The major difference between digital marketing in a B2B (business-to-business) versus B2C (business-to-consumer) situation is how strategies and tactics are structured. The primary reason for this difference is that in B2B we are communicating to people in their professional business role, instead of their personal consumer role.
In B2C marketing the messages are aimed at the consumer’s personal lives. Tactics are built on sustaining and growing the brand perception and brand relationship as it relates to the consumer’s individual non-professional life. In B2B digital marketing, the focus is the rapid delivery of business-related information that the prospect needs to accomplish their work.
As previously stated, the strategies and tactics between B2B and B2C are different. Next, let’s delve into a few of those key differences.
Three Key Differences of B2B vs B2C Digital Marketing
B2B is typically a longer sale
A key difference between B2B and B2C digital marketing is the timeframe.
When implementing a B2C strategy, the tactics employed often have a relatively short lifespan with the need being to quickly attract consumers attention, convince them of their need for the product, and motivate them to make the purchase right away.
For example, an online store implementing a campaign to sell their Christmas collection traditionally only has between Thanksgiving and mid-December to move a consumer through all three previously mentioned stages.
On the other side of the spectrum, B2B strategies and tactics have lifespans that almost always span months, and often years. For example, a manufacturer that builds products costing hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars will rarely find a customer that is ready to buy within the first few days or even months of initial contact.
Of course, there are examples in both cases that don’t fit into the above situations, but as a general rule B2B is typically a longer sale.
B2B frequently has a higher cost per sale
In addition to a longer sales cycle, B2B products aren’t sold to the mass consumer market, but rather to a much smaller commercial audience. Compounding this further is the typical involvement of more than one person in the buying process. These two factors result in a higher cost-per-acquisition of a single sale.
For example, when marketing an enterprise-wide commercial electronic communication system to a fortune 100 companies, you won’t be targeting your communication to just a purchasing agent.
In this situation, your plan will require influencing audiences including the C-Suite, Operations, Engineering, as well as Purchasing. These extended touch points take time and money, resulting in a higher cost per sale.
B2B often involves a greater risk
As if the longer sales cycle and higher cost per sale weren’t enough, B2B also carries a higher risk at both the enterprise and professional level.
In a B2C campaign, digital marketing strategies and tactics are often tied to an entire category of products. In this situation, if a few products underperform, it’s often balanced by other products that overperform.
In a B2B setting, the campaign and its related strategies and tactics are often tied to moving a relatively small number of products. If they don’t perform it’s a problem. The related overall cost and risk, therefore, is greater as mistakes and failures may impact the entire product line.
For the digital marketing professional the risk is greater too, as poor decisions, resulting in missed company-wide objectives could mean your job.
As previously stated, there are examples in all cases that don’t fit into the above situations, but as a general rule these key differences between B2B and B2C hold true.
5 Digital Marketing Tactics That Every B2B Company Should Consider
Actionable Information vs. Sales Speak
The visual design and voice of a company in a B2B digital marketing strategy must be in the language of the target audience!
When targeting digital marketing for B2B clients, the user experience must be focused on helping them answer the questions and resolve the tasks that they are working on. To do this, you have to provide your information in a way that they understand and can act upon.
For example, using highly technical jargon in your messaging, when speaking to C-suite executives is likely not going to work. Your communication to them must use visuals and words that they understand and answers their question of WHY should I consider your products or services. Conversely, when communicating with a Chief Engineer, incorporating the pertinent technical jargon that answers the WHAT your products or services do is critical.
The ultimate goal of creating value for the B2B audience is to provide information that answers their questions, while also speaking to the emotions that drive the individual person to action. In order to do this, a key first step is to create Personas for each of your target audiences.
Personas are simply a written representation of each type of buyer you are targeting. Having accurately written personas allows you to ensure your visual and written communication is consistently in the language of the person(s) you are communicating with.
The typical foundation of a digital marketing campaign is your website. Your website must be technically and aesthetically compelling, otherwise, both your target audience and Google may pass you by.
Statistics show that 93% of online experiences start with a search engine, and that search engine is almost always Google. This is where the technical aspect of your website comes into play. Google’s corporate mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
If your website is not up to Google’s standards, then it won’t be listed in the top results of a Google search engine results page (SERP).
There are many ranking factors that Google uses when assessing your website. A few key ones are:
- Relevance of Content
Google’s algorithms have gotten to the point of almost being considered artificial intelligence. It now has the ability to ‘read’ your website for understanding. Therefore, your content must be on point and compelling if you want to score high in this most critical ranking factor.
- Page Load Speeds
Every second counts as visitors and Google arrive at your website. If the immediately visible portion of your website is not loaded in mere seconds, your ranking drops.
- Meta-data, Descriptions, & Hierarchy of Tags
There is much more to a website than what you can visibly see. Under the visuals are many code elements that inform search engines and your browser about your website. Each is important in its own right. Learn more in our Structured Data, Schema, and Rich Snippets—Oh my! article.
These three are just a few of the more than 200 known Google ranking factors. Learn more in our SEO Beginners Guide: Google Ranking Factors Updated blog article.
Original Content Marketing
Content, Content, Content! An original content marketing plan is the systematic creation and promotion of original content that relates to what people are searching for on the web.
This is content that has been created uniquely for your website and offers the answers consumers are looking for. Google’s algorithms are continuously adapted to avoid manipulative marketing tactics, such as keyword stuffing, and as such now highly focus on rewarding quality content that answers peoples questions.
As such, the main objective of an original content campaign is to quickly and authoritatively provide the information people are looking for. In order to achieve this, your target audience must be well-defined and the best vehicle for the message must be chosen. Content vehicles take the form of video, text, images, or even newer digital forms such as Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality.
The bottom line, however, is that your content must engage with and satisfy people’s information needs in the B2B setting.
Advertising, PR, & Social Media
Once you have a rock-solid SEO’d website, brimming with relevant original content, it is time to look at how you can pay to drive prospects to your offerings.
Advertising is where you pay to have your message show at the top of a search engine’s results, on the side, top, or middle of news and other web properties, or virtually anywhere you believe prospective customers may visit.
The major player in this space is, of course, Google Ads. You can literally pay to have your message and phone number at the top of search results, next to relevant content on Youtube, or a multitude of top-industry websites that have partnered with Google.
Public Relations and Social Meda are often thought to be free forms of effectively promoting your message. However, the old adage that “nothing is free” certainly holds true here as well.
However, when properly approached, PR and social media can be powerful tools in your digital marketing arsenal. Unlike pure advertisements, they tend to carry more credibility and have a longer shelf-life than ads that disappear the moment you stop paying.
Marketing Automation is what ties a great Digital Marketing strategy together, and facilitates continued communication over timelines that stretch months or years. Marketing automation’s benefits can be boiled down into three primary points: Capture Leads, Drive Sales, Measure ROI.
First, marketing automation is designed to capture leads – those people who visit your online properties but aren’t quite ready to convert yet. The typical method of capture is by offering the visitor desireable content in exchange for their information, such as an email.
Second, marketing automation drives sales. The key factor here is consistent automated communication with the prospect. The system acts as a virtual sales person that works 24/7, 365 days a year to maintain contact with prospects and alert you when they are prime to buy.
Third, marketing automation continuously measures return-on-investment (ROI) of all activities and results. This real-time analytical data is crucial in determining which tactics work, which prospects are worth further investment, and if your digital marketing efforts are paying off.
Read our “Why is Marketing Automation Important for Small & Medium Size Businesses?” article for more on marketing automation.
In the End, Remember the Big Picture
An effective B2B digital marketing campaign must be an intentional and integrated effort. One that takes into account the key differences between B2C and B2B audiences, and does not rely solely on any one tactic.
If you would like to learn more about how digital marketing can benefit your company, please explore our website, or feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.