Home » B2B vs B2C in Marketing Automation – John Fleming

B2B vs B2C in Marketing Automation - John Fleming


John Fleming
John Fleming

VP Marketing

B2B vs B2C in Marketing Automation

Marketing automation seems to be the buzzword of 2013, with many of the traditional email service providers moving in this direction. But haven’t there always been marketing automation providers?

Well, in the B2B space certainly there have been, with a couple of key players providing sophisticated lead nurturing and lead scoring and closely synchronised with the Salesforce CRM. These are excellent ways of managing lead-warming tasks, which would otherwise have to be done by internal sales people or, in many cases, expensive external sales.

But what if your business is B2C? Can these marketing automation players assist in the way you deal with your customers and prospects? In simple terms, the answer would seem to be a clear ‘no’. Although many may claim to provide Marketing Automation solutions to B2C clients, the requirements are somewhat different. B2C clients are focused on three areas: customer acquisition, maximising customer spend and customer retention. Whilst this may seem the same as B2B, there are a number of key differences.

First, B2B clients tend to purchase relatively high-value goods and take considerably longer to make decisions, and these decisions are rarely made by a single individual. They conduct extensive research before they purchase and often create a short list of companies before they select one to interact with.

Secondly, with these high-value goods it is less frequent that repeat purchases are made.

Take the B2C customer in comparison. They tend to purchase lower-value items and are generally quick to make buying decisions, sometimes even on impulse. The purchase is, more often than not, made by an individual and the potential for additional purchases is high.

When you look at it that way, the two are in fact fundamentally different in almost every aspect, and the available marketing automation solutions are correspondingly ill-suited to B2C businesses. But that does not mean that marketing automation in general is of no use. It’s just that the fundamentals are not all about straightforward lead acquisition, they are more evenly spread over the entire customer lifecycle.

There are plenty of opportunities for marketing automation around the customer lifecycle, and rewards can be high with increases in customer spending, greater loyalty and reduced customer churn.

You can read more about this in a white paper we have written: ‘Can Marketing Automation help B2C Companies?’ available to download here.