We’ve established that business-to-business marketing (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing are more similar than most of us think. The growing similarities between these disparate marketing strategies are largely attributable to the blurring lines between our work and personal lives and the increasing sophistication of data and technologies that support marketing programs. Now is the time for B2B and B2C marketers to learn from each other as they look to keep pace with their evolving audiences.
What B2C marketers can learn from B2B marketers:
More and more studies show that consumers crave personalization. In fact, 72% of consumers say they will only respond to personalized marketing messages.1 B2C marketers can and do frequently personalize communications, however, there’s still a lot they can learn in this space. For example, B2B marketers vary personalization efforts according to target. Top-tier accounts (i.e., top-tier customers and prospects in a B2C context) receive the most personalized care, while secondary targets might receive one-to-few attention, and so on. As B2B marketers can attest, the higher tiers will cost more per target, so you will want to limit the number of accounts in your top two tiers. The exact number in each level will be unique to the business or industry and will depend on your resources, the number of total prospects, and other factors.
The B2C equivalent of this would be to prioritize prospects that “look like” a brand’s highest value customers. Creating messaging and running campaigns designed for these audiences specifically, B2C marketers can engage, retain and cross-sell their most profitable customers.
Example: Couchbase uses data to prioritize leads and personalization to close the deal
Database company Couchbase wanted to boost customer acquisition and increase revenue from existing customers through ABM (account-based marketing). The company performed a detailed analysis to discover the most high-value accounts to target, prioritize them, and decide which decision-makers to engage during the sales process. Using intent data, predictive analytics, and their first-party data, the company created a customized ranking of their accounts and used these insights to identify additional targets. This approach, combined with a targeted marketing program, generated a 1,371% increase in average order value (AOV), a 10X ROI on the program, and $1.5 million worth of sales pipeline within two months.2
The B2C equivalent of this would be using a look-alike model to target and prioritize a B2C brand’s best customers and create content to lead them along the buyers’ journey. [Learn how to create your own look alike model.]
The B2B sales cycle is generally longer than the B2C sales cycle. While the length of a B2B sales cycle varies on the product and deal size, the average typically falls between 6 and 9 months. In contrast, a consumer can walk into a store and purchase an item within minutes. Due to their longer sales cycles, B2B marketers are adept at knowing how to usher prospective customers along the buyers’ journey. The pandemic has made finances a little tighter for most of us, and frugal consumers might be less inclined to make impulse purchases and more interested in researching before buying. B2C marketers might want to start planning for a longer sales cycle – with content and creative that’s aimed at keeping consumers engaged.
Example: Logitech creates a customer-centric conversation to keep buyers engaged and increase conversions
Logitech, a Swiss-American manufacturer of computer peripherals and software, worked with Data Axle to engineer an email strategy that nurtured prospects along the buyers’ journey. They redesigned their marketing program with the following goals in mind:
Logitech created a brand story that could be told over time. This was a shift from promotional one-offs to hyper-personal, individual experiences across the lifecycle to provide the communications and experiences consumers need, want or like as they move from prospects to customers then advocates. This resulted in increased brand awareness, engagement, customer satisfaction and revenue.
Learn more about the Logitech story.
There’s a lot B2C marketers can learn from this case study – namely, how to put customer needs at the forefront of all marketing communications.
What B2B marketers can learn from B2C marketers:
B2C marketers easily change course when new trends emerge.3 As the adage goes, the reed will bend before the wind but will not break. When the pandemic required brands to pivot their campaigns on a dime, B2C marketers rose to the challenge and created new messaging to meet the times.
Example: ModCloth changes their product strategy to accommodate new consumer needs
B2C clothing brand ModCloth quickly updated their email approach in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Instead of touting their usual vintage-inspired workwear, they almost instantaneously shifted to promoting clothes that appeal to a workforce that had started prioritizing comfort over style.
As we mentioned in our article that myth-busted the differences between B2B and B2C marketing, social media should not just be the realm of B2C marketers. Sometimes, in the B2B world, marketers and sales teams alike can lose track of the fact that they are selling to individuals, not just a company. And in 2021, everyone is on social media.
B2C brands have an arsenal of social media tactics at their disposal – including promoted posts, user-generated content, and influencer marketing. Finding the right target audience on social media can lead to increased brand awareness and conversions. As B2B marketers enter the social media space, they can use tools, such as B2C Link, that combine consumer and business data to identify and target prospects as they move between their work and personal lives.
Example: Boohoo uses influencers to engage their target audience
Clothing retailer Boohoo’s target audience is Millennial and Gen Z women. Their online voice is fun, laid back and intimate.
They use influencers heavily in their social media strategy. The influencers they choose are generally young, female reality TV or TikTok stars who are popular among their fanbase. B2B companies can use the same principle in their social media marketing strategy by aligning with thought leaders, popular authors, or business gurus whose endorsement will carry weight with their audiences.
Conclusion: The blurring of lines between personal and professional lives, combined with evolving data and technology, mean that it’s time for companies to start approaching buyers as multi-faceted individuals. Armed with the right data and tools, both B2C and B2B companies can develop a holistic marketing and sales plan that is fully personalized and connects with buyers on a deeper level.
Advances in data analysis, predictive analytics and automation are moving B2B sales and marketing teams from account-based marketing towards ABM-i, a truly individualized approach to account outreach.
As Content Marketing Manager, Natasia is responsible for helping strategize, produce and execute Data Axle's content. With a passion for writing and an enthusiasm for data management and technology, Natasia creates content that is designed to deliver nuggets of wisdom to help brands and individuals elevate their data governance policies. A native New Yorker, when Natasia is not at work she can be found enjoying New York’s food scene, at one of NYC’s many museums, or at one of the city’s many parks with her two teacup yorkies.