“What’s the difference between B2C and B2B marketing?” That was a burning question from my university students.
So instead of me regurgitating my point of view, I asked Rashmi Anand, ex-Regional Digital Marketing Manager at Autodesk to not only get her thoughts but also share some practical B2C and B2B marketing tips.
1. JOE: What is the difference between B2C and B2B digital marketing strategies?
RASHMI: There are five key differences in B2C and B2B Digital Marketing:
1. Media: B2B uses pull media whereas B2C uses push media. In B2B, we expect customers to respond and take action. So, pull media like paid search, SEO, email marketing works better. The probability of target audience responding to these digital channels is higher as they are actively seeking for information.
Whereas B2C strategies are to capture the target audience’s mindshare. Push channels like display and social advertising do better in that scenario. The exposure is less expensive. It drives reach as well as frequency. Therefore, it manages to get higher brand recall.
2. Target Audience: A B2B audience is niche. The lack of segmentation in advertising channels makes it harder to reach the right B2B target audience. Whereas for B2C, there are ample target audiences and digital channels to take into consideration.
3. Data & Analytics: For B2C, there is ample data available for a calculative and informed decision at planning stage. For B2B, the data pool is small. A lot of strategies are either based on historical performance or based on an informed guesstimate. There is a lot of room in B2B digital advertising to test new channels, tactics, strategies etc. As more dollars are poured in B2B digital, more case studies would show what works best.
4. Digital Assets: Comparatively, B2C spends more on digital assets, i.e banners, videos, websites, etc. There is a myth that B2B creative doesn’t need attention. Most of the assets that we see in B2B advertising are boring and unattractive. That adds to the woes of B2B digital marketing not working. Adobe creatives, however, are really good.
5. Budget: There is a huge difference in digital budgets. B2C digital budgets are 4-5 times higher than B2B. So far email has proven to be the most effective channel, followed by SEM. When they spend on display and social, they are competing in the same ecosystem as B2C. That increases the overall cost per acquisition.
2. JOE: As consumers are getting flooded with so much information, how can B2C brands stand out?
RASHMI: There are three things which could be effective for B2C to stand out:
1. Follow Best Practices (of each channel) while developing creatives: One size fit ma all is no longer effective. Each platform like Facebook, YouTube, etc. have their own specifications outlined. There is best practice in terms of format, size, duration etc. that works, and it is important to take note of that. For example: Facebook says that in the first three seconds of a video, the brand name should show up as the attention span for the Facebook audience is low and they may leave without watching the video until the end. Things like that should be taken care of.
2. Good Experience: When consumers are interacting with your brand, it is important to ensure that they get the best experience possible. The benchmark of online experience has increased many folds in the last few years. So, from clicking the ad, to landing on the right page, experience on the page, be it mobile or desktop – everything matters.
3. Clarity in Message: It is important that the message is extremely clear. Be it visual, words used, call to action (CTA). The purpose of the ad should be clearly highlighted. The vague messages are easy to miss and don’t make any mark. If the ad is expecting the audience to take action, it is important that they know that explicitly. Therefore, a CTA should be pretty strong and clear. As per best practice, a stronger CTA would be “Buy More”, “Hurry”, “Limited Time offer”. A CTA that creates urgency ….some of the widely used ones that are very helpful … “Read More”, “Learn More,” etc.
3. JOE: Which channels and platforms have you found most effective for B2B?
RASHMI: For B2B, email marketing is the most effective channel followed by SEM, social. Social has been quite effective in driving low cost clicks and driving new audiences to the website. Within social, Facebook has been delivering a lot of low cost clicks. It has interesting formats like lead forms that help in driving truckloads of leads. In the backend, the lead forms in Facebook can be connected to Salesforce so that captured leads can seamlessly flow into the sales system.
The challenge is that there is a mixed reaction on the quality of leads generated from social channels.
For SEM, other than Google such as Bing Search, Yahoo Search, Amazon Search, Facebook Search Ads, local search engines like Baidu, Naver, Daum, Kako, it is good to have a mix of other search engines. That helps in driving reach and reduce the cost per click (CPC) pressure. Having a targeted strategy to attain a specific goal is always helpful in SEM.
SEM is a lower funnel channel. It is effective when it lands the audience on the most relevant page for a specific action. Segmenting keywords may help in achieving different objectives if the overall search volume is high for the category.
4. JOE: How can digital be used for B2C branding purposes?
RASHMI: With increased internet penetration, there are changes in target audience behavior– time spent on mobile, social media, video watching, etc. has increased significantly. That has led to digital advertising increasing many folds.
People are spending more time online and consuming information in shorter forms. TV viewing has been impacted due to Netflix and Prime. Spotify and Pandora have impacted radio listening. Therefore, offline channels are gradually moving online.
Traditional ways of brand building exercising are also changing. Since the audience is online, ad budgets have shifted to digital. Digital can be highly effective in achieving higher brand recall at much lesser cost. Therefore, digital can be used for branding purposes.
5. JOE: What is that one challenge that is hampering the growth of digital marketing?
RASHMI: If there is one thing to be pointed out then that would be alignment in tools and technology. We have a diverse set of tools to measure different customer data points. It is a nightmare to bring all the data points together and make a sense out of that. The way each tool measures is also different. The digital metrics have expanded but not evolved with time. That makes it difficult to bring the data together. To have an end-to-end insight, it is important to have standardization in measurement definitions and also how these tools measure the data.
Since the flow is broken, it is hard to understand the true value of every dollar spent on digital. Lack of proper measurement forces marketers to rely on first party data for performance evaluation. That shows only half the story. For example, a channel is not driving a lead, does that mean, the exposure from that channel is a waste and it has no role to play in the entire purchase journey? That is less likely. Due to tracking limitations, it is hard to identify the true value of each channel in the entire customer journey.
Based on last click attribution or metrics like leads, cost per acquisition (CPA), orders, we continue to invest in same/similar channels. This limits the reach. So, in digital, it would be great if marketers could get some standardization in metrics, how it is being measured, the tools that support them and seamless integration between the tools.
For example some standardize metrics could include views, impressions, clicks, etc.are all pointing towards customer interaction with the brand assets. This could be simplified like touches or something so that we know how many touches did it take for a customer to convert.
This interview was conducted by Joe Escobedo.