Have you noticed that B2B marketing has recently become more like B2C?
For example, the latest SaaS software advertising campaigns feel remarkably similar to Apple’s product advertising - with bright colors, upbeat music, and short, punchy headlines.
On the surface, that’s the most obvious similarity - but the merge between B2B and B2C marketing runs deeper, and wise marketers are starting to take notice.
So, what’s causing this phenomenon and how can you take advantage of it to improve your business and marketing results?
Let’s start by taking a look at why B2B and B2C marketing is merging.
Why? Because People are People
Historically, B2B and B2C marketing have been seen as separate for good reason.
B2B marketing is all about talking to teams of decision makers in complex sales cycles, with a rational appeal to solving business problems.
On the other hand, B2C marketing has focused on connecting emotional appeal with a single decision maker.
But, there is one overwhelming similarity between B2B and B2C - you are marketing to people. That means there is a human being on the other side of your marketing program.
But that’s hardly a groundbreaking insight, right? We have innately always known that, but the concept of “people are people” is hard to grasp when we have historically considered the needs of business and personal lives as being separate.
In fact, looking at these two disciplines as separate was probably the right thing for marketers to do - until recently.
So, what’s changed?
People’s Expectations are Spilling Into the Workplace
The crossover between B2B and B2C marketing boils down to this: cutting-edge B2C marketing, experiences, and technology has raised the standard of expectations for people in the workplace.
Think about it - in the last 10 years we have moved from chasing taxis to ordering Ubers. From calling hotels to booking AirBnBs. The likes of Apple, Nike, and McDonalds have strived to become outstanding experiences at every possible touch point. We have grown used to the convenience, transparency, speed, and quality of interacting with businesses as consumers, and now we are starting to demand that in the workplace.
The world of B2B used to run on complex training programs, account credits and 90 day invoices. Today, you can pay for and use your B2B software subscription using a credit card instantly.
B2B marketers used to attend trade shows and send direct mail to target accounts. Today, you can target individuals with custom messaging as they scroll through their personal Instagram feed.
B2B used to rely on word of mouth and networking to spread trust of their products. Today, customers can look up B2B products and reviews on the likes of G2 or YouTube just like any B2C product.
So B2C marketing, experiences, and technology have increased the expected standard of people in the workplace, effectively leveling the playing field for B2B products and marketing - what does that mean in practice?
The Behavior of “Buyers” is the Same for B2C and B2B
Most of today’s B2B marketing technology such as ID reveal, ABM programs, and CRM systems are focused on determining who is interested in a product or service.
More specifically, B2B marketers seek to uncover the account and contact information of a prospect so that sales teams can engage those prospects if they fit the qualification criteria (this could be an Ideal Customer Profile fit, a Lead Score, or a determined Sales Stage, for example).
However, this focus on personal data to drive B2B sales motions is missing the “people are people” mentality.
If B2B prospects are humans (just like they are in the B2C context), then marketers should be focusing on behavior rather than information.
In fact, our studies show that behavior that typically leads to a sale in B2C environments also apply to B2B environments (more on this later).
Example: Retail Store Behavior
Imagine you are a salesperson at a shoe shop and there are several customers in the store.
One of the customers is wearing a nametag - you know who they are - but they are showing very little interest in your products.
The other customers are completely anonymous, but some of them are picking up the shoes, comparing them, and demonstrating the kind of behavior that typically leads to a sale.
Which customer would you engage to close the deal?
Clearly, a seasoned salesperson would detect and engage those who are showing buying intent, even without knowing their contact information.
Is the same true for your B2B website? Yes
If you could “see” the behavior of your website visitors in real-time, just like the salesperson in the retail store example could, then a seasoned sales resource would engage those who demonstrate buyer intent behavior.
This example becomes clearer if you imagine that all of the customers in your retail store are known, target accounts - as pictured below. Which of the target accounts would you engage and close? Once again, you would engage the specific customer demonstrating the behavioral signals that typically lead to conversion (also known as “buyer intent”).
The Solution: AI-Powered, Real-time Buyer Intent Scoring
So, going back to our claim - “behavior that typically leads to a sale in B2C environments also applies to B2B environments.” - how do we know this?
Well, we built a machine-learning model while working for years in the B2C space that is now also being used with incredible success by enterprise-level B2B companies to achieve an average of 9x more conversions.
The machine-learning model is called Lift AI, and we originally built it to help ourselves.
Our legacy business is a world-class conversational marketing agency. We told our clients that we could help them convert more visitors into revenue using our online chat expertise, and that we could prove it using analytics and data.
However, in order for our clients to attribute sales to our work, we had to know exactly which interactions would lead to a converted sale. So, as we worked, we captured this data over 15 years and fed that data alongside billions of other data points to create AI models that could detect which visitors were likely to convert into a sale, and which were not.
When we tested our Lift AI models in B2B environments, we were pleasantly surprised to see that it worked almost as well as the B2C environments it was built upon. From that foundation we were able to quickly develop models that worked in a B2B environment.
We had landed on something truly game-changing for marketers, because our model used first-party transactional data which no other company had access to, and it determined that people are people - that actions (behaviors) speak louder than words (contact data).
As Winston Churchill famously said:
“Watch what people do. Behavior never lies”
What makes Lift AI especially unique is that it assigns “buyer intent” scores to every single visitor, including those who are completely anonymous, meaning marketers can take action across a larger pool of website visitors than the >30% that account intelligence tools identify.
Lift AI also works in true real-time, so marketers can engage high intent visitors when it matters most - right now, before visitors leave the website. In doing so you can be the first company to engage a buyer and therefore win the business more often.
Finally, Lift AI can work alongside the existing marketing techstack to make it stronger. For example, marketers can leverage Lift AI’s buyer intent scores combined with their account intelligence from solutions such as from our Partners at 6sense or Zoominfo to prioritize which accounts to engage first.
So, if you want to improve your B2B marketing results, it pays to start thinking more like B2C - where “people are people” and buyer intent behavior is the unifying data.