideally, that’s an email address with details and information. But also, I mean, we have a lot of clients who are very successful with running retargeting campaigns to people who come to their website. What you’ll find is quite often the retargeting campaigns run a lot longer than you would do in consumer, but also you’re doing something very different with a consumer product.
Quite often you might be promoting the product they looked at and didn’t buy or promoting similar products to see. Maybe they’re looking for a slightly different style. If it’s close with B2B, almost always what you’re doing is you’re trying to sell the product they’re interested in. So it’s all about providing more information and more things that will help them convince the other people internally that your product is right to buy. So it’s much more information rich, much more detailed, and it’s spread over a much longer time.
And that is the big difference. And if you can get the the details of the people who come to your website, whether it’s through getting to register for an email or whether it’s just through retargeting them with pixels, tracking pixels, that’s going to let you have that interaction so you can stay top of mind throughout that decision making process. And if you can do that and stay top of mind, you’ve got a really good chance of winning that sale sales, right?
Definitely. That’s the key thing there. Staying top of mind, because as you mentioned in the B2B space, it’s not unusual for the person to take years to make a decision because depending on the space station and the product that you’re selling and the price point is something that is going to require a lot of research, a lot of planning.
And if you’re not staying top of mind during the time where they first, of course, visit your website and get their information, let’s say speak to your sales team and, you know, digest all of that, you have to keep in mind that you’re not the only show out there so that they’re doing this with multiple companies and they’re doing the research and gathering their documents.
And so the bottom line is these people are already overwhelmed the way our world is. There’s so much going on. And so if you don’t stay top of mind, you know, they’re either going to forget about you or if that other competitor that they’re looking into is a little bit more aggressive and they’re got their email campaigns going and they’re doing the follow ups, they’re going to be top of mind in that particular person’s mind and definitely gets swayed to go that way.
So, yeah, you’re so right about that. Being top of mind is really key and the B2B space and that can be done a variety of different ways for sure.
Yeah, I mean, I think one of the really interesting things about B2B, though, is also the opportunity for repeat purchases. So, I mean, pick a simple example. Say you’re selling laptops through e-commerce. You might see that the initial time between someone being interested in making a purchase probably typically would be somewhere between 20 to 60 days, depending upon your products and the cost but one. They sign up for this account, if you’re selling to a business that’s buying laptops on a regular basis, then suddenly that barrier goes that you’re effectively their preferred supplier and then those purchases and the sales cycle tends to be a lot quicker.
And we see that with our clients, where they may have a 20 or 30 or 40 day cycle from first attracting someone, whether it be through search ads or on LinkedIn or something like that, until someone makes the first purchase. But then after that, the customer will go to the site and they’ll just buy straight away because they know what they need to buy. They want to buy the same thing and then it becomes easier. Then what you’ve got to do is make sure you keep that relationship and don’t let someone come in and steal that customer away from you.
Yeah, very important, because I can definitely happen when you’re dealing with that, the span of time for sure.
And, you know, it’s something that I know businesses are kind of finding against all the time. Now, Mike, as we get ready to wrap things up, I wanted to really kind of pick your brain a little bit on water, some e-commerce B2B companies that you’re familiar with that have really just done a great job selling online. And what are the things that we can learn from them?
That’s a great question. I think there’s some really interesting examples. One of the things I think is most interesting is what Amazon is doing with B2B and they’re just sort of inching into that B2B space and they’re being very careful. But I can tell you, most e-commerce companies that we work with, they’re looking at Amazon as their potential main competitor in the future. But what we tend to do is we tend to work with very specialist companies who are selling, for example, semiconductors online or electronic tools and things like that.
So we work with both manufacturers selling direct, which is becoming much more of a trend. So, I mean, one of our clients microchip, I mean, every time I see what they do with their online store, it gets better. I mean, they’re selling these incredibly technical parts and it’s very difficult because they’ve got tens of thousands of products. And if a purchaser comes to buy a product, it’s not in stock, then what does a purchaser do?
Well, actually, now they’ve got technology that will say, well, you could use this product instead of X and stock and it’s ready to go. So to see technology like that is it is amazing for something that complex. We also work with a company called Finial, who they sell a range of processor, distributor and online distributor, and the way they manage all of their products, 600000 products, I think was the last number I had. And the way they manage all their customers, six million people on their database.
The scale is huge and they’ve got great processes that actually deliver emails. Those customers that are relevant and interesting and feel personalized, you know, with six million people to email. And they’re still sending emails that are related to what you’ve just purchased and technically are giving you the information you need. You know, they do a great job. So I think both those companies have really understood some of the challenges of the people who buy online in the B2B environment.
And they’ve absolutely addressed those challenges and they’ve made it easier for them. And don’t underestimate that. I mean, businesses think an awful lot about cost. They think an awful lot about the right product. But also, businesses don’t want things to be difficult. If it’s hard to make that purchase, then I think a business is much more likely to go to a vendor who maybe offers a fractionally higher price, but just makes the whole process easier because the cost of not getting that product on time is far bigger than anything that they could save by shopping around and going for the cheapest price.
Yeah, definitely. And there’s some great examples and thank you for sharing that. I can’t imagine dealing with a database of six million customers and having to personalize those campaigns. I know that it kind of goes to show that they must have really a whole team that manages their mailing lists, their outreach. And that’s the type of thing where it’s definitely a full time job just to coordinating all of that and making sure you’re sending out relevant emails to the right people and all of the systems are in place.
They’ve got a huge team of marketers, I mean, not least because they’re a global company. So they’re not only doing this in English, they’re doing it in local languages across Europe, across Asia and also across South and Central America. So I think just an amazing operation. Yeah, I can imagine.
And yeah, as far as what you were indicating about a, businesses really are really just looking to one of the key, I guess factors in making a decision is something that it’s a easier sales process. You know, they don’t want to have to go through a lot of hoops that they want their product on time or delivered to them in a way that it’s not going to be a headache for them when they get it to their internal. So, yeah, that’s I know, a really big decision making factor, so absolutely building that that trust and confidence.
Exactly. You know. Yeah, definitely.
And streamlining that whole sales process for sure from beginning to end will look great. Mike, it’s been awesome talking to you.
And as I indicated earlier, I was taking notes to the whole time. So I’ve learned a lot myself.
And I definitely saw this information on to our top zero at overside for sure. And I know our listeners have learned a lot as well. But what I like to always do to close things out with the podcast is so we can kind of switch gear so our audience can get to know you a little bit better. If you don’t mind sharing one fun fact with us that you think our audience members would be interested in learning about you.
So I don’t know if this is a fun fact, but one of my hobbies is short track speed skating on ice. OK, so I’m a 50 year old guy who wears like cricket suits.
OK, well, you’re all in, man. That’s speed skating. Yeah, I’ve watched that during the Olympics and that’s that’s quite a sport.
And they’re a little quicker in the Olympics than I really am sure now. But that is quite a sport.
Yeah. It’s the speed and the agility of doing that, man, because I’ve I’ve done ice skating just a handful of times myself and that I can barely stand up. So I can imagine what it is to be going at a high speed on ice. But yeah, kudos to you and hats off to you for keeping it up and staying active, of course, with something that you that you love doing. So that’s awesome. And thank you for sharing that.
And, you know, lastly, like, if any of our listeners would like to reach out to you and pick your brain any more about B2B marketing and the whole sales process, for me to be companies, what is the best way for them to get in touch with you?
Yeah, I mean, I’d love to hear from your listeners. If anybody’s got questions, people can reach me on LinkedIn. Just search for Mike Meynard Napier obviously get hold of me on the website, which is Napier B2B dot com and they can also email me as well. I’m very happy to be one in me directly. My email address is just Mike at Napier B2B dot com. And finally, if people are interested in in B2B marketing, we also have a podcast called Marketing B2B Technology.
So if people are interested, they might want to check that out as well. OK, great.
Definitely. Thank you for sharing that, Mike. I’ll definitely check out the podcast myself and see what nuggets that I can pick up. And I encourage our listeners to do the same for sure. Will you thank you for sharing all that information. I know our listeners will reach out to you if they’re in that space. And we appreciate you joining us today on the E Commerce marketing podcast.
Thanks very much, Arlen. Thank you for listening to the E Commerce marketing podcast,
Managing Director of Napier