Shifting your career from business to business (B2B) to business to consumer (B2C) marketing is a surprisingly difficult task.
One minute you’re marketing SaaS products to enterprises, the next minute you’re convincing consumers to buy a pair of jeans. The two situations require very similar marketing and technical skills, but incredibly different approaches.
For example, personalization is crucial for both B2B and B2C customers, with 72% of B2B customers expecting personalized experiences, while 56% of B2C customers say a tailored experience based on past interactions is important to winning their business.
While personalization, creativity, and data-driven campaigns work in both B2B and B2C marketing, there are many differences that you have to navigate. The sales cycle, the volume of customers, and the speed of the market are all distinct in B2B vs. B2C marketing.
If you’re looking to transition successfully from B2B to B2C marketing, here’s what you need to know and how you should change your approach to marketing strategy.
You’ll be doing the selling
When you’re working as a B2B marketer, you focus on content marketing and generating leads for the sales team. Once you’ve brought in the leads, sales takes over to nurture the leads through the pipeline from prospect to new customer. It’s a team effort, involving close collaboration between sales and marketing (although that has its own challenges).
B2C marketers don’t have a sales team to take over the process of selling to potential customers. Instead, you’ll be taking on this role of combined sales and marketing, trying to get customers to buy your products directly through the power of your marketing campaigns. You do the nurturing, you follow up to see why they haven’t responded, you choose how to interact with customers at any given point in the buying journey, and you close the sale — all through marketing activities. You have the pressure that comes with the direct responsibility for revenue.
Key takeaway: To ensure you can successfully nurture your leads from first contact until a purchase, you need to own all customer and prospect data so you can harness it to get the necessary insights to run successful and data-driven marketing campaigns.
Get ready for unpredictable sales cycles
As a B2B marketer, you’ve dealt with lengthy sales cycles that can last a year or more due to the complexity of the product and the number of stakeholders and decision makers involved. This can vary widely depending on your product or industry, but it’s a far more predictable sales process with set stages through the funnel.
As a B2C marketer, there’s no way of knowing how long the sale cycle will last. It could be a thirty-second impulse decision to buy new shoes, or it could be a two-year process of a range of different interactions across channels before the consumer decides to buy. You may even need to adopt some B2B marketing techniques if you’re selling a high-ticket item.
Key takeaway: To deal with this unpredictability, you need to understand the entire customer lifecycle and have the right content ready to serve up to the consumer in the exact moment (or micro-moment) they are ready to buy.
You’ll have a lot more customers
While the B2B sales cycle is often longer, the relationships marketers and salespeople form with customers are often more stable and long-term. B2B buyers normally sign a contract to complete the sale that can last at minimum a month and go up to years. B2B marketing is driven by larger, high-value accounts, rather than individual and fickle customers.
But for B2C businesses, a customer relationship could be a short as one purchase decision or last as long as years. You could potentially be interacting with millions of consumers via your marketing campaigns and only convert a tiny percentage to customers. This means your target audience is often huge, and you’ll end up with way more customers. This makes it much more challenging to give your customers a personalized and 1:1 interaction with your brand.
Key takeaway: Despite the high volume of transactions, customers need to feel like each of your interactions with them is personalized and individualized, with dynamic content tailored to them. This is especially true if you want to foster long-term customer loyalty.
Loyalty is everything
Loyalty is important for B2B marketers, but as you sell fewer products at higher price points, it’s not life or death in the way it is for B2C marketers. B2B businesses can be built on one-time purchases because the price point is higher, but for B2C, relying on one-time buyers is a risky proposition.
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. From a pure ROI perspective, B2C marketers have to focus on engineering the second purchase and incentivizing people to buy again.
Key takeaway: There are a number of ways you can incentivize the second purchase, including:
- Invite customers to join your loyalty scheme
- Offer a discount
- Recommend other products at the checkout
- Send out replenishment campaign emails
- Provide smart product recommendations in email campaigns
- Send cart and browse abandonment emails
Shift to new technology
Transitioning from B2B to B2C marketing will not only require new skills and approaches — you’ll also find that some of the technology you were using in your old role just won’t cut it. Take traditional CRMs such as Salesforce. These solutions were built specifically for B2B salespeople and processes, and a lot of their functionality isn’t suitable for B2C companies.
B2C marketers need a more powerful solution that will meet their needs, and that understands the differences between selling to businesses and selling to consumers. They need a B2C CRM. This same challenge applies to many of the technology you’re using today. Make sure you invest in the right tech stack that enables you to succeed as a B2C marketer.
Key takeaway: While your digital marketing skills will transfer, the technology platforms you’re used to using may not do the job anymore. Be ready to train yourself to use new technology, but use the same marketing best practices you’ve used before.
Moving from B2B to B2C marketing seems simple, but it can be a real challenge for many marketers. If you’re able to adapt to the demands of a consumer-focused, high-volume, fast-paced B2C marketing, you’ll thrive in your new role.