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Digital Marketing is a big concept: It’s always changing, algorithms are constantly evolving and so many strategies are being powered and driven by artificial intelligence (AI) that it’s difficult to stay abreast of what to do, how to do it and when. This is especially true when it comes to increasing business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce sales.  

There are essentially five major factors distributors must confront in this industry when it comes to driving online sales. 

1. A highly competitive market space 

2. Online retailers that have been in the game for a long time, and thus have an established advantage 

3. Price — not just contract users, but guest pricing contracts as well 

4. Creating an easy-to-use website, with high user experience values, while relying on third-party technology providers to do so 

5. Allocating a budget to online marketing efforts that will produce results 

Let’s say a distributor was able to find a way to check all or most of these boxes. Now that they’re ready to begin online marketing efforts, where should they start? Here are two strategies that cannot be overlooked and should be deployed from the start: 

• Organic Search/Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This should be built into the website prior to launch. It requires a multi-part management strategy that will produce the most cost-effective, long-term results — with persistent effort.  

• Paid Search/Pay Per Click (PPC): For more immediate ranking in search engines and results, consider deploying paid ads for high-margin, high-volume or niche product offerings. Paid ads can be very beneficial but can get expensive if not executed properly.  

However, there are additional strategies, such as social media and email marketing that are critical components when it comes to driving online sales. These are tactics that: 

• Provide a digital footprint outside of search engines. 

• Exponentially increase brand awareness. 

• Retain existing customers while driving new sales. 

• Position the organization as leaders in the industry. 

Let’s dive into email and social strategies for driving B2B online sales: 

Email is NOT Dead 

Tried-and-true email marketing is more important than ever. Prior to the pandemic, “winning the inbox” and “cutting through the clutter” was the name of the game. When businesses shut down and people relied on digital communications, email and social media saw an exponential rise in use, especially in B2B. Consider: 

• 81 percent of B2B marketers say their most used form of content marketing is email newsletters (per Content Marketing Institute). 

• 78 percent of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months (per Not Another State of Marketing). 

• 31 percent of B2B marketers say email newsletters are the best way to nurture leads (per Content Marketing Institute). 

In fact, according to Oberlo, email usage is set to dramatically increase even further by 2025. (see Image 1) 

Image 1 

So, what can distributors do to be seen and heard in the inbox?  

Create Unique Content 

As with any marketing strategy, content is still king. While distributors want to push products, they should also develop content that addresses questions and pain points that their customers have. This positions the distributor as not only a subject matter expert (SME) in the field, but also as a helpful partner. Pushing product naturally follows. In addition, this type of article or blog-based content helps with SEO. 

Provide Helpful Product Info 

Address why the product helps and why someone needs it right off the bat. When a problem is addressed first, and the product second, sales will increase. In the Image 2 example, the subject line was, “Want to streamline your cleaning & eliminate employee error? "This addressed a pain point up front and resulted in a 50 percent increase in open and click-through rates.” 

Image 2


Product Promotions 

A good email marketing strategy will include helpful information and product promotions. If sale items are available, send them. If a distributor takes part in any wholesaler-based email marketing programs, sometimes it’s as easy as taking their weekly or monthly product promo emails and sending them to one’s own lists.   

Segment Lists 

Marketers who use segmented campaigns note as much as a 760 percent increase in revenue, according to Hubspot. This is perhaps the most undervalued tactic used by B2B marketers, and one that can have a tremendous impact. Some examples of segmented lists can include:  

• Customers who have not ordered in ‘X’ days. 

• Customers who are buying one category and not another. 

All in all, email marketing strategies can drive revenue for online distributor sales, and the numbers are only expected to grow. (See Image 3) 

Image 3 — Chart courtesy of 

next page of this article:
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