b2b vs b2c marketing
Analytics & Reporting Reporting

B2B vs B2C Marketing: Differences And Game-Changing Strategies

Anutei Horea-Matei
Anutei Horea-Matei
Table of Contents

Both B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing strategies share the same goal - generating more revenue. However, how they achieve that specific goal is where these two strategies differ.

Understanding how B2B and B2C marketing vary from one another is crucial for driving effective results. That said, this post will dive into the nitty-gritty. We’ll see what B2B and B2C exactly mean and how they’re different.

So, let’s get to it!

B2B vs B2C Marketing - a detailed breakdown


1. What is B2B vs B2C?
2. B2B vs B2C Marketing: Key Differences


1. What is B2B vs B2C?

B2B

As the name suggests, business-to-business is a business model whose target audience is made up of other companies.

Although B2B marketing strategies may target individuals, like business owners or employees, they address the needs and pain points of the companies they work for—not of the individuals themselves.

Some popular real-life B2B company examples include:

  • Slack: A SaaS (Software as a Service) that provides a messaging app for businesses. It aims to unify and streamline communication between an organization’s employees.
  • Deloitte: An auditing and consulting company that offers financial, legal, and risk advisory services to other businesses.
  • LinkedIn: A social media network that connects businesses and service providers. It aims to foster professional relationships, while the platform is commonly used to conduct B2B marketing strategies.

B2C

Business-to-consumer is a business model that strictly targets individual consumers. B2C marketing strategies address the needs and pain points of everyday life (e.g., entertainment, clothing, food, etc.).

Some popular real-life B2C company examples include:

  • Zara: a multinational retail brand that caters to individual consumers.
  • Vanguard: A financial consultancy firm that provides personal investment and retirement advisory services to consumers.
  • Facebook: A social media network that helps individuals connect with friends and family, as well as foster new relationships. Businesses primarily use the platform to conduct B2C marketing strategies.

2. B2B vs B2C marketing: key differences

Let’s briefly summarize the main differences between B2B and B2C marketing:

  • Customer acquisition: B2B marketing gears toward educating the audience about a specific product or service, leading to longer and more expensive sales processes. In contrast, B2C marketing emphasizes emotionally based decisions to generate quicker sales at a lower acquisition cost.  
  • Customer relationships: B2Bs focus on building long-lasting customer relationships, while B2C interactions are more transactional. Consequently, B2Bs emphasize customer retention, while B2Cs prioritize customer acquisition.
  • Customer loyalty: B2B customer loyalty is generated through a product’s/service’s reliability, efficiency, and ability to generate value for its customers. Meanwhile, B2C customer loyalty is based on brand image, emotional connections, and customer experiences.

2.1 Marketing message

B2B

B2B products and services are all about helping other businesses achieve their goals - be it to improve employee productivity, increase sales, or handle other business-related activities.

As such, a B2B company’s core marketing message is logic-driven, more technical, and focuses on practical benefits. It highlights how the product/service in question can contribute to a prospect’s business growth.

B2C

In contrast, B2C marketing messages tend to be more informal and spark emotional reactions in the target audience - think funny commercials. That’s because the B2C market is more competitive, while B2C products often go beyond offering practical benefits. They can also fulfill wants and desires.

That said, B2C marketing messages rely on emotions to generate conversions as soon as possible.

2.2 Social media marketing strategies B2B vs B2C

B2B

As mentioned, the B2B marketing message is primarily logic-driven, and sales cycles are longer. Consequently, B2B companies use social media networks to boost lead generation and brand awareness—done through thought leadership.

In other words, the B2B social media marketing strategy centers around content distribution of industry insights and other types of educational content (e.g., case studies, webinars, and informative blog snippets).

This allows B2B companies to establish themselves as industry experts within a specific niche, grow a loyal follower base, and generate more qualified leads.

As for preferred social media channels, 82% of B2B marketers report that they achieve the most success on LinkedIn. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are also popular among B2Bs.  

B2C

In contrast, the B2C social media marketing strategy’s primary goal is to boost sales and brand visibility.

B2C social campaigns rely on visual content like videos or images to showcase products and drive engagement. They also paint a picture in the audience’s mind to appear relatable and establish an emotional connection, rather than educating target consumers.

Since B2Cs have access to larger audience pools, they often employ social advertising campaigns to reach as many prospects as possible and increase brand visibility. Coupled with sales campaigns, B2C companies incentivize these prospects to convert.

In terms of social media platforms, B2C companies use multiple networks equally to extend reach and build a solid social media presence. However, they target networks with large user bases.

Facebook, for example, has the largest active user base, with just over three billion as of October 2023, which is excellent for brand visibility.

However, TikTok has the highest average engagement per post - 5.38%. In contrast, Instagram and Facebook only experienced an average of 0.6% and 0.15%, respectively.

Consequently, TikTok is by far the best platform for B2C companies to connect with their audiences and improve brand awareness.

2.3 Social media best practices

B2B

  • Break the ice

B2B marketing requires detailed content, but the environment is often overly formal - it’s difficult to find a tone of voice that’s unique, memorable, and engaging.

64% of executives prefer a more human tone of voice over a formal one. Showing off your brand’s personality and injecting a bit of humor in your posts help you stand out from your followers’ feeds, encourage them to initiate contact, and establish a more personal connection.

  • Initiate conversations

On a similar note, make sure to spark conversations by asking your followers’ opinions regarding industry-related news.

This will not only get your audience engaged and make you stand out, but you may also uncover valuable insights into how your audience thinks - potentially valuable for future marketing campaigns.  

  • Encourage traffic to your website

Social media includes many distractions that may drive away attention from your business - even for B2B audiences.

Although you shared a valuable piece of information, followers may have already forgotten it by the time they decided to scroll down.

Make sure to leverage content promotion strategies to attract prospects to your website, where they can get to know your company better, read your content in detail, and perhaps fill in their contact details.

For instance, you could share an interesting snippet from a blog post and encourage prospects to read it in full by including a link to your website.

B2C

  • Encourage user-generated-content (UGC)

Although influencer marketing is all the rage, why not turn existing customers into part-time brand advocates?

UGC is more cost-effective than influencer marketing, while followers thrive off being an active part of your community, which helps build a stronger connection with the audience. Besides, product videos/photos made by everyday consumers act as a signal of trust toward your target audience - perfect for generating more sales.

That said, encourage followers to create videos/photos with your products through challenges, contests, or simply starting trends via branded hashtags. Also, consider adding little incentives to speed up the process, like discount codes.

  • Leverage social listening

Gauging marketing campaign effectiveness requires data, and your audience is the best source of information. Social listening allows you to pinpoint what consumers think about your brand and what type of content resonates with them.

In other words, keep an eye on comments and seek feedback from followers. You can also take it up a notch with Socialinsider’s AI Instagram Listening tool.

It offers valuable insights, like follower sentiment, topics your followers are interested in, audience demographics, and a list of influencers who are already talking about your brand.

brand influencers list social listening socialinsider

It can also break down follower sentiment into specific emotions, like joy, surprise, or sadness, for instance.

Let's take a practical example.

You're one of Dove's competitors, and you wish to know how people feeling about Dove as a brand: what are the common emotions their content brings up in people, what other related hashtag they use when they talk about Dove or how much engagement these posts generate.

sentiment and emotion analysis socialinsider
  • Handle customer service on social channels

While we’re on the topic of social listening, make sure to reply to any comments that include questions, or complaints. Consumers spend 20% to 40% more money with businesses that actively respond to complaints and customer service requests.

This shows you genuinely care about your customer’s experience - crucial for brand loyalty and improving your audience’s sentiment.

2.4 Marketing metrics

Click-through-rate (CTR)

The CTR reveals the percentage of viewers who click on one of your links - be it through search engine advertisements, emails, or social media ads/posts. This metric tells you how effective your marketing campaigns are at generating interest among your target audience.

In terms of social media networks, Facebook generated the highest average click-through rate out of all platforms in 2022—3.86%. LinkedIn was in second place with 2.15%.

In other words, Facebook is an excellent platform for handling social ad campaigns for both B2B and B2C. However, due to LinkedIn’s niched audiences, B2B companies will find better results in social post CTRs. Facebook’s mixed audience may dilute post CTRs for B2Bs.   `

Social media engagement

Social media engagement metrics like shares, comments, likes, or brand mentions are crucial for determining your target audience’s interest in your brand. They also tell how well your social media content resonates with your followers.

Although social engagement metrics are relevant for both B2B and B2C marketing models, they may signal different factors.

Given B2B’s educational-centric content, metrics like shares, comments, or likes, indicate how much value you bring to your audience. Low B2B engagement rates reflect content that doesn’t bring actionable information to your followers. That said, increasing post engagement highlights the path towards achieving thought leadership.  

In contrast, B2C engagement rates indicate how much of an emotional appeal your posts have and what types of content work the best. Low engagement rates suggest a need to change your brand’s tone of voice, messaging, content format, or even social platform.

A quote from amanda webb about b2b vs b2c marketing

2.5 B2B vs B2C marketing ROI

Marketing ROI represents the revenue you are left with from marketing campaigns after subtracting the cost of running them. Tracking your marketing campaigns’ ROI helps you determine your marketing campaign’s effectiveness.

You can also track marketing ROI for specific channels (e.g., Google search ads and Facebook ads) to gauge which platforms are more profitable and worth shifting more of your attention to.

Marketing ROI is a crucial metric for B2Bs. Given their lengthy sales cycles and higher customer acquisition costs, B2B companies rely on marketing ROI to determine the channels that bring the most amount of qualified leads.

Although also relevant for B2C, measuring marketing ROI is more revenue-driven. It aims to identify marketing channels and campaigns that bring the most direct purchases - not necessarily leads that will make a purchase further down the road.

2.6 B2B vs B2C sales cycles

B2B

B2B companies have more complex products, while their audiences are logic-driven.

Consequently, the B2B sales cycle is longer, while the customer’s purchase decision involves more research and includes multiple people.

Moreover, driving leads down the sales funnel requires direct involvement from the vendor - from hosting a product walkthrough/demonstration and sending a price quote to pre-purchase onboarding and more.

B2C

In contrast, B2C cycles are shorter. The consumer’s emotional bias is easier to capitalize on. Since B2C products are less complex, they do not require as much pre-purchase research, while driving leads down the sales funnel requires little to no direct involvement.

Final thoughts

Overall, B2B and B2C marketing strategies differ in their approach. B2B targets narrower audiences and focuses on lead nurturing while valuing long-lasting customer relationships.

Since B2C gears toward a larger audience pool, acquiring as many new customers as possible is a bigger priority than ensuring repeat customers.

This difference in marketing strategies is also attributed to their target audience behaviors. Since B2B prospects are logic-driven, they require more hands-on guidance and a longer sales cycle to persuade them to convert.

In contrast, B2C audiences are largely driven by emotion. That said, B2C marketing sales cycles are shorter and focus on generating conversions as fast as possible.


Frequently Asked Questions About B2B Marketing vs B2C Marketing

1. What is the difference between B2B and B2C marketing strategies?

For B2B marketers, increasing the quality and quantity of sales leads and increading conversion rates are top priorities. For B2C, the main focus is on conversion rates and boosting website traffic.

2. Is B2B marketing cheaper than B2C?

B2B tends to require a larger investment than B2C, making it the more expensive option of the two. The great thing about B2C is that you can technically reach more people more easily with a smaller budget.

3. B2B marketing vs B2C: which one is harder?

B2C is a purely transactional relationship— it's often over quickly and it requires little to no follow-up. B2B sales cycles are lengthier and more complex, and they require more time and effort to complete, which means that B2B marketing is seen as being harder than B2C.

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