B2B and B2C
B2B growth hacking takes place at a company that focuses exclusively on helping other business companies, such as companies in the SaaS industry such as Hubspot or Salesforce. B2C companies, on the other hand, sell to individual consumers – like you and me. Typical B2C companies are Albert Heijn, Kruidvat, Wehkamp or Zalando. At these companies, the growth hacking actions should be much more focused on people’s daily needs, interests and challenges. These B2C leads often already know what they want, or at least already know about the product or service you offer. At B2B, the offer is in many cases complex, and the target group does not know why they should choose your unique product or service.
>>> It was with great pleasure that I wrote this article with my two co-authors: Boyd Visser and Jason van der Drift.
There are companies that have implemented both B2B and B2C components in their business operations. Take Facebook (now Meta) for example. The company’s core business is to sell ads to other companies and help them reach the right audience so that the company runs B2B. In contrast, the platform was founded in 2004 with the aim of connecting people with each other, with which their business model is basically B2C. So it’s pretty interesting to analyze companies like this.
Attracting new customers is done with B2B and B2C growth hacking, each in its own way. For example, B2B growth hacking is targeted at a Professional Buyer Persona. As the purchasing decisions at companies are not made by one person, the focus is on the entire NERI. This consists of six members, each with their specific role and therefore their own wishes and needs. With B2C growth hacking, actions are performed based on an Individual User Persona. The NERI consists of only one person, so there are less different opinions and interests that must be taken into account.
However, a household or family can also form a NERI. For example, a toy seller can target both the parents and the child. At B2B, much more emphasis must be placed on the functional interests in all the different roles within NERI. This requires a unique marketing campaign specified at this NERI, which is also known as hypertargeting.
It goes without saying that when you as a company deal with complex products and different purchasing decision makers, the B2B sales cycle and customer journey are also longer. For example, contracts often have to be entered into, or the product / service must first be integrated into the business processes. On average, a business acquisition takes 3 to 12 months, while with a B2C sale it can take a few minutes for a simple product. Of course, this can be significantly increased for larger purchases such as a refrigerator or a car.
In a normal marketing and sales funnel, a lead goes in different phases from attention to sales. One tries to get as many MQLs at the top of the funnel as possible so that as many SQLs as possible remain at the bottom. This is called generic marketing, and B2C advertisers make frequent use of it. B2B advertisers often turn this funnel. With this, they use a much more focused approach to predefined accounts using Account Based Marketing (ABM). This means a high degree of personalization, which means that the acquisition costs will be significantly higher.
Using ABM has many benefits.
- ABM allows for a shorter sales cycle as more dedication and personal attention is given to each predefined individual account. It also ensures increased efficiency.
- The use of ABM ensures a strategic market position. The focus is only on accounts that are a good match with the company and can therefore provide a lot of strategic advantage over the competitors.
- ABM places great emphasis on the buying journey, so that personal content with a very high relevance can be achieved with companies
- ABM results are highly measurable because different statistics can be tracked about the effectiveness of each account targeted. A study by Engagio has shown that 84% of B2B marketers who use ABM achieve a higher ROI with their activities.
Return on investment
With B2B growth hacking, it is important that the return on investment is immediately clear. Companies often look at investments with a critical remark and want to be able to clearly see what it will give them. This often involves higher order values for a relatively small user base. In the B2C market, it is generally about lower amounts for a large user base. The customer often wants to be able to see with an overview what the price of the product is, as they are very price-oriented. They are therefore very interested in discount campaigns. Customers also want to be able to quickly see what the USP or UBR of the product or service is, in order to be able to compare with possible alternatives.
There is a big difference between the distribution of content in B2B and B2C growth marketing. For companies that focus on companies, it is much more important to share useful and in-depth information on subject-related topics in order to become known as the authority among the target audience. This kind of value creation is more likely to persuade members of NERI to request a demo or schedule a meeting. The most effective way to share valuable content in B2B is through LinkedIn, email and webinars. But Facebook is also still a widely used platform.
“Given that the sales cycle is longer in B2B, more relevant content needs to be distributed to keep a lead warm throughout the journey.”
B2C is often about reaching the masses through a good communication proposal. The more presence and top-of-mind awareness, the more leads that result are often the idea. With the communication expressions, a lot is played on the audience’s emotions. It is important to build a solid brand image and brand identity that can captivate the target audience through original campaigns. This is often done through an omnichannel strategy on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok, but many well-known brands also use large offline campaigns for extra engagement.
A big misconception is that B2B content often seems very boring. It is often associated with old-fashioned, dusty and in-depth content that can only be digested by professionals in the field. There is an idea that content distribution in B2B communication should always be written excessively formally. It’s forgotten that the content is read by someone behind a screen and not by the company. So make sure that the terms are also activating in the B2B market and that there is communication with the target audience through a creative visual and written method.
A good example to illustrate the difference in content distribution between B2B and B2C is the sale of a pair of sneakers. In the B2C market, one could serve an ad of the shoes to the target audience before this can already lead to conversions. In the B2B marketplace, you need to have many more touchpoints and contact moments with the target audience. First you show the laces, then you offer a free demo of the sole, ask for feedback on the design and only then can any sale take place. So the challenge is much bigger when selling to companies.
A / B test
B2B growth hacking is in many cases characterized by small search volumes and engagement rates on specific topics. This is because they often target niche markets. As a result, far fewer visitors end up on a site, and less data is available to analyze. It is therefore important to regularly check with different users of the product or service about the interface and / or user-friendliness. With B2C, much more data is available and can therefore be generalized. As a result, many more conclusions can be drawn based on documented results of customer behavior.
This also translates into A / B tests performed on B2B and B2C. In B2C, many more experiments are performed, as more data is also available to further optimize the campaign. In B2B, this happens a lot more on a small scale. Decisions must be made based on the results of a modest A / B test. Another difference is that an A / B test is often designed differently. For example, in a B2B SaaS business, the difference in acquisitions could be measured with a YouTube Ads campaign based on a free trial (try before you buy) and one without. With B2C, an A / B test would rather be conversion optimization related, read: green or blue CTA button.
KPIs, or key performance indicators, are crucial to measuring the progress of the implementation of growth hacking activities. There is a significant difference in setting the standards for B2B and B2C growth hacking. The KPIs on B2B are actually much more focused on the execution of the overall process. As much as possible should be sourced from existing customers and the cost of acquiring new customers should be as low as possible. Therefore, good KPIs are: customer acquisition costs, lead funnel performance, customer satisfaction, and customer lifetime value.
The KPIs for B2C are much more focused on the performance of gaining new customers, providing good customer service and creating online visibility. The performance indicators are often digital growth, social engagements, conversion rate, customer turnover and customer retention and loyalty.
B2B is a bigger challenge
The essence behind B2B and B2C growth hacking is actually the same. Both must have an approximation of H2H; Human-to-human marketing. Nevertheless, B2B growth hacking is more challenging than B2C. B2B is not at all colorless, sleep-inducing, uninteresting and mind-numbing, as they say. It is actually more complex, also due to the much longer sales cycle. Establishing authority in the industry requires a deep, broad and creative content distribution strategy.
By using touchpoint marketing at the account level, the target group can be served as efficiently as possible with personalized content under the funnel. Because of the authoritarian importance in the B2B world, B2C growth hacking can sometimes be called child play in practice. Thanks to the short customer journey, the challenge with B2C lies more in standing out from the crowd and optimizing conversions. Only … is not that what almost every marketer is worried about?