In general, marketing feels almost stupidly simple.
After all, the process could be boiled down to these few steps:
- Define your objectives,
- Determine your message,
- Figure out a compelling hook, a discount or anything else that will make the audience act,
- Get it out there and …
That often happens because marketers tend to forget a one important rule:
Who you talk to defines not only what you say but also, where and how.
The best marketers understand not only the importance of niche focus, but they also realize that their road to conversion is different depending on whom they market to.
Let’s see how this works.
Even though you aim for the same thing in each case, a conversion, the outcome of a campaign will be different between B2B and B2C markets.
B2B audiences identify their needs on a very rational level. A decision to buy is based on a particular company’s goal—increase in productivity, better financial management and many others.
Similarly, the decision-making process is long and often involves many people who must assess the purchase and commit to the expense.
Therefore, often the best outcome of a B2B campaign isn’t a sale but increased product awareness or a number of leads that in time may convert into paying customers, for instance.
B2C audiences on the other hand often buy on impulse. There are no other people involved in making a decision other than the customer.
The outcome of a B2C campaign is thus a direct sale.
These two differences affect decisions you will have to take throughout the entire campaign.
Keyword selection is undoubtedly the most important aspect of any online marketing campaign. Not only do 92 percent of customers use search engines to find information but also, keywords are often the reference points for copy and affect your quality score.
Let’s see how keyword selection looks between the two markets.
Since B2B campaigns often aim to raise brand awareness and generate leads, you should focus on two types of keywords:
According to Wikipedia, informational keywords “cover a broad topic for which there may be thousands of relevant results.” They respond to the user’s need for information but are difficult to monetize.
Yet they are often indispensable when you’re trying to raise brand awareness while positioning yourself as an expert in your field.
Copyblogger.com is famous for having built their brand through their blog and offering outstanding advice. Data from SEMrush Positions/organic Research Report.
As the name suggests, transactional keywords have a commercial ability to convert. They often attract customers who already researched information and are deeper into the buying process.
These keywords often include terms such as “buy” or “for sale” to describe the product and often, the need behind it (e.g., “buy office display” or “office display for a small room”).
Keeneys focus on targeting users with a specific intent to buy office furniture. Data from SEMrush Positions/organic Research Report.
When it comes to B2C audience, there is only one type of search queries you should be targeting:
Commercial keywords indicate a visitor’s intent to make a purchase. You can often distinguish them by inclusion of such words as “buy,” “get” or “order” and brand or product names (e.g., “buy Kindle Paperwhite cover”).
By their nature, these keywords reflect the audience’s desire for product. Often customers using commercial keywords intend to make the purchase in the very near future (or even have a credit card ready in hand):
2bigfeet.com focus on keywords that convert. Data from SEMrush Positions/organic Research Report.
I discussed how the intricacies of B2B and B2C markets affect website content in my previous article. To recap:
These two audiences have different needs for content
B2B audiences seek expert advice. They want to find out the information they lack but also, impress other people in the office.
B2C customers, on the other hand, primarily seek to be entertained. They also look for deals or information that will help them look cool in front of their peers.
They speak two distinctive languages
B2B audiences prefer a more professional tone. There is a space for casual tone of voice in their copy too, albeit you have to be very careful using it. They take authority and expert status seriously and often use them as a convincing factor in the buying decision. So tread carefully not to sound too casual for them.
B2C audiences prefer a casual tone and ideally, shorter content. They respond better to content that speaks to their emotions, makes them laugh or touches on issues close to their hearts.
B2C and B2B customers behave differently online.
For instance, the B2B audience spends more time on blogs than social media, whereas the B2C audience uses Facebook, Twitter and other similar social sites more.
Moreover, according to Demand Gen Report, the B2B audience is more prone to go directly to a vendor’s website (78 percent) while only 50 percent will pay attention to social media and peer reviews.
Let’s look at some of the common ways to promote a brand and build engagement.
According to Wikipedia, community marketing is “a strategy to engage an audience in an active, non-intrusive prospect and customer conversation.” This form of marketing focuses on the needs of customers and connects with prospects, with businesses and each other. It also builds loyalty, product adoption and satisfaction.
Vanessa DiMauro defines B2B communities as “professional networks that contain a blend of content and collaboration opportunities around a shared business-based experience.”
These communities tend to be small, yet powerful and popular among business buyers. According to Marketing Charts, more than 80 percent of B2B decision makers visit vendor-sponsored communities or forums or LinkedIn at least monthly for business purposes.
The purpose of B2B communities is often driven by a particular topic or the connection with the community sponsor. According to DiMauro, “companies often build online communities to bring clients and prospects together in a private space where they can discuss the business at hand.”
As an example, Cisco runs a global Customer Connection Program connecting Cisco customers to share information, advice and even influence Cisco products direction. Caterpillar runs an online forum community devoted to issues that resonate with their customers.
B2C communities are typically formed to provide a brand with a vehicle to engage with audience and promote products. Their biggest advantage is influencing word of mouth, gaining customer insights and promotion.
The most common example of B2C communities is Facebook brand pages. Companies use them to engage with their audiences, entertain them and tie their customers closer to the brand. Here’s one brand page example.
In the U.S., 97 percent of marketers use social media to market their businesses. And, according to Business Insider research, Facebook trumps any other network when it comes to B2C marketing. The same research shows that when it comes to B2B however, 33 percent of marketers selling to other businesses name Linkedin as the most important social network.
Yet when it comes to social media campaign focus, both markets act quite similarly:
- They build relationships
- Try to deliver value
- Focus on content
As Jason Shen puts it, social media has blurred the lines between B2C and B2B. In spite of their differences, on social media you speak directly to people. You need to engage them in conversations, build personal relations and keep your audience interested.
Marketing may seem easy at first. Yet many campaigns fail because their creators forget that who you talk to affects almost every decision you should be making: from what you say, to where and how.
Therefore understanding how different markets reach conversions is key to planning and developing successful campaigns.