Adding a direct-to-consumer channel to your B2B company is not unlike opening a brand-new business. The B2C space is saturated with competition and heightened consumer expectations, and your B2B authority won't automatically carry over.
What's more, B2C means you're competing directly with Amazon and other large retailers and dot coms, and that demands delivering on immediate shipping, price competition, simple returns, and an elevated product experience.
But don't try to boil the ocean all at once - you won't become a nationally-known brand overnight. Instead, think clearly on what distinguishes you from the competition, whether it's your products, customer service, shipping speed, pricing, loyal fanbase, or overall customer experience. Exploit these key differentiators across your website, social, email, and advertising campaigns.
The first decision you need to make is how you'll handle your e-commerce plan, as your approach to your website will impact all areas of your marketing efforts. (We've outlined key considerations to determine your best website strategy here.)
Next, with the right e-commerce foundation in place, you'll need to build your B2C brand through sheer tenacity, differentiation, and a smart, multi-channel digital strategy.
Impression by impression, social share by social share, and interaction by interaction, you'll start to build and grow your B2C identity. We've outlined some critical marketing considerations to get you started.
Establish Distinct Data Insights
Data is the lifeblood of any proactive marketing plan to ensure you're providing relevant offers and messaging, at the right moments and to the right customer.
How you'll handle your data when marketing to two distinct audiences is a critical decision. Will you maintain one database or two? Next, will you house your customer data in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool or a marketing automation platform? Both tools enable you to act on real-time behavior, by sending emails, SMS messages, or sales rep follow-up based on actions a recipient takes. However, you'll need a clear-cut segmentation, compliance, and data maintenance strategy, so you don't cross wires.
By putting together a well-thought-out and documented database maintenance and marketing automation plan, you can avoid common segmentation pitfalls. Talk to your marketing team or digital agency for help mapping out complexities and dependencies, across databases and tools.
Deliver Hyper-Relevant Content
Compelling, personalized content is how you engage prospects, motivate sales, and deepen customer relationships with your brand, but two sets of customers means new content strategies.
Develop distinct personas for each audience to create targeted content. Product detail pages, gift guides, how-to articles, accessorizing or merchandising suggestions, and more, will differ for each base. While this means creating more content and populating both websites, it also means a better user experience and deeper brand loyalty.
Maximize your content marketing strategy by repurposing your content across channels, whenever possible. For instance, let's say you create a thoughtful holiday guide with merchandising tips for your B2B retailers to outfit their stores. You can repurpose the content for your B2C audience with festive entertaining tips, featuring best-selling holiday products.
You'll find plenty of crossover to reuse content, but you'll want to map out a campaign strategy for how you'll share the content on your website(s), social platforms, and email to get the right content to the right customer.
On some websites, you can create visitor groups and serve up the right content to the right persona dynamically within a single page. If your website doesn't support visitor groups, you can simply use segmentation and marketing best practices to ensure the right person receives the right content (or wink, wink: talk to a Whereoware digital expert on building a website with visitor groups).
Multi-Channel Marketing Campaigns
You can't run your B2C multi-channel strategy on autopilot, mimicking the traditional B2B cadence. The sales cycles are different, with divergent marketing goals, objectives, and tactics.
Email frequency and cadences will differ significantly. For instance, the typical B2B holiday buying season kicks off at August markets, while the B2C back-to-school shopping is in full swing.
Establish exclusive campaign calendars, with touchpoints targeted to each audience's personas, interests, and needs. Ensure that each campaign directs to a logical and personalized landing page to reduce friction and drive their next action.
Map out distinct automated programs for both your B2B and B2C audiences, triggered by behavior-based rules and criteria. Scoring/click through models, cart and order detail relational table data, website journey and history, or email preferences can all be used to target each audience.
Automated programs enable you to react in near real-time to customers' behavior, which is particularly important in the B2C space, where smaller purchases are more likely to be impulse-driven. Increase average order value (AOV) by including data-driven product recommendations within your email marketing campaigns.
Extend your reach by aligning your marketing and social media strategy. A strong social media presence is expected in the B2C space and essential to building an interactive community, boosting engagement, and driving traffic and conversions on your website. Decide whether you can effectively connect with both audiences using your existing social profiles or consider managing separate accounts.
Combine SEO and PPC
Strong search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) is particularly crucial when you're adding a B2C channel, as you need to build credibility and widen your audience reach from the ground up. Your brand name is likely not recognizable in the B2C space yet, so your best chance of gaining new customers is through a Google search or a targeted ad.
Like everything else, your SEO and PPC strategy must be thoughtful and distinct for your B2B and B2C audiences, catering to unique search intent, decision making processes, sales cycles, and preferred channels.
Make sure to direct keywords, descriptions, and audiences to the appropriate website or a targeted landing page, or you run the risk of wasting time and money competing against yourself for visibility and ad spend.
Scale Your Customer Support Strategy
For both B2B and B2C, proactive customer service is essential. You must thoughtfully scale your customer care strategy and operational processes to accommodate the distinct needs and demands of each audience.
B2B customer support issues tend to be more complex and intricate, taking longer to resolve. On the other hand, B2C customer service concerns and requests are often simpler and more routine - like inquiring how to return a product or get a refund on a damaged item - but customers expect an immediate resolution.
Independent customer service lines for your B2C and B2B businesses will streamline interactions. Your existing customer service team may be able to effectively manage requirements of both audiences, but this requires separate training and talk tracks on how to resolve common disputes.
Make sure you also resource plan for seasonal volume swings, particularly during peak purchasing periods, like B2B market cycles and B2C holiday seasons. If you have the bandwidth, it may be simpler to establish a distinct team of representatives dedicated to each base.
Remember, consumers tend to prefer self-service options, like online portals, chat bots, or webforms to handle simple tasks. (Of course, self-serve is becoming hugely popular in the B2B space with each passing year.) Provide separate, clear, and comprehensive frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages for both audiences and consider adding self-service tools to lower customer frustration, reduce customer service issues, and communicate important differences in return policies and procedures.
A Mindful Marketing Plan
Are you ready to expand your B2B business into the B2C space? You'll need a thoughtful e-commerce and marketing strategy to extend your B2B brand recognition and authority into the highly competitive direct-to-consumer space.
Get in touch with a digital strategist to develop a diversified, multi-channel marketing plan to deliver a best-in-class digital experience to both your B2B and B2C customers.