Content marketing has become an essential component of any business’ marketing strategy. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, without regular content driving your marketing efforts, you might as well be invisible.
81% of business to consumer (B2C) marketers create content that builds loyalty with their existing customers, with half of B2C content marketers frequently using storytelling in their content.
74% of business to business (B2B) content marketers have used or developed long-form content in the past year, rating blog posts, articles, white papers and case studies to be the most effective types of content for the early, middle and late stages of the buyer’s journey, respectively.
However, there are several key differences between B2B and B2C content creation that you should be aware of.
It’s Easy When You Know How
Content marketing doesn’t have to be complex and it doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it is the most efficient, cost-effective means of marketing that exists. Which is why everyone does it and why, if you aren’t already, you should be doing it too.
When it comes to creating regular, targeted, goal-driven content with a purpose, you need time, knowledge, and resources.
No one is going to pretend they know your business better than you do. But, knowing what content to create, and how to use it effectively and efficiently to meet your goals, can prove a little bit tricky.
Understanding these 5 key differences between B2B and B2C will help get your content marketing efforts off the ground.
All consumers are driven by value, but B2B and B2C consumers have different motivations. There’s no substitute for good market research when trying to identify your customers’ motivations, but in general, the key drivers for B2B and B2C consumers are numbers and emotions, respectively.
B2B customers seek value in your expertise and brand values. Your content needs to prove your industry knowledge and ethos. Existing and potential customers are looking for ways to make their operations more efficient. You need to demonstrate that you can provide that value in expertise and efficiency. This is why you should consider using numbers, statistics and thought leadership pieces, presented in a compelling way, as the backbone of your content marketing strategy.
Your goal as a B2B enterprise should be to establish yourself as a trustworthy authority and therefore a solution to your customers’ needs. Blogs are the perfect tool for this job — they offer the soft sell.
Use your content to position yourself as a thought leader. Offer acute industry insight. Be a source of knowledge and advice. Become the expert they turn to.
If you inhabit the B2C market, however, your approach will be very different.
B2C customers are driven by emotional needs. They seek entertainment, satisfaction, personal identity, a sense of belonging. Of course, they want to trust you, but they’re not looking for cold hard facts as to why your product or service is better than any other.
The B2C customer seeks a product or service that answers an immediate and particular need or concern. B2C purchases are driven by feelings — a need to feel good, healthy, comfortable, confident, safe, for example. This is where stories come into play.
Create a connection with your customers through narrative. Weave your product or service into stories that tug at their emotions. Make them laugh. Make them cry. Make them feel that connection with your brand. Make them remember you.
All marketing strategies, for both B2B and B2C companies, share a common goal — brand awareness. You want people to know who you are and, more importantly, that you’re extremely good at what you do.
In B2B circles, this means creating content that informs and educates, positioning yourself as a credible source and an industry leader.
For B2C companies, the content marketing goal should focus on creating a buzz and excitement around your product or service.
Different goals. Different content strategy.
The time it takes for a potential customer to turn into a sale greatly depends on their decision-making process. With B2C, you’re communicating directly with a single person and they’ll make their decision to purchase there and then.
Your content marketing needs to catch their attention and create an immediate need and desire for your product.
As B2B involves more stakeholders (partners, shareholders, executives) the conversion time is much longer. With more decision-makers to get on side, the B2B sales funnel is a long, multi-stage sales process that depends on a carefully cultivated relationship. You’ll need to reach out to multiple key stakeholders within the company and provide a range of resources and pieces of information, before being in the position to make a formal pitch.
Having a blog full of useful content, and active social media channels that regularly post original as well as carefully curated content, will help to speed up the B2B sales process.
What’s the point of your content? What purpose does it serve? There are 4 key stages in the content marketing funnel:
The content marketing funnel is an extremely useful visualisation of the content creation process and the different purposes served by your content at each stage in the sales cycle.
However, before you get carried away with ideas for amazing content, it’s important to remember the different buying behaviours of B2B and B2C consumers.
Businesses buy out of necessity. They buy because your product or service fulfils a specific need. B2B purchases are usually data-driven and motivated either by efficiency savings (time or money) or the ability to increase profit. Nearly all of the most successful B2B content marketers (90%) prioritise the audience’s informational needs over their sales or promotional message.
Conversely, as consumers, our purchases are driven by emotion. Recognising this key difference in the reasons we buy as businesses and the reasons we buy as consumers should play a huge part in dictating the subject matter of your content at each stage in the funnel.
So having established what your consumer is looking for, how you’re going to position yourself, what goals you’re trying to achieve, and what purpose your content is going to serve, what next?
B2B content marketers prefer to use email (87%) and educational content (77%) to nurture their audience. When the primary goal is ROI, what matters to a B2B consumer is concrete data that backs up your offering, so ads and promoted content tend to be informative. All this should be driven by an active social media presence.
On the other hand, B2C content marketing favours a more holistic approach — everything from your blog to the copy on your website, your social media posts and emails — should be geared towards creating an emotional response from your audience.
Now all that’s left to do is write that regular blog (including the relevant keywords). Craft those emails. Create and curate relevant, attention-grabbing social media posts across all channels, daily. Optimise your web copy. Develop that killer content marketing strategy to make sure you’re hitting all the right notes for your target audience.
If you’re interested in finding out how Social INK can help your business, don’t hesitate to reach out here.