B2B and B2C marketers must learn from each other’s experiences in order to adapt and implement a new set of strategies to meet changing customer needs and expectations.
Customer expectations are changing, whether buying a pair of running shoes or marketing technology for a company. Consumers have grown accustomed to personalized and seamless experiences.
In the end, whether it’s a sports apparel company, software company, or anything in between, every buyer wants the same thing: to buy from a company that they connect with and that provides a great experience. It’s no longer enough for a customer to want to buy a product or service because it’s best-in-class.
Are B2B and B2C Marketing Strategies Converging?
While there are aspects of B2C e-commerce that benefit B2B customers, the fundamental purpose of B2B is vastly different from that of B2C. The belief that B2B companies must completely replicate B2C experiences is causing costly, if not potentially dangerous, misalignment in B2B e-commerce initiatives.
To create the best B2B e-commerce experiences, we need to focus on the areas where B2B differs from B2C. We need to build commerce engines that support the unique complexities of B2B rather than forcing B2C characteristics onto a completely different process.
Major Differences Between B2B & B2C
- B2B purchasing scenarios are complex and personalized.
- B2B transactions typically involve multiple shipping locations, will-call pick-up branches, and billing accounts, whereas B2C transactions typically involve only one seller, one buyer, and one payment method.
- The “many-to-many” relationships that B2B transactions have created complex customer interactions that B2C transactions don’t have to deal with.
- In the B2B world, impulse purchases are almost non-existent.
- B2B buyers do not respond to traditional digital marketing tactics.
- B2B has distinct differentiators that encourage customer loyalty based on previous experiences.
- B2B e-commerce serves a completely different purpose.
B2B commerce is driven by the need to expose complex business processes and data from the back office in a user-friendly format. That experience must be driven by those business processes and data, or the B2B commerce initiative will fail. Trying to cram a B2C commerce experience into a complex B2B purchasing environment is, at best, irresponsible.
Tips to Create Epic Experiences in an Experience-driven Economy
The following are a few tips and suggestions that help you go beyond traditional B2B and B2C marketing approaches and focus on providing personalized customer experiences:
Create Real-time Customer Profiles
There’s a good chance you don’t have a data shortage. Most likely, it’s the opposite. The vast majority of companies have mountains of customer information. Most businesses collect data in multiple systems, depending on their size and structure, making it difficult to get a complete picture of their customers.
Regardless of whether the customer is a large corporation or a single consumer, a single source of data truth allows marketers to decipher customer insights across all stages of the buyer journey and create a unified, complete, and real-time customer profile that enables more personalized engagements.
Establish Data-driven Workflows
Once you’ve created your customer profiles, you’ll need to set up and align your entire company to a unified data-driven process. Customer data is the lifeblood of the experience, so it must be used and shared appropriately with internal audiences anyone who interacts with customers.
Employees can create relevant and personalized customer experiences by leveraging a single source of truth across the organization. We developed a rigorous data-driven operating model at Adobe that connects data to customer profiles, allowing us to understand our customers better and make decisions based on data collected throughout the customer journey.
Deliver Customized & Relevant Experiences
Now that you’ve established data-driven processes and have a clear, real-time view of your customers, the next step is to engage. It’s more important than ever to provide your customers with relevant and engaging experiences at the right time, every time, thanks to rapidly changing customer needs.
Business buyers are in the same boat. People don’t want to be sold to; they want to be engaged. Give your customers the level of participation they want. Let them know you’re aware of where they are in the buying process and that you can meet their needs with the right content at the right time – at every stage, from acquisition to advocacy.
Ensure Seamless & Consistent Experience Across All Channels
Business buyers expect a seamless experience across multiple touchpoints and channels, just as consumers expect to start shopping on their phones and finish on their laptops. Let’s say their first interaction with you is filling out a form on your website. They expect you to remember and acknowledge the initial interaction when they return two days, two weeks, or even two months later.
Use AI as part of your tech stack to give your customers a personalized experience across multiple channels (website, chatbot, email, etc.) at scale to create these seamless experiences. Creating personalized and engaging experiences necessitates tailoring your message to the customer’s needs, stage in the buyer journey, and channel.
Customer experience must be at the center of every initiative if long-term, sustainable growth is to be achieved. Remember, your best-in-class product is worthless unless a compelling and personalized customer experience accompanies it. People do not recall products, but they do recall experiences. And there’s a thin line between epic and epic failure when it comes to experience.