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When it comes to online marketing, B2C companies are often one step (or a few) ahead of their B2B counterparts. That makes sense. B2Bs and B2Cs are two entirely different animals, and B2Cs have needed to rely on the Internet as a major revenue source more than B2Bs. Now B2Bs are recognizing the need to catch up.
Many B2Cs are retailers that focus on product sales to consumers; with the rise of the Internet, B2C e-commerce stores were bound to take off. Customers were going online to buy, and product-based businesses needed to get there to compete effectively. So they went.
On the other hand, B2Bs are usually less product-oriented and more service-driven — motivated by the professional needs of their clients, partners, and/or distributors. These companies tend to attract business through more traditional avenues, such as referrals.
Consequently, although websites have been beneficial for B2Bs, an online presence has not been nearly as crucial for B2Bs as it has been for B2Cs.
This has changed.
The future of B2B marketing
B2B companies, big and small, are seeing a growing need to follow in the digital footsteps of B2Cs in order to stay competitive in the increasingly global, digitized economy. What’s the big B2C secret that B2Bs are taking advantage of? Prioritizing the company website. It’s that simple.
In his recent article titled “B2B Marketers: Is Your Website Working Hard Enough?”, Josh James, Domo founder and CEO, writes: “If you’re in the B2B space, it’s time to start thinking about your website the same way B2C companies do. Your website should be your most efficient and effective sales and marketing channel.”
That’s a bold statement, but other B2B executives are coming to the same conclusion.
A B2C’s website is its digital storefront, which directly connects to sales (or lack thereof). Accordingly, these companies take great care to provide the best website user experience possible. Because the business world is now more connected and mobile, B2Bs are finding that delivering a positive online experience for their own customer base has become just as essential.
In Forbes, Derek Klobucher’s article “What B2C Can Teach B2B About E-Commerce” explains that “Nothing happens in a vacuum, so this is no surprise. Business-to-business (B2B) buyers shop online in their free time, taking advantage of quick and easy ways to research and purchase via the Web. These corporate shoppers now expect the same convenience from their workday purchases.”
Web design lessons B2Bs learned from B2Cs
Are you marketing a B2B company? Not sure how to take advantage of this B2C revolution? Here are five key tips:
1. Understand your target market
Online marketing can be very effective or completely beside the point. This often depends on whether your target market can find you when people are searching online for your services. If you’re not going after the right demographic, you’re probably leaving money on the table.
2. Design according to data
In other words, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Make sure to analyze the results of any changes you make to your online presence, and adjust in response to that data.
3. Optimize for mobile
Face it. Smartphones are everywhere. If your target market can’t easily get what they want from your website on a mobile device, they’re going to go to a better website. So you should have the better website!
4. Simplify navigation
This goes hand-in-hand with mobile optimization, but it’s important for desktop users too. By guiding customers through your website without confusion, you’ll potentially keep them there longer.
5. Use more calls-to-action (CTAs)
Tell your website visitors what they should do next. Easy navigation through your service process is just as important as easy navigation through your website.
The more mobile our access to the Internet gets, the more crucial an online presence is going to be for every business in the world. B2Cs and B2Bs are looking at the same marketing forecast, and those who have gotten on board seem to like what they’re seeing.
“B2B” image courtesy of Shutterstock.