Marketing Strategies

B2B & B2C marketing: Are they more similar than you think?

It’s a long-held industry belief that there are more differences than similarities between B2B and B2C marketing. However, buyers are demanding a more personalized experience both as business stakeholders and as consumers. This shift compounds the other changes happening in the global economic landscape. Companies across industries are dealing with seismic shifts in the marketplace, and as data and marketing technologies boost digital capabilities, the gap between B2B and B2C marketing is becoming smaller.

Here, we deconstruct 4 myths about the differences between B2B and B2C marketing:

1. The audiences are too different

It’s long been argued that the most significant difference between B2B and B2C marketing is their target audience. B2B marketers are targeting business executives, while B2C companies are targeting consumers. However, as corporate culture has moved from 9-5 to a 5-9 grind, and executives move from board rooms to home offices, the divide between work life and home life is being erased.

Part of the reason B2B and B2C marketing have been seen as separate is that the lines between a consumer’s work and home life were more difficult for companies to understand. There was no way to combine the business and consumer profiles of a single individual into a cohesive view. Now, there are tools, like B2C Link, that marketers can use to gain these kinds of insights and approach each prospect in a holistic way, informed by who they are as in individual at their work place and outside of it.

For example, Mary Smith, in her work life, is a busy VP of Human Resources in the hospitality industry. In her personal life, she’s a mother of two with a passion for travel. A savvy B2B salesperson could use Mary’s love of family and travel to connect with her via a hyper-personalized account-based marketing campaign that sends Mary a monthly calendar with different family-friendly vacation spots every month or a map she can hang in her office where she can mark off everywhere she has traveled – along with an invitation to chat about their solution further. A B2C retailer could personalize messaging to address a busy professional juggling work and family. For example, they could send her an email with recommendations for an outfit that is appropriate for an HR representative, but that is also comfortable enough to wear to pick up her children from soccer practice and take them out for pizza.

Learn more about how you can blend personal and professional data in a 360-degree profile HERE.

B2B example: Pacific Life targets business owners on Facebook

It’s easy to ignore the home life of your business prospects. But Pacific Life decided to try to capture the attention of small business owners outside working hours – on Facebook. Facebook started as a way for people to manage their personal lives, but for many small business owners, work is on their minds 24/7. Facebook is a powerful way to capture your audiences’ attention outside of cold calls and email campaigns.

B2C example: An apparel company can personalize product recommendations based on career choice

The old adage says that you should dress for the job you want. But those apparel choices are very different depending on the career you pursue. Yet many retailers address professional clothing as a monolith, when what qualifies as ‘professional’ varies wildly by industry. For example, a computer programmer would not be interested in the same office attire as an attorney. Knowing business data about their audience would allow marketers to segment their database and personalize messaging (as well as featured products!) to various segments.

A computer programmer might be interested in plain t-shirts for the office, while a lawyer would be interested in suits.

2. Personalization is more effective for B2C marketers

Personalization is crucial in both B2B and B2C marketing. A Forrester report found that seventy-nine percent of organizations that exceed revenue goals report that they have a documented personalization strategy.1 And research from LexisNexis highlighted how personalization is even more crucial for B2B companies, with 93% of B2B marketers reporting that personalizing content increased their revenue over time.2 It’s becoming clear that buyers are demanding the same personalized approach from companies whether they interact with them as consumers or as business stakeholders.

B2B example: Brainshark uses personalization to increase conversions

Brainshark, a B2B software provider, helps businesses create and share content for marketing, training, and sales enablement purposes. A large part of Brainshark’s strategy includes offering free-trial products. The problem was that although Brainshark could get free trial users, they were having trouble converting them into paying customers.

Brainshark decided to try to increase personalization to better communicate the value of their paid product to their free trial users. They ran analytics on product usage and identified three different segments of free trial users:

  • People who signed up for the free product but weren’t using it
  • Users who registered but never uploaded a presentation
  • Users who uploaded presentations but weren’t sharing them

Brainshark then personalized messaging in the product interface and in pop-ups to provide specific tips and tricks to help users actively get started with their free trial or use the product in a more sophisticated way to see the full value. For example, people who hadn’t started using the product saw ads that highlighted what “they were missing”. Users who registered but never uploaded a presentation were prompted to do so in order to take them to the next level of usage, and those who had uploaded presentations were encouraged to share.

The results: Brainshark reported that free trial sign-ups for the enterprise product increased by 150%, registrations increased by 15%, and overall sales pipeline grew by over $1.1 million.3

B2C example: Celine uses older models to appeal to their senior audience

In 2020, the world had more 55-year-olds than 5-year-olds, and older people are expected to generate half of all urban consumption growth between 2015 and 20304, but less than 5% of advertising is directed towards them.5 Retailers who neglect older generations are missing out on a growing market. Brands only need to make small changes to content to make a big impact on this demographic. French fashion brand Celine appealed to their older audiences and attracted the attention of the media by using famed writer Joan Didion in ads.

Image via Vogue

3. Social media is better for B2C marketing

Social media posts and promotions, especially on initially consumer-focused platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, can seem exclusively lucrative for B2C businesses. However, the Harvard Business Review discovered that 90% of business decision-makers initiate their purchasing processes by reaching out to industry experts and peers, largely through social media.6 Word-of-mouth is increasingly important to both B2B and B2C buyers. B2B buyers are 5 times more likely to engage if the outreach is through a mutual connection. A consumer survey by Nielsen found that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising.7

With these findings, more and more B2B companies are embracing the evidence of social media’s ability to also impact their bottom lines. With continuously advancing segmenting and targeting capabilities, almost every social channel offers B2B businesses a prime, low-risk opportunity to generate more leads and engage prospective clients for the sale.

B2B example: Maersk uses social media to control the narrative and increase ROI

“Shipping container company” and “3.1 million Facebook followers” are not two things most people would put together. But Maersk is a social media dynamo. The B2B company has 3.1 million Facebook followers, and their other social media channels boast impressive numbers – 135k followers on Instagram, 75.6k followers on Twitter, and 304k followers on LinkedIn. They follow social media best practices, such as posting daily, using their channels to communicate important company updates or industry news, interacting with customers one-on-one, and posting videos and photos, which are more likely to get engagement.

On YouTube, Maersk posts videos about the company’s history, allowing viewers to learn more about the business. Their Instagram is filled with pictures submitted by employees and followers alike. On Twitter, they were able to respond to a crisis directly. When the ship Emma Maersk hit ground in Egypt, they were able to make a statement and respond to locals’ concerns about the event in real-time, thus taking control of the narrative. In terms of tangible results, the company has reported an ROI of approximately 1500% from their Facebook page alone.8


B2C example: Wendy’s Twitter strategy breaks the internet

The genius behind Wendy’s Twitter feed deserves a raise. Wendy’s has gotten a reputation for being smart and sassy online and has repeatedly gone viral for their snappy one-liners. From Forbes to Buzzfeed, Thrillist, BoredPanda, Ranker, and more, Wendy’s tweets have given the brand an invaluable amount of free press and resulted in a sharp rise of social media followers.

It has been estimated that Wendy’s first viral tweet – a playful jab at rival, McDonald’s – garnered them an extra 64 million in profit.9


The blurring of lines between personal and professional life, 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.


Ready to learn more B2B strategies?

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.  Download our whitepaper to learn why ABM-i is the next evolution of ABM.

Natasia Langfelder
Content Marketing Manager

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.