Marketers often draw a distinct line in the sand when it comes to B2B customers versus B2C customers. While different approaches and tactics may have been justified in the past, the evolution of technology – such as the internet, mobile devices and more – has had a monumental impact on both B2B and B2C marketing. In addition, today’s focus on the customer journey – from their initial online research and cost comparisons, to reviews, etc. – has caused both audiences to behave and respond more similarly than ever before.
A new study by Forrester and Adobe confirms this trend. Over half (52%) of the more than 500 B2B and B2C marketers surveyed agreed that they have seen more similarities in the way their B2B and B2C customers and prospects behave over the past two years than in years prior.
Why does this matter? At the end of the day, both audiences will buy from people with whom they feel a connection, who understand and empathize with their challenge, and who provide them the knowledge they need to overcome obstacles to their success. As you keep that in mind, here are a few report takeaways and implications that may influence you to adjust your email marketing plans this year:
- More of the same: Both B2B and B2C buyers today are self-directed and data-driven, with a desire for contextually and emotionally relevant interactions with real people and brands. When connecting with both types of prospects, it’s therefore important to educate, inform and converse with them as they move forward on their buying journey. This approach delivers a more positive and engaging experience for them.
- B2B and B2C marketers learning from each other: Similar buyer behaviors are allowing B2B and B2C marketers to collaborate and learn from each other: 83% of marketers surveyed agreed that their teams are benefitting from shared experiences, tactics and enhanced best practices. For example, while your impulse may be to “pounce” on displayed interest, our advice from our years working with clients would be to show respect by allowing your prospects to remain anonymous as they conduct their initial research.
- B2C and B2B roles reversing: B2C marketers are evolving their email campaigns to focus less on trying to initiate an immediate sale and more on nurturing audiences to facilitate more research, analysis and consideration. Conversely, B2B marketers are emphasizing more emotional themes and developing more personal relationships with customers. As a result, they are eliciting better responses.
- Buying journeys more complex: B2B and B2C marketers often struggle to create holistic marketing experiences by tracking and connecting prospect interactions and complex buying journeys. In fact, only 7% of B2C and 6% of B2B marketers say they do so consistently across their businesses, brands and channels. Contributing factors here include the large number of potential brand touchpoints, the number of people involved in the purchase decision and the number of interactions before a sale is made. You can streamline the process by removing friction, making relevant content easily available and making the buying route as easy as possible.
- Technology adoption driving revenue: As companies recognize the need to create holistic buying journeys, the report says the adoption of marketing automation and cross-channel campaign management technologies is set to nearly double over the next year. 59% of B2B and 70% of B2C marketers believe these technologies will drive increased sales and improve the quality of the customer data they receive.
It is fascinating to me to see the growing similarities between B2B and B2C customers. Regardless of the similarities, from a marketing perspective, there is still a need to zero in on the characteristics that make up your target customers, segment your target audiences accordingly, and engage with them in relevant ways as they venture forward on their buying journeys.
Outward Media’s proven data cleansing services and targeted, accurate email data can enable you to achieve better email marketing ROI and, ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.