What Is B2C Marketing? | B2C Marketing Considerations
$1.1 trillion. That’s the record-breaking figure that this year’s ecommerce sales are predicted to top by the end of the year.
I bet that number caught your attention, huh? I can almost feel you sitting up in your chair a little straighter.
If you fancy getting your hands on a slice of the business-to-consumer (B2C) pie, then you’ll need a solid marketing strategy to underpin everything you do to drive customers to your website or store.
So, let’s dive deep into what is B2C marketing, how you can use it in your business, and what a post-pandemic B2C marketing strategy could look like now that we’re all having to shop a little differently.
Read on to learn more about:
- What is B2C marketing?
- B2C marketing considerations
- B2C marketing channels
- B2C marketing strategies
- Post-pandemic B2C marketing tips
What is B2C marketing?
B2C, or business-to-consumer marketing, are tactics and strategies you can use to promote your products to individuals, rather than companies.
In other words, whenever you promote your products on social media, via email, across your website, or by any other means, you’ll want to grab the attention of the people who use your products in their day-to-day lives.
In B2C marketing, these end-users are your primary customers and the people you are trying to attract, which comes with its fair share of challenges.
With so much competition within the B2C market, you may only have a small window of opportunity to capture your customers’ interests and persuade them to buy from you.
B2C customers have also been conditioned by the likes of Amazon to expect excellent customer service and seamless shopping experiences wherever they browse, click, and buy—and even after they purchase. This is known as the ‘Amazon Effect’—and it’s very real.
Your mission? Cut through the noise and digital distractions your always-on customers face every day, and stand out among your competitors. (Don’t worry, there’s more on how to do this shortly.)
B2C marketing considerations
To succeed in B2C marketing, here are two of the most pivotal considerations you’ll need to bear in mind when devising your strategies.
B2C buyer psychology
The first is knowing about B2C buyer psychology. It’s important to understand how your customers buy and what their motivations are.
More often than not, emotion is a trigger for what B2C customers choose to buy, and who they decide to buy from. There has been a significant shift in recent years with customers favoring brands they can connect with on a personal level.
“A good product is no longer enough to win a consumer’s favor. Shoppers want more than just quality, often looking for products and brands that align with their personal values,” says Remi Rosmarin, a reporter for Business Insider.
"A good product is no longer enough to win a consumer's favor. Shoppers want more than just quality, often looking for products and brands that align with their personal values."
Remi Rosmarin, a reporter for Business Insider
In other words, successful B2C brands offer customers the personal, meaningful, authentic, and trustworthy relationships they crave most.
Take Estrid, the female vegan shaving company, for example. They sell a unique product—vegan razors for women—and have built a brand on trust and personal relationships with their customers, which is based on a deep understanding of the women using their razors.
To create memorable marketing moments for your customers, it’s vital to know them well and what makes them tick. This is where buyer personas and the second most crucial B2C marketing consideration comes in.
B2C buyer personas
Buyer personas are descriptions of your ideal customers based on research and data you already have about your existing customers.
You can use personas to segment your customers for more targeted marketing campaigns, and they differ from company to company.
You might want to segment your customers according to their demographics; busy moms in their 30s versus tech-savvy Gen X students, for instance.
Or maybe you want to get even more granular, and split your audience according to their behavior, such as last-minute gift buyers versus those customers who heavily research their purchases before buying anything.
Or maybe you want to segment your audience in both ways?
Naturally, these different types of customers will buy in different ways and they have distinct interests. It’s your job to figure out what those motivations are and successfully capture that in your marketing.
This is one of the most rewarding things you can do for your business as you’ll gain a deeper understanding of who your customers are, what they like, what they dislike, what their preferences are, what demographic groups they belong to, and how they behave online and in-store.
Ultimately, you’ll be able to use this deep level of data to build authentic and meaningful relationships with your customers—which, in the cutthroat world of B2C—can only be a good thing for retaining your customers and sustaining long-term business growth.
B2C marketing channels
So now that you know who your customers are and what interests them, it’s time to grab their attention where they spend their time. Here are five of the most common B2C marketing channels, and the pros and cons of each.
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the act of creating high-quality, relevant content people are searching for and ensuring this content can be found, crawled, and indexed successfully by search engines.
While it takes time to build up an authority and search presence, SEO usually results in longlasting traffic and fantastic return on investment (as much as a 14.6 percent average conversion rate) when done right.
There’s also a low cost to entry for this marketing channel—but you’ll need to invest time in developing SEO strategies and creating content.
2. Organic social media
Organic social media refers to all the posts you share on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, that you don’t pay for.
This is one of the most competitive B2C marketing channels, and it can be time-consuming to build a loyal follower base who hang off your every word.
It’s important to remember that website clicks and revenue are not necessarily the key driver here.
Instead, these platforms can be used to build and maintain customer relationships through what you say, how you say it, consistent branding, and—perhaps most important of all—personality.
Finally, your social media strategy will also influence how you use shoppable features on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
3. Paid advertising
Paid advertising includes both paid search—the ads you see above organic search results in search engine results pages, and paid social media posts like the sponsored ads you see on Facebook and Instagram.
This is often a costly pay-to-play strategy. Brands are estimated to spend close to $95 billion on Facebook and Instagram advertising by 2021—a rise of 22.5 percent just this year.
Paid search ads can also be competitive for some search terms, resulting in even more cost to get the kinds of results you want.
That said, paid advertising is still a pivotal part of your B2C marketing strategy—especially if keywords are heavy in buyer intent, ads eclipse organic search results, and if you want to boost your acquisition efforts on social media to get your business off the ground.
Deep data insights and audience research, combined with a solid strategy and regular testing are critical to any form of advertising to help your hard-earned dollars garner the richest return on investment (ROI).
While it takes time to build your email lists, you can do so for a relatively low cost.
You can also save time by automating your emails—creating a welcome series, for example, or instantly sending discounts and offers to customers who browse but don’t buy.
With email, you can take back control of your marketing campaigns and amplify your owned marketing efforts while building long-lasting relationships and nurturing your customers in the way that you want.
The London-based lingerie brand, Heist Studios, for example, drives an incredible 66 percent of its revenue through email alone, thanks to a highly segmented and personalized email strategy, which matches products and other email content with what a customer engages with most.
Email marketing also helps to replicate the experience a customer would receive in-store in a digital way. A welcome series, for example, is just like the welcome your customers receive in-store.
SMS marketing involves communicating campaigns, promotions, news, updates, and other messages through text.
It has the potential to drive 98 percent open rates and forms a pivotal part of many ecommerce brands’ owned marketing strategies.
When a customer first browses GhostBed’s website, they see a popup offering them a discount and early access to future deals and promotions if they signup with their email address or phone number.
If customers subscribe via email, the popup changes on their next visit to offer them yet more discounts in exchange for their phone number.
Any text messages GhostBed send are short and snappy—and the use of discounts and offers means the messages are attractive to customers who are considering buying from them.
Customers naturally feel less trusting of sharing their phone numbers—but they can be won over by an enticing offer or discount!
Remember: SMS is a channel that should be used sparingly and when you can genuinely add value to your customers’ lives by speaking to them via text message. Flash sale reminders, invites to local events, limited time offers, and cart abandonment messages are all great examples of when SMS marketing can shine brightly.
B2C marketing strategies
Showcasing creativity and personality while building relationships and trust are all vital components of a successful B2C marketing strategy. Here are seven ways to do just that.
1. Welcome series
A welcome series is a sequence of emails that are sent directly after someone signs up to hear from your brand.
This is the perfect opportunity for you to introduce your brand to new customers while showcasing your bestsellers to gauge what they might be interested in.
Welcome emails are arguably some of the most powerful emails you’ll ever send as they can result in 63 percent higher open rates, 86 percent higher clickthrough rates, and 83 percent higher revenue per recipient (RPR) than your average email campaign.
Take a look at this welcome email I received from London-based haircare brand, Only Curls:
From the subject line to the fabulously crafted email copy, headings, and buttons, even email skimmers can quickly see what this brand is all about: CURLS—and loving them at that.
Alongside the clear cut copy, the design, color palette, and choice of imagery—right down to the cute illustrations—are all on-brand and perfectly complement their website.
But, aesthetics aside, this email also does exactly what it’s supposed to.
It tells me more about the brand, why I should shop with them, what products I should buy (and how to use them), and what I should do if I want to learn more about their “curly method.”
2. Memberships, VIPs, and loyalty programs
Whether you choose to offer exclusive memberships, loyalty programs, or simply give your VIP customers an extra heavy dose of love with exclusive offers and discounts, these strategies all have something in common.
They foster exclusivity and a feeling of belonging to a special group while promoting brand loyalty across your community.
Their reward program has different levels of rewards—so even if I don’t spend a lot of money with them, I can still get some great prizes, such as £5 off my next purchase for referring a friend and free shipping on my birthday. Exciting!
You can then use this data to send highly segmented emails—ultimately improving conversion—while fostering stronger relationships and a deeper understanding of your customers.
Take menswear brand, Spoke London, for example.
Their “Fit Finder” test asks customers a series of quick questions like: “How tall are you?” and “How tightly do you fasten your wristband?” to find out more about their body type, age, and personal fit preferences. The test then uses intelligent algorithms to help customers find their perfect fit for trousers and tops.
Customers’ quiz results are instantly offered on screen and via email, and all the “shop now” links direct them to products they might like, which are already filtered by the customer’s fit test results.
Afterward, Spoke London can use this data to tailor their emails to what customers are more likely to be looking for and suited to wearing—vastly improving men’s experiences when buying clothes.
4. Contests and giveaways
Who doesn’t love winning free stuff?
Contests and giveaways hook new customers in and introduce them to your products while building brand loyalty, stronger relationships, and an engaged community for both new and existing customers.
But be careful with this approach! Ensure giveaways are relevant to your brand and values—and thus, more likely to entice people who will stay with you long after the competition has ended.
The last thing you want is a sudden influx of subscriptions to your mailing list, only for them all to unsubscribe afterward.
5. Abandoned cart emails
If your customers add products to their cart but end their session without buying, then a series of two or three abandoned cart emails to remind them of what they were going to purchase—perhaps followed up with a discount or other juicy offer—can help persuade them to buy.
Businesses with average order values of $100 to $500 recover four to five percent of their abandoned carts on average. Quite clearly, there’s money to be made with an abandoned email series.
Alongside abandoned cart emails, you might also want to consider browse abandonment emails—for those who browse your website without buying.
Sending them a couple of emails to remind them of what they were looking at on your website alongside some bestsellers or new products to tempt them further—just like mindful lifestyle business, Sivana does—may be all the convincing your browsers need to make a purchase.
But as with any email campaign, data privacy laws—like the GDPR—must be kept in mind.
6. Win-back campaigns
Win-back campaigns, also known as re-engagement campaigns, are emails sent to inactive subscribers—those people who have engaged with your company in the past, but for some reason, have stopped doing so over a set period of time—usually 30, 60, or 90 days.
Campaigns like this are a powerful way to reach and engage dormant customers—especially as repeat customers are nine times more likely to convert than a first-time shopper.
Take UK-based coffee roasters, RAVE Coffee, for example. Their win-back emails are all on-brand and engaging to read. There’s even a fun play on words included, which matches the brand’s tone of voice and what you’ll see across their website and social channels.
Alongside these fun branding elements, customers are also shown a discount code and links to RAVE Coffee’s bestsellers, as well as customer reviews and even a quick reminder about the company’s rewards program.
All this is done with the specific goal in mind to tempt customers into staying a part of the RAVE Coffee community.
Retargeting is the process of showing relevant social media ads to customers or potential customers who have browsed your website—and possibly already bought from you.
Maybe your customers have viewed a particular product but need a little more convincing to buy? Or perhaps an enticing offer or discount would win them over?
Retargeting allows you to do this on channels like Facebook and Instagram, which your customers are probably using regularly.
Post-pandemic B2C marketing tips
Thanks—or is it no thanks?—to the coronavirus outbreak, consumer psychology has changed drastically in recent months.
Some customers are more fearful of shopping in-store than before.
Some have sadly lost their jobs or income, so they see lust-haves as less critical than before or are saving more to combat any economic downturn, while others are spending money on new essentials to help improve their stay-at-home lives.
Reflect these changes in your marketing copy
To build strong relationships with your customers and potential customers, it’s essential your emails, social media copy, and marketing campaigns reflect these changes.
“Go through your automation emails or scheduled messages. Make sure there’s nothing in there that has language your customers will find insensitive at this time,” advises Gina Perelli, director of CRM at the Lunar Solar Group.
"Go through your automation emails or scheduled messages. Make sure there’s nothing in there that has language your customers will find insensitive at this time."
Gina Perelli, director of CRM, Lunar Solar Group
Remember: despite cities and countries around the world slowly opening up again, customers are well aware that the virus is still at large. The fear, anxiety, and heartbreak from these past months have not gone away.
Changes in consumer psychology and spending habits are, therefore, predicted to continue for the foreseeable future.
Communicate with empathy to build strong relationships
Now more than ever, it’s important to focus on your brand’s community to build strong relationships and a personal rapport with your customers.
“Focus on retention—building a loyalty strategy, implementing on-site messaging, leveraging retention tools like email and SMS, and making things personal,” says Sean Clanchy, managing director of Swanky Australia.
"Focus on retention—building a loyalty strategy, implementing on-site messaging, leveraging retention tools like email and SMS, and making things personal."
Sean Clanchy, managing director, Swanky Australia
When the pandemic hit, the brand focused more on brand building and how they could help their customers and community than on selling products.
They launched a “self-care school” and offered free meditation, yoga, and dance workshops online to help relieve stress and create a positive community for those affected by the crisis.
Alongside this, the brand also communicated with empathy by changing the words in their emails to ones that would lower anxiety or express gratitude.
Build consumer confidence and trust for your brand
This period of uncertainty we’re facing means that it’s now more important than ever to think about how you’ll make your customers feel more confident about buying online and purchasing from you.
“Consumers are going to be looking to buy from brands that are sensitive to the crisis, as well as individuals’ health and safety. These companies make customers feel more confident and better about their decisions in shopping there,” says Emily Miller, vice president of strategy and insight at Big Red Rooster.
"Consumers are going to be looking to buy from brands that are sensitive to the crisis, as well as individuals’ health and safety. These companies make customers feel more confident and better about their decisions in shopping there."
Emily Miller, vice president of strategy and insight, Big Red Rooster
Depending on your business, influencer marketing and brand ambassador programs may also help you to build consumer confidence—providing your influencer relationships are ethical, respectful of the current situation, and that your values and audiences match.
Improve your omnichannel marketing strategies
Omnichannel marketing revolves around the idea that your customers hop from channel to channel during their journey to buy from you, and that they expect a consistent brand experience, and for each interaction to feel like a continuation of the previous one throughout this journey.
If you’ve had your heart set on Try Before You Buy, for example, then now has never been the more perfect time to implement it.
These programs could help convert fashion, furniture, and luxury customers during a time when they’re not keen on going in-store to touch your products, or when customers are feeling more fearful of purchases they’re not 100 percent sure of.
And what about Buy Online Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) or Click & Collect? While they’ve been gaining momentum in recent years, could we see these new strategies become more mainstream in the future as customers seek to spend less time in busy stores?
The time is now to grab your slice of the trillion-dollar pie
B2C marketing has always been an important part of selling online or in-store. While many B2C marketing strategies have stayed the same over the years, the time is now to consider how the current climate will affect your strategies both now and in the future.
With a slice of a pie worth $1.1 trillion, your efforts to cut through the digital distractions always-on customers face every day—by learning how best to grab their attention and charming them with fantastic shopping experiences—will surely be worth it.
Discover more B2C marketing strategies and tips in The Entrepreneur Growth Guide.Back to Blog Home