The Zaius Guide to Modern B2C Marketing

INTRODUCTION

While B2C marketing may seem like a modern concept, it’s actually been around for ages. If you think about it, we’d likely have no strong feelings towards pre-cut bread without the marketing that created the phrase: “The greatest thing since sliced bread.”

Today, B2C marketing is much more complex than a great slogan. Modern B2C brands are dependent on teams of marketers who are skilled in understanding their customers, communicating the benefits of the business, and generating revenue.

Whether you’re new to the world of B2C marketing or you’re a seasoned professional, the industry is constantly expanding and changing. Here is everything you need to know about B2C marketing as it exists today.

WHAT IS B2C MARKETING?

B2C marketing, or Business-to-Consumer marketing, is all about finding the best ways to promote the value of your products or services to individuals in order to influence purchase decisions. Whether the item costs $1 or $1 million, these are items that consumers need or want in their everyday lives for personal use.

Through advertising, email marketing, SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, or a mix of multiple techniques, B2C marketing focuses on delighting current and potential customers at every point in their journey to earn their purchase over competitors, increase their lifetime value, and create loyal buyers.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN B2B AND B2C MARKETING

B2B marketing, or Business-to-Business marketing, has a target audience of other businesses and organizations as opposed to individual consumers. The decision maker in a B2B transaction buys based on the needs of  the company they work for, as opposed to their own.

While B2B and B2C may seem similar other than their target markets, there are some major differences when it comes to marketing.

While some tactics work in both B2B and B2C marketing, there are certain characteristics that will affect your approach to earning customers. If you’re looking to transition from B2B to B2C marketing, you want to be aware of some of these, including:

Sales Teams – When you’re working as a B2B marketer, you focus on generating leads for the sales team. B2C marketers don’t have a sales team; instead, you’re trying to get new customers to buy your products directly through your B2C campaigns.

Sales Cycles – An organization takes their time with B2B purchases because buying decisions are based on metrics and logic. With individuals, the sales cycles vary and the buying process is inconsistent. Many purchasing decisions are emotional and made on the spot or based on a whim, but others may be made after months of following a brand after research and consideration.

 Number of Customers – B2B marketing is driven by larger, high-value accounts, rather than individual customers. With B2C, you’ll have many more customers come and go, with a lifecycle that could be as short as a one purchase decision or as long as a lifetime customer.

 Loyalty – In B2B businesses, one-time purchases and renewals are the norm. In B2C, repeat customers spend up to three times as much as one-time customers. It also costs five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to drive a repeat purchase. B2C marketers have to focus on incentivizing people to buy again and gaining customer loyalty.

 Technology – We’ll cover this in more depth further along, but the differences between B2B and B2C marketing that we just discussed all contribute to B2C marketers needing technology more powerful than your traditional B2B CRM. Even while skills might transfer between B2B and B2C, the technology platforms often won’t.

THE RISE OF THE B2C MARKETER

The B2C space, itself, has gone through many changes in just the last few years that have greatly affected how marketers do their jobs.

While B2C used to be focused on physical retail and brick-and-mortar, there’s been a massive shift to ecommerce with the adoption of digital technologies. Many digitally native brands originated online and don’t have a storefront at all, or wait until establishing their digital presence first.

Not to mention the shift in our marketing messages. Where we once relied on billboards and TV advertising, we now must consider new marketing channels such as social media, email, Google, and push notifications.

Additionally, customers today expect brands to connect with them in ways that are highly targeted and personalized to meet their needs.

As made evident by brands regularly interacting directly with people on social media, consumers expect B2C companies to form relationships with them personally. And they expect a 5-star experience from the first touch interaction to the follow-up of their purchase, and beyond.

As the B2C industry is rapidly changing, transforming, and evolving, so is the role of the B2C marketer. The B2C marketer has to be a Jack of all trades in order to provide the best customer experience.

Today, they’re challenged with mastering a combination of multiple roles, including:

Marketing Technologist  – Marketers use a variety of platforms and tools to build campaigns, execute them across channels, and measure success. As more advanced technology emerges, evaluating, choosing, and efficiently operating the best marketing technology is crucial.

Data Scientist – As data becomes central to all of digital marketing, you have to adapt and up your data-centric skills. Today’s marketers have to be the next thing to a data scientist — constantly A/B testing campaigns, optimizing for conversions, and more in order to better understand customers.

Brand Marketing Artist – Marketing will always be an artistic and creative role.Even the most analytical and technology-minded marketers are nothing if they’re not also creating brand awareness. Brand is behind all of your marketing, and it’s often the difference between a brand that succeeds and one that fails.

With every change to the B2C marketing space throughout the years, marketers are tasked with taking on new roles — and this isn’t likely to stop or slow down.

Technology, data, and brand, make up the foundation of a great marketer, but they’re just a fraction of the skill set required to be truly successful.

WHAT IS D2C MARKETING

As we discussed, buyers today have changed the way they purchase products with more and more of the B2C market moving online and to ecommerce each year.

Because of this, many B2C brands are shifting away from retail and switching to direct-to-consumer (DTC). Direct-to-consumer means using ecommerce platforms or online stores to sell products directly to buyers.

Selling direct-to-consumer has unique advantages, including:

More control over how your product is sold

Ability to diversify your business

Opportunity to connect with more buys

More personalized service

It’s important to note that DTC is a subset of B2C marketing — all DTC brands are also B2C, but not vice versa. Think of companies like GlossierAllbirds, and Casper for D2C.

For many, DTC is also not a replacement of the traditional retail model, but rather complements your existing strategy. Some brands will find that their business remains mostly retail, while others find DTC so successful they shift the majority of the business over to that model.

You have to find out what will work best for your business and your customers when it comes to deciding whether or not you want to pursue DTC. 

But the evidence this strategy works is made clear by the many brands who have had successful DTC marketing strategies. Amid uncertain times in traditional retail, going DTC is typically a smart move.

B2C MARKETING EXAMPLES FOR INSPIRATION

In the Zaius video series, Marketing Unboxed, we buy, unbox, and analyze the marketing of different B2C brands. To better understand B2C marketing, here are a few of our favorite brands from the series and what we think they’re doing well in the B2C space:

Le Creuset

You’ve probably heard of Le Creuset’s high-end cooking and baking products — you may even own a few pieces. Aside from their colorful cookware, they’ve also mastered B2C marketing.

Cart Abandonment

Le creuset b2c marketing cart abandonment

After abandoning an item in the shopping cart, Le Creuset uses marketing automation to show you what you’re missing. A clever cart abandonment email serves as a great reminder of a product you might be consider, the eye-catching design is entirely convincing when it comes to getting customers to complete their purchases.

Retargeting

Le creuset b2c marketing ad retargeting

After visiting their website, you’ll also see ads for the item left in the cart everywhere from social media to The New York Times. Additionally, the content of the ads, which was tailored to each channel, makes a strong impression — their Instagram and Facebook ads used videos to show their cookware in action, while display ads encourage upsell.

Away

The ecommerce luggage company, Away, is everywhere you go online and in the airport with a bold brand that promises thoughtful standards for modern travel — and a B2C marketing strategy just as strong.

Packaging

Away b2c marketing packing

When it comes to packaging, anything more than a plain cardboard box offers extra delight to customers. Away’s dark navy packaging immediately stood out, and features clever copywriting, whether it’s movie references, catchy taglines, or smartly placed hashtags around the package.

Email Nurturing

Away b2c marketing email nurturing

Every single email Away sends had a clear goal, whether it’s a carefully worded welcome email laying out everything you needed to know about the brand, or a step-by-step rundown of their referral program. Each step is thoughtful and makes you want to stay engaged.

UNTUCKit

UNTUCKit focuses on a simple concept: a dress shirt that looks good untucked, and their B2C marketing strategy is almost as sharp as their style, keeping consistent across channels.

Site Experience

untuckit b2b marketing site experience

UNTUCKit is all about making fashion easy and approachable, which is also reflected across their site experience. UNTUCKit does a fantastic job of showing buyers the value of their products between the slider that shows how their shirts compare to others and their fit guide.

In-Store Experience

untuckit b2b marketing store experience

UNTUCKit is another digitally native vertical brand (DNVB) that’s made the jump to in-store shopping. With 60 locations around the US and Canada and a plan to open 100 stores by 2020, the brand shows their commitment to making your life easier as a shopper through a DTC model.  

WHAT IS A B2C CRM

As you’ve learned, there are many differences between B2B and B2C marketing, and even between the way we do B2C today versus the way we did B2C a few years ago.

Because B2C customers are far more plentiful than B2B customers, there’s also more associated data spread across multiple platforms, devices, and channels, especially as they spend more and more time online. In fact, marketers now spend a stunning one-third of their budgets on channels they didn’t know existed five years ago.

As a B2C marketer, you’re tasked with identifying tools that will collect this data and allow you to turn it into creative campaigns that will find your customers in the right place, at the right time.

Unfortunately, the traditional Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform was not built for the past-paced, data heavy, and ever-changing world of B2C marketing — it was meant for the long sales cycles, sales teams, and limited accounts that B2B marketers deal with.

These CRM solutions can’t handle the sheer volume of customer interactions a B2C business has with its customers daily. Traditional CRM systems also can’t help B2C and ecommerce marketers nurture customers, segment buyers according to specific criteria, and personalize communications throughout unpredictable sales cycles.

If you want to better understand your customers and how they act at specific points in the customer journey, you need to collect all the data from every channel you market on today, and you need a system in place that will bring all that data together and help you untangle it.

A B2C CRM is a single platform that brings customer data, analytics, and campaign execution together, enabling marketers to better understand buyers and use data to directly power campaigns across channels.

A B2C CRM unifies and analyzes every single interaction you have with customers across all devices and channels, enabling you to build up a more complete customer profile across the entire customer lifecycle. And the more you know about your customers, the better your marketing campaigns will become when it comes to personalization.

WHY DOES ALL THIS MATTER?

Brands are becoming more and more intertwined in their customers’ lives. It’s our job as B2C marketers (or future B2C marketers) to understand what our customers look for from us and how we can better serve their needs.

As B2C marketing continues to evolve and change, it’s up to you as a marketer to stay on the cutting edge as well — whether that’s new technology, new marketing channels, or creative marketing strategy. But as always: think about your customer’s need first and you’ll be ahead of the game.