* This article was updated and refreshed for 2022
What Is B2C Marketing?
Business-to-consumer marketing, or B2C marketing, refers to the tactics and strategies in which a company promotes its products and services to individual people — creating, advertising, and selling products for customers to use in their everyday lives.
The Difference Between B2C vs. B2B
In simple terms, B2C companies sell directly to consumers. Think retail, consumer tech, and the hospitality industry. B2B companies on the other hand sell to other businesses. This would include managed services companies, enterprise software, agencies, and consultants.
Some of the most important distinctions when it comes to B2C vs B2B marketing relate to purchasing and sales processes, decision-makers involved, and cost of purchases.
While a business will likely conduct extensive research before investing in new software, office space, or a large acquisition with another business, B2C transactions are frequently more impulsive and instantaneous.
Consumers generally seek out goods and services based on an immediate need, and make purchases faster, with less research and due diligence than a business would conduct. This grants B2C marketers a much smaller window of opportunity to influence consumer behavior.
For these reasons, successful B2C campaigns typically trigger emotional reactions or responses, while B2B campaigns focus on offering immediate value. Understanding these differences and making the appropriate changes to your B2C marketing strategy will improve your outcomes.
Businesses that focus on B2C marketing observe trends closely, research their customers’ purchase habits, and closely monitor their competitors’ tactics, as it’s critical to know the challenges — and understand how to break through all the noise to find success.A recent benchmark report from The Content Marketing Institute examined what B2C marketers consider to be top priorities:
Biggest Challenges of B2C Marketing
The world of consumer-driven marketing moves at an astonishing pace.
So, despite being able to capitalize on impulse and emotion — as opposed to the purely value-driven foundations of B2B — B2C marketing still faces a core set of challenges:
Adjusting to Changing Customer Behaviors
Smartphones. Shopify. Nearly unlimited access to the internet. Over the last 5 years, technology has forever changed the ways customers shop online. Not only do they have more control than ever before, they also have higher expectations, demanding a better experience from brands they engage with.
Amidst this constant change, one thing remains clear: if you want to keep your customers coming back to your brand, you need to deliver the relevant, flexible experiences that they demand. You need to engage customers, not interrupt them, and meet them where they’re spending their time online with personalized content that’s relevant to their interests and shopping habits.
The research exists to back this up:
Related Content: 3 B2C Trends to Help E-Commerce Brands Improve Customer Engagement
Additionally, most consumers today are predisposed to expect all brands to treat them as well as their favorite brand. So, as brands scramble to deliver better and better experiences, the bar for what constitutes a “good experience” will keep rising — and behaviors will keep changing.
Staying on Top of Evolving Trends & Market Changes
Driven by impulse and emotion, the B2C market moves fast — and staying on top of those changes can be a challenge for many brands. However, if you want to stay ahead in a crowded market packed with competitors fighting for your customers’ attention, you need to be ready to adapt.
When your customers are hit with hundreds of ads on a daily basis, static marketing campaigns aren’t enough to deliver a stand-out customer experience.
Fortunately, there are a number of tactics you can employ to keep your finger on the pulse of your industry:
- Monitor competitors and relevant hashtags using a social media platform like Hootsuite or a competitor monitoring tool like SEMRush.
- Create a Google Alert to receive push notifications for key movements within your niche.
- Use a news aggregator like Pocket to collate key competitor events and trends.
Brands that can keep up with these changes and adapt their marketing strategies to capitalize on new trends will continue to meet customer expectations and stay ahead.
Dealing with Data Overload and Using Customer Data
Customer data is generated at every touch point and interaction, from every customer, web visitor, or prospect you’re trying to reach.
Many B2C marketers believe this is the most significant challenge today — keeping up and making sense of all this data, then using it to draw insights and inform your marketing at scale.
This process is nearly impossible to achieve manually.
New technologies can help you by automating the process of collecting, mining, analyzing, and leveraging data. These include:
- Customer data platforms to help store and manage all customer information you’re collecting.
- Machine learning to help algorithms self-learn, without the need for manual updates.
- Artificial intelligence marketing to help you scale the process of personalization.
With so much data at hand, it’s easy for siloes to crop up, and without unified data, getting a holistic view of channel and campaign performance is a tough task. However, customer data is also your greatest asset and is the gasoline which fuels your B2C machine, so dedicating resources to breaking down silos is a worthy investment.
See how Emarsys empowers marketers to execute simple, single-channel campaigns, or create sophisticated, cross-channel journeys at scale.
5 Essential B2C Marketing Strategies
To achieve success as a B2C marketer, it’s important that you focus on reaching your consumers at the most appropriate time, while delivering perfectly tailored messages that ensure conversion and retention.
Here’s a look at five ways your B2C marketing efforts will be boosted by focusing on personalization and creating one-to-one interactions.
1. Enhance The Customer Experience
In the past, pushing batch-and-blast marketing content and forcing your customers to convert through your desired channel worked. Today, your strategy needs to focus less on the product and more on the end customer.
Brands that deliver an exceptional customer experience continually are able to:
- Create personalized content that’s relevant to their audience’s likes and interests.
- Meet that audience with the right content, on the right channel, at the right time.
- Provide multiple paths to conversion so customers can complete a purchase on their preferred channel.
Do this and you won’t just set yourself apart from your competitors, you’ll create an experience that will keep customers coming back for more and foster long-lasting loyalty.
2. Create SEO content that reflects search intent
SEO should be a foundational part of any B2C brand’s marketing strategy. When done right, it can drive quality traffic at an incredibly cost-effective price and build trust and authority with a new, untapped audience.
However, in order to reap the rewards of SEO, you need to focus on search intent.
Search intent, sometimes called user intent, is a term used to describe the purpose behind a Google search — what the individual wants to get out of the search results. It’s typically broken down into two distinct categories:
- Informational: Top of funnel searches made by people looking to research a particular topic. For example, someone searching for “what is a boar bristle hair brush?” is likely looking for information only. They’re at the start of their journey as a customer and likely aren’t ready to make a purchase.
- Transactional: Bottom of funnel searches made by people primed to make a purchase. For example, someone searching for “best boar bristle hair brushes” have done their research and are looking for options for them to consider purchasing.
Delivering relevant content to its users is of vital importance to Google, so if the content you’re creating around a keyword doesn’t match the search intent for that keyword, your chances of ranking will slip away fast.
So, if you want to drive traffic through Google, you need to create high-value content that matches the intent of the search.
3. Drive Engagement and Conversions with Email Marketing
Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) is skyrocketing across multiple channels, and maintaining a high enough Average Order Value (AOV) and website conversion rate to drive profit on a single purchase is a key challenge for many B2C brands.
However, while the average e-commerce site conversion rate might be roughly 3%, that doesn’t mean all of the 97% of visitors who don’t buy immediately aren’t ever going to buy. If you can capture the data of those prospects, you open up a world of sales opportunities.
Once set up, email can have a significant impact on your store revenue, with minimal maintenance required. Some of the top automations to focus your efforts on include:
- Cart abandonment: If your customer adds an item to their cart but didn’t complete a purchase, a cart abandonment flow will bring them back and entice them to convert.
- Browse abandonment: If they browse a particular product or category without adding anything to their cart, browse abandonment will encourage them to pick up where they left off.
- Post-purchase: Your job as an email marketer isn’t done at point of purchase. With a post-purchase flow, you can build anticipation around a delivery, reduce return rates, drive reviews and even tempt customers into an additional purchase with up-sells related to their original order.
- Replenishment: If you sell consumable products, replenishment flows are gold dust for your Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV). Set this flow to trigger shortly before you expect your product to run out and encourage your customer to purchase again.
- Winback: Haven’t heard from a customer in a while? Use a winback campaign to reactivate their profile with discounts and incentives on their next order.
With little time investment required, personalized email marketing can have a substantial impact on your brand’s ROI, complementing existing paid campaigns and helping you to drive consistent, automated sales.
4. Grow Customer Lifetime Value with Loyalty Programs
Here’s a jaw-dropping stat: increasing your customer retention rate by just 5% can improve your profits by up to 95%. The biggest revenue opportunity for brands isn’t tied to first-time purchase, but rather in getting your customers to return.
Loyalty programs are an excellent way to make this happen. By incentivizing your customers and gamifying the purchase process, you give your customers a clear reason to come back to your brand – and stay out of the hands of your competitors.
Most loyalty programs fall under one of four categories:
- Points-based loyalty programs — which give customers points in return for purchases which they can cash in against future orders.
- Tiered loyalty programs — which reward customers for long-term brand loyalty by providing more benefits the more they spend.
- Value-based loyalty programs — which appeal to the values and beliefs of customers, such as free memberships to those in need or donations to charitable causes.
- Paid loyalty programs — which require a monthly or annual subscription in return for additional benefits and discounts.
With a loyalty program, you’ll be able to build closer relationships with your customers, encourage repeat purchases, and stop fighting on price with competitors.
5. Leverage Social Media to Retarget Site Visitors
As discussed above, just because someone visited your site and left without making a purchase doesn’t mean they’ll never make a purchase. And by combining email automation with social media retargeting, you can create a cross-channel retargeting strategy that doubles down on brand exposure.
The true power of social media advertising lies beyond driving cold traffic. With a retargeting strategy, you can reach prospective customers based on their level of interest in your products:
- Viewed but didn’t add to cart: Encourage customers to take another look with a carousel-format ad personalized with the products they viewed.
- Abandoned cart: Encourage customers to complete a purchase with a unique discount code, or by using UGC to provide trustworthy information that overcomes potential objections.
- Completed a purchase: Thank customers for their order, or encourage additional purchases.
The value of your email data goes beyond the automations you’ve created, too. By uploading your customer email addresses to Facebook, you can create Lookalike Audiences of people similar to your existing customer base, helping you dial in your cold advertising strategy and increase your ROI.
Use a B2C Marketing Automation Software
With customers time-poor, option-rich, and more demanding than ever, personalization is the future of B2C marketing. But with multiple channels, campaigns, and touchpoints, creating automations that effectively deliver personalized content can be a challenge for B2C brands.
Emarsys can help. Our omnichannel customer engagement platform helps B2C brands create and deploy 1:1 personalized B2C marketing automations that trigger in real-time across multiple channels all within one platform.
See for yourself in just 3 minutes how Emarsys drives omnichannel 1:1 customer engagement.