What problem are you trying to solve?
For forgetful people (like me) who always forgets the passwords to my online accounts, Dashlane promises to “securely remember all of your passwords.”
For people who need to work on projects remotely, Google Docs allows you to “write, edit, and collaborate wherever you are. For free.”
For people who want to keep in touch with friends and family around the country or overseas, “download Skype and stay in touch with family and friends for free.”
These Business-to-Consumer (B2C) companies all have one thing in common: they offer a B2C product marketing or similar service that solves a specific problem for consumers encounter at home and on-the-go.
But what about in the workplace?
What if I need to share a password for an online analytics account with a client?
What if I want to write, edit, and collaborate on documents with my colleagues?
What if I need to keep in touch with a client who moved recently relocated to a new state?
To answer the growing demand to have a solution that solves a common problem both at home and at work, B2C product marketing companies are beginning to introduce robust Business-to-Business (B2B) products specifically for teams, businesses, and large enterprises.
In fact, according to Forrester, we expect the US B2B eCommerce market to be worth $1 trillion — twice the size of the US business-to-consumer (B2C) E-Commerce market by the year 2020.
B2C product marketing companies transitioning to B2B cannot simply add “For Business” to their consumer-facing offering because of the inherent differences between B2B and B2C marketing.
Understanding the Difference Between B2B and B2C Product Marketing
To successfully make the transition from a B2C marketing model to a B2B marketing model, you need to understand some their fundamental differences:
B2C vs. B2B Market Size
B2C companies have the ability to market to tens of thousands, even millions of consumers, just like Ebay’s consumer-facing platform is able to target practically anyone with Internet access.
In contrast, B2B markets are much more niche because they cater to a smaller pool of potential customers. File storage company Dropbox, for example, currently has 500 million users, but just over 200,000 B2B clients.
Since many B2B purchases involve monthly or annual contracts for products and services, B2B marketing requires a company to nurture strong relationships with their clients.
If you’re the office manager of a large corporation, you’ll most likely work with FreshDirect’s B2B offering, FreshDirect At The Office, to order your company’s weekly supply of office snacks. The food delivery company will often assign a dedicated account manager to be your point of contact and help with everything from future deliveries to cancellations. This also affects the purchasing process, since closing a B2B sale can often take weeks or months.
In contrast, if I wanted to order snacks for myself or my family, I can place an order online myself using FreshDirect’s Home Delivery service. Since B2C consumers often don’t have direct contact with a company (unless it’s for customer support and troubleshooting), they can quickly make purchases based on what their immediate want and needs are.
The Decision Making Process
According to AdWeek, 81 percent of shoppers conduct online research before they make a purchase and, on average, a consumer will visit three stores before making their purchase.
Consumers want to understand basic pre-purchase information, like pricing, payment information, the make and model, warranties, shipping information, availability, or if the store offers any special deals or discounts for the product.
B2B customers also look at the same basic pre-purchase information, but they also require additional technical information and an in-depth understanding of how your product works. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, customers put B2B salespeople’s subject matter and solution expertise at the top of their list of important qualities when evaluating potential suppliers.
Now that we understand the fundamental differences between B2C product marketing and B2B marketing, let’s explore how a B2C company can attract B2B customers.
Attracting B2B Customers with Your B2C Product Marketing
For B2C companies who want to begin attracting B2B customers, you’ll need to focus on specific customer acquisition, conversion, and retention strategies.
I’ll outline 18 actionable marketing tactics we’ve used at Ladder (in no particular order) that will drive traffic to your website, convert visitors into paying customers, and keep them happy while using your service or platform.
Customer Acquisition Strategies
Facebook and LinkedIn Lead Capture Ads
A lead capture ad is a social media ad format that allows you to capture visitor’s emails with without the user having to enter their name, email address, or other personal information.
Lead capture ads also allow you to collect valuable information about a visitor that can help you create customized messaging based on their contact information (i.e. email, location, phone number, etc.), work credentials (i.e. job title, seniority, or job function), company details (i.e. company name, company size, or industry), and education (i.e. degree, field of study, graduation date, etc.).
Brand Awareness Campaigns on Facebook and LinkedIn
According to a survey of over 300 B2B marketers, 58 percent said Facebook and LinkedIn were the social media platforms with the highest return on investment (ROI). Furthermore, content marketing is highly regarded as the cornerstone of B2B marketing strategies.
To quickly earn traffic to your site consider trying one of these campaign ideas:
- Original content: Share engaging, informative videos, blog posts, infographics, e-books, tutorials, and other content that will help your prospects solve a problem or answer a question. In return, you’ll build brand awareness and generate qualified leads.
- Brand awareness campaigns: For a wide range of prospects at the very top of the sales funnel, display ads that introduce your product or service and encourage them to visit your website or a landing page to learn more.
- PR Mentions: Positive reviews or press mentions are valuable pieces of content to share in your ads and will help build your brand’s reputation since users are more likely trust products or companies that were mentioned in reputable publications than a regular ad.
- Studies or research: Original studies and research are also great pieces of content to advertise. Not only will it improve your brand awareness, but it’ll also build your company’s reputation as an authoritative thought leader in the industry.
- Testimonials and case studies: Similar to PR mentions, testimonials, and case studies will help build trust, brand awareness, and also help with a prospect’s buying decisions later in the sales funnel.
Target Lookalike Audiences in Lead Capture Ads
Once you have a solid list of leads from lead capture ads, you’ll be able to build another target audience based on what those leads “look like.”
For instance, if you discover that a majority of your leads work at startups in the New York City area, you’ll be able to build and target an audience of other New York City-based startups, founders, employees similar to ones that have already displayed interest in your product. With this approach, you’ll drive qualified traffic to your site.
Twitter Engagement Ads
Twitter engagement ads allow you boost the reach of organically posted tweets or create tweets that are only displayed to your target audience. Since Twitter has cheaper cost per impressions than other social media ad platforms, it’s a good option for raising brand awareness by building social proof through Likes and Retweets.
Google Search Ads on Core Keywords
Acquire users who are looking for the exact service or product that you offer by targeting core keywords on Google Adwords. If it’s your first time running a B2B AdWords campaign, begin by selecting a list of keywords and conducting keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner to determine each keyword’s search traffic, competition, and the AdWords suggested CPC bid.
Then select the best keywords you want to target. You’ll want to stay away from bidding on keywords with low search volume and keywords that are generic terms. For example, if I’m a B2C product marketing company that deals in food delivery service who wants to attract B2B clients, you don’t want to run ads on the generic term “food” because of high competition from groceries, restaurants, review sites, recipe blogs, and other website or organizations in the food industry. Instead, consider targeting relevant terms like “office food delivery”, “grocery delivery”, “and ‘grocery delivery service”.
Next, create and run an ad with specific visuals, copy, and landing pages for each keyword you’re bidding on so that it’s relevant to viewers. Don’t forget to track your ad’s performance and iterate based on the results.
Mentioning Advanced Technology in Copy
On landing pages and paid ads, highlight your product’s technological edge. Mention what technology makes your product faster, stronger, safer, or easier to use than your competitors.
This tactic is used frequently by companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple, who offer specific technical details about their products to answer specific technical questions customers may have, showcase the quality of their product, and to distinguish themselves as technology innovators.
Keep in mind that it’s not enough just to say that your product has a 12-megapixel iSight camera, so tie in technical details with user-friendly benefits–in this case, the 12-megapixel camera ”captures sharp, detailed photos” and “takes brilliant 4K video, up to four times the resolution of 1080p HD video”.
Sponsor Meetups and attend online community events
A piece of advice our co-founder Michael Taylor offers to new companies is to win your first 10 customers with “hand-to-hand combat”–meaning you should physically meet and build relationships with your potential customers.
Find out where your ideal customers and decision makers hang out.
Ask your friends if they know anyone. Reach out to your personal network for referrals.
Once you get one person talking to you, make sure to ask them where you can find more people like them and ask them to introduce you to others.
Realistically, however, sometimes your ideal customers may be hundreds or thousands of miles away. In this case, consider making your presence known on online forums, participate in online webinars, and add a representative of your company to relevant social media groups.
However, this does not mean you should constantly spam the group with your company’s website and offers. Contribute to the community with valuable insights, demonstrate how your product can specifically solve members’ problems, and share engaging content–without being super sale-sy.
Fewer form fields on landing pages
Similar to two-click Facebook and LinkedIn lead capture ads, having fewer form fields on landing pages is decreases the amount of effort and attention a user has to invest into signing up, which will result in increased sign-ups and form submissions.
For this tactic, you should optimize your forms to only ask for information necessary to the registration process, like name and email address. For the additional information like company size, an address, or phone number, you can request that information during the onboarding process or at a later stage in your relationship with that user.
However, we should note that while this tactic may increase the overall number of leads, you could experience a higher number of low-quality leads, which is okay if you don’t need any pre-qualifying data to close a sale.
Customer Conversion Strategies
Repeat the Primary CTA
Adding your primary CTA to the middle, the bottom, or to the sidebar of your website and landing pages is a simple way to increase conversion. It prompts visitors to click through after they’ve had a chance to read your marketing copy and know more about your product/service.
Moreover, providing the extra opportunities to convert–especially if you have a long landing page–removes the tiny bit of friction in scrolling back to the top of the page.
Referral Program for Current B2C Users
A study by Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany and the University of Pennsylvania found that referred customers had 25 percent higher profit margins and were 18 percent less likely to churn than other customers.
Promote your new B2B product to your current B2C customer base and incentivize them to with a referral bonus, an extended free trial, or some free swag. Not only will this generate high-quality leads, it will also mobilize some of your most loyal consumers to become brand evangelists.
Free Trial versus Demo Landing Pages
Run an experiment offering two different landing pages offering a free trial or a product demo and split-testing them with ads. This will help you figure out if you should be pushing your sales cycle towards demos or free trials.
Then, use data from your tests between landing pages to make data-driven decisions on what kind of copy and messaging to use. For instance, you can try A/B testing the offering different lengths of a free trial or try testing a video demo versus a live demo with an account executive.
Personalized Sales Email Drip Campaign
Contact leads with an automated email drip from a personal account to create the impression of one-on-one interaction to drive sales. This lets you build a strong relationship with a potential user, and therefore book more meetings and demos. For cold leads, you can offer dynamic content pieces to better nurture leads in your drip campaign.
Customer Retention Strategies
Mandatory Onboarding Tutorial
While a handful of users at a company may already use your B2C product, offering a B2B product means onboarding dozens, even hundreds of new users at once.
To encourage product adoption and user retention, block all other actions in your UI until a new user has gone through your onboarding tutorial. You’ll be able to guide new users through the proper usage of each part of your platform with a tour or demo.
Tutorial Onboarding Email Drip
When onboarding new users, sending an educational email that explains how to use your product will help get them past a “how/why would I use this?” dilemma. This email can contain a brief outline of the key features of your product, how to use them, and a link to a detailed article where they can find additional information.
As an example, Asana does this tactic very well. They’ve designed their tutorial emails to teach users how to use their product to maximize their productivity at work. Similarly, each email should focus on one thing users must do to understand the value of your product or explain how one key feature works.
Step-by-Step Re-activation Email
Inactive users and users who signed up, but never used your product may want to come back but have no idea where to start. Start by them a step by step re-activation email where you guide them through the process of using your product.
You can include existing content, like blog posts, FAQs pages, product documentation, or contact information for your customer support team to create a workflow for them.
While your current product may be optimized for consumers, it may need continued development to meet the needs of large organizations and teams. Therefore, you may have potential customers interested in your product, but won’t fully convert until you’ve introduced a new feature or service.
If you do create such feature, send out an email to your users to inform them of the news.
This will reactivate potential buyers who may be stalled in your sales funnel while informing your current active users of what they can expect when they log in next. You should also highlight user-requested features to show responsiveness in development and attract users that may have dropped off due to a missing or broken feature.
Targeting potential users who may churn
Are you noticing a drop in weekly or monthly active users?
Are you seeing a spike in customer support requests from new users?
Start to analyze data on what leads to churn on your platform. Then, identify users ‘at risk’ of churning and target them with increased customer support, incentives, and discounts, or helpful content that can help alleviate their issues with your service.
As a B2C product marketing company, marketing and selling your product to highly-informed B2B customers is a constantly changing challenge. Since 94 percent of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process, B2B customers are actively looking for vendors that are knowledgeable about their industry and can provide the most effective solution to help solve their problems.
Use these 18 tactics to build trust with buyers, offer industry insights, and help prospects move through a complicated and lengthy sales process with confidence.
To access more than 800 actionable marketing tactics for every stage of the sales funnel for free, visit the Ladder Playbook.