B2B industries have been using catalogs for decades.
Traditionally, a B2b catalog is a printed piece that groups many items together with the aim of hoping to sell at least one item to the recipient.
It's proven way to display your products and services to new and returning customers alike. But printed catalogs have become too static for the information age.
As prices change, models get updated and the business evolves, your catalog can quickly become outdated.
Besides, the B2B world is changing fast with 94% of buyers searching for information online, and 68% regularly purchasing goods online.
With this in mind there’s never been a better time to go digital. An online B2B catalog can be instrumental in generating more leads and providing an easier purchasing experience for your customers.
Which is why in this blog we're going over 13 ways online B2B catalogs outperform their printed counterpart.
#1 They are Cost Effective
The obvious benefit of using online catalogs is that you don’t have to pay printing or physical distribution costs to get your publications in front of your target audience.
Printing a new catalog every season can be a significant financial commitment for a business, so switching to online catalogs could be a way to bring down your operating costs.
# 2 Customers Can Find You Anywhere
With the world constantly on the move like never before it really does pay to stay connected.
A B2B catalog allows your customers to search your offerings anywhere, anytime. Ideal if you want to be able to reach a whole new range of customers that no longer rely on bulky and outdated printed catalogs!
#3 You Can Update B2B Catalogs Instantly
There's no one more frustrated than a customer when you have to clarify outdated prices listed in a catalog.
As a business this can be a real issue because it means you either have to keep your prices static, or employ an entire team to constantly print new versions of your material.
By going electronic you can start promotions, end sales, and adjust your prices instantly. Ideal for making your to-do list that little bit shorter.
#4 They Increase Your Reach
Printed catalogs only reach customers via the mail or through face-to-face meetings.
The advantage with going digital is that you can reach new customers via a whole host of new approaches. Email campaigns, social media outreach, and your own website all offer easy ways to instantly distribute your latest b2b catalog.
Social media in particular offers you the chance to have interested parties share your offerings with like-minded friends and colleagues — the perfect word of mouth referral.
#5 They Can Halve Your Order Times
There is not a customer alive who wishes it took them longer to order something.
Think of Amazon and their one-click order button and you’ll know exactly what I’m thinking about.
The great thing about an online catalog is that you can cut out the middleman by allowing people to order without any human interaction.
By integrating a shopping cart into the catalog itself you can take orders the moment a customer’s interest has been piqued.
#6 They’re So Much Easier to Search
Scouring the index of a print catalog can easily take several minutes when you’re looking for a couple different products.
When you decide to transition to a b2b catalog on the other hand, you’ll be able to integrate instant search functionality as standard.
This not only allows your customers to find what they need far more efficiently, it also keeps them in the positive frame of mind that maximizes their likelihood of buying from you.
#7 They’re Impossible to Lose
Every customer will tell you how frustrating it is when they can’t find your catalog among their mountain of paperwork.
By having an digital binder that houses all of your various catalogs you’ll be able to save them a whole host of headaches with little effort on your part.
Make your digital binder easily searchable and give each catalog a logical filename and you’ll be providing something people will make a lot of use of.
#8 They’ll Drive Traffic to Your Site
Something many businesses overlook is that an online catalog is actually great SEO!
By using long-tail keywords and optimizing against that specific phrase, your e-catalogs can help you gain higher SEO rankings.
- Include subject in URL
- Include subject in title tag
- Write introductory text which includes long-tail keyword
- Download these and much more SEO tips in in our free e-book
Perfect for getting your message out there in so many more ways than the outdated printed catalog can offer you!
#9 They Help You Connect
Every customer likes to think that they’re special, and if you treat them that way they’re far more likely to remain customers for years to come.
Take Decoflame for example (pictured above). They use bespoke b2b catalogs to target the exact people and businesses they want to connect with, tailoring the catalogs to suit language, currency and logo.
Because of the far lower costs associated with doing this electronically as opposed to in print, they’re able to add a personal touch to everything they do.
If you’ve been looking for a way to take your outreach to the next level then customized material could be the perfect way to connect with the businesses you want to speak to.
#10 They Are Perfect for Engagement
The great thing about going digital is that it allows you to connect through a variety of different mediums. Whether you want to embed animations, explainer videos, or order buttons you can do it all. And fast!
Videos are the most consumed content on the internet as there’s nothing like having an expert appear on your screen telling you how they can help. It saves you reading and searching, and it also makes you feel valued.
If you get your multimedia approach right then you’ll be able to attract attention, explain your offering, and close a sale all within a single framework.
The secret is in getting the balance right.
Put yourself in the mind of the customer and remember that they may not know your products and services as well as you do.
Don’t bombard them with information. Provide just enough to get them interested and then gently direct them to the shopping cart.
#11 They Make Cross-Selling Easier
Most customers hate a hardcore sales pitch.
If you want to really drive up sales you're going to need to cross-sell other products and services.
Matching or complimentary products are presented in smarter ways than in printed catalogs. For instance, you can include animations or pop-up boxes with matching products to show a coordinated set of products.
And with the digital binder we mentioned earlier, you can place products in multiple categories to increase the chance of your potential client finding them.
Perfect for providing a helping hand that avoids the unpopular hard sell approach.
#12 Digital B2B Catalogs Are Trackable
When you send out a print catalog, you have no idea how long your business customers spend looking at each page, or whether they even open the catalog at all. The only feedback you can get is by putting Printed catalogs only offer you feedback when you put them in the hands of a focus group and then ask how they got on. However this data lives in a bubble. You have no idea how long your actual business customers spend looking at each page, or whether they even open the catalog at all, once the catalog is out there in the wild.
Online catalogs track every aspect of how they’re used and read.
Are people clicking on images they expect to link them elsewhere? Are there pages that instantly turn people off? What are people searching and does it change over time?
This information helps to give you a deeper understanding of which products most interest your target audience and how the design of your catalog influences the way readers interact with it.
You can then use this knowledge to adjust your marketing efforts, so they better align with your customers’ needs and expectations.
For example, if you notice that many people purchase a particular product after you include a video of someone using it in your online catalog, you may want to consider investing more in product videos.
#13 They Generate Leads
For many businesses, the main purpose of catalogs is to inspire interested customers in order to generate leads.
When using online B2B catalogs, you can add interactive features that would never be possible in a print catalog.
For example, you can enable pop-ups that prompt your customers to give you their contact information, so you can contact them with offers that might interest them in the future.
When you have contact information for your prospects, you reduce the risk of them forgetting about your brand and choosing to go with one of your competitors instead.
Strike the right balance so that you don’t have people feeling like they’ve been spammed and you’ll be able to build an important new database of clients and customers.