What’s The Difference Between B2B and B2C Marketing?
Imagine content marketing as a globe, like a little planet in the advertising universe. You can think of B2B marketing and B2C marketing as your north and south poles. They seem like total opposites; and in a lot of ways, they are. But they’re also interconnected.
If you’ve been wondering ‘what is the difference between B2B and B2C marketing’, then this blog is here to walk you through it. In essence, B2B (or business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) are two different marketing strategy models. The marketing strategy you pick for your business will depend on who your target audience is. As always with marketing, it’s all about who you’re selling to.
Let’s think of it this way: every morning, a man goes fishing and catches a bunch of fish, and each day he must decide who to sell them to. Option one: he could go into town and set up a stall, selling fish to the townspeople. That would be B2C, as he’s selling directly to the end user. Then there’s option two: selling to a large supermarket in the centre of town. That’s a B2B model, as he is selling the product to another business.
Keen to learn more? Read on for a comprehensive guide on both B2B and B2C marketing! We’ll walk you through the key differences, how to measure their effectiveness, and how to pick the right strategy for your advertising campaign. All helping you answer the question: what is the difference between B2B and B2C marketing?
What is Business to Business Marketing (B2B)?
B2B, or business to business marketing, involves one business advertising products or services to any other business or organisation. B2B marketing is geared towards companies, rather than consumers. Ultimately the goal of advertising with B2B techniques is to promote your brand as a thought leader, grow your authority in the industry space, and convert other businesses into customers.
Generally speaking, the purchasing decisions of businesses tend to be more data-driven than those of consumers. Businesses are concerned with ROI and the bottom line. For this reason, the content found in B2B marketing tends to be more informational. You may see more technical descriptors and statistical data, for instance, rather than storytelling structures.
The corporate environments of today often consist of buying committees. These are the kind of decision makers that B2B marketers target. In this complicated landscape, it can be a challenge to deliver the perfect pitch to relevant executives. That’s why B2B marketing strategies often lean on data sources and statistical evidence.
An important factor to consider when developing a B2B marketing strategy is the psychology behind business purchasing decisions. Download this B2B Marketing Psychology Guide to learn some useful tips on how to understand your B2B audience on a whole new level.
Here are a few examples of where and how B2B marketing strategies might be used:
- Automobile Component Manufacturers: A car or vehicle, in the manufacturing stage, is an intricate combination of parts and components. Virtually every component used in the production of a vehicle comes from a specialised manufacturer. Those upstream component manufacturers would market themselves to the big car giants using B2B strategies. They might advertise at industry conferences or expos, use targeted email campaigns, or even provide product demos and samples to market their products.
- Office Cleaning Services: Often, the employees of a business are not the people hoovering the office space and sweeping the hallways. That cleaning work is its own industry. There are dedicated cleaning services who specialise in taking care of other companies’ workspace. B2B cleaning services may opt to directly target company CEOs who they think are a good candidate. They might deliver customised leaflets stacked with encouraging efficiency data, or arrange a meeting to make a personalised pitch and showcase the benefits of their service.
- Digital Marketing: There are thousands of digital marketing companies across the UK alone, all offering various specialisms and competing for business – but how do they market themselves?
At The Brains, we’re a full-service digital marketing agency, meaning we have industry-leading specialists across all areas of marketing, from SEO and PPC to design and development. We’ve had years of experience crafting B2B content strategies for ourselves and our clients, helping to push all our work up the rankings. In the digital marketing arena, successful B2B advertising might include well-executed industry blogs, SEO services, SEO consultancy, or a quality and consistent social media campaign.
What is Business to Consumer Marketing (B2C)?
On the other hand, B2C marketing, also known as business to consumer marketing, is all about a business advertising and selling their products or services directly to the consumer (the end users). B2C marketing focuses its energies on the likes, dislikes, fears, needs and desires of people, rather than corporations.
The objectives of B2C marketing are to promote your business as a respectable, high-quality, high-value option in the consumer’s journey to purchase. Businesses also advertise using B2C methods to establish their brand voice and identity as it relates to the consumer. Brand awareness and credibility are vital. Businesses want people to know them, to like and to trust them; that kind of rapport-building would be primarily carried out via B2C marketing.
Typically speaking, consumers tend to be less driven by hard data and statistical ROI evaluations. They want value for money – that’s true – but they’re after something more. They want to feel a connection with the businesses they engage with. Deep down, customers want to be proud of the companies they choose to use. That’s the reason we see so many B2C advertising campaigns focus on relationship building, relatability, storytelling, and forging a connection.
The shape of a B2C marketing strategy may differ from B2B in many key areas. For instance:
- A Car Dealership: Brand new or pre-owned, online or on the forecourt, the overwhelming majority of cars are sold directly to the end user. Car dealerships deal directly with customers who buy a product, in this case a car, to use themselves. So, it makes sense for dealerships to market themselves to those customers. They’ll probably use a lot of aspirational content in a relatable voice, to spark the desire to buy. They’ll identify who are the people most likely to buy certain models and deliver B2C copy and images targeted at them in the spaces they occupy, perhaps social media or in selected magazines.
- Gardening Services: For people with gardens, it can be a challenge to maintain them. They may face difficulties with mobility or time-constraints, for example. That’s where a professional gardener comes in. Traditionally, gardeners may let their work and reputation advertise for them. They’ll pride themselves on being known and trusted to deliver good, friendly service. These days, gardeners are increasingly turning to modern B2C strategies; they might produce motivating content for their socials, or deploy a print leaflet campaign – all crafted in that personable, likeable brand voice.
- Online Language Learning: It’s never been easier to learn another language. There are scores of online language learning providers, all populated with teachers ready and able to finally get you on your way to speaking more Spanish than the few words of GCSE you recall from the dim and distant past. These companies are essentially selling customers a vision; the dream of a fluent future. So again, their B2C marketing will be aspirational. Expect bright and punchy content, lots of smiles, and an upbeat, friendly brand voice. They’ll probably target key demographics on social media.
What Key Metrics Should be Considered with B2B and B2C Marketing?
Naturally, there are a number of KPIs which all businesses have their eye on, no matter whether they use B2B or B2C marketing techniques. These include marketing staples like:
- ROI (Return on Investment)
- CPA (Cost per Acquisition)
- Sales conversion rate
- ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend)
- Website traffic
On top of these core marketing metrics, there are a series of more nuanced data sets which advertisers should pay attention to. While B2B and B2C advertising may have in common certain key goals, in practice they are vastly different marketing strategies with completely different roadmaps to success. Depending on which advertising strategy you choose will affect which key KPIs you should focus on.
One thing to note: depending on your industry, business model, and the specific goals you set for your business, you might see some overlap between these B2B vs B2C metrics. B2C companies will oftentimes opt to measure CPL, for instance. Having an agency to support you in defining your goals can be a great first step to establishing exactly which KPIs you’ll take note of in your campaign.
Crucial B2B Marketing KPIs
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). MQLs are potential customers who have shown an interest in your B2B product or service. This may mean entering details into a form or downloading an ebook. Generally, MQLs are further up the marketing funnel and will need to be shown more of your B2B advertising content before they’re ready to convert.
- Cost per Lead (CPL). Your CPL is the average amount it costs to gain one new potential customer. In B2B terms this is critical. B2B marketers are sometimes alarmed that their CPL seems high, but you need to secure leads before you can start thinking about converting them into sales. CPL is an example of a key touchstone among the mountains of data B2B strategies tend to produce.
- Engagement as Clicks. It may seem prosaic, but simply keeping a tally on the number of clicks your content yields provides B2B marketers with significant insight. Content that gets high click engagement is doing its job. It serves as an indicator of brand awareness or the intent to purchase – gold stars on your B2B record.
- Lifetime Value of a Customer (LTV). Your LTV is a metric which contains meaningful data stretching years into the future. It calculates how much revenue one customer is likely to generate over the course of their lifetime. This is important in B2B marketing terms because it can impact long-term advertising plans and help you understand the buying cycle of old/new customers.
Essential B2C Marketing KPIs
- Launch Impact. Within this metric, there are a number of sub-KPIs you may want to measure your B2C campaign against. Put simply, you’ll want to track your Feature Impact on Conversion Rate, which highlights the impact success of individual content pieces, and Product Impact on Customer Lifetime Value, which reveals how much impact a new product has on the overall value received from the company.
- Attribution Modelling & Subscription. The customer’s journey to purchase isn’t a straight line. They may interact with all kinds of different content in various spaces before they make the decision to buy. Your B2C campaign will benefit hugely from knowing which pieces of content are more efficient in getting customers to the point of sale.
- Feedback & Social Engagement. Likes, follows, comments, subscribers… this is music to the ears of the B2C, and often the B2B marketer. It’s essential to get a conversation going with your individual consumers. It boosts credibility, improves ranking and increases profile. You can also collect feedback from internal sources, to gauge how your own people respond and react to your B2C campaign.
How to Develop The Right Strategy for Your Business Type
Whether you opt to go with B2B or B2C marketing strategies, the techniques you leverage will differ significantly depending on your audience and business type. Whether your customer is another business or an end user, you’ll need to talk to them in their own language. Show them that you have knowledge about their space. They need to feel that you understand them, and that your compass points to the same north as theirs does. Essentially, you’ll have to convince your clients that you’re on their team.
Imagine you’re running a B2B operation, selling cement mix to a building contractor. You’ll have to market to that contractor in a way that resonates with them. It’s no good to approach them with a super-happy, stage-managed visual advertising campaign, backed with upbeat music and vibrant colours. That won’t resonate.
The contractor wants to know that you understand their project, so your campaign will probably require some personalisation. They’ll need to be shown hard data that your cement mix is the strongest, cleanest, most reliable mix on the market, via language and messages they can respond to. Then your B2B advertising will really start showing results.
On the other hand, if you’re planning a B2C project selling ice cream to people at the beach, that kind of statistical approach would be ludicrous. Get inside your customer’s head. What do they want from their ice cream? They want it to taste good and make them happy. So that’s the message your marketing strategy has to deliver.
There’s a lot to think about. Seeking expert agency advice can be particularly useful, whether you are new to marketing or simply looking to refresh your strategy. Either way, The Brains is here to help.
As one of the UK’s leading PPC, lead generation and SEO agencies, we’ve got a dedicated team of Brainy marketers who will get to know you, assess your needs, and guide you through the process of crafting your winning B2B or B2C strategy. Get in touch now to hear how we can supercharge your next B2B or B2C advertising campaign.