The following blog post was co-authored with Sam Laber, Marketing Director of Datanyze, a company that provides businesses like Marketo and KISSmetrics real-time data on the technologies every website uses.
Less than 20 years ago, it was perfectly acceptable for B2C brands to stand on their marketing soapboxes and broadcast value propositions to consumers at large. Meanwhile, B2B brands meticulously cultivated information about prospects and clients to build meaningful relationships that would culminate to closed deals.
Enter social networks, smartphones and connected devices, and the traditional B2C mass marketing approach just doesn’t cut it anymore. Modern consumers can no longer be bought with catchy slogans and lower prices. As consumers publicly share personal information and connect directly with their favorite brands online, they are demanding the deep, 1:1 relationships that B2B marketers have become masters at creating.
As B2C marketing becomes increasingly data-driven and relevance takes center stage, it’s time for B2C brands to take a few pages out of the B2B playbook to connect with consumers on individual, meaningful levels.
Page #1. Really Understand Your Customers
Successful B2B brands have clearly defined criteria, documentation and tools in place to help them evaluate and uncover the perfect list of prospects. Despite this vision, B2B companies are always looking to uncover new audiences, solve emerging customer and industry challenges, and expand and apply their offerings in fresh, innovative ways – and it pays off. Take, for example, HP’s famous pivot from an engineering company to computer manufacturer.
While B2C businesses know who their target customers should be, they often fail to re-evaluate and expand this picture. The list of brands and products that have been reduced to shadows of their former selves or killed off altogether due to failure to understand, evolve with or refine their audiences is a mile long. Think Kodak, BIC “For Her” pens, Borders and McDonald’s Arch Deluxe Burger, just to name a few.
Your Play: The ability to stay relevant requires a complete understanding of who your customers are, and, perhaps most importantly, who they are not. Adding social login to your site or app gives consumers a fast and easy way to authenticate their identities, as well as grants your brand permission-based access to the rich data housed within their social profiles, including location, interests, relationships and more.
These identity-based insights can then be tied directly to consumer actions and purchase behaviors to help you tailor individual marketing messages, uncover new audience segments, refine your product offering and more.
Page #2. Keep All Data In a Single Source of Truth
Let’s face it: your personal inbox is probably full of multiple, mis-targeted emails from brands offering you discounts for products you already own or have zero interest in buying.
But when it comes to B2B communications, receiving an email addressed to the wrong person or offering an irrelevant service is considered irritating and even offensive. Not to mention, bombarding prospects with emails from multiple salespeople within a single organization is seriously frowned upon.
To stay organized and maintain key client relationships, successful B2B companies strive to maintain a single view of current and potential customers across the organization. Most leverage a complex integration of databases and platforms like Salesforce and Marketo to keep track of customer needs, feedback, outreach, etc.
With B2C marketing becoming increasingly data-driven, it’s important for consumer-facing brands to put a comprehensive consumer data management solution in place. The need for this is compounded by consumers reaching out and creating data across a growing breadth of channels and devices, with 36% of US brands now claiming to interact with consumers across 5 or more channels (Experian). Your Play: Break down data silos within your organization by aggregating all customer intelligence into a single, centralized record of truth. This database solution should seamlessly and bidirectionally integrate with your existing 3rd party platforms to keep all data accurate and current across the business, informing communications across all touchpoints.
Page #3. Tailor Communication At Every Touchpoint
With a single, informed view of their customers, B2B businesses take painstaking care to develop meaningful rapports with individual clients and prospects – and they certainly don’t do this with sweeping value props and impersonal calls to action.
For example, if a B2B marketer were to discover that a particular prospect were using a competitor’s technology, he would undoubtedly tailor all targeted collateral or outreach emails to speak to the differences between his company’s solution and this particular competitor’s. Or, if a B2B salesman were to find out that a high value client absolutely loves a particular Italian restaurant, you can bet he would offer to take her to lunch there next time she was in town.
This personalized approach is becoming increasingly mandatory for B2C brand communication as well, with over 70% of US consumers preferring to do business with brands that use information about them to deliver more efficient and relevant shopping experiences (Accenture). But to do this effectively, those on the frontlines of B2C businesses must have direct access to key consumer data points, just as B2B decision makers have the ability to gather necessary customer information via SugarCRM or NetSuite.
Your Play: Enable a seamless flow of data across your organization by empowering non-technical business leaders to understand, manipulate and apply consumer insights. Select a web-based dashboard that gives marketers an actionable view of end-user data housed in your master database, and gives them the power to build custom audience segments that can be exported and used across campaigns.
Although traditionally viewed as two distinct disciplines within the marketing family, B2B and B2C have more in common than we all thought, with B2C marketers poised to learn a few strategies from the B2B playbook. In fact, both fields stand to experience greater success if they stop focusing on “businesses” and “consumers,” and instead hone in on a more modern “B2P” marketing strategy – business to people.
By Rachel Serpa