This article provides a practical explanation of B2C marketing. After reading, you’ll understand the basics of this powerful marketing discipline.
What is B2C Marketing?
B2C marketing, or business-to-consumer marketing, refers to marketing activities, strategies, and tactics an organisation employs towards consumers. The target audience of this form of marketing is a different one from that of B2B marketing, or business-to-business marketing. That is aimed at other organisations.
When businesses look for new products or services, they mainly focus on the benefits of it. Consumers go through a different, faster decision-making process (Customer Journey Map) than businesses. Emotions also play a bigger role in their decision to purchase. On top of that, consumers are more demanding than businesses in the sense that they prefer a wide variety of distribution channels and highly value convenience and efficiency. They are generally less interested in the technical aspects of a product and want to get down to business more quickly than B2B customers.
B2C marketing is done both offline and online, but usually the acronym B2C is used to refer to the online aspect. B2C businesses have benefited a lot from the fast development of commercial Internet in the late nineties. These businesses stimulated the use of the Internet by investing large sums of venture capital toward the consumer in the form of free online services and competitively priced products and services. This successfully stimulated adoption of the Internet, but when investors lost confidence, the B2C businesses were hit the hardest. Many businesses tried a different approach and invested in a transformation from B2C marketing to B2B marketing. Later, after the first decade of the 21st century, more and more consumers were using the Internet. New technologies paved the way for new revenue models. These days, many B2C marketing businesses are thriving again.
Importance of B2C Marketing
B2C marketing is crucial to all organisations that sell products or services aimed at consumers. Think of restaurants, supermarkets, fashion shops, car companies, software companies, etc. The Internet is the place where B2C marketing is most frequently used to promote goods and services and to research consumer behaviour, demands, and wishes. Some advantages of a strong B2C marketing strategy:
- B2C marketing stimulates the number of people visiting a website
- B2C marketing stimulates the number of new people signing up for something
- B2C marketing improves customer interaction and relations
- B2C marketing improves businesses’ SEO;
- That way, B2C marketing increases the range of businesses at which they can attract new customers
B2C Marketing Channels
B2C marketing has been around forever, but—as just mentioned—the number of B2C marketing channels exploded along with the use of the Internet. What follows is a description of the most important B2C marketing channels.
Content marketing, as defined by the Content Marketing Institute, is a strategic market approach that focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content, with the goal of attracting a target group and retaining it, in order to convert it to profitable customer behaviour.
This may include blogs, articles, infographics, videos, e-books, social media posts, magazines, and more. This valuable content is shared for free with existing or potential customers. Forbes reports that content marketing is 62% more expensive than traditional marketing, but it also generates up to three times as many new leads.
Social Media Marketing
Facebook was the first social media platform to have over a billion registered accounts. Today, Facebook has more than 2.2 billion active users. Facebook offers marketers an abundance of opportunities when it comes to B2C marketing. That’s because Facebook encourages its users to respond to messages, share them, and like them. Business can also add things to their messages, such as images, videos, and links to their organisation’s website.
Twitter is about sharing brief messages and is often referred to as a microblogging website. That makes it an ideal platform to engage consumers to the organisation with a tweet, retweet, or hashtag.
Instagram is the social media platform with the most teenagers and millennials. Its visual nature and high level of engagement makes it a very suitable medium for organisations to promote their products or services. Many clothing companies such as H&M use Instagram to present their products.
Internet & Mobile Marketing
About half of all internet purchases are made using mobile devices. It’s therefore no surprise that successful B2C businesses try to reach their customers via interactive promotions that have been optimised for such devices. Mobile users can be reached through websites, apps, and social media. In the past, SMS and MMS were also used. Apps and web browsers regularly use push notifications to communicate discounts and promotions in order to reach their customers as well.
Email marketing isn’t being used as much any more, but it’s still relevant. People generally distinguish between two types of email marketing. An organisation can send emails to specific customers with specific orders, or send a broader email to random people. One example of this is a monthly newsletter customers can subscribe to. Emails are more often used to get in touch with customers.
Content Marketing & SEO
Producing and distributing high-quality content is the most effective way to reach a high SEO status. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is about increasing both the quantity and quality of internet traffic from search engines to a certain website. SEO is therefore one of the most important elements in B2C marketing. Content marketing plays an important part in this, as the content that organisations publish is about their products and services. Since consumers tend to do careful research before making a purchase when it comes to the specifications of products or services they are planning to buy, organisations can gain a significant advantage here. Certain keywords are repeated so that search engines will correctly identify the content and put it high in their list of results.
B2C Marketing in the Future
As other forms of marketing have changed – such as email marketing and phone marketing – B2C marketing in general is also changing. Traditional mass marketing techniques such as billboards and TV and radio ads no longer have the same appeal to consumers as they use to have. Today’s consumers want to have a customer journey that touches them at a personal and emotional level. B2C marketers have to respond to such needs in order to remain successful. After all, customer loyalty and attention is essential for durable business relationships.
As technology continues to develop, so will the B2C marketing landscape. In part thanks to Big Data and Business Intelligence, B2C marketers will be better equipped than ever before to conduct hyper-personalised campaigns of sufficient quality to be truly competitive.
Now it’s your turn
What do you think? Are you familiar with this explanation of B2C marketing? How often do you see B2C marketing and through which channels? Do you use B2C marketing for your own organisation? What do you think are some of the essential aspects of B2C marketing? Do you have any suggestions or comments?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Brennan, R. (2014). Business-to-business marketing (pp. 83-86). Springer New York.
- Ranganathan, C., & Ganapathy, S. (2002). Key dimensions of business-to-consumer web sites. Information & Management, 39(6), 457-465.
- Stewart, D. W., & Zhao, Q. (2000). Internet marketing, business models, and public policy. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 19(2), 287-296.
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