Online Retail

Important Distinctions Between B2C and B2B Email Marketing

As marketers and humans we always look at others for inspiration.

To innovate we take what others have done and build on those ideas to improve and make more interesting.

That’s the goal anyway.

When it comes to email marketing, though, there is one tricky part of the equation.

There are B2C emails and there are B2B emails.

In this post we’ll look at the differences between B2C email marketing and B2B email marketing. You’ll want to pay attention because while some of the methodologies are the same the differences are important because a strategy for one might not work for the other.

Overview of B2C Email Marketing

B2C email marketing promo example.

Woolrich uses a little urgency with this email. It’s a common element of B2C email marketing.

B2C emails are pretty common for most Internet users. You probably received about 5 to 10 B2C emails just today if you’re an average email user.

B2C companies tend to be more aggressive with the frequency in which they send messages so the footprint is higher than in the B2B world.

Another aspect of B2C email marketing is the fact that nearly all emails are sales-focused. This means that each email is about getting to a sale quickly. Purchase price tends to be on the small side for B2C products so the sales process is more impulsive and quick.

You might see an email that introduces a new product. The expectation is that you immediately become interested in the item and make the purchase.

Another common scenario is to see an email that puts the pressure on your to purchase. Urgency is a common tool in B2C email marketing. You’ll see a sale that is ending soon and you have to act now otherwise you’ll miss the promotion.

Urgency is actually one of the areas where B2C and B2B are similar. B2B salespeople do try to get urgency attached to a quote or an offer trying to get a person to commit to a deal.

Finally, B2C emails tend to not follow a welcome series. There are instances when it does happen, but the welcome series is usually not longer than one or two emails. This is in contrast to some advanced B2B email marketing campaigns.

Overview of B2B Email Marketing

B2B upsell example

This email from FreshBooks doesn’t focus on sales, exclusively. It’s also about building trust in the B2B world.

B2B sales tend to be large purchases. There are exceptions on both sides of the equation. There are small purchases in B2B and large purchases in B2C, but in general the large purchases lean toward the B2B world.

Because the purchases are larger there is more marketing in B2B email marketing than sales.

What does this mean?

B2B companies know that email marketing mirrors the sales process. The first introduction happens when a new prospect signs up for the marketing newsletter or marketing program. From there the emails work like a salesperson.

Messages are directed at educating the subscriber. The first email might include some recent news happening in the industry along with a point of view from the company perspective.

Subsequent emails often provide additional insight into the industry and eventually the products and services offered by the company.

The entire process is about presenting the state of the industry and the problems that exist and take the subscriber down the path of solving that issue with the solution provided by the company.

By now you probably recognize that B2B email marketing lends itself well to welcome series. It’s true that many B2B companies setup email series to move new subscribers through the sales process until they become a customer.

Final Thoughts

These differences in B2C and B2B email marketing are important. If you understand the differences you can really focus in on what will work best for your company.

On some occasions you can use inspiration from one for the other. It might be a way to get a little edge on the competition.

Now it’s your turn.

What do you think the differences are in B2C and B2B email marketing?

About the Author: Scott Hardigree is Founder of Indiemark and Co-founder of BrightSpeed. You can connect with him everywhere, here.

Does your Marketing Firm Sing for its Supper?

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Ask any CEO if they’d be willing to share profits with a marketing firm or consultant who provided a positive impact to their bottom line. “Absolutely!” is the response that you’re likely to receive. Now ask them how they compensate their marketing agency, service suppliers, or in-house marketing department. Exactly.

Finding a true marketing partner  isn’t easy to locate but they’re out there. In fact, they’re becoming increasing more common.

For many businesses, the realities of the current economy have resulted in a reduction in marketing spending and staff. Marketing firms, agencies and consultants too are experiencing general belt tightening. Yet, each has a need to drive revenue. Combined, these factors have created a unique opportunity for both parties.

Marketing firms and consultants who satisfy more fundamental or complex needs such as branding, demand generation and cross-channel customer acquisition (services that are typically provided on a project or hourly basis) are now singing for their supper but they’re eating well.

While some firms have always worked under a performance-driven model, others are now beginning to partner with their clients and truly put their talents, time, and even their money where their mouths are.

Marketing partnerships can be are structured on a long term or month-to month basis and can take virtually limitless forms. The shape it takes is dependent on the client’s goals, offerings, and budget as well the core capabilities of the marketing service provider. However, these arrangements are generally based on a lift in client revenue, of which a percentage is paid to the service provider, or they receive a stake in the company, along with a minimum retainer.

Partnerships of this type are best suited to small and mid-sized companies who are seeking reduce marketing costs and/or acquire more profitable customers yet lack the resources or wherewithal to manage the marketing effort effectively. It also works well with start-ups or companies seeking launch a new venture or expand an existing offering.

There are challenges in establishing successful marketing partnerships however. Firstly, it’s a two way street. Mutual trust and performance weigh heavily on both parties therefore and, unlike traditional work-for-hire relationships, the agreements are more comprehensive and the qualifying process is extensive and may require that you disclose privileged information that goes far beyond your marketing efforts and experiences.

Before you enter into a marketing partnership or start your next marketing initiative, ask your vendor if they’ve built successful companies themselves; if not it’s unlikely that they will be able to do the same for your organization. Learn what services they provide in-house and which services they outsource; excessive outsourcing is likely to be reflected in their guaranteed compensation. As with any vendor-client relationship you’ll want to learn more about their industry expertise and client-partner successes.

Marketing partnerships are not for every organization but for those clients and marketing services suppliers that are willing to share the risk, a good match can often reap greater rewards for all.

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