It’s Time for the B2B Catalog to Reclaim its Respectable Place Online

Digital experience expectations are higher than ever and increasingly growing each year, yet according to Episerver’s 2019 Digital Experience report, almost a third (30%) of B2B marketers admit they deliver a poor digital experience.

We are seeing B2B buyers getting younger. Three-quarters of millennials are involved in — or even running — the decision-making process for B2B purchases for their organizations. This translates to a much larger percentage of online purchases, and to buyers who expect these transactions to be as convenient and reliable as the rest of their digitally-enhanced lives.

B2B brands have been slow to adopt user experience design as an important part in their marketing strategy, despite statistics that indicate its importance. A study from Forrester found that brands that prioritize customer experience outperform those who don’t on both stock price growth and total returns.

While B2B websites, in need of  sometimes extensive rebuilds, are often neglected, more and more B2B businesses are emphasizing their online catalogs as an opportunity to advance the customer experience and place products closer to the buyer’s hands. 

As we highlighted in 5 Reasons to Ditch your PDF Catalog… Sorta, your digital catalog is one of the easiest areas to uplevel the digital experience for your audience.

Yesterday’s digital catalogs were cumbersome, largely meant to replicate the tactile experience of flipping through a physical catalog. Features like page-flipping sound effects and zooming in/out were designed to transpose the physical catalog onto the computer monitor, but seem somewhat archaic in today’s digital-first world.  

Today’s digital catalog focuses less on physical replication and more on functional interaction. Page speed, content navigation, shareability, and connection to e-commerce. These are key considerations meant to maximize the experience and minimize steps to user task completion. For example, e-commerce integration is often an enormous friction point for users of yesterday’s B2B online catalogs. Today’s online catalog allows the user to add products found in a catalog directly to a shopping cart without moving off the catalog.

Part of Dirxion’s mission as digital catalog developers and experience designers requires us to bridge the gap between user needs and business goals and to move digital catalog technology forward. By doing so successfully, we help elevate the digital catalog medium into a contemporary marketing and sales channel, one worthy of new attention.

By paying attention to the customer’s interaction with digital catalogs, B2B marketers can elevate their companies’ customer experience to improve customer retention, referrals and eventually the bottom line. Because where there’s a brand providing a good catalog experience for clients, sales are sure to follow.

5 Ways to Promote Your Digital Catalog to Your Work-From-Home Clients

As the Coronavirus spreads around the world, public-health experts are encouraging people to engage in social distancing: The limiting of non-essential gatherings. And thanks to technology, many professionals can now work from home. 

With more of your clients now working from home — whether temporary or the new norm —   consider leveraging some of your other channels to promote your digital catalog to them.

Here are 5 ways to promote your catalog to the world (or at least your audience):

  1. Connect it to your website: Linking to your digital catalog from your website is a simple, yet highly effective piece of your overall digital marketing strategy. Just make sure that it is easy for users to find, preferably at the top, bottom or side of your home page.

    Additionally, you may consider adding links to popular pages within your catalogs to send users more directly to what they’re looking for.
  1. Add hyperlinks to your outgoing emails: Adding links to your email campaign or newsletter helps to engage your audience and drive traffic to your site. Links should be easy to identify and clearly labeled. More people are going to click your links if you make them easy to see and interpret. This means thinking about how you word your links, what colors you use, where you place them, and what you link to.
Links should be easy to identify and clearly labeled.
  1. Add buzz through social media: Great content engages people, generates buzz for your business, and does all sorts of wonderfully positive things for our businesses. And a new digital catalog is a great excuse to post about it through your social media channels. 
  1. Tear Pages: This Dirxion feature allows your sales and service teams to select and create their own custom collections and presentations with the pages of your digital catalogs. It’s a great way to place personalized content into the hands of your team to promote.
  1. Invite Customers to Share Your Content: Dirxion catalogs typically include an enhanced sharing feature within the interface. Invite your customers to share their favorite pages or the whole catalog to individual contacts or their whole network.
Dirxion’s Share Feature

Getting your digital catalog in front of your customer at the right moment can help THEIR business and YOUR business; a double-win at a time of otherwise business uncertainty.

Visuals continue to influence consumer decisions, enhanced through online catalogs

Visuals, in an underlying way, have influenced consumer decisions — mostly within retail — as advertising dollars are disproportionately spent within that market. Psychology and shopping have long been connected, and new research has found connections between consumers and visual stimulants that imply the connection is stronger than originally thought. Regardless of the market, whether retail or B2B, visual assets continue to play a factor in the consumer purchase life cycle and plays a key role in creating an omnichannel shopping experience.

Appearance plays directly into a customer’s sense of trust within a brand, with visuals often driving those internal impulse decisions that can lead to a purchase. Visual techniques implemented at the physical retail level can still pertain to and assist the digital market. For instance, with physical store locations, consumers are more likely to make an impulse purchase of a product if it’s highly visible to them. The same concept applies to e-commerce, professors at the University of Miami and UCLA concluded through their studies that the better looking an image is, the more likely a person is to take action.

Their research, Using Aesthetics and Self-Affirmation to Encourage Openness to Risky (and Safe) Choices,  focuses on consumer behavior and shows how a person seeing photos of something attractive, for instance images of their past purchases, “affirms” them because seeing something attractive triggers their personal connection to something good-looking.” — Steve Olenski, 2014

Digital content that’s treated in a similar manner as offline or print content creates a sense of brand loyalty and generates a higher rate of returning customers. Social media marketing has taken a pro-multimedia and visual approach and has seen the benefits in doing so. For instance, web users tend to spend exponentially more time on social media platforms that are more visual-orientated (photo or video) as opposed to those that are more focused on text.

Customer retention strategies benefit from a visually-driven business model as well. In the book “Brain Rules” by John Medina, he reveals if a relevant image is paired with a piece of information, 65 percent of that information is retained within a three day period, as opposed to 10 percent of the information being retained within that same period of time if an image is not provided. In the highly competitive and open market of e-commerce, consumers having a high retention rate for a company’s product raises the probability that they will return to that particular site and follow through with a purchase.

The e-commerce market has played a role in the melding of physical and digital aspects to create the optimal omnichannel shopping experience for customers. Dirxion online catalogs place an emphasis on visuals as each PDF loads at quick speeds and is optimized to perform and look their very best. The online catalogs combine the appeal of the print catalog with the interactivity and integration possibilities of e-commerce.

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Virtual publications now have iPad compatibility

Dirxion is excited to announce HTML5-based iPad compatibility. This is a step toward mobile compatibility that few online publishing houses have been able to take.

The importance of iPads to the world of virtual publications cannot go understated. Here are some impressive stats on iPad usage today.

  • Apple sold 300,000 iPads on day one. They have since sold over 3 million, and global sales projections expect they’ll hit 28 million iPads in 2011.
  • Early sales conversion rates on the iPad are already much higher than other mobile devices.
  • Fifty percent of Fortune 100 companies have reported they are evaluating the iPad for its commercial use. Business-to-business (B2B) companies have started equipping their sales team with iPads and online catalogs.
  • Publishers have reported that iPad advertising requests continue to grow 76 percent month-over-month.
  • Readers spend around 3.8 minutes per month on a publication’s website, while the iPad versions from the same publishers can see 60 minutes worth of interaction.

This is Dirxion’s first advance toward realizing a vision for online publications on the iPad and other emerging mobile devices. The efforts on this platform will continue to grow over the course of the next few months, giving publishers a foundation to evolve and succeed in the mobile content revolution that’s happening right now.

On the iPad, publication readers move through pages of the publication with just the use of their fingertips. Here are some of the iPad-specific features:

At 132 dpi, this high resolution, engaging multi-touch interface enables readers, publishers and advertisers to take on full-color media that bridges the experience gap between print and the new digital world.

Collaborate with Dirxion to develop your digital strategy and to find out how we can take your publication to a higher level by deploying these breakthrough publications.

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