What is the difference between B2B and B2C marketing?

Adjusting your look and tone of voice to suit your audience is something we all do naturally. Who dresses and acts the same in front of their grammy, a hot date, and the interviewer for their dream job?

Web design and online marketing are no different. Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing naturally differs from Business-to-Consumer (B2C) marketing. The needs, expectations, and desires of the audience are distinct. So what are the key differences and how is that reflected in online web design?

B2B

The B2B Customer

  • No impulse purchases

    Customers of a B2B business are purchasing on behalf of an organization. They may have a very strict brief about what the company needs.

  • Ready for a long-term relationship

    B2B consumers will want to know if your business can scale with theirs and meet their changing needs. Make them feel “catered to”, show that you’re a perfect fit for them in the long term and they’ll be swiping right.

  • The big boss has to approve

    The customer will probably need the purchase approved by someone higher up the food chain. They’ll need information and clearly defined benefits to convince others in the organization that it’s an investment worth making.

  • It’s all about the dough

    The top concern for the B2B consumer is whether it will add value to their company. ROI is everything. You want to assure them that their investment will pay off.

What does this mean for your website?

  • Be clear and direct

    When someone arrives on your webpage it should be immediately obvious and clear what you do and who you do it for. Spell it out in your copy, make your USP prominent on your homepage and use images that reflect the businesses you cater for. If you sell to small mom-and-pop businesses, avoid images with suited and booted business professionals.

  • Be authoritative

    Show that you know what you’re talking about. Include industry buzzwords, and an authoritative tone of voice. You’re there to solve their problems and they need to feel they are in capable hands.

    P.S. There’s a fine line between authoritative and domineering. To make sure you’re on the right side of the line, imagine Morgan Freeman reading your copy. If it sounds good, you’re doing just fine.

  • Showcase your clients

    A surefire way to help gain the trust of your prospective clients is to show who you‘ve worked with before. Knowing that other businesses like theirs have invested in you might just help seal the deal. You could include a portfolio or case studies, or just a simple client logos section at the bottom of your home page.

Want to see this in action? Here’s the homepage B2B website for (our client) CFS customerfocusedstrategies.com

online marketing strategies by jdperero

  • Hero image suggests this is a B2B company aimed at large corporate clients.
  • Hero copy clearly states what CFS does (anticipate needs of your customers and help you deliver excellent customer experience)
  • USP clearly stated: “outside-in philosophy”
  • Anticipating that the audience will need more information at this point there’s a Call To Action button.

B2B vs B2C Online Business Best Practices

  • The next section includes buzzwords to further explain exactly what is offered.
  • The “CFS Approach” section shows that they are ready for a long term commitment. No time wasters here!

Online Business Best Practices with examples

  • The final section showcases impressive clientele further establishing authority and trustworthiness.

B2C

The B2C Customer

  • Heart over head

    95% of the time, emotion is what drives purchasing behaviours.

  • School is out

    With a few exceptions (large technological purchases, automobiles) people won’t be doing a lot of homework before making a purchase. They want to cut loose and enjoy themselves.

  • A holiday romance

    Brand loyalty doesn’t play as big a role as it used to. Only 23% of consumers reckon they have a relationship with a brand. Retaining business from customers is an ever-evolving challenge.

What does this mean for your website?

  • Appeal to their senses and emotions

    How will your product make them feel? Secure? Empowered? Playful? Sexy? Have the answer clear in your mind.

  • Cut to the chase

    Here’s a big difference between B2B and B2C marketing: The user journey. The path from accessing the website to the shopping cart should be as smooth and straightforward as possible. Consumers don’t need reams of information before making a purchase, they don’t want any jargon. They’ll want to know a few product details, sure, but they want their ride to be uncomplicated.

  • It’s playtime

    B2C businesses can afford to be more playful with their design and their copy. You want the experience of visiting your website to be a pleasant one. One that they’ll want to repeat.

Here’s an example of the B2C website design for (our client) waft.com.
b2c online marketing

  • Still, images don’t do the homepage justice. Head over to their website to see it in its full glory.
  • The slightly transparent gradient is a fun visual depiction of fragrance, which is kind of like an aura – unique to each person.
  • Images and colors rapidly change to show that this brand is for everyone – completely personalizable.
  • This time, instead of directing them to more information with our CTA button, we want to cut to the chase and get them straight to the fun part: shopping!
  • You’ll notice that there are two CTA buttons, one for a first time user, and one for a repeat customer.

business to customer marketing strategy

  • Visitors have to complete a questionnaire to build a profile for their fragrance
  • But filling out a questionnaire can be really dry. The experience needed to be fun and straightforward.
  • Bold images appeal to the senses. Don’t tell me those Macaroons aren’t doing it for you!
  • The website had to reflect the really unique concept behind this brand that’s all about creating a unique experience.
  • Repeat customers are greeted back. New customers can create a profile to save their data and easily make repeat purchases, encouraging brand loyalty.

B2B and B2C

Some brands are both B2B and B2C, the mustard and the ketchup, the cookie dough and the ice-cream. In these cases, it’s still important to define separate user journeys.

Local Bermuda is one such company. It connects Bermuda residents with local professionals such as plumbers, electricians, painters, and cleaners.

Take a look at the homepage (we created for them):
local-bermuda-b2b-b2c
As you can see, customers and professionals are set up to have different user journeys. The benefits for each are summarised with some simple copy, and separate CTA buttons send them to different pages with different outcomes.

We hope you’re now confident between the difference between B2B and B2C marketing in web design. If you need and help with your B2B, B2C or B2B/C marketing strategy, get in touch with us. Whether you’re looking to build an eCommerce site from scratch, or you feel your existing site needs adjustment and a clearly defined strategy, we’re here to talk you through it.