Enhancing your B2C marketing with the right content strategy
Selling to consumers presents an array of challenges that B2B marketers don’t have to consider. Fickle customer loyalty and lower attention spans mean organisations need to succeed in capturing interest in a single moment with an engaging message. Enhancing your B2C marketing efforts is simple with the right content strategy, and can make your consumer base more dedicated without needing to rely solely on customer loyalty cards!
In this article we’ll cover:
- The differences between B2C and B2B audiences.
- How you develop a content strategy.
- Specific content you can use to enhance your marketing.
- A case study on how a travel business used the right content strategy to engage new consumers.
The differences between B2C and B2B audiences
Consider the differences between a casual shopper browsing online and a business considering partnering with, for example, a content marketing agency.
Online shoppers often buy items spontaneously. You may have set out to buy something else, but see an advertised item that catches the eye.
- The product description is compelling and simple.
- The branding appeals to your emotions.
- The item seems to directly address a problem you have.
Fickle consumer loyalty means B2C businesses need to capture interest in a moment.
In the spur of the moment you think ‘treat yoself’ and just buy whatever it is. There’s not a lot of risk with this choice – at worst you may be unable to return the product and you’ll lose some disposable income. Oh well. You can always shop somewhere else next time for a better deal!
If you are a business owner, however, there is more at stake. B2B purchases may affect the health of the organisation at large, and require the input of management, stakeholders, suppliers and other decision makers. With that said, you cool the jets. Do more research. Contact the agency’s sales team for more detail on the products or services they offer. Make sure this is a sensible decision that will foster a long-lasting business partnership.
Motivation, the length of the sales cycle and ongoing customer loyalty are the factors that differentiate B2C and B2B customers. Consumers respond to different messages and information, so you need to ensure your content writing reflects the expectations of your target audience.
How do you develop an effective B2C content marketing strategy?
Nearly two-in-three B2C content marketers report their organisation is now extremely/very committed to a content strategy, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) ‘Benchmarking Report 2019’. This shows that businesses marketing their products or services to consumers need content to reach their audience. The question lies in how you build this dedicated action plan.
Find the persona that will resonate with your audience
A persona your customers understand and can engage with is critical when creating a content strategy. However, this voice needs to be tailored to the differing motivations and needs of your audience.
For example, if you are selling a protein supplement to body builders, the core audience will be users interested in fitness. However, if you dissect this market further you can see more distinctions in the users approaching your business and reading your content. These include, but are not limited to:
- Geographical location.
- Whether they are new or repeat customers.
- Online spending habits.
Different content personas need to be tailored to the differing motivations of your audience.
While these factors are also relevant within B2B audiences, they have less of an impact on an individual’s purchase decision. A website visitor’s age may affect their choice to purchase a tub of protein supplement. However, the age of a person charged with securing a supplement supply for a business is less of an influential factor than, say, a business’ existing supplier relationships.
That means you need to create a compelling user persona that speaks to each demographic of customer individually. For example, content aimed towards new users of your protein supplement should highlight the benefits of becoming more fitness conscious and breakdown the key concepts they need to know about using your supplement. This tone would be similar to how a sales person in a bricks-and-mortar health store would talk to a new customer. However, content pitched towards repeat consumers would be more motivational, and could offer key advice on the best exercises to use during a workout to make the most of the protein (similar to a personal trainer).
CMI’s Benchmarking Report found that 77 per cent of B2C marketers will soon start using personas to tailor content to their audience demographics, making finding your business’ unique voice – or voices – essential to better communicating with customers.
Identify your business’ benefits – and tell a story with them
Half of B2C content marketers say their business always/frequently uses storytelling in its content (CMI). This doesn’t just mean tying a product breakdown to one Aesop’s Fables. You need to refocus your content away from selling your business’ benefits to introducing compelling characters with a problem to solve over three acts.
What does that mean? Well, storytelling is traditionally done over three acts – a beginning, middle and end. Another indispensable element is conflict. Characters need a problem to solve or obstacles to overcome, or else the reader will lose interest. Every narrative, from nursery rhymes to ‘The Great Gatsby’, uses this structure to engage readers with the characters and situation.
Half of B2C content marketers say their business always/frequently uses storytelling in its content.
B2C businesses can do that through customer-focused case studies, whether factual or based off real consumer feedback. Discussing a common problem your customers face (and that your business can solve) is more effective when you have one character attempting to overcome this issue. The solidity of a single name and specific character traits to identify with helps messaging stick out in readers’ minds more than intangible examples of how this problem could affect them.
Storytelling techniques are used in everything from political speeches to advertising because it’s a structure we’re all familiar with and because it’s so effective at engaging people individually.
Focus on fostering customer loyalty
While the sales cycle for B2C customers is far shorter than with B2B customers, the nature of snap-decision purchases means that customer loyalty can also spin on a dime.
Consider the number of times you have considered buying a product, then decided to shop around for a better price elsewhere before making a final choice. Repeat custom with a single brand is often less of a motivation for B2C consumers than cost or spur-of-the-moment desire. Trying to engage as large an audience as possible is therefore important. There will be a natural drop-off in window shoppers and those loyal to other brands, but the remaining readers could all become potential customers if you show your value to customers who return to your business.
An article series, breaking down a problem that customers face, is a great way of encouraging users to return to your blog and continue reading your content time after time. Each blog should be valuable in its own right but should, when combined, address a wider problem holistically.
It's a buzz word in education today, but quite possibly what is most truly needed in all classrooms: #intentionality. Join me this Wednesday as we begin to dissect "intentionality" and conceptualize what it looks like in the classroom! #blogseries #edchat pic.twitter.com/jTDfT1hMP7— Casey Watts (@wattscaseyl) January 22, 2019
Three content strategies that can enhance your B2C marketing
1) Thought leadership blogging
Many people consider a thought leadership-defined content strategy to be most useful for B2B businesses. After all, the B2B sales cycle is longer and businesses often want more proof that their investment in partnering with another organisation will pay off. However, B2C businesses should consider this style of content useful too when trying to stand out from the crowd.
Thought leadership stands apart from other forms of content as its primary aim is to educate readers, rather than discuss the benefits of purchasing a product or service. To this end, thought-leadership-style blogging or other work may not even mention the name of your business or state its value propositions. This may seem counterintuitive when you know that B2C content has to capture a buyer in a mere moment, but demonstrating that your organisation is highly knowledgeable in a given industry, and cares about the problems of customers beyond sales, can do more for reputation than any amount of self-promotional material.
Many people consider thought leadership content to only work for B2B enterprises - but B2C organisations can excel with this style too.
An example of thought leadership in action is bringing in expert guest interviewees. For example, if you own a restaurant, asking guest chefs to talk about the dishes they create and where they get their inspiration shows to customers that you’re passionate about the industry in which you work. It also demonstrates that sales are not the only motivating factor for your business.
2) Customer case studies and testimonials
There is a reason product reviews and testimonials have become such a major influence on the purchase decision – many consumers want to learn about the experiences of their fellow buyers before making a choice. This has led to the rise and rise of review platforms such as Zomato and Yelp, and means the power to alter brand reputation now rests with consumers.
However, while online customer reviews take away the influence of a business over their reputation, it also puts the onus on business owners to make sure each and every customer experience is fulfilling. This power to share also gives B2C organisations an opportunity to spread the good word in its marketing strategy.
Many consumers want to learn about the experiences of fellow buyers before making a purchase.
Customer case studies – verbal, written or visual – allow new and returning consumers to look beyond your messaging and hear what others have to say about your products and services. This doesn’t just give users a more authentic summation of what your business has to offer – it also means loyal customers can offer insight into new ways of using your product/services that you may be unaware of.
Testimonials can be business-led, which requires you to reach out to loyal consumers and ask for their honest opinions on your business. Case studies can also be written and shared on social media by customers or influencers for further authentic insight into what your brand has to offer.
The same Social Media Marketing Report found that while B2C businesses are interested in learning more about social platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, B2B organisations want to focus efforts on LinkedIn. All three channels enable users to share images, videos or written articles, it’s interesting to note that the former two are primarily image and video based, while LinkedIn is best for written articles.
B2C businesses are more interested in visual-orientated platforms like Instagram, while B2B organisations want to focus efforts on LinkedIn.
On the right social channels, info images and branded videos can be an excellent addition to a content strategy, supporting other written materials and enhancing marketing efforts. They provide rich insight of your business, helping to communicate complex product features or unique selling points in a simple way. The design ambition for custom business images and videos is vast, but the best use of these assets is in offering users an easy-to-digest intro to your business.
For example, you could produce an info image that takes key research from a recent report you produced to share on social media. This exposes your business to more online users without giving too much away. In theory it will lead readers to research your business further and check out your website to find and download your report.
B2C marketing in action: Route 66 and creating the customer journey (literally)
Route 66 is an Australian business that designs and guides people on tours of the famed ‘Route 66’ in the US. The travel-focused team design the full itenary for customers based on their individual needs and preferences, and offers a guided, self-driving road trip experience.
With customers varying in age, background and interests, Route 66’s B2C marketing needed to capture a wide range of readers and keep them engaged with meaningful and useful content. Devising a successful content strategy to get the business motoring in the right direction meant identifying a range of content that would attract the right kind of audience.
Route 66’s strategy encompassed Facebook posting, blogging and high value destination guides targeted at enticing all sorts of readers to engage with the business and ultimately book tours.
The campaign’s success was decisive:
- The blog experienced a 705 per cent increase in unique entrances than prior to the content campaign.
- The content platform’s exit rate dropped from 58 per cent to less than a quarter.
- Route 66’s Facebook conversion rate increased – to the point it doubled the industry average.
This came down to a carefully planned content strategy that identified the right story to tell potential customers and the right voice to tell it. With its enhanced B2C marketing structure and more readers viewing their blog and social media, the business was firing on all cylinders.
More than half of surveyed businesses said they would increase their use of visual and written content in the next year (Social Media Examiner). That’s a lot of sensible organisations – content holds the key to unlocking lasting connections between B2C enterprises and loyal consumers. All you need is a defined voice your audience want to listen to, a story to tell about your business’ value and a customer-focused, emotive content campaign that drives home this message.
More than 50 per cent of organisations said they would increase content production in the next 12 months.