What is B2C Marketing?
B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing is a broad term that refers to the approach of selling goods, products, and services to consumers. It differs from B2B (business-to-business) marketing in that B2C marketing typically (but not always) involves more emotional, lower involvement purchases.
Goals of a B2C marketing approach include:
- Raising brand awareness
- Increasing engagement
- Getting more leads
- Creating customer evangelists
- Driving more sales
- Boosting customer retention, loyalty, and lifetime value
Most consumer purchases today happen via digital devices — 51% of Americans prefer to shop online and 96% of Americans have made an online purchase in their life (BigCommerce), so this guide will focus mainly on online B2C marketing.
Today, we’re going to take you step-by-step through what B2C marketing is, the difference between B2C and B2B, tools for building the best B2C marketing strategy, elements of successful strategies including brand examples, and the role of automation for B2C campaigns.
How Does B2C Marketing Work?
Making B2C marketing work for your brand starts with one key step: knowing your customer. Unless you know your customers and understand their motivations, problems, and aspirations, you’ll have a hard time creating relevant content.
Use current customer data and existing research you have to create buyer personas.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What problems do your products solve?
- What motivates your customers to buy your products?
- What motivates them to buy competitor products instead of yours?
- How old are your customers?
- Where are they located?
By answering these questions, you’ll start to build a picture of who your audience is, giving you the information you need to create the kind of content they’ll find engaging.
Set up a B2C marketing funnel
Many brands base this around the structure of the traditional marketing and sales funnel, and doing this will give you a solid basis for your B2C marketing strategy.
Let’s take a look at the 3 stages you need in your funnel, including the best practices to follow:
- Top of Funnel (awareness). Introduce your target audience to your brand for the first time. At this stage in their journey, your target audience may well have never heard of your brand, and they might not even be aware that they need your products. This is commonly known as the research phase because your target customers are likely to be starting out looking for solutions to problems they’re facing.
- Middle of Funnel (consideration). At this stage in the funnel, your target customers have defined their problem clearly, and are now considering products that will solve that problem. This is the stage of the funnel where you target your audience with content that shows how your products solve that problem.
- Bottom of Funnel (conversion). When your customers reach the bottom of your marketing funnel, they’re primed to make a purchase. This is the place to go hard on the sell, with marketing techniques like urgency, FOMO and discount incentives. Work to set your brand apart from your competitors and use social proof like customer testimonials and reviews to set your product apart from the rest.
Once you understand how this B2C marketing funnel could work for your brand, it’s time to build a strategy to set the wheels in motion and start attracting new customers.
How to Build a B2C Marketing Strategy
Success in B2C marketing means forging emotional connections with consumers. And today, online commerce is exploding. So, B2C commerce is synonymous with e-commerce — and if you want to build a best-of-breed e-commerce website, a number of critical steps have to be taken.
1. Create meaningful content that engages
Once you understand how consumers think when they’re in the market to buy, the next step is to attract and convert. Since automation technology will relatively “even out” the playing field within the next decade or so, as Jay Baer has discussed, the true differentiators will be
- (a) strategy
- (b) your ability to generate better, attention-catching, even helpful/educational content than anyone else.
Even the best B2C marketing technology won’t save a brand that feeds it lackluster content (and data, which we’ll touch on, too). When it comes to content, top priorities for B2C businesses include creating more interesting material, gaining clarity around what’s performing, and generating inspirational visuals.
The best B2C strategies leverage engaging content to connect and build relationships first, which subsequently spurs conversions.
2. Understand how consumers think
You’ve got your personas established and your marketing funnel is set up. Now it’s time to get into the minds of your customers and understand what makes them tick.
In contrast to B2B customers, B2C customers are much more likely to be motivated by emotion as opposed to a clear, objective requirement. Some of the key drivers to focus your marketing around include:
- Choice: From how, where and when they shop to the products they add to their cart, giving your customers the ability to choose their experience with your brand is a powerful motivator.
- Impulse: This is particularly true for lower RRP products. If you’re selling products for under $60, your customers could be motivated to buy on impulse, giving marketers the ability to drive sales with tactics like Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) and urgency.
- Wants and needs: While customers are motivated by impulse, need is also a strong driver. Throughout your funnel, if you can convince your audience that your products are the clear solutions to their problems, you can change that ‘want’ to a ‘need’ and increase their motivation to buy.
- Personal goals and values: Customers are motivated to buy products that align with their own ambitions, as well as their own personal values. For example, if you run a clothing brand and have a climate pledge, an environmentally conscious audience could be easily motivated to engage with your brand.
If you want more bespoke information on how your customers think, don’t be afraid to ask them.
Create site surveys to collect data, and if you have a rewards program, offer customers a discount or bonus in exchange for having a quick call with you to talk about their shopping behaviors.
3. Use an AI marketing tool
Ultimately, you need to feed your machine/technology high-quality and large quantities of customer data. This task is achieved most effectively by leveraging value-based content to get contacts to opt-in to receive your communications, discounts, or e-newsletter.
Conversion optimization is a big piece of the proverbial puzzle for revenue-generating B2C marketing strategies. Sign-up boxes used strategically on your website are one of the best ways to interest potential customers and start your relationship with them.
➤ Pro Tip: Add a freebie. Adding a free offer (for content or a product) can drive more conversions and revenue than discounting that same product would. Sometimes, shoppers feel like they get a better deal when they get something for free instead of spending less (using a coupon) on their overall purchase.
However, tread carefully with freebies, and mix and match them with personalized, AI-driven incentives automatically and intelligently created by machines to boost the likelihood of conversion on a 1:1 level.
Boost Your B2C Marketing Strategy with Revenue-Driving Omnichannel Personalization
6 Tips For a Successful B2C Marketing Strategy
Now that we’ve covered overarching strategies and key elements of successful B2C brands, let’s get into techniques and talk about how to actually acquire, retarget, and retain.
While there’s no real shortcut or secret to viral content or brand popularity — and nothing speaks louder in B2C than a quality product — there are certain elements you can implement immediately to spur growth.
Connect with customers on a personal level
Generic, copy-and-paste experiences no longer cut it in B2C marketing. Five years ago, personalization might have been an added bonus — but now, if you want to keep your audience engaged and attract new customers, it’s an absolute necessity.
Move away from cookie-cutter content and batch-and-blast sales messaging and adopt a personalized approach.
- Email – 74% of marketers state that personalizing their email content increases engagement, and there are a wealth of ways you can make it happen. From dynamic blocks that update based on each customer’s browsing and purchase behavior to automated flows that trigger based on web and app activity, creating personalized email campaigns that react to customer behavior in real-time has never been easier.
- Blog and video content – your Top of Funnel audience are seeking solutions to problems, and that gives you an invaluable opportunity. By creating blog and video content that tackles the topic at hand and presents actionable solutions to problems, you not only build market authority – you also show customers that you understand them on a more personal level.
- Web – if a customer came into your store every Friday, you’d recognise their face, remember the types of items they purchase and be able to give them a more tailored shopping experience. With today’s tech, online shopping doesn’t have to be any different. With e-commerce providers like WooCommerce and Shopify, you can track customers and deliver dynamic product recommendations, personalized based on previous purchases and browsed products.
Use influencer marketing
Social media is already a powerful weapon in any B2C marketer’s arsenal, but influencer marketing takes it to the next level. Influencers are content creators, typically with large online followings, that your audience are likely to view as authority figures.
By partnering with influencers, you can help:
- Build trust – 61% of consumers trust recommendations from influencers. When social proof is everything in B2C marketing, partnering with influencers gives your brand the added legitimacy you need to overcome new customer objections.
- Boost brand reach – influencers have broad audiences, which could include potential customers that you haven’t been able to reach effectively with your current marketing strategy. By partnering with influencers, you’ll tap into these new market segments, increasing your audience size and boosting your brand reach.
- Cultivate fresh content – when you partner with influencers, they’ll likely create content to promote your brand’s product range. With their permission, you’ll have access to a wealth of fresh content that you can use to engage customers and build trust across your own marketing channels.
Looking to find influencers for your brand? Scour your tagged posts and hashtags relevant to your products and reach out to them or their agency to discuss a potential partnership.
Mobil-based retail achieved over $359bn in sales in 2021. When eMarketer’s Insider Intelligence predicts mCommerce’s market share to double between 2020-2025, mobile-based commerce needs to become a priority for brands.
When working on your B2C marketing strategy, considering desktop browsing alone isn’t enough – you need to consider how well your content will work on mobile devices, too. Many eCommerce platforms are mobile responsive as standard, but if you’re creating custom pages, it’s imperative that you test that they render properly on mobile devices prior to launch. This goes for email too – whether it’s web or an email campaign, content that clips off of a mobile screen is a quick way to damage brand trust.
Create retargeting programs
By including data-driven retargeting in your existing marketing strategy, you can give customers that have bounced prematurely another chance to buy.
Try creating highly relevant and targeted advertisements using first-party data. Ultimately, the goal with retargeting is to boost retention, customer reach, and revenue.
It’s commonplace for B2C brands to use programmatic ads to expand reach or to issue banner ads to retarget customers. These tactics are hit and miss. The better option is to use data to re-engage lost contacts where they spend their time and in ways that feel native to that platform.
I’m talking about social media.
B2C brands can use two kinds of innovative targeting options on social media:
- “Look alike” targeting to create profiles of contacts whose interests and preferences resemble those of existing and known customers
- Retargeting of existing contacts who have abandoned browsing or buying sessions on the website
➤ Pro Tip: Use social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram to ensure retargeting is native (in-stream), relevant, and personalized.
B2C audiences certainly don’t open Instagram or Twitter because they want to be presented with ads — they’re regular people using social media to interact with friends and see updates about what people are up to.
However, by carefully and thoughtfully cultivating a brand image through social media, retailers can not only subtly work in native advertising (sponsored posts) that appear in-stream, but that also retargets individuals who have interacted with the brand elsewhere, like the website.
Social media creates a perfect opportunity to interact with and retarget on a customer’s terms, through their medium of preference. The ultimate goal for the retailer is to be viewed as a trusted insider and a valued addition to a consumer’s social channels.
Invest in SEO
From search to social, paid campaigns are like flicking on a lightswitch. As soon as it turns on, you start getting traffic. However, as soon as that switch is flicked off, the traffic is going to dry up.
With SEO, turning that switch on takes longer, but once it’s working, it can keep driving consistent web traffic and brand exposure for years.
Combined with the rising costs of paid social traffic, SEO is a truly effective, scalable strategy for growing your brand audience and winning new customers.
SEO gives B2C brands an unmissable opportunity to drive relevant, target traffic to their site from an audience seeking product information and solutions to their problems.
By devising a long-term SEO strategy focused around building a site’s expertise, authority and trustworthiness, you can use SEO to drive consistent and predictable site growth.
Leverage social media
44.8% of internet users rely on social media to learn more about brands, so when they search for yours, it’s important that you’re both present and active.
Social media doesn’t have to be centered solely around paid traffic – organic social media can be a great way to grow a loyal online community. Here are some tips to grow your presence organically:
- Create short-form video content around recent brand activity, your products, the benefits customers can expect to see and more.
- Use User Generated Content to build audience trust in your product offering.
- Interact with members of your target audience by following their accounts and engaging with their content.
- Partner with micro-influencers to increase your brand reach.
- Create channel-specific competitions to attract new followers and create engaging interactions with your audience.
For many brands, building an organic social media following takes time, but like SEO, it pays dividends for those willing to put in the work.
Use Emarsys for Your B2C Marketing Campaigns
As we continue forward in the “Age of the Customer,” successful B2C marketing strategies will incorporate three key elements or characteristics: drawing insights from data to inform smarter marketing, ensuring mobile is a key part of an omnichannel approach, and leveraging artificial intelligence marketing.
Using data to know your customer
When it comes to highly personalized content, B2C marketing approaches need to implement data-driven planning. It’s the only way to know what customers truly care about, where customers are, what content they will engage with, and on what device or platform.
Data-driven marketing means leveraging data-backed insights and metrics for optimal communications and informed predictions about future behaviors. Using data is one of the most efficient ways to ensure your marketing is at the level of personalization required today.
Ensuring your omnichannel strategy includes a strong mobile presence
More consumers are doing more mobile shopping than ever, and the number continues to increase.
As a byproduct, “showrooming” is also raising in popularity.
What is showrooming?
When a customer is showrooming, they’re browsing products while in a physical store, but also, often simultaneously, comparing prices with other retailers online via their mobile device.
84% of shoppers check prices on Amazon, for example, before shopping anywhere else.
Aside from showrooming, consumers are also actively doing other things on their phones while shopping. Data shows that 23% of consumers share social media updates while in-store, and 19% check in with their location. Of all sessions on e-commerce websites, 59% of those are on mobile devices (Smart Insights)!
Other mobile-related tips to keep in mind include:
- Understand the purposes of B2C apps. Consider why your app exists and how centrally you want your app to contribute to revenue generation. Is your app a loyalty app, an e-commerce app, or stand-alone app?
- Be where your customers want you to be. Millennials want you to have a website, a mobile app that (ideally) offers discounts, and social media pages with an integrated shopping function (Facebook & Instagram mainly).
- Think about mobile product diversification and strategic partnerships. Mobile app competition is increasing as an explosion of commercial apps and new resellers are emerging.
If your B2C brand is hoping to compete, you have to not only be present on mobile, but ensure your mobile marketing is exceptional, focusing on the experience the consumer has from an email, web browser, and in-app perspective.
Trusting AI to augment your B2C marketing strategy
Artificial intelligence marketing, or AIM, is one of the fastest-growing and most highly anticipated digital marketing capabilities.
Combined with big data and machine learning, AIM is revolutionizing marketing by providing highly targeted, personalized consumer experiences that cost significantly less than traditional high-dollar campaigns. All of the aforementioned data collected by brands can be segmented and analyzed beyond human capabilities using AIM solutions.
AI marketing technology can drastically improve B2C marketing strategies by enabling real-time 1:1 communications with customers.
Why is Automation so Important for B2C Marketing?
Related Content: 11 Best Examples of B2C Marketing Automation
The B2B space is buzzing with automation rhetoric — with several key players providing sophisticated lead-nurturing and lead-scoring solutions closely synchronized with CRM systems.
But what about B2C? Does automation still have a place?
Since the total addressable audience for most B2C suppliers is larger than a B2B market, achieving personalization at scale is not possible in the absence of a powerful automation solution. To attempt to deliver truly 1-to-1 messaging to your consumer audience manually would be a painstaking, frustrating, unfeasible task.
As a result, requirements among most B2C brands are different than B2B. B2C companies, today, are focused on three areas: customer acquisition, retention, and CLV. Automation helps scale, simplify, and extend each.
Marketing automation can help your B2C company in several areas when potential customers are considering buying:
- Sending messages at the time a contact is most likely to engage. This right-time content encourages engagement and action.
- Ensuring content that is up to date and reflects current inventory, conditions, availability, and the like.
Marketing automation technology helps B2C brands boost customer retention by ensuring that one-time buyers don’t churn, and, instead, continue to remain loyal.
Automation helps increase retention in several ways, including:
- Providing personalization — recommended products, automating custom content on your website, or showing different messages based on past interaction with your brand
- Email marketing — ensuring the content within emails is personalized, which boosts engagement
- Cross-sell opportunities to help customers along the journey
B2C-focused solutions tend to be more adept at helping brands target consumers across the lifecycle (as opposed to B2B).
The key to improving CLV (customer lifetime value) is three-fold in B2C: sell an excellent product, provide an excellent experience, and offer ongoing help/value for customers.
The combination of acquisition and retention capabilities of B2C-focused solutions that enable personalization ultimately help ensure a customer remains loyal. Loyal customers stay longer, interact more often, and spend more.
Building a B2C marketing strategy from scratch can seem like an intimidating task with a lot of points to consider and even more moving parts. However, when online shopping is both the present and future for e-commerce brands, having a plan to attract, convert and retain customers is nothing short of essential.
By applying the tactics we’ve discussed, your B2C brand stands a solid chance of breaking through the noise. B2C marketing strategies that earn attention, convert website visitors, and keep them coming back are the ones that will win moving forward. The only question now is: are you up for the challenge?
Accelerate your B2C marketing results through scalable, real-time omnichannel personalization.
*This blog has been revised and updated as of July 2022
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