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Business to Consumer (B2C) Marketing: Ultimate Guide
B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing is an array of best practices, strategies, methods, and tactics for promoting products and services to consumers. This differs from B2B (also called business-to-business) marketing whereby companies market their goods and services directly to other companies and businesses.
For this reason, B2C marketing is an important factor in the success of any business offering consumer-based services or products: a fashion store, car-hire service, drug store, restaurant, software firm, grocery shop, resort hotel, etc.
B2C marketers focus not only on the value and benefit their products or services offer but also try to invoke an emotional connection with the consumer.
In the digital age, however, the internet has become the battleground as well as the most viable channel by which B2C brands seek actionable market insights in order to effectively promote their products and services.
Nearly every smart B2C brand is trying to get in front of their online target audience. After all, every company worth its salt wants to get a slice of the $3.53 trillion global e-commerce industry, a market whose revenues are expected to hit $6.54 trillion by 2023.
Unlike B2B customers (businesses), end consumers are often looking for products and services that offer immediate solutions to their problems and pain-points. They don’t do extensive research on products and tend to complete purchases within a few days, if not hours of becoming aware of products.
For successful marketing campaigns, however, B2C companies must be familiar with market trends and know their target audience’s purchasing habits, needs, and preferences.
Today’s B2C marketing promotions should be smart, data-driven, technology-heavy, easy for customers to access, and focused on meeting the exact needs of the consumer.
The one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. Here we have created the ultimate guide for business-to-consumer marketing. It covers every aspect of B2C marketing, from B2C marketing channels and challenges to the do’s and don’ts of consumer-based marketing.
The B2C Consumer
As a B2C marketer, your single-most important task is to know your customer inside out. That’s why you should carry out a meticulous analysis of your target audience, the kind of consumer you intend to reach.
[bctt tweet="As a B2C marketer, your single-most important task is to know your customer inside out." via="no"]
Usually, the most effective (and perhaps easiest) way for B2C brands to analyze their markets is to generalize their audience into one model customer. Is your typical customer female or male? Is this person married? Are there children? What is the age group?
Before you dig any deeper into the nitty-gritty of your target audience, it is important to understand what generally makes B2C customers tick. Specifically, what moves them to buy?
Once you’ve figured out your customers’ motivations, you can easily create the ‘wow’ factor and that pushes them to buy. Here are some of the most common B2C buyer motivations you should know.
To make peace or amends. Although we may feel good by letting go of the past, our buying behavior often indicates otherwise. For example, a man who may have had a bad relationship with his father will more likely buy something to honor him.
To feel special and exclusive. We all want to be prized, and feel as though we’re one of a kind. This unique form of self-assurance gives us a feeling of exclusiveness. Buying an expensive sports car, joining an exclusive country club, splurging on an exotic vacation, and so forth can help trigger this emotion.
To realize a life dream. Some non-typical purchases may help shine a light on someone’s innermost wants and desires. If owning a downtown condo, convertible or Swiss watch will make one of your life dreams come true, wouldn’t you buy it?
To save money, time or energy. A person will purchase a product or service if it will save energy, money or time. Drawing upon this fact, B2C marketers can remind their target customers that, in the long- or short-term, they will recoup their money.
To feel great and comfortable. Most consumers are moved to buy a product that helps them feel good. Here, think of comfort food like fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, or French fries. The same goes for feel-good purchases like luxury cars, a bottle of a favorite wine, hot cocoa for a chilly winter evening, and so forth.
To prove a point or to seem defiant. Have you ever been told that you don’t really need something? Or, that you can’t afford it? These negative statements can easily turn into great forces that motivate a consumer to buy something in order to “prove a point.” You can think of the customer as a rebellious teen.
To improve status. Some people buy the latest car, move into a luxury home, clad themselves in designer outfits or dine out in an exclusive restaurant just to elevate their status. The purchase is supposed to help tell their story and, without words, tell others they deserve high regard.
Safety and fear. The vast majority of people buy items that make them feel more safe and comfortable. This may help explain why we spend top dollar on home security systems, houses in safe neighborhoods, comprehensive medical coverage, and much more. Fear stemming from insecurity motivates us.
To be regarded as ‘somebody.’ Some people go to great lengths to make a statement. Many consumers are especially prone to buy products that fulfill their need to feel like somebody. In other words, they make certain purchases to feel connected, respected, and to be ‘seen’.
To reward themselves. It’s not uncommon for people to splurge on something expensive, especially clothing or electronics, in an attempt to reward themselves. After a week or month of saving, you might want to reward yourself with a lobster dinner.
The Microsecond Buyer
Aside from the motivations mentioned above, B2C buyers also tend to make impulse-driven buying decisions. Popularly known as ‘microsecond buyers’, this impulse shopper makes purchase decisions super-fast and often doesn’t do much due diligence or product research.
The microsecond buyer makes unplanned decisions in the heat of the moment to purchase a product or a service.
More often than not, impulse purchases are made not because they are essential but rather to satisfy an emotional urge and/or to uplift the buyer’s mood.
When exploited creatively and properly, impulse buying can be a great goldmine for smart B2C brands and marketers.
However, the bigger question is: what drives both in-store and online buyers to make impulse-driven purchase decisions? How can you leverage B2C marketing to cash in on impulse buying?
Impulse purchases are predominantly driven by emotion. We are emotional beings. Psychological studies show that emotional triggers stimulate customers’ minds 3,000 times faster than rational or reasoned thinking.
This doesn’t come as a big surprise, given that feelings play a huge role at nearly every stage of the buyer’s journey. Unlike rational thoughts that can push the shopper to conduct extensive research, emotional thoughts can drive an instant purchase decision.
To master the market, B2C marketers have increasingly focused on manipulating customers’ emotions in order to make sales happen. There are numerous ways B2C brands can create positive emotions and move buyers to buy.
Perhaps the best way to initiate an emotion-driven impulse sale is through attractive colors, appealing images, emotion-provoking phrases, and other elements that will inspire a positive reaction in the mind of the target consumer.
Color placement can do wonders, especially for in-store customers. That’s because some colors have been found to arouse certain feelings in customers’ minds.
For example, green is generally thought to bring forth a feeling of relaxation, while blue induces a sense of peace and serenity. If you want to create a wistful emotion, stick to brown, whereas red can help you grab customers’ attention.
Another way to create a compelling emotional connection with both offline and online customers is through storytelling. This is an art of communication and marketing that can be particularly persuasive.
Impulse buying hinges on the sense of instant gratification. After all, impulse buys are not planned and usually appeal to a feeling of instant gratification. Because they are often made in the spur of the moment, these purchases are often taken as guilty pleasures.
A shopper may innocently drop into a store with no particular intention of buying, but the way products are set up and displayed may trigger them to make a purchase. This is especially true for millennial shoppers.
Often tied to impatience and the need for recognition, this feeling of immediacy can be a critical sales driver for both online and brick-and-mortar stores. For online sellers, limited time promotions, sales, conditional free shipping, and special offers may play right into impulse-driven purchase decisions.
Simple and instant messaging is important. A solid messaging strategy is a pillar upon which you can build effective customer experiences, improve engagements, and eventually drive purchase decisions.
We live in a world where instant gratification is almost ubiquitous; customers want to receive answers fast. As a B2C marketer, you need to tailor your messaging for optimal customer engagements; making sure your message is simple, relevant and that it resonates with the needs of your audience.
Despite being microsecond customers, most consumers need information prior to making their purchase decisions. With the right messaging strategy, you can move impulse buys by delivering real-time personalized information.
Timing is everything. Today’s B2C brands must be able to allow consumers to start the buying process without much processing, delay or wait time.
Special pricing, customized experiences, and other incentives can help encourage impulse buying, but you need to get the timing right.
Highly discounted products, for instance, are usually purchased on impulse in both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce stores. However, well-timed promotions and sales can get even better results. Adding an element of urgency and executing multi-channel promotional campaigns effectively drives impulse buys.
Besides timing, the most crucial factor driving impulse purchases in-store and online is making sure the whole process is quick and trouble-free. After all, if a shopper decides to purchase an item on the spur of the moment, they are not likely to endure a long and cumbersome buying process.
For in-store purchases, make sure there is a smooth flow from the shelves to the till. In the e-commerce space, make sure your web-store is mobile-optimized, user-friendly, and streamlined to fully take advantage of the impulse-buying tendencies of the microsecond buyer.
B2C Online Consumer
Online shopping has gained immense traction across the globe in the last decade or so, with worldwide e-commerce sales anticipated to exceed $3.5 trillion by 2023.
Online sales accounted for roughly 14.1 percent of all global sales of products and services in 2019, and this share is expected to mushroom to 22 percent in 2023, according to Statista.
Today, more than 80 percent of Americans say they have bought at least one product or service online. This figure is predicted to reach close to 91 percent by 2023.
From these encouraging numbers, it’s safe to conclude that creating an effective e-commerce marketing strategy is the best bet for B2C brands hoping for success in 2020 and beyond.
Online B2C consumers won’t simply pull out their credit cards and buy from just any website with an e-cart, however. Companies need to prove they are worth the sale.
So, if you run an online B2C business, it’s imperative that you stay abreast of the latest marketing trends, including the key drivers and challenges to online buying. More specifically, you need to understand the ins and outs of your typical B2C online customer, so you can create tailored marketing campaigns geared toward the right audience.
Want to cash in on the ever-rising B2C e-commerce industry?
Let’s explore some of the biggest motivations that drive B2C consumers to buy online instead of in-store, as well as how to use them to your advantage.
Ability to shop round the clock
According to a recent KPMG online consumer report, 58 percent of B2C consumers gave “ability to shop 24/7” as their top reason for choosing to shop online. It’s not hard to understand why.
[bctt tweet="58 percent of B2C consumers gave “ability to shop 24/7” as their top reason for choosing to shop online." via="no"]
The e-commerce space gives consumers round-the-clock access to a huge assortment of products and services. Whether you want to pre-order the latest smartphone, snag that gorgeous wedding gown before it goes out of stock or order take-out at 2:00 in the morning, internet shopping makes it all possible, whenever and wherever you may be.
How to take advantage of the 24-hour convenience of online shopping? Create a robust website that is not only fast and user-friendly but also mobile-optimized and information-rich.
Your site should load in a snap because slow-loading websites are downright frustrating, resulting in abandonments and eventual loss of business to the competition.
The secret to successful online selling lies in reliable customer service. Make sure customers can get answers promptly by including live chat and phone service staffed 24/7.
Set up automated email marketing, social integration, and other communication features to increase customer engagement, boost your reach, and close sales faster.
Overall, your online buying process should be simplified, streamlined, and hassle-free, from start to finish. Don’t forget to incorporate payment options that require little to no input on your end, such as PayPal, Stripe, etc., so you don’t have to deal with too many complaints or processing bottlenecks.
Ability to compare and review multiple sites and products
Online shoppers have unlimited access to countless options when it comes to services, products, and sellers. This gives them the ability to compare and review multiple products and stores before they make a purchase decision.
Above all, they can comparison shop right from their computers, laptops, tablets or mobile devices. That means they don’t have to move from one store or aisle to another. All they need do is conduct a web search to visit dozens of online stores offering a specific product or numerous related products.
Even better, they can read online reviews and learn what others have to say about these stores and their respective products or services. This way, they can conduct thorough research and make comparisons based on quality, user ratings, price, and customer service.
This motivation provides smaller players and upcoming stores with an avenue to compete with big-box retailers and larger online marketplaces. There are plenty of ways they can do this:
Make a point of providing relevant information your target buyers may be searching for early in the buying journey.
Clearly show the price, specifications, return policy, and other information on the product page to help customers easily compare products.
Don’t forget to optimize your content for buyers who may still be doing research. The same should also apply to your SEO strategy; make it easy for users to connect with your brand and products earlier in the buying cycle.
If your sales cycle is long, which is often true for brands like software providers, you may want to entice the customer to provide you with their contact info early in the sales cycle. Having their email in your CRM system, for instance, can help you follow up and be a presence throughout their buying process.
E-commerce has become a darling of thrift shoppers and bargain hunters alike. Some even visit a brick-and-mortar store to figure out what they want and then head online for better and more competitive pricing.
Unlike physical stores, there are some bills most online stores don’t have to pay: property lease, parking, wages for floor workers, and shelving costs. This affords them the luxury of offering cheaper pricing while competing with physical stores on quality and customer service.
For instance, in the clothing sector, most shoppers go to a boutique or big-box retailer to find exactly what they want. They can feel, touch and try on an outfit before using their phones to buy the product at a much cheaper price online.
To cash in on bargain hunters looking for better pricing online, you may want to take advantage of price-reducing tactics like selling refurbished products, drop-shipping, and bulk-selling to gain from economies of scale.
Ideally, like BestBuy, you should have a “deal of the day” system in place, offering reduced pricing on the latest or slower-moving products.
Wider variety and ease of selection
With advanced logistics and a supply chain framework, online sellers can offer a larger number and a wider variety of products. Online buyers, in turn, can find a wider selection of products and services than ever before.
This convenience and ease of selection make the job of online shoppers effortlessly smooth. For instance, Amazon shoppers can find literally anything in the same marketplace, from home cleaning services to the latest iPhone.
Even if you operate a physical store, make sure you offer a wider range of products to your target consumers online. By offering a broader breadth of inventory, you can capture more web traffic, increase conversion, boosting both sales and revenue.
B2C Offline Consumer
In-store sales still command more than an 80 percent share of all US sales despite huge leaps made by online retailers like Amazon.
For this reason, it is also helpful for B2C brands to think about the drivers for in-store buying. That’s because offline purchases show how digital marketing strategies like augmented reality, VR, and interactive product shots could help with the need to try, touch and see products in person.
So what motivates B2C consumers to choose offline purchases over online shopping?
- The need for instant gratification
Perhaps the most cited reason for offline shopping is that customers want items now, and want them fast. As per a recent Retail Drive survey, nearly half of surveyed consumers say they prefer in-store shopping over internet stores because they could immediately take the products with them.
This shows that two-day, or even next-day shipping cannot entirely reproduce the sense of immediacy offered by in-store purchases. This may help explain why e-retailers like Amazon are going above and beyond to cover the last-mile to offer same-day delivery.
- Ability to touch, see, and try out products
It turns out many consumers still want to kick the tires before buying a car. Accordingly, the ability to try out, feel, and touch an item is the leading reason why consumers don’t want to ditch physical stores for online shopping.
In fact, a significant 62 percent of consumers want to experience the tactile nature of in-store shopping, as per the Retail Drive survey.
Physical stores must spruce up their game to craft captivating in-store shopping experience. Likewise, online sellers can leverage the latest technologies like AI, AR and VR to replicate this amazing experience for their internet buyers.
- Shipping-related issues
In the survey mentioned above, consumers quoted easy returns as another of the top 5 reasons they shop in-store rather than online.
This is corroborated by the KPMG report, in which shoppers cited “delivery takes too long” as their reason for shopping in stores versus online. Too high shipping costs, too complicated of a return process, and long delays are other shipping-related issues noted by consumers for opting to shop in-store.
It’s no wonder Amazon has tossed its hat in the ring by making it mandatory for all sellers on its platform to offer free returns.
- Enjoy the in-store shopping experience
Despite major improvements in the online shopping experience, more than 18 percent of respondents say enjoyment of the in-store shopping experience is the key reason they prefer to shop in physical stores than e-commerce platforms.
Perhaps they love the social aspect, tactile experiences, and overall in-store atmosphere.
According to the KPMG Global Online Consumer report, roughly 23 percent of B2C buyers enjoy the mere experience of visiting physical shops.
- Ability to seek 1:1 customer service
Although not a popular reason, some consumers say they prefer shopping in stores versus online because they can ask questions and seek customer service in person.
Given that online shoppers have so much information at their disposal, they may not have a big incentive to ask in-store employees questions. At the very least, this isn’t a sufficient reason to make a trip to a physical store.
It’s imperative that brick-and-mortar B2C businesses return to the drawing board and rethink how they can employ the power of the human touch.
Main Differences between B2C and B2B Marketing
All businesses that engage in marketing can be taken as either B2C, an acronym for Business-to-Consumer, or B2B, which stands for Business-to-Business.
Some brands are considered hybrids because they directly market to both businesses and consumers.
Contrary to common belief, B2B and B2C marketing differ greatly. Understanding the key differences between the two can help you tailor your strategy and make your campaigns more successful and relevant.
In this section, we’ll only take a look at the major differences:
B2C marketing refers to the strategies used to directly sell products or services to consumers for personal use.
On the other hand, B2B marketing entails a series of tactics, strategies and best practices used by companies to promote their products or services to other companies or businesses. Find out more about B2B marketing and its best practices.
As you can infer from the definition, end consumers are the target customer of B2C businesses. However, B2C marketers don’t gear their marketing efforts toward companies, distributors, retailers or any other businesses down the supply chain.
B2C brands typically target a large audience of individual shoppers.
B2B companies sell their products or services to businesses. Their target customers are key decision-makers within their organizations.
For this reason, B2B marketers don’t focus on a company’s employees other than those who are involved in the research or actual purchase decision. They don’t even bother about the end-user.
Instead, B2B marketers target a small audience to purchase decision-makers within a company. This might include executives, CEOs, accountants, managers, CMOs, and heads of various departments.
Storytelling Style: Logic versus Emotion
Both B2C and B2B brands use storytelling to cultivate customer loyalty, inspire emotion, and perhaps move customers to purchase.
However, the two camps do it differently.
B2C marketers focus on the emotional drive linked to buying the product or service. More significantly, they tell their brand stories in an interesting yet simple and straightforward manner, with each element tightly entwining desires and instant benefits.
In contrast, there are hardly any emotions tied to B2B marketing. B2B marketers dwell on the value and benefit of their product or service for the target company. Their storytelling style is all about the logic, characteristics, and the big picture relating to a product.
Length of the Buying Cycle
The B2C buying cycle is simple, short, and uncomplicated. Although the buyer may have to consult friends, family, and other loved ones first, the purchase decision is usually made within a few hours or days after discovering the product.
The B2B purchase cycle, on the other hand, is a multi-step process that typically involves several meetings and numerous decision-makers. That means the buying cycle is complex and can last for several months.
In many cases, the management, procurement, accounting, and heads of multiple departments have to okay the process before the buying decision is finally made. In some cases, the whole process can hit a snag at a crucial point, and the decision-makers might have to return to square zero.
Most B2B companies take an average of 84 days to convert a lead; the process can last even longer, depending on the scale of the sales cycle.
The Cost of Marketing
Individual shoppers make nearly instant decisions, which can help save marketing dollars and time for B2C brands and marketers.
B2B marketing is a totally different story. The buying cycle is usually long, tedious and expensive because the B2B buying process encompasses a long chain-of-command. It usually means more costs per B2B buyer.
As you might expect, content plays a critical role in the success of both B2B and B2C marketing. 76 percent of B2C marketers and 88 percent of B2B marketers say they use content as the core strategy for their digital marketing efforts.
[bctt tweet="76 percent of B2C marketers and 88 percent of B2B marketers say they use content as the core strategy for their digital marketing efforts." via="no"]
Normally, their strategies are dissimilar.
B2B buyers are more likely to conduct extensive research long before they ever enter your sales funnel. After all, B2B buyers are interested in the long-term benefit and want to create lasting business relationships.
With that in mind, B2B content marketing is geared towards the characteristics, value, and logic of the product or service. That’s because B2B customers want to know how the product will help the company streamline processes or improve the company’s bottom line.
B2C content marketing strategy usually centers on the desires and pain points of the end consumer.
End consumers want content that’s engaging, relevant, and that resonates well with their style and personality, even though it is not necessarily related to the product. That’s why B2C content usually focuses on the emotional aspects of products.
No matter how you look at it, there is a significant difference between B2C and B2B marketing.
B2C Marketing: Personalization
B2C marketing personalization refers to the concept or strategy by which consumer-based companies leverage customer data collection and analytics along with the latest technologies to deliver truly tailored messaging and a custom product offering to both prospective and existing customers.
In an era of instant-everything, creating compelling customer-centric experiences has become a key priority for B2C marketers across the industry spectrum, from retail and banking to travel and hospitality.
Marketing personalization tailors the customer’s experience and enables B2C brands to engage and communicate with current and potential customers as individuals, rather than as members of a category, group, list or segment.
There are a boatload of reasons why personalization is crucial for the success of B2C marketing. Let’s take a closer look at this element?
Why B2C Marketing Personalization is Important
To unravel just how important B2C marketing personalization is, it’s imperative to look at current statistics on the subject.
Today’s B2C consumers demand personalized customer experiences
The par for great customer experiences is higher than ever before. B2C brands offering individualized CX are more likely to gain a competitive edge in the ever-changing business landscape. Recent stats seem to agree:
More than half of consumers (56 percent, to be precise) confirm that an individualized experience based on past interaction is paramount to winning them over, as per Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report.
According to the same report, 79 percent of consumers say the quality of customer experience offered by a B2C brand is just as important as its services and products.
According to Epsilon’s research, 90 percent of consumers say marketing personalization is appealing, while 80 percent also indicate that they are more likely to buy from a business that offers personalized experiences.
Personalization helps boost customer loyalty
Marketing personalization, particularly tailored messages, enables B2C brands to build trust, credibility, and rapport with their online customers.
Get this: more than two-thirds of millennial shoppers are agreeable to letting retailers monitor their shopping and browsing behaviors in return for better customer experiences. Trust online can’t get much better than that.
The best news is that over 94 percent of consumers say they are more likely to be loyal to a credible B2C brand they trust.
Furthermore, around 80 percent of consumers who consider themselves loyal shoppers say they only buy from B2C brands who offer personalized experiences.
From these consumer trends and statistics, it’s clear that marketing personalization plays a vital role in building a customer base and loyalty.
Personalization helps improve and unify customer engagements across multiple channels
When done right, marketing personalization can help B2C marketers stay on top of customer reach and identification. In turn, they can also spruce up customer engagements and interactions across several channels, including email, social media, mobile and on-site.
More than two-fifths of consumers say they are more likely to view suggested ads and items based on the information they have already shared with the brand, according to Harvard Business Review.
A Smart Insight report agrees, showing that 72 percent of customers only want to engage with marketing campaigns and messaging personalized to their specific needs and preferences.
The same report noted that consumers are also willing to let companies collect and store their information if it will help facilitate their future engagement and interaction with the brand. However, 86 percent of consumers are worried about data privacy.
Personalization helps increase sales and bolster revenues
More than one-third of consumers believe that brands with which they do business should provide more personalization in their marketing.
In fact, nearly half of them (47 percent) say they would switch to Amazon if a particular brand they are shopping with doesn’t offer personalized product recommendations, as per SmarterHQ.
Remember: four-fifths of consumers say they are more likely to buy a service or product from a brand that offers personalized experiences.
In light of this, it is crystal-clear that B2C marketing personalization not only boosts customer engagement and loyalty but it can also potentially increase sales and improve the bottom line.
How to Meet Increasing Demand for B2C Marketing Personalization
Against this background, it’s incredibly important for companies to stay on top of their marketing personalization. After all, the increased value brought by offering personalized customer experiences to the success of B2C brands is absolute.
89 percent of big players in the B2C digital landscape, including Wells Fargo, Sephora, Netflix, Fabletics, and Coca-Cola, are already investing heavily in personalized marketing, as per Forrester Research.
Unfortunately, 53 percent of consumers believe that most B2C brands are not living up to their expectations of personalized marketing. Even worse, 59 percent think these brands don’t have their best interests at heart, according to Salesforce Research.
[bctt tweet="59 percent of consumers think brands don’t have their best interests at heart, according to Salesforce Research." via="no"]
So, how do you improve your personalization marketing strategy and stay ahead of the curve?
Below are marketing personalization trends, cutting-edge technologies, strategies, and best practices every B2C marketer should know to make brands stand out in the sea of competition.
B2C Marketing Personalization Latest Trends and Best Practices
- The Rise of AI Marketing
Delivering highly optimized, personalized messages and creating 1-to-1 interactions with customers can be quite tricky without the help of advanced marketing technology. That’s why Artificial Intelligence Marketing, better known as AIM, is one of the most sought-after tech innovations in the world of digital marketing.
When coupled with Machine Learning (ML) and Big Data, AI marketing can help take the guesswork out of personalized marketing. That’s because it allows B2C marketers to deliver hyper-targeted and personalized customer experiences.
AIM solutions not only enable marketers to employ AI and Big Data to collect, segment and analyze huge sets of customer data, they can also save time and money-unlike expensive, time-consuming conventional campaigns.
Ultimately, AIM provides marketers with market intelligence and insights that allow them to create and execute highly personalized and smart marketing campaigns. Every consumer interaction at each customer touch-point can be used for future optimization of marketing personalization.
- Leveraging Inbound Caller Marketing Analytics
86 percent of senior marketing executives and CMOs want to stay on top of the entire customer experience by 2020, according to a recent Economist report.
Of course, inbound caller experience is part of the complete, end-to-end customer experience. Unfortunately, this has long been a blind spot for B2C marketers, and it is often the most neglected point of engagement.
This is because most B2C marketers don’t have access to the necessary inbound caller insights, which is exactly why inbound caller analytics is steadily gaining more traction in personalized marketing.
To optimize the inbound caller experience, B2C marketers should collect and analyze data on every caller in real-time. This includes information such as who is the caller, each caller’s demographics, and whether the caller is a repeat or new customer.
By leveraging technologies like predictive behavioral routing and IVR (interactive voice response), marketers can also determine the caller’s intent. In other words, they can know whether the caller requires support from an agent or is a genuine sales lead, thus making it easier to route the caller to the most relevant department.
- Increased Use of Marketing Automation Tools
To deliver the level of marketing personalization savvy consumers expect, B2C brands should gather, segment, and analyze a large volume of customer data.
The vast amount of customer information required, however, can be challenging to even the biggest sales and marketing teams. This is where marketing automation tools become especially handy.
With cutting-edge technologies like AI and Big Data, marketers can collect and sift through the relevant customer data faster, more efficiently, and at a lower cost than using traditional methods.
These tools not only speed up and streamline the process but can also eliminate the need for cumbersome daily tasks like data entry. This leaves marketers with more time to focus on what actually matters: lead generation and business growth.
- Personalized Incentive Programs
With the help of artificial intelligence marketing, marketers can create and execute highly personalized incentive suggestions to deliver better customer experiences.
Thanks to AIM solutions, marketers can comb through campaign reports and figure out which customers are more likely to respond to a certain level of incentive. This makes sure specific discounts, deals, and promotions are targeted at the consumers who are most likely to take advantage of them.
Rather than send the same offer to a whole list or segment of prospective and existing customers, AIM methods can allow marketers to focus on the best incentive range.
In this case, artificial intelligence will help provide hyper-personalized incentive recommendations based on case-by-case criteria. Ultimately, this approach will help maximize the benefits of incentive programs and convert more leads into sales.
- Personalized, Multi-channel Content Marketing
Today, consumers are bombarded with a barrage of marketing messages, the vast majority of which is irrelevant. Over time, they have become immune to these messages and tend to ignore them.
However, if the messages are personalized to their needs, personality, and preferences, consumers are more likely to respond to them.
To implement an actionable, personalized content marketing strategy, it’s crucial for B2C marketers to truly understand what makes their typical consumer tick. More importantly, in what context do your consumers interact with your brand?
You need to ask yourself detailed questions about your target audience:
- From which platform do they interact with your content?
- What type of content resonates well with them?
- Are they desktop or mobile browsers?
- Do they click through from social media to your website or blog?
- When are they most likely to engage with you and your content?
- Are they looking for particular information?
Ultimately, you need to know why customers are accessing your blog, website, social media pages, and other aspects of your content marketing.
With this knowledge, you can tailor your content for the right audience on the right channel, and deliver it at the right time.
- Personalized Product Suggestions
In addition to offering customized incentives, B2C marketers can provide customers with personalized product suggestions.
By leveraging marketing automation tools and AI, they can effectively personalize the product recommendation experience, just as Amazon does.
With AI solutions determining exactly what interests customers, product recommendations can more accurately include only items that the consumer actually wants to see.
Highly relevant suggestions will make customers believe that you actually know and understand them, and will help boost customer loyalty.
How Data-Driven Marketing can Help B2C Marketers
Today’s B2C brands collect copious amounts of customer information. In most cases, that’s just about it.
However, when it comes to creating highly personalized experiences, B2C marketers must create data-driven plans and implement data-inspired plans. It’s all about knowing your customer.
Implementing data-driven plans is perhaps the best way to know who are your customers, where they are, and what are their interests. When it comes to content, for example, data analytics help marketers understand with what type of content your customers are most likely to interact, and on what channel, platform or device.
At the very core, data-driven marketing boils down to using data-backed analytics, metrics, and insights to predict customer buying behavior and increase the odds of successful outcomes. It’s also the most effective way to make sure your marketing message aligns with the level of personalization expected by today’s consumers.
Here are the top benefits B2C marketers can gain from data-driven marketing:
1- Increased Speed and Accuracy
Clarity and time are important aspects of any successful marketing strategy. Thankfully, data-driven marketing initiatives can help speed up and improve the accuracy of the entire process.
Most B2C marketers seem to concur. According to a CMO Council survey, over two-thirds of marketers believe that speed is the key benefit of adopting data-driven marketing.
Naturally, this empowers marketers to quickly implement their campaigns which is, coincidentally, the second most-quoted benefit of data-backed marketing. It’s easy to see why.
With a vast database at their disposal, B2C marketers can quickly analyze and comb through vital customer data to determine the most accurate and relevant insights on what action to take next.
2- Takes Segmentation to the Next Level
A staggering 92.3 percent of companies have databases in place to hold information on existing and prospective customers. Also, 90.7 percent of US marketers say they want or have segmented their data to better engage and target their audience, as per eMarketer.
This is an area of data-driven marketing that can come to the rescue of marketing professionals. Given that marketers are under immense pressure to deliver more results with fewer resources, this is truly a heaven-sent benefit.
To maximize the benefits of personalized messaging, B2C companies rely on data-driven tactics to segment their target market.
3- Helps Marketers Tailor Customer Experiences
As mentioned earlier, 36 percent of consumers demand personalized experiences from brands with which they do business. The good thing is that more than 49 percent of marketers already employ data analytics to improve the shopping experience for their customers, according to GlobalDMA.
For example, the majority of marketers employ data-driven marketing to enhance the user experience through customer surveys, user feedback forms, and in-app features. By gathering feedback from customers, marketers can gain more insights into where there is room for improvement.
4- Enhances B2C Storytelling
Great content is often crafted with the target reader or audience in mind. Fortunately, data analytics can equip marketers with the tools and resources to dig deeper into their customers.
For instance, analyzing consumer data allows you to discover their problems, needs, and pain points. What type of content can you post to help enlighten and excite their interests?
In many ways, data helps marketers pep up their content and tell better stories that resonate well with the target customer. Whether choosing the right content format, articulating the message, or crafting a killer headline, data-driven marketing can do the trick.
5- More Agile and Nimble Product Design and Development
Developing the right product for the right buyer is the number one step to successful marketing. Although this might be true, how can you tell what consumers want from a product?
Data analytics enables product developers to understand what problems and pain points their solutions can address. This way, they can greatly minimize the risk of product failure.
This data-driven approach also provides insights into what consumers would like to see in future services products.
6- Ability to Market Across Multiple Channels
The ability to successfully market across multiple channels is the Holy Grail in the whole of B2C marketing.
Thankfully, Big Data can be employed alongside AI to reach out to more audiences across several channels, as well as deliver the right messaging through content and ads.
This makes sense considering that marketers can increase their productivity by up to 57 percent with integrated digital marketing technologies like AI, Big Data, and Business Analytics.
Marketers know that some customers are harder to satisfy than others. By leveraging data-driven marketing, they can get more work done, reach more customers, tell better stories, build better products, and eventually save money.
Little wonder that 63 percent of marketers are planning to increase marketing dollars spent on data-driven marketing, according to MediaMath.
B2C Marketing Channels
With a myriad of different marketing channels from which to select, figuring out how to properly allocate marketing dollars can make even the best marketer cringe.
Will SEO deliver more ROI than SEM or paid searching? Which will provide more value: social media or email?
In this section, we turn our attention to the most effective B2C market channels.
Let’s start with the 3 key steps you need to follow to determine the best marketing channels for your B2C business.
Step #1 – Define your marketing goals, objectives, and KPIs
Each B2C business is unique. So, before you determine which channels are a good fit for your marketing efforts, you should first consider your marketing and business goals, objectives, and metrics.
What do you want to achieve with your marketing campaigns? Do you wish to grow your business reach? Increase conversions, sales, revenue or profits?
Do you intend to raise customer satisfaction? Improve the customer experience?
As a general rule, make sure your marketing objectives are clear, well-defined, and realistic. ‘Increase revenue’ is vague; ‘double revenue by the end of the year’ is more clear.
Once you have ironed out your objectives, the next step is to figure out your metrics or key performance indicators (KPI). Objectives tell you where you want to be, while KPI will show you whether you have met your marketing goals.
For instance, if you intend to extend your reach online, you may want to look at KPIs related to the growth in social media following, email list subscriptions, CTR, Google SERP position, and so forth.
If you’re looking to elevate your revenues, on the other hand, your metrics should be centered on how your campaigns will contribute to lead generation, conversions, sales, and revenue.
Of course, you should also take advantage of marketing attribution to analyze how your content and other campaigns are counting towards your marketing ROI.
Step #2 – Know your customer’s journey
Customer’s journey refers to the path hee consumer follows from the time he or she enters your sales funnel to when the purchase is actually made, and even beyond that.
You need to understand all the ways in which the consumer interacts with you right from the start. By prioritizing customer touchpoints, you will measure the value of each interaction, as well as figure out the marketing channels linked to those interactions.
Gauging your customer’s journey often means examining your distribution and sales channels, and the costs related to each channel.
Despite being one of the most important aspects of marketing, only 17 percent of B2C brands say they have the ability to study their customers’ journeys.
The most crucial concept of the customer journey is to understand which marketing channels, strategies, and content drive conversions. This is often called attribution.
By studying attribution, marketers are able to learn which marketing channels are the highest performing and thus should be incorporated into your strategy.
Step #3 – Understand what channels others are using
As an avid marketer, chances are good that you’ve done competitor research multiple times, and that tasks in this step won’t be unfamiliar.
First, you need to research which channels your competitors are using, as well as where they are getting the most value for their marketing dollars.
Don’t stop there. Also dig into which marketing channels seem to be working for like-minded brands, thought leaders, and industry influences, among other factors. However, you should concentrate your research on brands trying to reach the same audience.
The Most Effective B2C Marketing Channels
Email B2C Marketing
Despite calls saying email is dead, this channel has withstood the test of time, continues to rev on and delivers incredible outcomes for B2C marketers.
In a 2016 EConsultancy survey, a whopping 73 percent of marketing specialists rate email marketing as either ‘good’ or ‘excellent.’ Only 5 percent of respondents found it to be ‘poor.’
Even better news, email delivers more than conversions and higher CTRs; it also helps drive sales, revenues, and overall ROI. As noted by DMA UK, the average ROI for email stands at GBP38 (around $50) for every GBP1 (~$1.31).
As the go-to marketing channel, email marketing is on the cutting-edge and consumers are satisfied with it, as indicated by positive ROI and revenue attribution.
The ball is squarely on B2C brands’ courts to set aside more marketing dollars and resources to email and see how much more ROI they can realize.
Social Media B2C Marketing
Increasingly, social media channels are getting more attention and investment in the B2C marketing space. There is a good reason for that.
With more than 3.2 billion active users globally, social media has become an indispensable communication channel for B2C brands.
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Most brands recognize the dynamic marketing power of social media. To maximize their online presence, brands are using social media channels to expand their reach, acquire new customers, conduct PR, increase engagement, raise brand awareness, and boost conversions, just to mention a few perks.
So, which are the most effective social media channels?
Facebook – With over 2.2 billion active monthly users, Facebook is a behemoth of a social media platform. It comes as no surprise that over 97 percent of B2C marketers already take advantage of Facebook’s massive reach to further their marketing strategies.
More than 93 percent of marketing professionals also run sponsored Facebook content and paid campaigns.
Twitter – The so-called micro-blogging site is the go-to social media platform for fast communication and event marketing. Today, over 68 percent of B2C marketers use Twitter as part of their core digital marketing.
As a marketing channel, Twitter is ready-made for providing social media customer service, as well as fostering customer loyalty. Some B2C marketers also make use of micro-influencers on the platform to create buzz and drive engagement for their sponsored and/or hosted events.
Instagram – Boasting over 800 million active monthly users, the Facebook-owned platform is a darling of young millennials and teens. It’s also the king of engagement in the world of social media marketing.
About 54 percent of B2C marketers integrate Instagram into their social marketing. In fact, 11 percent say it’s the most crucial social media site for their brand. Being both visual-heavy and engagement-friendly, Instagram has become a favorite for beauty, cosmetics, hospitality, retail, and fashion brands.
YouTube – The video-sharing platform with over 1.5 billion active monthly users is the number one social media platform for video marketing. Nearly half of B2C marketers say they use YouTube to market their brands, products, and services.
When it comes to content on YouTube, variety is the name of the game. The platform allows marketers to create text-based ads, how-to videos, tutorials, vlogs, ad clips, and original short-form videos.
It has also become quite popular for sharing testimonials, reviews, launches, and video-based educational materials.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn is designed largely for B2B interactions and marketing, around 44 percent of B2C marketers also use the platform for social media marketing.
Because LinkedIn is content-focused, B2C marketers create pizzazz and drive engagement for their brand through great content, including professional articles, short posts, multimedia, videos, and much more.
Pinterest – With 200+ million monthly active subscribers, Pinterest has received mixed signals as a channel for social media marketing. Even so, posting good quality, visual-based content on the platform has shown to do wonders for a website’s SERP ranking.
Roughly 30 percent of B2C marketers use Pinterest as a component of their social media marketing.
Of course, Pinterest isn’t for everyone. Recent research has revealed that the social media platform can work for brands whose target audience is mainly female. It’s also great for brands that intend to promote products related to travel, home décor, interior design, cooking, DIY, beauty & cosmetics, art, and fashion.
SEO B2C Marketing
SEO is among the 3 top-rated B2C marketing channels, and with good reason.
If done creatively and intelligently, SEO can boost a brand’s online presence and help get it found easily with leading search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
67 percent of marketers rate SEO as either ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ as far as B2C marketing goes. Only 5 percent say it’s poor, while 38 percent of marketers consider it to be so-so.
Also called organic marketing, SEO marketing can work in tandem with other channels like email, content, social media, mobile, and paid search.
The beauty of SEO is that can help pull in high-quality organic traffic and deliver ROI in the long run. It’s also a highly cost-effective channel.
B2C Content Marketing
Content is said to be the king in the digital marketing landscape, and the same is true for B2C marketing.
As reported by Content Marketing Institute, 86+ percent of B2C marketers regularly use content marketing, and 55 percent of marketing professionals are planning to increase their content marketing spending.
On an even more positive note, approximately 62 percent of B2C marketers (according to Econsultancy) rate content as either ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ for B2C marketing. It’s easy to understand why – content marketing helps marketers:
● Increase the visibility of their brands online
● Improve brand recognition, identity, and awareness
● Cultivate long-lasting relationships with their customers
● Generate web traffic
● Build trust, credibility, and authority
● Foster loyalty with existing and prospective customers
● Position themselves and their brands as industry thought-leaders or experts
● Facilitates for customers throughout their buying journeys
● Opens doors for two-way communication
To achieve optimal results, every content marketing campaign must include the 4 P – namely Promotion, Price, Place, and Product.
Paid Search B2C Marketing
Also known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC), paid search involves bidding and paying for click-search through for relevant keywords. It’s a paid version of SEO, which makes it the preferred channel for marketers who want to get instant results.
As you might suspect, paid search is not exactly a cheap marketing endeavor. In fact, premium keywords like ‘lawyer’ or ‘casino’ can cost upwards of $55 per click.
Still, around 59 percent of B2C marketers consider PPC to be either an ‘excellent’ or a ‘good’ marketing channel for their consumer-based brands.
Offline Direct B2C Marketing
There are several different offline direct marketing strategies that can help accentuate your digital marketing efforts.
When leveraged in conjunction with online channels like email, social media, and content, the following offline strategies can create a holistic, multi-faceted marketing approach: trade shows, print ads, cold calls, print publications, direct mail, public lectures, networking, and meetings.
Overall, 44 percent of B2C marketers believe offline direct marketing is an excellent or good channel for their B2C marketing campaigns.
Increasing the use of marketing automation strategies has seen the mushrooming of other robust B2C marketing channels.
Considered one of the fastest-growing channels, mobile marketing is regarded as either ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ by at least 38 percent of B2C marketers.
Among B2C marketers, 47 percent think affiliate marketing is either good or excellent for their brands, while 35 percent see online display advertising in a positive light.
Challenges with B2C Marketing
Like every marketing professional, B2C marketers are faced with an array of challenges and hurdles, both offline and online. Most of these challenges are related to the changing role of the marketer and rapidly evolving marketing technology.
In order to develop an actionable B2C marketing strategy that is both data-driven and result-oriented, marketers must overcome 6 major challenges.
In developing a relevant content marketing strategy that is both engaging and intentional, it’s essential to address the following six challenges:
- Difficulty Documenting Marketing Strategy
Marketers are mostly creative specialists seeking better ways to engage targeted customers and address business challenges. However, today’s marketing strategy is skewed more towards analytics rather than creative processes.
For this reason, documenting the strategy has become a huge headache for B2C marketers. As noted by Content Marketing Institute, only two-fifths of B2C marketers have documented their content marketing plans or strategies.
- The Evolving Role of the B2C Marketer
It’s not just the B2C marketing landscape that’s fast-evolving; the role of the marketer has changed, too.
In a bygone era, the role of the marketer was to dispense branded t-shirts, pens, key chains, and other freebies. The key focus of B2C marketing at that time centered on establishing the company as a brand.
On the cusp of changing technology, however, the role of B2C marketers has changed from that of a creative agent to that of data and analytics experts. Perhaps the biggest challenge for marketers is adapting to this new role.
- Applying Past Solutions to Modern Problems
The need to understand the brand’s target audience is not something new. However, how marketers approach that need today and how it was approached in the heydays of the 1960s and 1970s has totally changed.
Previously, solutions were tied to being an expert on customer behavior and buyer personas. Almost nothing had anything to do with technology.
Today, however, marketers have to grapple with numerous digital channels and learn to use software automation tools. This can become particularly tricky for old-school marketers.
How can you beat the competition with pricing or product competitive edge? To accomplish this, the tech-savvy must leverage technology to interact with customers across multiple channels.
- Tapping into the Mobile Economy
In addition to driving foot traffic to their brick-and-mortar stores, today’s marketers also have to push mobile users down their sales funnel.
According to HubSpot, slightly more than half of mobile users have found a product or service while conducting a mobile search.
This also applies to in-store customers. In fact, Google has also noticed that 82 percent of consumers use their mobile devices to help them shop in a physical store.
Mobile marketing is also crucial for local business search, which is especially important for local retail shops, restaurants, flower shops, barbershops, and so on.
- Quantifying Success and ROI
It’s important that every marketing team has the ability to measure and account for all marketing dollars.
Due to the complexity of digital marketing, it has become increasingly difficult for B2C marketers to quantify and justify the ROI and success attribution of their marketing efforts. How can you measure the ROI of your email marketing campaigns on revenue, sales or conversions?
- Fighting Oversaturation
Oversaturation is a nightmare, particularly for content marketers. In a 2017 global survey, online readers found sixty percent of content to be poor, full of jargon, irrelevant, or that it failed to meet expectations.
B2C Marketing Checklist
You’ve heard it all before – that B2C marketing is difficult.
The truth, however, is that marketing to end consumers doesn’t have to be challenging, especially if it’s done correctly right out of the gate.
At the very least, don’t forget at every B2C brand in the market is wants to up its game to get in front of as much target audience as possible, and get a piece of the $3.5 trillion e-commerce cake.
To get started with personalized marketing, keep this checklist of B2C marketing DOs and DON’Ts close by.
B2C Marketing DOs
1) DO get to know what drives your B2C consumers to buy
The main factors motivating B2C consumers to purchase include:
● To make peace or amends in their lives’
● To accomplish a life dream
● To feel exclusive or as though they are special
● To feel good about themselves
● To be defiant
● To improve their status
● To prove a point and assert themselves
● To save money, time, and energy
● To avoid fear and to feel safe
2) DO understand what makes the microsecond buyer tick
A microsecond buyer refers to a consumer prone to impulse-driven buying. For that matter, here’s what you need to do to leverage the power of impulse-driven buying?
● Get the timing right, especially with time-limited incentives, ad placements, etc.
● Use simple messaging
● Tie your marketing efforts to desires, emotions, and feelings
● Appeal to the customer’s sense of instant gratification
3) DO get to know why B2C consumers prefer online buying
Online purchases are predicted to account for over 22 percent of all global retail sales by 2023. Most B2C consumers choose to shop online rather than in-store primarily because of the ability to:
● Buy at any time, day or night
● Compare and review different brands, products or services
● Shop around for better pricing
● Access a wider selection of goods and services
4) DO take advantage of B2C marketing personalization
Marketing personalization refers to the individualized marketing strategy used by B2C brands to deliver personalized messages and create tailored customer experiences.
The latest trends and best practices for B2C marketing personalization are:
● Artificial intelligence marketing (AIM) use to deliver truly personalized experiences
● Taking advantage of inbound caller marketing analytics
● Leveraging marketing automation tools
● Personalizing incentives
● The rise of personalized multi-channel content marketing
● Tailored product suggestions
5) DO leverage the power of data-driven marketing
There are many ways B2C marketers can employ customer data analytics to further their marketing efforts. The biggest benefits of B2C data-driven marketing are:
● Elevated speed and accuracy
● Better customer segmentation
● More personalized customer experiences
● Enhanced B2C storytelling
● More agile and personalized product development
● Ability to market across multiple channels
6) DO focus on the most effective B2C marketing channels
B2C marketing channels that deliver the most impact and ROI include:
● Email marketing-preferred by 73 percent of B2C marketers
● SEO marketing-chosen by 67 percent of B2C marketers
● Content marketing-top-rated by 62 percent of B2C marketers
● Social media platforms, particularly Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Pinterest in the order of effectiveness
● Paid search (PPC) which is considered excellent or good by 59 percent of B2C marketers
● Offline direct marketing was deemed good or excellent by 44 percent of online marketers
● Mobile marketing-preferred by over 38 percent (and counting) of marketers
● Affiliate marketing-regarded as a safe bet by more than 47 percent of marketers
● Online display advertising-garnered approval from over 35 percent of marketers
The DON’Ts of B2C Marketing
1) DON’T forget why some B2C consumers still prefer to shop in-store
Although the rise of the e-commerce industry has opened the floodgates to unlimited opportunities for online shopping, some hard-line consumers still visit physical stores.
The main motivators that push consumers to buy in-store versus online include:
● The ability to try out, feel and see products
● The need for instant gratification
● Avoidance of shipping-related issues: complicated returns and high shipping costs
● To enjoy in-store shopping experiences, e.g. social aspect
● To seek in-person customer service
2) DON’T confuse B2C marketing with B2B marketing
While B2C marketing and B2B marketing share some similarities, there are key differences in which marketers need to be aware of. These include:
● B2B marketers target a smaller audience of chief decision-makers within a company, while their B2C counterparts market to a large audience of individual end consumers.
● B2C storytelling focuses on emotions, desires, and instant gratification, whereas B2B marketers dwell on logic, characteristics and the value of the product to the client.
● The B2C buying cycle is short and uncomplicated, unlike the B2B customer journey which is complex, lengthy and involves and a long chain of command.
● B2C marketing is cheaper and simpler than B2B marketing
● B2C content is fashioned around customer desires and interests, while B2B content marketing usually focuses on tangible results and long-term benefits for the company.
3) DON’T give ALL B2C marketing channels equal attention
Not all marketing and advertising channels will work for your brand. Follow this 3-step process to identify the most effective marketing channels for your business:
Step (1) Define your marketing objectives, goals, and metrics
Step (2) Know your customer’s journey
Step (3) Understand what channels your competitors and others are using
4) DON’T neglect challenges currently being faced by B2C marketers
● The major challenges with B2C marketing are:
● Lack of content strategy documentation
● The changing role of the B2C marketer
● Modern problems; old solutions
● Tapping into the ever-growing mobile user base
● Quantifying attribution success and return on investment
● Fighting oversaturation