graphic representation of b2b vs b2c marketing

Uncovering The Differences Between B2C and B2B Digital Marketing

Understanding the nuances of B2B vs. B2C marketing is essential when crafting your digital marketing strategy. These two audiences are distinctly different, which means the strategies and tactics you use to reach them will differ. 

The goal of B2C marketing in today’s digital landscape is to move prospective consumer through the funnel quickly. It’s all about meeting the customer where they are, and making it easy for them to purchase.

The B2B sales cycle is much more complex than B2C. There are many nuances to the B2B journey, and several parties and stakeholders involved with decision making.

Let’s break down the basic differences between B2B and B2C marketing. 

Business-to-Consumer (B2C) MarketingBusiness-to-Business (B2B) Marketing
Business-to-consumer is the process whereby a company sells a product or service directly to consumers.Business-to-business is a transaction conducted between one business and another.
Purchase decisions are typically made by one buyer, or their household. Purchase decisions typically involve many stakeholders. 
Transactions range from very small to large amounts, and purchase decisions are made typically within a few months. Transactions are generally large amounts, and purchase decisions can take over a year to be made.  

What Is B2B Digital Marketing?

The determining factor of B2B vs. B2C marketing is your target audience. In B2B digital marketing, campaigns are directed toward companies and organizations rather than individual customers. 

B2B campaigns are directed toward people or groups making buying decisions for their company. This can create some challenges that require different creative or a different message since marketers may not be dealing directly with a decision-maker. This wrinkle of B2B marketing also tends to make the entire marketing cycle longer compared to B2C marketing.

Some real-world examples of B2B marketing are:

  • A SaaS company selling CRM software to businesses.
  • A company providing email marketing tools to digital marketing agencies.
  • A company selling medical equipment or software directly to healthcare facilities.
  • A consulting firm selling advisory services to other organizations.

What Is B2C Digital Marketing?

The difference between B2B and B2C marketing is that B2B uses media, messages, and creative to target decision makers, who could be large teams, and C-level executives. B2C marketing campaigns, on the other hand, focus on directly reaching consumers. 

Examples of direct B2C marketing include:

  • A real estate agency dealing directly with home buyers and sellers.
  • An auto dealership selling cars directly to families.
  • A beauty company who sells direct to their customers in retail stores.
  • A family purchasing video-on-demand (VOD) streaming services directly from Netflix or Hulu.

Differences in Programmatic Strategies for B2B vs. B2C

Let’s explore how the strategies differ for B2B vs. B2C digital marketing, when planning a programmatic advertising campaign. 

1. Audience Strategy: Who You Are Trying to Reach

Identifying your target audience will set the tone and framework for the remainder of your campaign planning. You can have a proven strategy and eye-catching creatives, but without market research, your campaigns may struggle. 

Establishing a vivid picture of your ideal customer and their journey through every step of the marketing cycle is a great way to level up your targeting approach. 

Factors to consider for B2C target audiences:

  • The consumer journey typically involves fewer decision makers, often just one individual.
  • The consumer is in control and will decide on their own whether to purchase a product or service.
  • The purchase could derive from a well-thought-out, research-backed decision or be a very sporadic and abrupt, emotion-based decision.

In B2C marketing, one of the most effective strategies to consider is retargeting. This strategy can be leveraged to remind consumers who have previously visited your site of the offerings that initially sparked their interest. Dynamic retargeting is also a very effective tactic as it satisfies a user’s craving for that personalized touch when they see an ad.

Factors to consider for target audiences in programmatic for B2B:

  • Individuals must first be aware that a problem exists or that there is a more effective or efficient solution.
  • Their next step would be to research and explore the existing solutions—B2B target audiences are very niche and specific.
  • For marketers, the tricky part is not only identifying who those decision makers are within the organization, but also finding ways to connect with them.

For B2B marketing, consider using 3rd-party data partners to leverage their account-based marketing (ABM) targeting capabilities and their custom segments to target by job title, employment, or seniority that would benefit from your B2B product or service. 

Alternatively, intersecting 3rd-party audiences by occupational segments with custom segments of users actively reading topics related to your business online can help you reach that niche audience. 

2. Funnel Strategy: Identify Touch Points in the Sales Funnel

Not all purchase decisions are strictly linear in nature. By understanding how to execute a holistic full-funnel strategy, you can locate where your ideal audience is in your funnel and set yourself up for success. 

Considerations for B2C:

  • Identify the top decision maker(s) or influencers for your product or service—this is where your marketing efforts should have the most impact.
  • Ensuring your audience receives a holistic experience throughout their entire purchasing journey is critical. As your prospects navigate through your sales funnel, they will conduct their own research about the brand and its suitability through product reviews, and will compare your products with your competitors.
  • Stay relevant and enhance the customer experience with a personalized and seamless check-out process. This will give you a competitive edge.

Considerations for B2B:

  • By leveraging programmatic for B2B, companies throughout the funnel can deliver new levels of optimization—especially in a macro view of the upper- and mid-funnel.
  • Invest in nurturing and building relationships with your audience by generating highly relevant and informative content. This can help inspire ideas on how your solution can benefit and have a pivotal change in their business.
  • The conversion stage of the funnel in B2B marketing is twofold. The B2B conversion stage needs to handle both soft and hard conversions. A soft conversion can be downloading an ebook, white paper or case study, registering for a webinar, or requesting a demo. In contrast, a hard conversion will be the contractual agreement of a sale.
  • As every B2B company structure is different when it comes to making business decisions, on average, it can take 16.7 weeks or more, and 6-10 decision makers to proceed with selecting a B2B offering to test.

3. Creative and Format Strategy: Capturing Audience Attention

With so many touch points throughout a buyer’s journey, it is crucial to execute a holistic multi-channel campaign and ensure your brand is present at every step. Identify where your audience is consuming content and use that insight to determine which format to leverage, and then align your objectives with your funnel and audience strategy.

With a longer sales cycle, sharing content, such as a blog post, is necessary to engage consumers during their research stage and guide them towards considering your product. To do that effectively requires different types of ad creative.

B2C creative considerations:

  • Leverage creative messaging that is relatively broad and easily understood by a wide range of consumers—usually price-driven.
  • Use language that drives an immediate sense of urgency.
  • Examples of a call to action (CTA) include: “buy now” or “shop today.” 

B2B creative considerations:

  • Creative messaging should speak to B2B professionals that are more benefit-driven rather than price.
  • Use language that encourages the users to start the process of discovering or learning more about your brand and offering.
  • Examples of research-focused CTAs include: “explore now,” “learn more,” or “start now.”

4. Solution Strategy: When to Implement a 3rd-Party Study

Supplementing your campaign strategy with a brand lift or sales lift study helps illustrate the effectiveness of your advertising initiatives. Marketers can bridge the online and offline communication gaps by measuring each channel’s impact on various post-exposure success metrics. 

  • For B2C brands, it is possible to supplement a brand lift, sales lift, or footfall attribution study with any campaign to connect the dots between online and offline consumer activities.
  • For B2B brands with a less tangible product, brand lift studies can go a long way in determining if your targeted audience is resonating with your offerings.

Hybrid B2B and B2C Marketing

The goal of B2C marketers is to position their product or service as the perfect solution to customers’ wants, concerns, and needs. Since most businesses ultimately deal with a customer base, B2C and B2B marketing strategies can sometimes intersect. Some companies will even run B2C and B2B campaigns simultaneously to get the most out of their marketing efforts.

Healthcare technology companies are a great example of this hybrid marketing strategy at work in the real world. This industry is responsible for powering the hospitals and emergency rooms we visit daily with the instruments to do their job properly. 

Simultaneously, they may also sell personal tools like glucose monitors and blood pressure monitors, more directly to consumers. You can see why a healthcare company like this would benefit from both B2C and B2B marketing.

Breaking Down the B2C vs. B2B Marketing Barrier

Campaign planning differs for B2C vs. B2B marketing, making it essential to align your marketing strategy. If a strategy works for a B2C campaign, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for B2B. 

Understand the sales cycles, your target audience, and leverage the appropriate tone of voice and language in your creatives. Doing so can help you better resonate with your consumers and clients and ultimately boost the performance of your marketing campaigns.

To explore the different strategies you can use in B2B vs. B2C campaigns with StackAdapt, request a demo.

FAQs

What is the difference between B2C and B2B marketing?

The difference between B2C and B2B marketing is the target audience. B2C marketing is focused directly on the consumer purchasing your product or service. B2B marketing campaigns focus on individuals or teams that make purchasing decisions for a larger organization. Since both types of marketing target a different audience, different approaches are required to make each one effective. 

What is an example of B2B and B2C marketing?

In B2B marketing, campaigns are directed toward companies and organizations rather than individual customers. An example of B2B marketing is when a company sells email marketing tools to digital marketing agencies. In B2C marketing, campaigns focus on reaching consumers. An example of B2C marketing is when an auto dealership sells vehicles to an individual consumer or a family. 

Why is B2C better than B2B?

B2C is not better than B2B, and B2B is not better than B2C. There are nuances between B2C and B2B marketing, and understanding those nuances is crucial to success. The audiences for B2C and B2B are distinctly different, which means the strategies and tactics used to reach them differ.  

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