Let’s start with similarities between the B2B and B2C content marketing strategy:
- Principles that apply to most digital marketing channels apply for content marketing too, namely- appeal, precision, look, relevance and revenue.
- Both B2B and B2C businesses need a robust client retention management program to be on top of their customer’s mind.
Interestingly this is where the similarities between B2B and B2C content marketing end.
Expectations from Content Marketing:
In a typical B2B environment leads (form fills, e-mails submissions etc.) define success. It is expected that these leads will close and generate revenue down the road.
For a marketer in B2C success is typically about the “buzz” a piece of content generates. So we get to hear words like - brand awareness, likes, retweets, YouTube views and so on.
Given the different expectations, it only makes sense that the content marketing strategy is also different for B2B and B2C firms.
Here are some prominent ways in which content marketing for B2B and B2C companies differs.
In a B2C industry a buyer is driven by motives that lead to specific thought process - will I look good in this dress, how cool will I be with this smartphone, do my friends own it, is the product available at a discount, is this site safe for me to buy, I need instant gratification etc. Innate needs and desires drive a B2C purchase decision. Therefore, the intent is to find something they like, that is also voted positively by others. As part of this process perhaps the buyer will read a review, look for user ratings, view a video and check out what others are saying on Facebook. He/she will then get comfortable with the price and buy!
B2B audience on the other hand need a lot of information about a product before they can buy or even influence a buying decision. Yes, reviews hold good here too. But the key difference is the depth of information sought, multiple stakeholders and the entire selection process with these stakeholders. A firm trying to sell to other businesses needs to establish itself as a leader in the industry. Therefore, thought leadership and a content strategy that helps you promote this leadership is critical.
The intent of the user in B2B scenario is to learn about a product, gather information and gain knowledge. He/she seeks out content that will help them do this.
Content Type and Channels
In B2C a purchase (or consideration leading to a purchase) is more personal. Therefore, how owning the product makes one feel, affordability and what others would think of them if they owned the product become paramount in decision making.
As a result, B2C companies should have content marketing strategies that includes - UGC (user generated content), brand videos, discount promotions via banners or e-mails, Facebook posts and pages, real-time updates about products- SMS/ text messages or e-mails, tweets, Instagram and Pinterest. Being in front of the audience for top of the mind consideration is the key to success.
Because B2B audience need much more detail about a product, content such as a whitepaper, infographic or a powerpoint detailing the benefits of the products and differentiators from competition will influence a prospect.
Similarly, a video showing ease of use or a demo will help. Likewise, an ad on LinkedIn (sponsored updates) will help reach the right audience. Blogs and product specification sheets also do the trick.
Once a prospect becomes a customer you want to retain them for a long time. It is only logical that you need to make more money than you spent on acquiring them. Therefore, loyalty or simply put retention programs are important. B2C brands should consider increasing retention by interacting with customers through multiple channels and with a range of content.
Brands should engage their customers with - enticing new products or enhancements to existing via social platforms, promotions, stories, user generated content, social cause (CSR) and request for participation, solutions to product issues and co-creation of future products. For an effective retention strategy B2C companies should integrate their all-powerful CRM systems with content marketing strategy.
This means a timed e-mail program and social media engagement via platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram will be important. It is likely that B2C audience will tolerate such touch points and your customers might even want these touch points. Though there is CRM and content marketing interplay even with B2B customers, they need to be managed differently.
Once the product is bought, typically after a long consideration cycle and multiple rounds of convincing others, the touch points to build loyalty and increase retention need to be precise and thought through. These touches have to be about the product bought or an obvious extension to the product. Therefore, messages about changes, fixes, enhancements, logical add-ons etc. will be important. This is a great way to retain and up-sell or even cross-sell to customers.
Social media retention strategy might work in B2B too, but it is too wide a net to cast. You need a more segmented CRM approach based on purchase and customer history. CRM and content marketing strategy integration must lead to a “one-on-one” integration with your B2B customer.
Therefore, an e-mail based approach works best. If the customer sees your strategy is throwing irrelevant content at them, they might stop noticing you. So a customized e-mail touch point is important.
Regardless of your business type you need to know your audience really well and make sure you segment them based on intent.
So, in your upbeat desire to show your content strategy to your boss don’t just spray a bunch of content out there and pray that your business will grow. Approach your audience with a well thought out content marketing strategy. Start with intent, think about the type of content and finally retention.
Don’t be one of those content marketing professionals who end up not having an effective content strategy.