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What B2B Marketers Can Learn from B2C Retail Strategy

June 15, 2016

by Brian Beck, SVP, eCommerce & Omni-channel Strategy

The divide between Business to Consumer (B2C) Retail and Business to Business (B2B) digital marketing techniques has narrowed so much that they’re overlapping. Some of the tried and true methods used by B2C retail marketers are now leveraged by their B2B counterparts in an effort to generate leads and reach new markets.

These methods are old news for consumer facing companies. Traditional marketing tools like paid search, social media, display advertising, blogging, and more have long been a part of the playbook for consumer-facing companies.

But it’s morning in B2B businesses. Time for manufacturers, distributors, and brands to experiment with new techniques.

A New Twist

Many B2B firms rely on comprehensive educational content of their products as a way to position themselves in the marketplace. By establishing their authority, the company stands out and generates a competitive advantage.

This type of in-depth content has been around in one form or another for decades. It’s being improved upon with tactics out of the B2C playbook. Such content is ideal for digital marketing channels. But now B2B marketers are finally taking advantage of it.

Positioning Content

Detailed content, such as testimonials, case studies, and in-depth product descriptions, are used on web pages in a dynamic manner. Industry leaders  will present this content at key moments during a web site or mobile visit by a customer or prospect.  This could be while the site visitor is just learning about a brand, deep diving on product research, or even during an online checkout process to provide confidence to the buyer that they are making the right purchase decision.

Positioning the content for social media channels is an obvious decision, but that’s just the start of its potential. The content is leveraged to boost search engine rankings or improve paid search campaigns. It can also be distributed to bloggers and industry influencers as a way to drive more back traffic to the firm’s website through backlinks.

This is a far cry from the old ways of stashing content on your website for potential customers to hopefully stumble upon. Approximately 88% of B2B companies use content marketing as part of their strategy, according to this 2015 survey.

Content marketing is an established strategy at B2B firms, but it has room to grow. The survey found that the B2B marketers interviewed believed that content marketing “is the most important technology” for the next year.

Heightened Visibility

The adoption of digital marketing by B2B firms has created a cost-effective way to reach new customers.

Previously, these customers couldn’t be tapped by a traditional sales force or geographic presence. New customers that might not be worth the effort of a sales call can now be catered to and acquired with a well-designed ecommerce site generating traffic from digital marketing efforts.

The perfect example of how B2C and B2B firms are becoming more similar can be found on Amazon. The online retailer has long been known for selling books and other consumer-oriented products. Now, they’re linking B2B suppliers with new customers with a dedicated online B2B shopping division called Amazon Business.

More Opportunities

Today’s B2B buyers use online searches and digital marketplaces like Amazon Business to conduct research and make purchases. The days of a print catalog might not come to a complete end, but those old-fashioned methods need to be supplemented with smart digital marketing.

Successful manufacturers, distributors, and brands will take advantage of this shift. They’re capturing new clients and opening new markets by putting their products and the company’s value proposition front and center on the Internet. This includes utilizing tried and true B2C digital marketing methods – such as paid search, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, display advertising and more – to grow revenue and deepen market share.

Digital marketing is very competitive in the B2C space. But for B2B businesses like yours? There’s still a large untapped opportunity.